Using Botanicals and other holistic support for End Of Life Care
We dread that call from the Vet following tests or a consultation. We wait with trepidation for the news we already suspect. It is devastating. Every… single… time. Then we have the questions, is there any treatment, how long do we have, what can we do? We create a plan with our vet and go home to make the best of that time, if we are able to.
It is during this time, those days and weeks that a Holistic Practitioner can really help. Botanical sessions can help alongside Vet meds with the palliative care, helping nausea, appetite, fatigue, lethargy, minor secondary infections, skin issues, discomfort and also prepare both the Dog and Guardian for the final journey.
There are some great options a Practitioner might suggest for some of the physical symptoms and especially the emotional ones.
Canine Self Healing is a wonderful practice where the practitioner uses their knowledge of the Dog, the Guardian and the Botanicals, and matches a range to offer support through this special time. The Dog takes time in a session to select those most needed at each stage.
Depending upon the physical need there are a range of Botanicals which can offer support. Many Botanicals offer both physical and emotional support. It would be these, which can cover a range of needs we look to, to limit the number of choices we offer.
For instance, often there is nausea, from liver failures or from drugs to support the clinical needs. So offering fennel can help. Fennel also may offer some support for tumours and for feelings of vulnerability.
For helping the physical body process the overwhelming medical issues Seaweed and Carrot seed are often selected for appetite and nausea as well as supporting organs, Thyme can be useful when infections/breakdown of immune system threaten overwhelm, thyme offers support emotionally for despondency too.
The Citrus oils can also offer both physical and emotional support. They are cleansing of body and soul. Bergamot, Orange blossom and Neroli all offer uplifting mood and release, the strength to let go.
Finally, there are the core of the emotional, spiritual, soul support Botanicals. These form the main offers in those last days and hours.
Frankincense is perhaps the one I use most. It works to support fears and overwhelm, particularly sensory overwhelm. It can help the body to release and let go, offering peace and calm. Used alongside Myrrh if can set that peaceful calm atmosphere for both dog and their humans.
Angelica Root and Sandalwood are also traditionally selected for grounding, for peace and for letting go of expectations and difficult thoughts and memories.
Spikenard and Violet Leaf are useful for worry, fears of the unknown and for pain support; helping to surrender body and soul.
Rose is an all round nurturing and bonding Botanical offering bonding, composure, calm and compassion. It is Rose that often opens a session.
For more information about Self Healing sessions have a look at this Blog https://www.findadogtrainer.co.uk/blog/botanical-self-healing-aka-zoopharmacognosy
Alongside Botanical Self Healing I would often use some Bach Flower Therapies too. These are beautiful Flower Essences which work with the body vibrationally. For support for palliative care the choices might include: Mimulus to allay fears and support calm, Rock Rose for calmness, Cherry Plum for supporting and allying fears and frightening experiences, for fear of loss, to offer rest, Star of Bethlehem for peace. Also useful is White Chestnut for those who are pacing or anxious physically, it calms chattering thoughts and offers peace of mind. Aspen is useful at this time too, offering some confidence and strength, supporting vulnerability.
For those final hours Rescue Remedy is invaluable and works beautifully alongside choices from Frankincense, Myrrh Sandalwood and Angelica Root, Violet Leaf or Spikenard.
There is information here:
Tilly had grown lethargic and when she was taken to the vet a scan revealed catastrophic spleen and liver damage from aggressive tumours. There was no clinical treatment, the Vet recommending Palliative care with minimum medication to keep her comfortable. She deteriorated quickly over the following 6 weeks. That day came to discuss her needs in those final days. She greeted the vet with a happy bright tail wag and enjoyed a cuddle, it was decided she was not quite ready. That night she deteriorated quickly and it was tricky to decide if the Night Vet was needed, but knowing tomorrow was her day.
She was made comfortable. Her comforting ceremonies were arranged for her. Music played quietly, with a low light, gentle TTouch with Rescue Remedy was stroked through her fur and ears. She was offered Frankincense and Myrrh, bottles opened beside her. She rearranged herself to be facing them. There she lie, her job in life done. She was supported and allowed to slip by. Tibetan tradition was to allow time for the soul to leave the earthly body and this was honoured.
Her dog siblings had given her space overnight and one came to pay their respects, the other could not.
It was a traumatic experience. The Essential oils and Bach essence had comforted both Tilly and also her Guardian. This support was continued for the Guardian and the other Dogs for days and weeks following.
RIP Tilly 2014-2019
I was invited to work with Barley and his Guardian as she felt he needed some support in his old age. We discussed his needs at length via a consultation form and many conversations, and I was able to build a picture of the needs of the whole family. Barley was fading in this life. His guardian was struggling to come to terms with the decision that undoubtedly had to be made. His dog siblings were a little discombobulated too.
