Intro to Working with Animals and Essential Oils (Animal Aromatics)

Franny, Oscar, and Merlin – Yes! We love to sniff this stuff!

Contributing Editor, Debbie Martinez


 by Frances Fitzgerald Cleveland 

Essential oils have been referred to as the soul of the plant, and the drops of oils, the plant’s jewels.  Essential oils, though not greasy as it may sound, are actually a ‘volatile oil’, a substance that evaporates quickly.  Flowers, leaves, blossoms, petals, resins, roots, twigs, seeds, berries and rind, are some of the parts that the oils are extracted from.  Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts and contain hormones, vitamins and antiseptics.  Some of essential oils uses are antiseptic (prevents or combats infection locally), bactericide (kills bacteria), bacteriostatic (inhibits growth of bacteria), and cytophylactic (promotes cell rejuvenation when applied to the skin). 

I teach this information-packed filled course in which students learn about essential oils, and how they are administered to an animal, through the animal’s very sophisticated olfactory system.  Students also learn about Zoopharmacognosy; the process by which animals self-medicate.  You can see how animals self-medicate simply by observing your own animal.  Dogs and cats for example, will clean their own digestive systems by eating plants or grass.  Every time I teach this class, I am inspired by the student’s enthusiasm toward this subject.  And the students in turn, are excited with the knowledge they have gained toward using and working on animals with essential oils. 

I start the class by teaching about the Olfactory System, the sensory system used for smell.  We then learn about and practice muscle testing–the manner in which the body responds to the stimuli and is used to determine what herb or essential oil is needed.  This is always my favorite part of the course because my animals are usually the ones we work on and I love to watch the students all working together to come up with the essential oil and the proper dilution.

My recent May 9th class was of particular interest to me because we were working on my 12-year old lab mix, Oscar. After we had our discussion and the students asked me questions about Oscar and the state of his health, two of the students decided he needed Patchouli.  This made me laugh and I thought to myself, “I will be amazed if he muscle tests for this and if he even likes it!”  Well, he did muscle test for it and when we showed him the bottle of patchouli we diluted just for him, he chose it, and he really liked it.  This was, yet again, another lesson learned that animals truly know what they need and when they want it – Zoopharmacognosy.  It was a magnificent day of learning and being taught by the animals. 

About Frances:

Frances has worked with horses for more than 25 years in a range of disciplines.  Her aspirations started with horses and grew to include people and other animals.  In 1996, Frances founded her company, FrogWorks.  She has always aimed to heighten the well-being of people and animals naturally, through individualized use of essential oils.

Frances has extensive experience in the realms of health and behavior as it relates to both animals and humans.  She obtained certification from the Institute of Dynamic Aromatherapy and the International School of Animal Aromatics.  Frances studied in England with Caroline Ingraham, the pioneer of Animal Aromatics.  Frances is an apprentice of Rosemary Gladstar, world renowned author, herbalist and teacher, and has completed the intensive Apprenticeship Program and the Science and Art of Herbalism Program in the didactic, therapeutic, laboratory and fieldwork in herbalism.

Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage carries the FrogWorks product line on its website and at the Castle Rock location. To purchase their products visit the RMSAAM store.