May 26, 2009

De-stressing your dog

It is easy to forget that dogs, like people, need very similar things to thrive. Your dog follows your routine, your eating habits, exercise habits and more. It is time that we thought about our own routines, and how they can impact the life of our pet. Dogs don't just need "dog food" and a ball to chase: each dog has something special and unique about them that should be honored, and it is up to you-- the owner-- to find out what it is!

In order to live, humans need the basics: food, water, and shelter. In order to thrive, however, we need a stable home environment, whole and nourishing foods, regular exercise, touch, love, community, strategies for managing stress, and a positive outlook on life. It would seem, to me, that we can say the same things about our pets.

At Give A Dog A Bone, we may work on a tight budget, but Corinne and her volunteers try to tackle the physical, emotional, and mental health of the dogs. One thing in particular: STRESS is not just our enemy, but an enemy of our pets as well. Although in some cases, prescription medicine is a necessity, these days, it is fun to play around with some of the extremely effective holistic and all-natural stress-busting options. Corinne has come up with some all-natural remedies that are worth sharing for de-stressing the dogs at the shelter:

1. Lavender spray bottle: Lavender has been used for ages as an herb to combat depression, anxiety, insomnia and a variety of other conditions. It works by having a calming effect on the body and thereby reducing the body's stress response. At the shelter, Corinne has a spray bottle filled with filtered water and lavender essential oil. Sprayed in the air around the dogs, they are noticeably intrigued and calmed by the smell. It is worth trying at home if your dog is having a barking attack, or noticeably agitated. 

2. Bach's Rescue Remedy: A long time holistic health staple, rescue remedy is a combination of flower essences developed by Edward Bach to be used in times of stress. Everyone from celebrities, to health professionals, or just your Average Joe can keep this in mind when stress arises. (Some EMT's even carry it around in their medical bag to use when patients are presenting with signs of shock!) The combination of flowers works synergistically to reduce stress, calm the mind, decrease anxiety, and even goes so far as to decrease panic symptoms. 

3. Diet: Dogs and people are sensitive to food. We may not know it, after all of the processes and refinements have taken place, but food definitely effects how we behave. Refined white sugar, for instance, spikes the blood sugar, causes mood imbalances, cravings, anxiety, and weight gain. Instead, it has been found that complex carbohydrates: quinoa, brown rice, millet, and protein: fish (high in protein and omega-s), chicken, lean meats have a profoundly calming effect on the body and mind. If you are up for it, make your dog breakfast of salmon, quinoa, and steamed veggies with olive oil to see how they respond to an all-natural and nourishing meal!!!

The list can go on forever, and it is fun to play around with your own stress busting ideas: Meditation, Yoga, massage, long walks, doing something fun with someone you love, watching a movie. Whatever your tactic is for stress-relief, try to get your dog in  on the action as well!

Wonderful wishes for a beautiful spring- the perfect time of year to enjoy a sunny patch of grass at the park with your furry friend.


2 comments: said...

Cool blog!!!

Dee Broton said...

I love that you are using Lavender & Rescue Remedy with shelter dogs. I use Lavender & flower essences in my training and with my own dogs during thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. Lavender is awesome!!!

~ Dee