Via Zoom we set up a quiet area with the other two dogs respectfully at a distance. His Guardian was sent a Kit to select from. Barley was really clear about which of the kit he wanted and which were not wanted at this time. He chose not to work with any of the herbs and powders.
He began with Angelica Root, which is soothing of nervous system, easing stress, offers strength to be open, for fear, releasing trauma, soothing nerves, reduce anxiety. He worked with it for more than 4 minutes, breathing it in deeply. This was followed by the cell level aromatics, Carrot Seed, Yarrow and Seaweed, all support the immune system and the organs. Seaweed is very supportive of the elderly and sick. He worked with them over 5 mins, eyes flickering and breathing in short inhalations sometimes and deep breathing at others. His major Botanical choices were Nutmeg (13 mins) this is supportive for feelings of nausea and for overwhelm, it is deeply nurturing. Sandalwood (15 mins) offered help for excessive worry, grounding, easing fear, inner peace. He spent a shorter time with Frankincense for 5 mins, for calm, support for unknown and known fears, grief, loss, anxious restlessness, detachment from circumstance, creating distance from commotion or worry. Frankincense however drew in Puzzle, one of the other dogs, who had been waiting quietly, it was then offered to him, he needed it more at this time, and in the weeks following selected it again.
As the session drew to a close Barley was at peace, sleeping gently and calmly, staying with the reoffered Angelica Root. I had a strong sense of weariness and just tired out. I was able to articulate that to his Guardian, who could see it too. She made his appointment, although she was devastated she was at peace with his peace. 6months later I received this message from her:
… I think for me it made the realisation of the inevitable easier to deal with, I was so drawn into the fact that he had a date booked and the time was coming I really wanted to delay it but our session made me see how relaxed he became and how little energy he had left. It made me realise how his time was up and that time spent with him was something special that I will treasure, my gift to him for all he had done for me. It’s so easy to think what your dog feels but it's hard for them to actually tell us how they feel and since getting involved in this it has made me understand more what my dogs are saying and how I can help them. Not only that, it is has strengthened our bond and gives us that time together.
He went to the vet the next day and was still at peace as he slipped from this life.
After many years of deep reactivity Genghis body succumbed to the stress he had encountered over the previous 7 years. He had developed autoimmune issues which manifested as deep allergic reactions which could not be controlled. After a very short illness it became clear his liver was failing and his time limited.
He was anxious and tired and a little grumpy as a result. Noise triggered. He first stopped eating and it became clear he was time limited. Vets agreed to palliative support. He had some pain sometimes which was supported with steroids. Alongside this he selected Seaweed and Carrot seed regularly to help cleanse his system and offer comfort. His morning came and an appointment booked. He was tired and ready.
At the Vets we created a ceremony space on the floor with the support of the compassionate vet.
He had his calming, familiar music ready which instantly settled him. He rested on a blanket from home and had a favourite toy. I had prepared some Botanicals on cloths to offer, but also chose them for our support.
We used Frankincense, Sandalwood and Myrrh and also Bergamot. The Frankincense and Myrrh had been offered successfully at home and I knew were a gateway for him. The Sandalwood was to be grounding and releasing for him but also for me to gain strength with. Bergamot is uplifting, a gentle calming celebration. To give him hope in release from his life which had been rather tortured by reactive fear.
As his vet supported him and us, we all had Rescue Remedy as he received the TTouch he had always loved so much. His passing was so still, quiet and kind. The Botanicals had prepared him, and us, and supported him to feel safe.
Genghis 2010- 2020
Botanicals can be really key for Guardians in this time too. We often find that the aromatics we need are selected in tandem with our animals, we often share our emotions and no more so than in this bonding time. They can help to heal our souls and prepare theirs, along with the other Holistic Practices and Ceremonies.
If you would like to know more, or book a session via zoom please contact me via
I can work alongside other practitioners and indeed would love to work alongside enlightened Vets.
It is a privilege to accompany these dogs and their guardians in this final time, to honour and support all of them. That support can be really helpful in following months as Barleys Guardian found. She followed up with several sessions for the other dogs who are now finding peace.
· Caroline Ingraham Website and shop for resources : https://www.carolineingraham.com
· My Animal Matters Rachel Knott information and shop : https://myanimalmatters.co.uk
· Nayana Morag website for courses: https://essentialanimals.com
· Animal Self Medication - Caroline Ingraham : https://www.carolineingraham.com/store/books/animal-self-medication
· Essential Animals - Nayana Morag : https://essentialanimals.com/books-landingpage
· Emotional Healing For Dogs – Lisa Tensin-Dolman :