By Karen Thomas for Paradise Pets Magazine
Aromatherapy and essential oils have been used for thousands of years for healing and anointing. Records dating back to 4500 BC describe the use of balsamic substances with aromatic properties for personal, medicinal and spiritual use. The rediscovery of essential oils into modern medicine began during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse PhD, a French cosmetic chemist known as the father of aromatherapy, began studying oils in 1907. Gattefosse discovered lavender oil’s ability to assist in the healing of burns after immersing his own burned hand into a vat of lavender oil following a laboratory explosion in 1910.
Essential oils are the volatile liquids and aromatic compounds distilled from flowers, trees, roots, bushes, shrubs and seeds. An essential oil contains the true essence of the plant it was derived from and is highly concentrated. These oils have regenerating, oxygenating and immune supporting properties which can assist our animals in the healing process.
Essential oils provide energetic balance and help in healing through the sense of smell. As the olfactory system is stimulated, physiologic functions are supported which allows the body to self-heal. They also have antiseptic, antimicrobial and detoxifying properties and can help with emotional issues such as anxiety and stress. In addition to direct inhalation another excellent way to get these benefits is by diffusing the oils in a cold air diffuser.
Essential oils may also be used topically or ingested. As a rule, when working with animals, LESS is MORE, as sense of smell is highly developed in many animals due to their instinctual nature. For example, a human has 5-6 million olfactory receptors while the dog as 220 million.
Domestic and wild animals will naturally seek out plants that bring their bodies into a state of balance. Rubbing against a pine tree picking up the oils from the bark will help soothe sore muscles and joints. Burying their nose deep into an herb or flower, inhaling the aroma of the entire plant can help the animal keep calm. Or eating a plant and allowing the properties of the plant to be absorbed will assist with overcoming digestive upset.
Whether working with humans or animals be sure that the essential oils used are therapeutic grade. Therapeutic grade oils are pure. They are grown, harvested and packaged with minimal harm to the plant. These plants are wild crafted, meaning the soil has never been exposed to chemicals and wind patterns are studied to see that nothing harmful can blow onto the soil. The plants are distilled with a low heat, low steam and low-pressure process to maintain the integrity and therapeutic benefits of the plant.
Synthetic oils are mostly made from petrochemicals, try to duplicate the smell of a certain plant and are created for a specific purpose, such as perfume. Fragrance grade oils used in perfumes do not assist with healing and can actually cause more harm than good because of their ingredients. Inexpensive oils are most likely not therapeutic quality.
Caution should be exercised with cats when using essential oils with a high phenol content. Cats do not have some of the liver enzymes needed to help metabolize the phenol constituents of certain oils. Melaleuca oil (Tea Tree) should never be used on birds. Melaleuca can cause an adverse reaction in birds which may result in death. In maintaining the health and well-being of our animal companions just remember the LESS is MORE rule. When in doubt consult your veterinarian or a holistic animal practitioner who is experienced with the use of essential oils.
Komitor, C. CMT, HTCP/I, CHBMT, HTACP, ESMT
(2013). Healing touch for animals level 3 workbook (6th ed.). Highlands Ranch, CO: Komitor Healing Method, Inc.
Shelton, M. DVM (2012). The animal desk reference
Essential oils for animals. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. DBA On-Demand Publishing, LLC.
Young, G.D. et al (2011). Essential oils desk reference
Special fifth edition. Orem, UT: Life Science Publishing.
Karen Thomas, R.N., is a Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) Practitioner in the Florida Keys. Healing Touch for Animals is a holistic approach influencing the health and well-being of animals through energy and intention. HTA techniques restore harmony and balance to the energy system while providing physical, emotional, mental and instinctual stability, thus supporting the body to self-heal. This work can be done in person or distantly. Karen can be contacted through her website www.pawsitivetouch.org
By Karen Thomas for Paradise Pets Magazine
We all enjoy the fun of summer activities - swimming, going to the beach, vacations and
holiday celebrations. But our very sensitive four-legged companions may feel a little
different. When the temperature rises we need to be extra vigilant of the well-being of
our babies in fur coats. Living in the Florida Keys the temperature and humidity soar
during the summer creating a very oppressive heat which can affect all of us.
