If your beloved Fido suffers from separation anxiety or panics when it's time to go to the groomer, a little aromatherapy could help. Dogs are intelligent and they have an incredible sense of smell. Scientists estimate that their noses are at least 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. Even more impressive, the area of their brain that processes these signals is 40 times larger than the comparable part of a human brain! This may explain why dogs are sensitive to olfactory stimuli and how scented products like lavender dog shampoo are so effective in calming anxious nerves.
There are many reasons dogs may have anxiety or get phobias, but they typically start during the dog's first years. These fears can be related to a bad experience, an apprehension of future events or an unknown cause. Loud noises like thunder, fireworks and smoke alarms give dogs a strong negative association that can stay with them for their entire life. And, just like many people don't like going to the doctor, many dogs hate going to the vet. As soon as they get the idea that they're headed to the vet's office, their tail stops wagging, and they start exhibiting signs of fear. On a mild level, anxious dogs tremble, hide, tuck their tail between their legs or curl it under their body. They may also shrink away or use passive escape techniques. When the level of fear escalates, dogs may actively try to escape the situation, which is part of an instinctive fight-or-flight reaction. Eventually, dogs may exhibit extreme signs of fear, including diarrhea, biting their paws and licking their body. Even though dog owners love their pets tremendously, it can be very difficult to calm the dog's fear or let them know that everything is alright. Fortunately, using a dog's keen sense of smell could be an effective way to calm a stressful situation. For dogs who hate having a bath, a soothing dog shampoo infused with lavender and chamomile is an excellent option. Studies show the aroma of lavender instantly reduces anxiety and stress in people, and it can also work for dogs. These natural botanical products work well at home or with the groomer. Naturally, dogs and puppies experience fears and phobias in other situations where shampoo can't be used for stress relief. In these scenarios, dog calming sprays can be used to reduce separation anxiety and fear related to travel, thunderstorms and other stressful stimuli. Since stress-relieving pet sprays contain diluted, natural, essential oils, including lavender and petitgrain, it's safe to spray them directly on the dog's coat. They can also be sprayed on a bandana that's tied around the dog's neck. Groomers and pet owners can apply the product on a pant leg at snout level to ensure that dogs encounter the calming scent. People who are stressed out or anxious have a heightened sense of smell, which could explain why lavender is so effective for people and our canine friends. Give it a try!