How did you become involved with homeopathy and natural healing for dogs?
It all really started with my first miniature Bull Terrier, Molly, who was diagnosed with an untreatable problem in 2009. I basically asked to be referred to the famous holistic vet called Richard Allport. So off we went. And we were prescribed various homoeopathic remedies. At this point. I didn't even know what homoeopathy was at the time. So I've got to be honest, this was a total baptism of fire. And I just became so interested in this alternative paradigm that it led me to study at the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies to learn more, and I really did that to help Molly.
Subsequently, I've helped heal other dogs and make them better, whether it's through diet or by including certain supplements and remedies and indeed, involving aromatherapy! A good way to use aromatherapy with dogs is to use a tiny bit of essential oil from plants, which is why I like the Sniffe & Likkit range of grooming so much with its aromatherapeutic elements!
We have combined five different essential oils. The main feature is Cedarwood oil, which is very grounding. We've got Vetiver which is known as the oil of tranquillity which is that lovely green grassy note often used in a lot of fine fragrances. Along with Ho Leaf and Juniper Berry there is Petitgrain - you have said you have used it for your own dogs?
Yes, because Mr. Binks was a rescue dog re-home. He was so nervous when I got him, unbelievable, very shaky. So as I was walking along one day, somebody asked me what his name was and when I said it they replied ‘Well, no, you should change that. You should call him Elvis, because he shakes so much.’ I was mortified. So absolutely. Petitgrain is renowned for its kind of uplifting, joyful energy content that can transport a dog just by creating a reaction in the brain and combining with the energy of that particular dog. And it certainly worked in Mr Bink’s case!
If you look at the benefits of our oils, they’re both calming and relaxing. But also tonic boosting. All of them are renowned for being calming and relaxing and grounding, but also can stimulate! They are really beneficial not just for the dog, but for humans too.
Cedarwood is a really good deodorizer but it's probably the one of the top oils for anxiety and of course, at the moment we've got a lot of people going back to work and it's possible that a lot of dogs are going to suffer that separation anxiety. Would you recommend any particular oils and any therapies for anxiety and separation?
Well, I always think massage is such a good place to start - it really helps with bonding between owners and their dogs. I think the problem is with lockdown that dogs have been brought in perhaps not for all the right reasons.
Dogs bring us companionship and they are destressors and they get us outdoors. But you do need to remember, a dog is a dog and dogs need to spend time with their owners. So I think spending quality time with your dog is so important. And massage is so easy- it's free! You can do it when you're sitting on the sofa while you're in a calm frame of mind, watching Netflix or whatever it might be. And just calmly run down each side of your dog's spine just with your thumb little circular movements. I mean, I love a good massage and adult dogs store tension in their muscles just as we do. And they develop tight shoulders like we do.
You can also boost that experience by adding a little bit of aromatherapy to encourage calmness. Aromatherapies work well with my dog Prudence, particularly with Cedarwood as you were talking about, because that is such an earth oil, you know, it is grounding. It's about roots, it's about it being calm. And it's a very soothing remedy. It's also excellent for repelling pesky bugs, like fleas. So it's an added bonus, you know, to repel fleas naturally, you know, which is something I'm all about as well. So it is a great kind of all- round remedy and lots of dogs are anxious. Prue (Anna’s dog) was born completely hyperactive. And, you know, I used to say about Prudence, you could plug her in, and she would be the solution to climate change. It would be a natural source of energy!
Training your dog is also important, It builds a line of communication that builds trust and respect. Teaching him that the world is a game based on rules and teamwork, he’ll understand boundaries and understand the game which is being left at home.
You have to really practice this from the get go - from the first day you get your puppy. Your puppy should spend a lot of his time in a separate room to where you are, mainly, I would say the kitchen. You’re training to teach your puppy to understand that you are coming back to him. Never leave a dog home alone for more than 4 x hours, and build this time limit gradually.
A happy, balanced dog should be independent and confident. You want a dog that can go into any environment and feel comfortable that you're by his side. There's nothing to be anxious about. You’ve trained the games like walk to heel and settle under the table, so you’re set to go out and get to know each other through shared experiences.
Whether you’ve re-homed a rescue or you’re starting with a young adult dog it all begins with constant desensitisation from the get go. But I think there is going to be a lot of anxiety in dogs at the moment as many people are not sure about how to communicate with their dog, and messages get lost in translation. Causing confusion, frustration and anxiety.
