Separation Anxiety in Animals

As a flower essence practitioner, I work with a lot of animals who suffer from separation anxiety. Dogs can show anxiety when their people leave the house or put them in another room. They may bark, whine, or even destroy items in their need to be back with their person. Horses can become excessively attached to their herdmates and be unwilling to leave them, or panic and run home when separated from companions. These are just some of the expressions of separation anxiety.

Behavioral Modification

Behavioral modification techniques can be very helpful in reducing or eliminating separation anxiety. Whenever I work with a client, I recommend implementing this approach in addition to using flower essences. There are many resources available from which to learn about behavioral modification techniques. To learn more about these techniques and dog behavior, I highly recommend the books of Patricia McConnell.

Why do animals develop separation anxiety?

There are a number of theories about how separation anxiety develops. I find that animals who have it often have had stressful early lives. The mother of the animal who develops separation anxiety may have been under stress through her gestation and birth (such as a homeless and starving stray or a puppy mill dog), or the animal may have been weaned too early or in a stressful manner. These early stresses have profound and long lasting effects on a developing animal.

Flower Essences for Separation Anxiety

Fortunately, flower essences can go a long way to helping animals recover from separation anxiety. When I work one on one with a client, I develop a formula based on the precise needs of the animal at the time. However, there are essences I can recommend that can help your animal. Learn more about how to give flower essences to your dog, cat, horse or bird here.

Northern Lady Slipper, Alaskan Essences

This essence is one of my favorites. I use it for many situations, but it is especially healing for early traumas. It is a gentle and enfolding essence that helps release the trauma related to stressful gestation or infancy.

Star of Bethlehem, Bach Flower Essences

The Star of Bethlehem flower essence is a primary choice for healing any kind of trauma. It soothes the spirit and helps the animal feel safe in their bodies and in their homes.

Grove Sandwort, Alaskan Essences

This essence is excellent in cases where the bonding process between mother and infant was disturbed and the infant did not receive the nurturing they needed. It helps to establish grounding and a connection to other forms of support to feel loved and cared for.

I am happy to offer consultation and custom essence formula creation over the telephone or Skype for you and your pet! Please get in touch and we can discuss your needs.

Aspen flower essence for canine anxiety

Aspen flower essence, from the Bach line of essences, is useful for any frightened animal. The primary indicator showing need for this essence is shaking or shivering in fear. The fear is of something unknown or unseen. In dogs, I tend to recommend this essence for fear of fireworks. From a dog’s perspective, these are sudden and painfully loud noises they can’t understand or get away from. Aspen is very helpful for people for nonspecific fears, nightmares or feeling generally uneasy.

I use this essence often in conjunction with Mimulus flower essence. Mimulus is for “known fears”, that is, a specific and concrete fear. For example, a dog may be frightened by car rides or men wearing hats. The two essences given together (Aspen and Mimulus) can provide stability and comfort for a frightened animal.

To learn how to give flower essences to your pet, see the FAQ page.

I am happy to offer consultation and custom essence formula creation over the telephone or Skype for you and your pet! Please get in touch and we can discuss your needs.


Radio Show with Asia Voight

March 20, 2014 at 12pm CDT

Animal communicator Asia Voight and I discuss how flower essences can help you and your animals and take calls live. Download the show, or stream here:

Asia Voight Radio Show on the Awakening Zone Network

Sorry – the Awakening Zone is no longer active, I am trying to find a current link to listen to the show.

How to give flower essences to birds

I began to learn about flower essences in order to help my pet parrot. Knowing how delicate and sensitive birds are, I was extremely cautious in trying new things. Fortunately, flower essences are completely safe for birds as long as they are diluted before use.

How to give flower essences to birds:

  • Put a few drops in a small bowl with a few ounces of water, mix well, dunk a treat and offer
  • Add a few drops to the water bowl – refresh twice daily
  • Add a few drops to water in a misting bottle and mist around the bird and cage.