Here are just a few safety tips for keeping our loved ones safe:
Every year hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion from being left in parked cars. It
is never a good idea to leave your pet in a parked car with the windows cracked, ever.
Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness
and even death, even on a day that doesn't seem hot to you. And cracking the windows
makes no difference. The data below was shared by the American Veterinary Medical
Association on how quickly temperatures rise.
“The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 20
minutes, it can rise almost 30º F...and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60
minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the
outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that's 110 degrees inside your vehicle!”
Safe Travel for Pets
Let’s also not forget the severe dangers of driving with your dog in the bed of a pickup
truck. Not only are they exposed to airborne hazards and risk being burned on the hot
metal of the bed itself, but dogs could also fall or jump off the truck and be injured or
killed on impact. Using a tether in the truck bed is not a good idea either as the tether
could tangle, injure, or even choke your dog. If you must transport your dog in the bed
of a pickup truck, use a secured, appropriately sized and ventilated dog kennel.
The safest plan is to leave your pets at home when you can. They will be safe, grateful
and happily waiting for your return.
Exercise and Hydration
It’s very important to modify your pet’s excise during the summer months. Exercising for shorter periods in the cooler hours of the morning or evening are best once the
pavements and streets have cooled. Paw pads can burn easily on hot pavements,
decks, sand or asphalt. If you’re unsure of the temperature test it by taking your shoes
off and standing on the surface for a few minutes. Often our pets are so eager to
please us that they won’t complain when their paws are burning.
If your dog will be spending time outdoors, make sure they have access to plenty of
shade and fresh water. Wading pools (out of direct sunlight) and sprinkler hoses can
help with cooling and can be lots of fun for them too.
Remember too that older, short-muzzled, overweight dogs, dogs with chronic health
issues and puppies are more likely to overheat in hot weather. Animals with flat faces,
like Boxers, Bulldogs, Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since
they cannot pant as effectively. These pets should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms
as much as possible.
The same rules apply to beach outings -lots of shade and lots of water. I always take
plenty of extra water and a bucket in case it gets spilled or if there are other dogs in
need of it. Be mindful of the hot sand. If you can’t walk on it barefoot you can be
sure it’s uncomfortable for your pup.
Warning Signs of Overheating in Pets
If your pet is suffering from any of the above symptoms you should take immediate
action and move him to a cool area, preferably with air conditioning. At a minimum
move him to a shady spot. Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness
veterinarian who writes for HealthyPets.Mercola.com. recommends taking his
temperature if possible.
“If it is 104 degrees or lower begin cooling your dog down by soaking his body with cool
water – cool, but not cold. Use a hose, wet towels or any other source of cool water that
is available. Concentrate the cooling water on his head, neck and in the areas
underneath the front and back legs. Carefully cool the tongue if possible, but don't let
water run into the throat as it could get into the lungs. Never put water in the mouth of a dog that can't swallow on his own. Put a fan on him if possible – it will speed up the
cooling process. After a few minutes, re-check his temperature. If it's at or below 104ºF,
stop the cooling process. Further cooling could lead to blood clotting or a too-low body
temperature. Get the dog to a veterinary clinic right away, even if he seems to be
Fireworks and Storms
Many people enjoy the booming sounds and flashing lights of fireworks, but they can be
terrifying and overwhelming for pets, and possibly hazardous. On the Fourth of July so many pets are frightened and try to escape the sights and sounds that animal shelters
around the nation report a dramatic increase in lost pets during the holiday.
