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.

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.

Flower Essence Combination Formulas For Dogs

My Norwich, Kate, like many dogs, dislikes going to the vet. I can certainly see why – from her perspective it is unfamiliar and scary and she gets poked with needles! She doesn’t understand why we can’t just go to the park instead. Fortunately, I have flower essences to help her feel better about the experience.

One of the best known flower essence combinations, Five Flower Formula, is very helpful in this type of situation. Five Flower Formula, also known as Rescue Remedy, was developed by Dr. Edward Bach, an English physician and homeopath, in the 1930’s. He created a new healing system called flower essences that work primarily on mental and emotional conditions. He developed Five Flower Formula as an emergency remedy to treat stress and trauma. It is recommended for any crisis situation to help calm and ease confusion and panic. This formula, like all flower essences, can be used with complete safety and without any side effects by anyone, including animals.

Flower essences are easy to administer and impossible to overdose. In urgent situations, give 2 drops by mouth as often as needed. For instance, give every few minutes when you are on your way to the emergency vet. For more stable or chronic situations, give 2 drops twice daily. Drops can be given on food or treats, or placed in drinking water. You can also pet them into the coat or add drops to a misting bottle of water and spray around your pet. Of course, flower essences cannot substitute for appropriate veterinary care, but they can be a very supportive adjunct as there are no contraindications with any other types of treatments.

Many other essences have been developed since Dr Bach’s system was created over 80 years ago. There are hundreds if not thousands of essences available and it can be quite challenging to decide which to choose for any given situation. Fortunately, several systems have developed essence combinations for specific circumstances, like Five Flower Formula, to make flower essences easier to use. The Alaskan Flower Essence Project makes essences in the pristine Alaskan wilderness, and several of the combinations in this line are particularly helpful for dogs and their owners.

Animal Care was designed by a veterinarian specifically for animal rescue situations. It is helpful for dogs that are being re-homed or those coming out of abusive or neglectful situations.

Guardian can be used to help a dog feel more secure when in busy or unfamiliar surroundings, such as boarding kennels, shows, traveling or moving. It can help dogs who are over-reactive to stimuli such as strange noises or new people.

Travel Ease was created to address the stresses of air travel, but helps in any travel situation. It helps counter the stress of confinement and crowding and the enervating effects of noise and vibration.

Pregnancy Support is helpful for all phases of pregnancy – from creating a supportive environment for conception, to a healthy birth for mom and pups. It assists in the healthy bonding process and is highly recommended for first time mothers.

There are many other excellent combinations available, but the ones listed above can provide help in a broad range of situations. Five Flower Formula is available as Rescue Remedy in many health food stores; the Alaskan essences are less widely distributed but are available online.