Of course, if your bird dislikes being misted, do not mist him directly. It is important that any animal have the ability to decline the essences. When putting essences in the water dish, it is kind to offer a bowl of water without essences. Watch your bird and see what he prefers.

I am happy to offer consultation and custom essence formula creation over the telephone or Skype for you and your bird! Please get in touch and we can discuss your needs.

Some flower essences that may be helpful for your bird

Rescue Remedy is always a good choice for any kind of stressful situation, from veterinary visits to nail trimming to thunderstorms. It is a broadly applicable essence that will help to calm, ground, and restore emotional balance after any fright or upset.

Aspen flower essence (Bach) is an excellent choice for parrots who have “night frights” and startle or fall in the middle of the night.

Northern Lady Slipper flower essence (Alaskan Flower Essence Project) is a beautiful nurturing essence to help a parrot overcome a stressful “childhood” and settle in with a new family or living situation.

Filaree flower essence (Flower Essence Society) can be helpful for parrots who pick their feathers, as it helps those who become fixated or worried about specific things.

Scleranthus flower essence (Bach) is helpful for parrots who suffer from hormonal mood swings, a common problem in adolescent birds.

How to give flower essences to cats

Cats love flower essences, but generally don’t like the smell of the brandy preservative. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to give your cat flower essences that will result in minimal alcohol exposure.

Ways to give flower essences to cats:

  • Add a few drops to a few ounces of water in a bowl, dunk a favored treat, and offer
  • Add drops to the water bowl – refresh water and essences twice daily
  • Add drops to a misting bottle of water and mist above the cat, over the bedding, or in the home in general

Cats tend to show strong preferences for particular essences, depending on their need at the time. One friend’s cat will tell her which essences she wants by selectively knocking bottles off the shelf! I recommend showing the bottles to the cat one at a time, and letting your cat tell you which she wishes to have. Watch carefully for a response – it may be turning away or towards the bottle, purring, or some other response.

I am happy to offer consultation and custom essence formula creation over the telephone or Skype for you and your kitty! Please get in touch and we can discuss your needs.

A few flower essences for your cat:

Cow Parsnip flower essence (Alaskan Flower Essence Project) is very helpful for cats who are frustrated at being kept indoors. It helps them adjust and be more content with only indoor adventures.

Cherry Plum flower essence (Bach) is indicated for terror. This essence is excellent for wild or feral cats who must be trapped in order to have medical treatment or as part of the taming and socialization process for any cat.

Walnut flower essence (Bach) is useful for the moving process. Cats have a clear sense of territory and changing homes or situations can cause them a lot of distress. Walnut can help them break the ties to their old homes and reestablish themselves in a new situation more easily.

Quaking Grass flower essence (Flower Essence Society) is great for multi-cat situations. This essence helps to smooth interactions between group members and create greater harmony.

How to give flower essences to dogs

Dogs tend to like taking flower essences when they are diluted.  The smell of the brandy used as preservative is off-putting for most dogs, and depending on the size of dog, possibly not healthy for them. When properly diluted dogs happily take their essences.

How to give flower essences to dogs:

  • Add a few drops to a few ounces of water in a bowl, mix well and dunk a dog cookie or favored treat and offer
  • Put a few drops in the water dish – refresh the dish twice daily
  • Add a few drops to a misting bottle with water and mist around the dog

Dogs will tend to let you know which flower essences they prefer, and refuse to take what they don’t need.  Pay attention to your animal’s response, and honor their preferences.  When I think my dog needs a particular flower essence I will show her the bottle.  She tells me by eagerly putting her nose on the bottle if it is something she wants, and turning her head away if she doesn’t want it.  Every animal is different, so pay attention to your pet’s efforts to communicate with you.

I am happy to offer consultation and custom essence formula creation over the telephone or Skype for you and your dog! Please get in touch and we can discuss your needs.