Be mindful of the fact that our pets are very sensitive to loud noises, flashing lights and
strong smells. So on the Fourth of July (and the days around it when people are likely
to set off fireworks), it's best to leave your pets safely indoors, preferably with relaxing
music playing or TV turned on to hide jarring noises. I am a big fan of the
“Thundershirt” not only during thunderstorms but anytime there is loud noise or
vibration. The soft pressure on the animal’s torso exerted from the shirt has a calming
effect. I usually spray my calming blend “Serenity” on the shirt as well. I love to diffuse
calming essential oils (like lavender) regularly in our ‘healing room’ where there are
crates set up to help create a peaceful safe space in the house. So during times of loud
noises or vibrations there is a ‘safe place’ in the house for our dogs to retreat to.
The summer months can be fun and full of wonderful activities. Just always remember
to pay extra attention to the special needs of our loving animal companions. They
deserve to have an awesome and stress free summer too!
Sources: American Veterinarian Medical Association: 1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360
Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, integrative wellness veterinarian. HealthyPets.Mercola.com.
About the author: Karen Thomas, R.N., is a Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) Practitioner in the Florida Keys. Karen can be contacted through her website www.pawsitivetouch.org or email her directly at karen [at] pawsitivetouch.org
It’s always a good time to pay attention to your family’s health and happiness, and that includes your feline friends, too. Regular exercise and wholesome nutritional choices can help ensure your cat is happy and healthy all year long.
These five tips can help keep your cat purring for years to come. For more information on keeping your cat happy and healthy, visit IAMS.com.
1. Create a Space for Your Cat – As most cat owners know, cats have energy they need to exert throughout the day. Create a space specifically for your cat that includes a cat tree and toys, which allows them to climb around, expel extra energy or use this space to do what cats do best, take a catnap.
2. Provide Healthy and Tasty Meals – Nutrition is a major player in the overall health and happiness of cats. They are natural carnivores and need the proper amount of protein in their diets. Providing your cat a diet with high-quality, animal-sourced protein, such as IAMS™ High Protein cat food, can help them maintain healthy vitality and fuel their carnivorous spirit.
3. Find the Perfect Toys – Cats are curious creatures and love being on the prowl. Make sure you have a variety of toys on-hand for your cat to play with, including laser pointers, stuffed mice and feather wands. These items will not only keep them busy, but they offer a great form of exercise to keep them active.
4. Give Them Some Love – Spending quality time with your furry friend can be as easy as allowing them to curl up with you on the couch at the end of a long day. Show some love by treating them to a nightly brushing, which can help maintain coat health and shininess.
5. Visit the Vet – One of the easiest, and often overlooked, tips for maintaining your feline friend’s health is taking them to the veterinarian at least once a year rather than simply waiting for signs of illness. Scheduling yearly checkups can help identify any problems that may go unnoticed.
Photos courtesy of Fotolia
Sources: Family Features | IAMS
The spring season not only signifies the start of rain showers, colorful flowers and more outdoor activities, it also brings a rise in spring cleaning. Shake off the cold weather blues and revisit the simple parts of everyday life that could use a cleanup.
From storing your winter essentials to cleaning up your whole family’s diet (including your furry friends), these tips can help infuse the spring-cleaning spirit into your busy lifestyle.
Tidy Up Your Space
Spring cleaning starts by identifying what area to tackle first. Set yourself up for success by picking a small space, such as your pup’s abode. Clean his or her bowl, replenish old toys and freshen up the bed. Using a removable cover on the bed can help to keep the space tidy all-year long.
Store Away Winter Essentials
As the days get warmer and you start to break out your spring jackets, bulky coats and clothes may go unused. Declutter your closet by storing your winter essentials in bins and setting aside items to donate. This can help to make room for those bright spring clothes you’ve been waiting to wear.
Pay Attention to Hard to Reach Places
You may not realize how much dust collects on the top of your ceiling fan when it’s not running. Avoid circulating dust bunnies by giving ceiling fan blades a good brushing with a cloth or vacuum. In addition to keeping your home nice and neat, this can also help ease springtime allergies.
