Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Bach Flowers for Anxious Dogs: Good Idea?

When a friend, acquaintance or even an animal behaviour professional tells you about Bach flowers to treat your dog’s nervousness or anxiety, perhaps you’re skeptical? There’s nothing wrong with that, after all, not all natural remedies are known to be effective.

However, it is a fact that positive feedback on the use of Bach flowers on both humans and dogs is frequent.

Animals are not as sensitive to the placebo effect as humans are, so is it to be concluded that natural is good?

Bach Flowers, what is it?

More and more people are abandoning medicines for essential oils and other treatments that do not contain molecules made for the pharmaceutical industry. In this context, Bach flowers are in fashion.

They are not essential oils but preparations made from wild flowers chosen by Professor Bach in the 1930s for their therapeutic virtues. When one observes animals in their natural environment in total freedom and autonomy, one quickly realizes that they know perfectly how to use nature to cure their ills. Before being man’s best friends, dogs used their instinct and food to live and heal themselves.

It is hard to see a dog needing confidence to face the hard day on the couch that seems to be promised. On the other hand, stress and anxiety…

Professor Bach was therefore inspired by the notable effects of various plants and flowers to transform them into potions that are still used, almost a century later, by people who want to put a little naturalness in their lives. Stress, joy, confidence, each oil has its virtues.

Obviously, for dogs, not all of them are used. It is hard to see a dog needing confidence to face the hard day on the couch that seems to be promised… On the other hand, stress and anxiety, which are very common ailments in doggies, are to be worked on.

 

Anxiety, a problem that is difficult to treat in dogs…

While the symptoms of anxiety in dogs are easily recognizable, the causes of anxiety in dogs can be many and variable.

Loneliness is the first cause of anxiety in our four-legged companions, who cannot bear to be left alone. They will then spend their day whining and barking, excessive licking, blood scratching and biting their limbs. For the youngest and most excited, this also results in destruction.

I can’t tell you how many times Jodie and Mookie have destroyed things, even more so when I lived in the studio. Shoes, paper, toys, remote controls… Everything was destroyed, not because they were inherently evil, but because they were too stressed when I was away.

Not only can the situation sometimes bother your neighbors, but more importantly, your pet suffers physically and psychologically and it becomes complicated to leave it alone without bitterness.

A dog can be naturally anxious for a variety of reasons, especially if he has been poorly socialized during his first three months of life or if you have been behaving in a way that increases his dependence. This is my case because I quickly got used to sleeping with my dogs. Living in a studio when Jodie arrived, she was constantly spending her days glued to me.

An animal that has lived in peace and quiet, without ever seeing other animals or even hearing cars is going to have a very bad time being in the city for example. Similarly, a dog that has always lived outside and finds itself locked in an apartment because of a move can become anxious.

Other symptoms that you can easily notice are lack of appetite, lack of drive and needs that are fulfilled anywhere in the house. An anxious dog will no longer control its behaviour.

But, how do you treat this anxiety? The solution is not to no longer go out or take him everywhere, nor to do nothing and hope that it will heal itself.

Bach Flowers, a healthy and natural alternative

There are a total of 38 different Bach essences, all known to treat similar or very different disorders. The flowers alone will not be enough to cure your pet permanently, but they can strongly help you to soothe him/her, while you change your habits and his/her education for long-term effects.

It is important to take elixirs designed for dogs. The dosage is different from that for humans.

A complete treatment, mixing different essences, can be elaborated by a Bach flower specialist, but do not invent yourself druid. One or two variants are usually enough…

Bach flowers will improve your dog’s well-being and he will feel more relaxed without his kidneys being damaged by recurrent pill use. To administer the mixture to your dog, you can either administer the mixture directly into his mouth with a pipette or you can place the drops of the solution on a dog cookie or in his kibble. The latter method is less traumatic for the animal and he doesn’t even notice the intake.

There are no known negative side effects directly attributable to Bach flowers, as long as you respect the prescribed doses.

Your animal will be more relaxed and you will then be able to teach it not to be afraid of everything as it is perhaps the case at present. Some flowers are also practical because they make your dog more attentive, so he will have less trouble following his training.

I have also been recommended Bach flowers for air travel. Mookie, my youngest, seemed traumatized by being in a carrier bag. In the end, the trip was cancelled and I didn’t take the elixir, but two behaviorists praised me for using it.

To finish, a reminder full of common sense. Don’t try to totally change your dog’s behaviour with the help of Bach flowers, don’t forget that all animals have their own personality! It is not a magical product, but supplements to improve your dog’s well-being.

The price of Bach flowers is low, so it’s safe to try. Take into account that the effect is not immediate. It takes a cure of at least a week to start seeing results. If you plan to use Bach flowers for a specific event (ex: to keep your dog in a boarding house, transport by plane or boat…), start the treatment beforehand because if you do it on the D-day, the effect will be null.

 

How to choose the ideal Bach flower for your dog?

As with any product given to your dog, you can ask your veterinarian for advice. However, expect different reactions depending on the practice you go to. For some veterinarians, they are excellent, useful and harmless products, for others they are placebos that have no effect on the dog.

As already said in this article, test to be sure!

When it comes to choosing the right bach flower for your dog, don’t focus on the scent, but on the effects. Think about your doggie’s character traits. Some compositions will act on anxiety, but others will reduce the dog’s aggressiveness, make him happier and bring him out of his lethargy, etc.

Don’t forget that all of these behaviours must also be worked on by training the dog. For example, an aggressive dog must be able to obey you with firm and precise commands without violence. Other solutions such as castrating males are also possible.

For a lethargic dog, a handler who interacts more with his dog, often takes him out, makes him meet other people and animals will have the most appropriate response. The Bach flower is then a complement.

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