We worked with a pet aromatherapist to find the best oils to help dogs as well as the safest for them considering their sense of smell is so much more powerful than ours. The oils are very diluted in the formula to a safe level that is good to be applied topically and massaged - such as our No Rinse Charming Powder Shower.
I love No Rinse Charming because dry shampoos are a great idea. But to be honest, up until discovering this one there hasn't been anything quite like it on the market. There are some really chemically driven, definitely not 100% organic, products out there. So, I was very impressed with No Rinse Charming (read about this product here). I also love it because it features a product that I learned about in my study called Diatomaceous Earth (you can read about this ingredient here). It's brilliant for cleansing and deodorising but probably most importantly it's a renowned flea and tick repellent. You're getting all of those benefits in one little sprinkle!
Not to mention dogs' sense of smell is literally incomprehensible to us, they've got 220 million scent receptors in their nose - we only have 5 million but it's a lot more complicated than that as they've got a whole chamber in their brain dedicated to storing and memorising every scent they encounter. So having a diluted formula and choosing the best oils for dogs is just another reason why I love Sniffe & Likkit.
I actually use the No Rinse Charming Powder Shower Dry Shampoo in my own hair, I love it so much and being so natural it is really great! You’ve mentioned before that you like to use one of our products yourself?
Yes the Fab Paw! (more information here) It’s like a supersonic product. We put this on Prudence’s nose, as well as on her paws because both areas have this thing where they often have pink skin on her nose. So she's good about it, rubbing it in there and she's been bitten by an insect actually at the moment so it’s helpful for that. It's okay but she's been really scratching it so I've been putting the fab paw on it because she has made the surrounding skin a bit raw from her scratches and it’s great with the anti-inflammatory ingredients as well.
I'm finding it's working on Prue but I also use it on my own hands! It has made my hands look so much younger and softer!
Yes it's 99.98% natural, all the oils and butters are so nourishing, soothing, protective and full of essential oils. It is truly fabulous! Do you have any advice for people with dogs to help calm them down, other than, what we have already discussed?
One of the consistent themes with me is nutrition. And of course, feeding a dog on a species appropriate diet. A fresh whole food that comprises mainly meat, rather than heavily processed types of foods that contain a lot of ingredients that aren't really meant for a dog to eat.
Everything from barley to rice to wheat, and maize, and so on, because those ingredients are basically sugar. There's so many studies that show that dogs like us can get sugar spikes. So a dog eating a very sugary spiky kind of diet will have massive mood swings that can create hyperactivity, then kind of the opposite real slump behaviour - mood swings.
That's not generally conducive to being calm. So a good wholesome whole food diet is my number one thing to always say because you are what you eat at the end of the day. It’s good to mix it up a bit, don't always have preserved foods. There's so many fabulous brands now on the market, giving huge amounts of choice, which wasn't the case, only 20 years ago, that none existed.
But in terms of calming, look at plants to help. There are diffusers out there that emit herbal remedies that do calm. There's also calming vests, Prue is actually wearing one currently.
A lot of dogs are anxious because they're not taken out of themselves enough. They're not given enough mental stimulation. So they're left to kind of procrastinate most of the day, you know, living in their own heads. And we all know what happens if we do that, you know, we need to fill our day - we need regular exercise and to go outdoors. Dogs love regular walks, taking in the fresh air - understand what makes your dog tick. Also make sure you pick a breed that suits your lifestyle.
Can aromatherapy help little dogs fear and aggression?
It definitely can - my dog Mr. Binks is tiny! Work with oils - combined with massage it is great just to build confidence. Little dogs sometimes have Napoleon complexes so sometimes they suffer from fear and aggression, because they can really get picked on in the park due to their small size.
So I would recommend massage and aromatherapy along with consistent training. I think some people think that small dogs don't need to be trained, because they can be carried everywhere. And it's one of my little pet peeves actually seeing small dogs being carried everywhere, because that is actually training them to be up higher than other dogs. So they, get a sense of their own self-importance. So that's why lots of little dogs being carried will be quite yappy. It's best to get them walking on the ground.
Some key messages from Anna:
Aromatherapy is a great way to help your dogs with a variety of issues, but particularly is helpful for anxiety with the soothing properties of many essential oils.
Combine aromatherapy with massage as a great way to bond with your dog and help them to relax.
Training is so important - particularly with separation anxiety that is occuring for so many dogs post-pandemic and to ensure your dog does not have aggressive tendencies.
Natural grooming and nutrition is so important to your dog and their behaviour.
Anna Webb uses aromatherapy with her own dogs and recommends to use the Sniffe & Likkit grooming range to help hounds naturally.
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