Love flower essences but not sure how to give them to animals in a way they’ll accept? It may surprise you to learn there are a variety of effective options for giving flower essences to dogs, cats, horses, and other animals.
Flower essences are essentially an energy therapy, meaning they work differently from drugs, herbs, and nutritional supplements.
For both emergency use and long-term behavioral therapy, the key to successful flower essence use in animals is repeated doses. In the case of emergencies and other acute situations, doses may be a few minutes apart. With long-term use, flower essences should be given 3 or 4 times every day.
Because of the need for repeated dosing, it helps to be able to give flower essences in a way your dog, cat, horse, or other animal finds comfortable.
In this article, I refer to giving flower essences to dogs in particular, but any of the methods described can be used for animals in general. So, feel free to substitute cat, horse, guinea pig, etc. where you read “dog”.
Why options are important when giving flower essences to animals
There are lots of reasons you might want an alternate way to give your dog flower essences. Here are some of the more common I’ve come across:
- Your dog fights getting her drops, runs away, or growls/snaps.
- Your new dog is not quite used to you yet. Giving drops in her mouth isn’t helping.
- Your dog gets so stressed that he won’t take a treat.
- In his problem situations, your dog is so unruly that having him sit still for drops isn’t practical.
- Your dog has a sensitive stomach. Anything new upsets her digestive balance!
- Your dog is a finicky eater, and will not eat food or treats if there is something different on it. Ever.
- Your dog is going to be boarded, and you need something the kennel staff will actually do.
- You have a pet-sitter coming in, and your dog may not take to her giving flower essences by your usual method.
Are some ways of giving flower essences more effective than others?
I started learning from a flower essence practitioner who firmly believed in giving flower essences as you would homeopathic medications. This means giving them straight in the mouth, and at least 30 minutes away from any food or drink other than water. You could give them with food, but the effect might be diluted.
So, my instructions for a long time were to give them directly in the mouth, if at all possible.
Well, since then, I’ve listened, learned, and experimented.
And I’ve concluded that animals can be given flower essences in a variety of ways, all of which are very effective. If there is any difference in effectiveness between methods, it’s probably an individual response, rather than a general one. So – feel free to experiment to find out which methods are best for your dog!
Common Sense Caution
Before I get into the different ways to give flower essences, please use common sense when trying a way that’s unfamiliar to your dog.
Does your puppy grab or snap at anything that gets near his mouth? Then using a glass dropper near his mouth probably isn’t a great idea! (At least not until that behavior is behind him.)
Have a skittish dog that spooks and startles at anything sudden or unexpected? Then suddenly spritzing your dog’s head or gums with flower essences will likely not be a happy experience.
Know your dog. It only takes a little extra time to introduce new things (and new ways of doing old things) in a way that will help your dog accept them and maybe even like them!
Options for administering flower essences to dogs (and other animals)
1) Directly in the mouth. Flower essences can be dripped into your dog’s mouth (I teach mine to lift their head so I can easily drip onto their lips or tongue), or they can be misted onto the gums. (Gently lift the upper lip at the side of the mouth to spray your dog’s gums.)
2) On meals. Use either dropper or sprayer to add flower essences on top of your dog’s food, just before serving.
3) As a snack. Add flower essences to a small tasty snack, like canned food, yogurt, broth, a scrambled egg, anything your dog enjoys!
4) Added to treats. Drip a couple drops, or spray a treat with flower essences, then give to your dog. Dry biscuits work well for this, but so does a piece of bread or other absorbent treat. Do you give treats throughout the day, or keep some aside for training? Add a spray or two or several drops to a bag of treats and mix it up. Your dog will get little doses of her flower essences every time she gets a food reward!
5) Rubbed onto your dog’s gums. (Put a couple drops into the palm of your hand, dip a finger into them, then rub directly onto the gums.)
6) Rubbed onto ears or nose. As above, but rub the drops onto your dog’s ear flap or nose leather. You can also spray directly onto the outer ear flap if this doesn’t upset your dog. (Just be sure not to spray into the ear canal!)
7) Mist the dog. Spray a mist of your dog’s flower essence formula around her head, or directly onto her head and neck area. The idea is not to wet her down ;-), but to provide a light mist in the area around her.
8) Mist your dog’s living areas. Spray a mist of essences on and around your dog’s bed, crate, sleeping areas, and any areas of the home where problem behavior tends to occur.
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FYI: It’s fine to combine methods for convenience
Of course, you don’t have to pick only one way to give flower essences to your dog. You can combine methods of administering them so that it fits into your life and schedule, as well as your dog’s preferences.
Here are just a few examples of how you might combine methods, to get you thinking:
- Dan gives his puppy flower essences on his meals morning and evening, and here and there on treats throughout the day.
- Muriel gives her dog flower essences in her food twice daily, then straight in the mouth before outings like walks, trips to the park, and dog shows. She also adds half a dropper in her dog’s water bottle when they’re going to be out for awhile.
- Nestor gives her cat flower essences in his water bowl twice a day, then on a favorite treat twice a day.
- Cain gives his dogs flower essences mixed with a favorite snack and given as “dessert” after meals. He also adds half a dropper to their water bowl once or twice a day.
- Lynne mists around her dogs’ favorite spots (and problem areas) just before company comes over.
- Anna gives her horse a dropperful of her flower essences in the water bucket every morning, then on training treats for their daily training session, plus massaged into her ears during their post-training wind-down session.
For the holistic-minded pet owner or trainer, flower essences are a wonderful tool for helping balance and improve behavior. And if your pet doesn’t like taking them “straight”, there are so many other options, you’re sure to find one they enjoy!
Julie Cantrell BSc is a professional dog trainer and canine behavior consultant who’s logged many thousands of hours training dogs and teaching owners since 1990. Flower essences have been part of her work with canine behavior since 1994. (bio)