Some flower essences for dogs:

Borage flower essence (Flower Essence Society) is wonderful to help depressed or moping dogs. I recommend this essence for dogs in boarding or shelter situations, or whenever a dog has lost his spark. It lifts the spirit and gives courage and hope.

Pink Yarrow (Flower Essence Society) helps dogs who are living in a stressful family situation. Dogs tend to be sensitive to the emotions of the people around them and Pink Yarrow can help them insulate and not take on these emotions. It can be a great help for them to be able to live their own emotional lives and not have to take on the turmoil around them.

Holly flower essence (Bach) helps with jealousy and sibling rivalry. It eases feelings of not having enough love or attention to go around, and releases the tension of having to share space and resources.

How to give flower essences to horses

Horses respond very well to flower essences.  Typically they do not mind the taste or smell of the alcohol used as a preservative in stock flower essences.  As such large animals, the small amount of alcohol in a dose of a few drops is generally regarded as insignificant.

Recommended ways to offer flower essences to your horse:

  • Put a few drops on a horse cookie, apple slice, or other favored treat
  • Put a few drops on a handful of grain and offer to the horse
  • Add drops to the water bucket
  • Add drops to a misting bottle filled with water and mist around the horse

I recommend giving flower essences separately from the excitement of mealtimes.  It is better for the horse to have a chance to quietly experience the essences and relax.

I am happy to offer consultation and custom essence formula creation over the telephone or Skype for you and your horse! Please get in touch and we can discuss your needs.

A few flower essence suggestions for horses:

Pineapple Weed flower essence (Alaskan Flower Essence Project) helps a horse connect to his feet and to the ground, aiding horses who trip or stumble frequently, as well as young horses who may be just growing into their bodies and having an awkward stage.

Wild Rose flower essence (Bach) helps the horse who has lost spirit and enthusiasm for life, whether through illness, moving away from his herd, or after a harsh living situation. It can help restart a sense of hope and a desire to go on.

Chamomile flower essence (Flower Essence Society) is very helpful for horses develop digestive troubles when nervous or upset. It helps calm and soothe, easing tension in the gut.

Star of Bethlehem flower essence (Bach) is a wonderfully soothing and grounding essence, beneficial after any kind of shock or stress. It gently helps a horse calm down after a fright, fall or stressful trailer incident.

Mimulus flower essence helps canine anxiety

Nervousness in the Car

A client asked for some help for her dog, who was an extremely nervous passenger in the car. She would shiver and lick the air repeatedly. This licking or tongue flicking is often a sign of nervousness in dogs. It can also be seen as a calming sign between dogs to slow things down when a playmate is getting a little too rough.

Mimulus Flower Essence

Mimulus Flower Essence for canine anxietyThere are quite a few things that can be done to help dogs who are nervous in the car, but one of the easiest things to try is to offer Mimulus flower essence. This essence is from the Bach line of flower essences and has the advantage of being easy to find. Many health food stores now carry the Bach line of essences. Simply put a drop on a small treat and offer to your dog. If you are concerned about the alcohol content in the essence (the brandy acts as a preservative) you have a few options to reduce the amount.  One possibility is to put a few drops of essence in a small cup, fill with water, and dunk the treat before offering. I tend to prepare a baggie with a tablespoon of water, a drop of essence, and a handful of small treats. Shake it up and offer treats as often as needed to help calm your animal. You can also put drops in a misting bottle with water and mist around the animal every few minutes.

Behavioral Modification for Car Anxiety

Flower essences can be a great help for anxiety, but they may not be the whole picture. Most behavior challenges require a comprehensive approach. Depending on the level of fear, a gradual introduction to the frightening situation is best. Give lots of positive reinforcement and treats, and never push your animal further than they are comfortable. If you see any sign of stress, whether it be tongue flicking, panting or any other sign of anxiety, slow down the process and go back a step. For a dog extremely worried about the car you may just sit in the car with the dog for a few minutes at a time. When the dog is calm and happy about that, maybe turn on the engine and idle for a few minutes. The important thing is to take it slowly and develop positive associations with the formerly fearful situation. It may seem like a long process, but you will be surprised how quickly things can turn around if you keep at it.

