Petal Power: How to Boost Your Dog’s Mood Using Flowers

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Flowers have been scientifically proven to be “powerful positive emotion inducers,” so it’s not surprising that their essences can soothe the canine cancer patient. Here are three questions with Julie Cantrell is owner of Aldaron Essences based in Oregon.

How can flower essences help dogs with cancer?

Cancer brings chemical changes in the body as well as straightforward pain and discomfort. This can lead to attitude shifts and even drastic personality changes. There is also the issue of harsh conventional treatments – and of course the cancer itself – draining and devitalizing the dog. These attitude shifts and devitalization are the areas where I feel flower essences can be very helpful.

Flower essences influence (and balance) emotional states. Our dogs’ confidence, level of contentment, hopefulness and interest in life all affect their resistance to disease, as well as how they cope with – and come back from – both minor and major illnesses.  Their resilience can be strongly affected by their level of optimism and vitality. This can also influence how well they respond to treatment once ill, and how seriously setbacks affect them.

(Editor’s Note: See a helpful article about how human caretakers and canine companions can use the essences to soothe their grief here.)

Are there any side effects?

Flower essences are extremely safe, with no known side effects. And because flower essences are a subtle-energy therapy, working on a completely different level from most holistic and all allopathic treatments, they do not interfere with the great majority of other therapies.

Which of your formulas do you recommend?

  • Recovery – A blend of American and English flower essences specifically chosen to bolster emotional health as it applies to recovery from illness. It brightens mood, improves hopefulness and optimism, improves the sense of vitality and energy, and stimulates the desire to be and get well. I think this would be an ideal formula for many dogs in a cancer struggle, as a general overall support. Similar to an adaptogenic herb, which increases the body’s ability to resist the stress and promotes physiological wellbeing, but for the emotional body.
  • Calm – I have used this formula with a couple of my own dogs who, at the end of their lives, succumbed to cancer. There was a period with each dog where they became restless and unable to settle. This was partially due to discomfort, partially to anxiety and partially, I believe, to simply not understanding the changes that were going on in their bodies. I would use Calm as needed when I observed them pacing, fretting and unable to relax. This formula is really remarkable and usually after a couple doses a few minutes apart, would allow them to settle and get some much-needed rest.
  • Golden Years – Improves energy, confidence and interest in day-to-day life. While not designed to be illness-specific, I think it would be an excellent combination for dogs battling cancer who appear to be losing vitality and interest.
  • Harmony – I’m not sure how common it is, but I have observed that some dogs undergo a drastic personality change when ill with cancer. Normally tolerant, agreeable dogs can become grumpy, snappy, resentful. Harmony is a formula with great success in turning around negative attitudes brought on by any cause, including illness.
  • I’ll Be Back – For dogs who become anxious, fearful, and clingy/dependent during illness, this blend can improve confidence and promote a much-needed sense of security.
  • Very Scary Things – Helps relieve fear and anxiety, whether brought on by discomfort, stressful treatments or chemical changes. Very Scary Things also helps build emotional stamina, and helps improve adaptability to life transitions, including drastic changes to lifestyle and end of life.
  • Design Your Own – I offer a Design Your Own Formula service as well. Because the emotional changes from cancer can express in so many different ways, some dog owners may want to look into  choosing a selection of individual essences that address their dog’s needs at this time. Keep in mind, also, that it’s not uncommon for emotional shifts to occur with the progression of the cancer, so care should be taken to re-evaluate periodically. It’s best not to assume that what helped in one stage will continue to be the right choice in another stage of illness or recovery.

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About our Expert
Julie Cantrell is owner of Aldaron Essences and has been a dog behavior consultant and trainer since 1990. In 1994, she began working with Bach flower remedies as an aid to resolve serious behavior problems in dogs. After her success integrating flower essences into her work, she founded the company in 2009 so that she could continue to help dogs with a wide variety of emotional roadblocks, protecting them from difficult — and even dangerous — behavior. She holds a degree in zoology, is a practitioner member of the Flower Essence Society, a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.

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