Dust Off Those Sneakers and Get Outside
With spring in full swing, freshen up your sneakers by throwing them into the washing machine (by themselves) and hanging them outside to dry. Once you’re ready to get moving, be sure to include your four-legged friend. Playing outside together can increase both of your activity levels and help you enjoy the warmer temperatures.
Refresh Your Diet and Your Pup’s
Spring means that fresh fruits and vegetables are starting to come back into season. Spruce up your diet by reintroducing these items, as well as quality proteins like chicken or salmon. In addition, ingredients with sources of fiber, like sweet potatoes, can help fill you up without adding too many empty calories. These foods are not only good for your health, they’re also beneficial for your dog. In fact, these ingredients are often found in many high-quality pet foods such as the NUTRO™ WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS™ line of dry dog food. As part of the NUTRO. FEED CLEAN™ philosophy, these dog food recipes are made with real, recognizable ingredients, allowing you to share your healthy eating lifestyle with your pup.
Sources: Family Features | Nutro
Supporting an animal’s natural ability to self-heal
By Karen Thomas, RN, Healing Touch for Animals Practitioner
Many of you have or know of an animal who is suffering from injury or illness, or is struggling with behavior challenges. Often animal lovers easily recognize these challenges but do not know how to help their beloved friends. Our animals’ inability to verbalize what they need can leave their human companions feeling stressed and helpless. As a Healing Touch for Animals Practitioner I am dedicated to helping these animals by using a language they both understand - energy therapy.
Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) is a holistic approach influencing the health and well-being of animals through energy and intention. Heart-centered energy therapy restores harmony and balance to the animal’s energy system while providing physical, emotional, mental and instinctual stability. Stabilizing the energy system allows the natural flow of the immune system which supports the animal’s natural self-healing process and promotes well-being.
HTA can be used on all species of all ages, small and large, and benefits our animals in many ways:
What happens during a Healing Touch for Animals Session?
Upon meeting the animal in person or through distant communication, I assess the animal’s energy system and connect with his or her spirit. I will then utilizes appropriate HTA techniques using touch and intention to clear, balance and strengthen their energy system. This treatment may include aromatherapy with therapeutic-grade essential oils, sound and/or vibrational therapy with the use of tuning forks. Usually the first response noted is relaxation which is the foundation for optimal health. I will often receive messages from the animal in the form of pictures, words and feelings through animal communication which assists with the healing process as well. A single session can take up to an hour depending on the animal and situation.
Healing Touch for Animals works in cooperation with traditional veterinarian medicine to provide the best care for our animal companions. HTA practitioners will work in conjunction with any veterinary diagnosed and prescribed treatment plan. As a cooperative practice this modality serves to bridge holistic animal health care with traditional veterinary science.
In home and distant therapy sessions
I offer Healing Touch energy work in the comfort of the animal’s home or the environment where they’re most at ease. My range of travel, at this time, is open to all of the Florida Keys.
If you are outside of the travel range or the home environment is not suitable this work can still be done distantly since energy is not limited by time or space. During distant work it is helpful to create a quiet and relaxed atmosphere for the animal during the scheduled sessions. The session will take place during an agreed upon time and be followed up by a telephone or email consultation for feedback and questions.
For more information on Healing Touch for Animals or to book a session please visit my website at www.pawsitivetouch.org
Reference: Komitor, C. CMT, HTCP/I, CHBMT, HTACP, ESMT (2013). Healing touch for animals level 3 workbook (6th ed.). Highlands Ranch, CO: Komitor Healing Method, Inc.
Why cats scratch and how to safely stop it
Ever since the day the first feline became a house cat, destructive cat scratching has plagued owners. All the affection and loving care owners shower upon their cats can feel like wasted energy when the thanks they get looks more like hatred: shredded furniture, carpet and curtains.