Another helpful item for fearful dogs is a Thundershirt. It is a snug fitting garment that helps the dog feel safe and contained. As the name indicates, it can be used for storm related anxiety, but helps ease any kind of stress. It is important to introduce the Thundershirt to the dog gently, and apart from the stressful situation, so he can become accustomed to wearing it.

The good news is my client’s dog responded really well to the Mimulus flower essence, so she didn’t need to try any other techniques. She now travels in the car easily and is a content passenger.

I am happy to offer consultation and custom essence formula creation over the telephone or Skype for you and your pet! Please get in touch and we can discuss your needs.

Flower Essences For The Holidays

article originally published in Vibration Blog, Dec 11, 2010

While the holiday season is full of fun and heartwarming connections with friends and family, it can also be an incredibly challenging time. The added stress of planning parties, cooking, cleaning and shopping can push us far off balance. Throw in traveling, and spending time with rarely seen family members and you have the recipe for holiday stress! Fortunately, flower essences can support us and help us enjoy the holidays.

Holly and Pine have been used as holiday decorations for as long as humans have been seeking help from the green world to survive cold, dark winters. The evergreen foliage of both plants gives us hope that the sun will shine again and warm, pleasant days will return. As flower essences, they also have powerful resonance with issues surrounding the holidays. Holly (Bach) is a broadly applicable essence for anyone feeling unloved and hurt. It can help with siblings feeling slighted in the gift department, or grownups who re-enact old family dramas each time they meet. Holly helps us realize that there is enough love and attention to go around, helps us to be happy for our friend who received the gift we really wanted for ourselves.

Pine (Bach) is equally resonant this time of year. Many people experience feelings of guilt when we can’t meet the high standards of perfection our culture seems to demand. We are bombarded with images of perfect gatherings, lavish presents and shining, happy families – reality just doesn’t match up. Guilt can become a heavy burden to carry. Pine can help relieve this unproductive emotional state and help people accept their imperfect, but well-meaning and heartful, efforts. Pine helps us understand that we are all just doing the best we can with the time and energy we have available, and our families and friends appreciate us for it.

For many people, the holidays trigger feelings of depression. Instead of being able to enjoy gatherings, they reflect on lost family members, or how life seemed brighter in years past. Chiming Bells (Alaska) can help them find the joy in daily life and experience the pleasure that connections with others can bring. Single Delight (Alaska) remedies feelings of disconnection and isolation. It awakens them to the awareness of their interconnectedness with their soul family, even if they can’t be with them in person.

The end of the year is a time for reflecting on the past year and our accomplishments. Holiday “brag letters” from our family and friends may leave us feeling like our lives are not going well and that we are not measuring up. Columbine (Alaska) promotes appreciation for our own unique qualities and gifts. Comparing ourselves to others is not helpful, whether in appearance or outward accomplishments. Columbine helps us see our own beauty and worth. For those whose work or life may be less than glamourous, Lace Flower (Alaska) can help. When we feel insignificant, and that our contributions are not important, Lace Flower helps us realize that we all have a part to play and that everyone’s role is necessary. A woman whose time and energy are devoted to being a mother may not feel as important as someone who is pursuing a lucrative career, but her work is equally valuable. Lace Flower can give that mother perspective and help her feel the value in her work and life.

While the holidays can be stressful, it is important to take a step back and give thanks for all the good things in our life.  Flower essences can provide this needed perspective and help soothe our challenging emotions so we can enjoy the pleasures of the season.

Kathleen Aspenns is a Certified Flower Essence Practitioner and Tellington TTouch Method Equine Practitioner living in Sonoma County, California who works with people and animals of all kinds including dogs, birds, giraffes, vervets and warthogs. Kathleen has trained extensively with Jane Bell, Steve Johnson and David Dalton. She is available for telephone or Skype consultations.