Review: BlackWing Farms Aromatherapy for Animals
If you have a pet with serious anxiety or other behavioral issues, you know that it can be a challenge. While I don't think of her as a particularly anxious dog, my 10-year-old shepherd mix, Roxy, turns into a reclusive shivering mess when it's storming or when she hears other loud, deep noises (the Fourth of July is a blast). In the past, her issues with sound have caused more dangerous behaviors. She once bolted at the sound of an exploding transformer and ended up on the side of a highway eighteen hours later. It was a terrible experience for both of us.
That's why, when the generous people at BlackWing Farms gave me a chance to test their aromatherapy products for pets, I was happy to try them out on Roxy. Led by founder Meg Harrison, the team at BlackWing Farms produces a range of aromatherapy balms and sprays with essential oils and flower essences, mostly targeted to dogs and horses that have issues with stress, trauma, fear, and shyness.
I was introduced to BlackWing Farms by the folks at The Gentle Barn, who have been using these products for years to treat recent rescues and even slaughterhouse animals. Though BlackWing Farms' products are particularly popular with shelters, they can be used by pet owners everywhere and even stressed-out humans for the same purposes. In fact, they recently launched a line just for people, though those sprays can also be use with pets.
I, for one, took the Drama-Trauma spray to the office and doused myself and my coworkers with it. I can't speak for them, but I certainly felt more calm.
If you have an animal with an issue (dog, horse, or any of 21 other species) check the behavioral chart or contact to see what remedy might be best for the individual behavior. I tested the Drama-Trauma spray and the Gentle Balm, which was developed as a special collaboration with the Gentle Barn and smells amazing.
So, did a few sprays of an aromatherapy product completely resolve Roxy's storm anxiety? Of course not—with repeated use, and in combination with other tools (like her ThunderShirt), it certainly helps.
In my experience, it works the same way aromatherapy does with humans—part soothing scent, part conscious and subconscious cue to release the stress. In the same way that positive reinforcement is important to training a pet, I think the association of the scent with the rituals of calming down (or of opening up, depending on the animal's challenges) helps reduce undesirable behaviors.
However, there is something innately calming about certain scents, like the lavender of the Gentle Balm. I don't know what it is, but rubbing a little bit on the tips of Roxy's ears seems to have as much an effect on me as it does on her.
I also spray few spritzes of the Drama-Trauma Spray in the air around her, though she tends to go find a place to hide when it's storming. According to the BlackWing Farms' website, you can also add a few squirts to your pet's water bowl, though Roxy doesn't like to drink when she's upset (we're very different in that way).
If you're interested in trying these products on a pet with anxiety, the BlackWing Farms' website is full of tips and advice. According to their mission statement, their goal is to "enrich the lives and relationships of humans and animals through the most effective plant-based remedies, always improving mental and emotional well-being, while empowering others with knowledge and shared experiences."
You can visit the BlackWing Farms website here to explore their product line and learn more. If you have a pet with behavioral issues, it may be the safe, natural help you've been looking for.