Enhancing Your Dog's Senior Years with Bach Flower Essences
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Canine or human, aging takes its toll. Energy wanes, responses slow down, and little aches and pains accumulate. Even without the additional burden of age-related illness, changes in behavior, attitude, and resilience can appear as our dogs progress into their senior years.
Of course, aging is a natural process, not an illness or malfunction, and not an inevitable precursor to emotional or behavioral issues. But in those cases where undesirable changes do occur, flower essences can help support your dog by exerting a balancing influence on emotional states - improving stamina, resiliency, mood, and confidence in your dog’s golden years.
Bach flower essences, developed in England in the early 1900’s, are the most familiar flower essences to most people, with a long history of safe and successful use in people and animals. Their gentle balancing action makes these remedies an ideal addition to any holistic wellness program for the senior dog.
Here are some flower essences for your consideration:
Walnut – Often overlooked is the transition aspect of aging. Like any change, the transition from one life stage to the next can be unsettling. Walnut provides a kind of energetic buffer, helping to stabilize the emotions through any transitional stage, while improving adaptability needed to successfully navigate life’s inevitable changes.
Honeysuckle – The senior years can also bring dramatic change in lifestyle for many dogs. Dogs that were previously active and involved may feel left out and pine for their old life, responsibilities, and relationships. Honeysuckle is a valuable essence in these cases, as it restores the ability to move on and face the present with hope, while retaining healthy remembrance of the past.
Energy & Stamina
Hornbeam – If your normally bright, enthusiastic senior has become less than eager to start the day, her regular activities, or new tasks (but is fine once she gets going), Hornbeam can help. Hornbeam boosts enthusiasm and interest, and relieves (what we humans would call) “that Monday morning feeling” of fatigue and resistance. Hornbeam is also an excellent choice for dogs showing mental weariness or sluggishness during and after a long or challenging illness.
Oak – Determined, dutiful, stoic dogs, resigned to keep going when they clearly need a rest, are prime candidates for Oak. Oak restores stamina, endurance, and the emotional strength needed for the long haul, while tempering the tendency to push on beyond health limits of activity. Wonderful for senior dogs that are used to being able to push themselves too long and too hard!
Olive – A very important flower remedy for senior dogs, Olive revitalizes and boosts energy in weary, depleted dogs. Senior dogs suffering from emotional exhaustion from long-term pain, illness, neglect, multiple re-homing, or other causes will benefit from the restorative powers of Olive.
"Aging is a natural process, but when inevitable changes occur, flower essences can help by balancing emotional states - improving stamina, resiliency, mood, and confidence in your dog’s golden years."
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Mood and Enthusiasm
Gentian – Setbacks such as overly stressful events, bad scares, illness, or injury can lead to discouragement and depression in older dogs. Gentian improves resilience to life’s challenges, relieves depression and restores perseverance.
Gorse – Remedies hopelessness and general lack of vitality. For the senior that now moves with drooping, sagging body language and downcast eyes, who has lost some of her “sparkle”, Gorse can be a highly important flower remedy, brightening mood, increasing hopefulness, and improving overall vitality.
Mustard – Deep depression and gloom usually have a physical cause or some strong emotional trigger, such as a loss or other traumatic event. A remarkable flower essence, Mustard can support your senior by lifting the black cloud of depression. Mustard restores mood, and injects a joy, light, and serenity missing in many senior dogs. If there is an ongoing physical or external cause for the depression (such as severe illness), Mustard can be used long-term to good effect.
Water Violet – stress, illness, or increasing discomfort can lead some senior dogs to become introverted and withdrawn. Water Violet restores normal desire for social contact in these dogs.
Wild Rose – Apathy, resignation, loss of previous lightness, joy, and enjoyment of everyday things – these are the very things we want to avoid at all costs as our dogs age! If your oldster has lost interest in activities, relationships, or routines he previously enjoyed, Wild Rose can help restore vital interest, spontaneity, and youthful joy. Wild Rose is a truly wonderful addition to any flower essence formula for senior dogs!
Confidence and Courage
Larch – Aging, complications of illness, and weakening of the body and senses can all reduce a senior dog’s confidence in his ability to deal successfully with life’s day to day challenges. Larch restores lost confidence and willingness to try again when your dog has begun to take failure to heart. Larch is a good choice (see also Mimulus) for the dog who’s had a bad experience with other dogs, people, or situations so that they now hesitate in similar situations, or avoid altogether.
Aspen - Even previously stable, confident dogs may develop vague unease and a degree of nervousness as they age . Already nervous dogs may experience an increase in anxiety as they get older. Aspen is an excellent choice for reducing apprehension and anxiety, and increasing courage, confidence, and a sense of self-security.
Mimulus – As with anxiety (see Aspen, above), specific fears and phobias can develop or worsen in dogs as they age. Mimulus eases fears and restores courage and confidence in senior dogs with identifiable fears of everyday things. Common age-related fears like increased sensitivity to noise (such as thunder, fireworks, and gunshots), timidity around too much activity or household upset, fear and anxiety in new places or less familiar situations, worry over slippery floors or uncertain surfaces, etc can be reduced and confidence improved with both the short- and long-term use of Mimulus.
Elm – Capacity to handle stress typically reduces with advancing age, leading senior dogs to become overwhelmed in situations once handled with ease. While we must adjust our expectations and be sensitive to our older dogs’ abilities, Elm can be an important source of support, reducing overwhelm and supporting mental stamina in the older dog.
Clarity and Presence of Mind
Clematis – Of any qualities we want to maintain in our senior dogs, that they remain alert and involved would have to be at or very near the top! While it can’t turn back the clock, if your senior dog is showing signs of becoming distant, disinterested, or “out of it”, Clematis may be able to help. Clematis improves clear-headedness, involvement and presence of mind.
I hope you’ve found this guide useful, and helpful in your quest to make your dog’s senior years the best they can be! For more guides to using flower essences in dogs, as well as articles on dog training and behavior, please visit the Learning Center at Aldaron Essences. We also have a nice selection of pre-designed flower essence blends for older dogs in our Aging, Illness & Loss category of formulas at the Aldaron Essences store.
Julie Cantrell BSc, CDBC
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