It’s a normal human response to be angry or frustrated about damage inflicted by cats’ scratching, but equally normal is a cat’s need to scratch. Cat scratching is a behavior that fulfills both physical and emotional needs. Cats scratch to stretch their bodies, maintain their hunting and climbing skills, groom their claws and mark their territory, showing they’re in a safe space.
However, these behaviors cats exhibit to establish a safe living space can be anything but pleasant for their human companions. This can lead frustrated owners to take drastic measures to modify behavior, but those decisions can be risky, especially when it comes to a permanent and potentially harmful practice like declawing.
Many pet owners believe that declawing their cats is a harmless and quick fix for unwanted scratching, similar to trimming one’s nails. However, if a declawing procedure were performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.
“Not only does the practice cause pain, it removes an important self-defense tool and the surgery itself poses risks related to anesthesia and infection,” said Dr. Valarie V. Tynes, president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, licensed veterinarian and veterinary services specialist at Ceva Animal Health. “All of this can lead to behavioral issues that may be worse than a shredded couch.”
Declawing is an irreversible measure to address a normal behavioral issue in cats. Declawed cats may be less likely to use a litter box, more likely to bite and the disruption of the natural scratching behavior can cause lasting physiological problems.
That sentiment is echoed by national organizations such as the American Association for Feline Practitioners, which deems the practice of declawing an ethically controversial procedure that is not medically necessary in most instances. In fact, declawing cats is now illegal in several U.S. cities.
Find alternatives to declawing, and cat-scratching solutions, at savethecouches.com.
5 Humane Alternatives to Declawing
There are numerous safe and painless alternatives to declawing, including these ideas from the pet behavior experts at Ceva Animal Health:
1. Routinely trim nails. Regular nail care is an important part of general care and hygiene for your cat, but it can also help prevent scratching damage by eliminating the sharp, destructive claw tips. Properly trimmed nails are less likely to snag or split, and cats with well-trimmed nails are less likely to resort to scratching as part of their own self-grooming rituals.
2. Create scratch-friendly zones. Keeping cats from scratching areas you don’t want them to bother is far more likely if you provide areas where they can scratch at will, such as scratching pads and posts. Pair these scratching areas with a product such as Feliscratch by Feliway, which is clinically proven to prevent destructive scratching by redirecting cats to scratch in the right place. Cats are attracted to the drug-free, naturally derived product and will feel compelled to scratch where it’s applied, leaving that chair or couch alone.
“Cat owners can now have damage-free home decor without putting their cats through the stress and potential physical harm of the painful declawing procedure,” Tynes said.
3. Reinforce off-limits areas. Cats are highly tactile, so applying textured materials like double-sided sticky tape or rough, crinkly aluminum foil to areas you don’t want scratched can be an effective deterrent.
4. Consult a behaviorist. Not all cases have easy answers, but an expert with experience in animal behavior can provide guidance based specifically on your cat’s personality and circumstances to help create a custom solution.
5. Eliminate negative reinforcements. Avoid punishing your cat for undesirable behavior. This includes shouting, spraying with water or swatting your cat. Punishment can increase stress and anxiety. It can make the problem worse and may even make your cat afraid of you.
DIY Scratching Post
Designating a spot for your cat to safely scratch is one of the most effective ways to minimize damage to your possessions. A homemade scratching post is a quick and easy project.
1. Cut foot-long length of 4-by-4-inch wood and a 1-foot square piece of plywood. The exact sizes can vary, but these are good starting points that you can adjust up or down, depending on your space.
2. Sand away splinters and rough edges.
3. Add a sturdy fabric wrap or paint to lend aesthetic appeal to the plywood base.
4. Wrap the post tightly with heavy-gauge rope or carpet scraps (or both), securing tightly with glue and reinforcing with a staple gun.
5. Securely attach the post to the base using a long bolt.
6. Place the post in an area your cat enjoys spending time, and consider adding a pheromone therapy spray to attract your cat to the post.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Women on the sofa with black cat)
Sources: Family Features | Ceva Animal Health
Paradise Pets Magazine