Dog aromatherapist Jo Thomas, of Wallacetown, near
Invercargill, prepares to treat her 6-year-old Siberian
husky, Dolce. Photo by Allison Rudd.
Dog owners in Christchurch with pets stressed by the
earthquakes are turning to an unusual remedy - aromatherapy.
Bottles of the anxiety treatment brewed up by trained
aromatherapist Jo Thomas are being snapped up and
Christchurch customers now make up about 20% of her business.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils from herbs, flowers and
other plants and has been used for centuries to treat humans.
For dogs, a few drops are placed on their chests or their
The medical profession is divided on how it works - or even
if it works - but Mrs.
Thomas, who operates from her home at Wallacetown, near
Invercargill, said the proof for post-earthquake Christchurch
was relieved dog owners and happier pooches.
''Earthquakes and aftershocks can be pretty traumatic on dogs
... and scared dogs are dangerous dogs,'' she said.
''The biggest thing pet owners tell me is how relieved they
are that their pets are finally relaxing and becoming their
The anxiety remedy has also proved popular for soothing
car-sick dogs, those with separation anxiety when their
owners are away, those which do not like being groomed, are
hyperactive, or stressed by shows.
Mrs. Thomas said it could also help calm dogs frightened by
She and her husband, Karl, run a pet care business and also
own eight Siberian huskies which they show and run in dog
She became interested in aromatherapy several years ago when
their oldest dog, Kayto, became off-colour.
''I had a feeling ... his medications and food might be
affecting him and decided to try natural remedies and a
natural diet instead.''
She trained overseas and later gained a qualification at New
Zealand's only aromatherapy college.
She has developed a range of 12 products, from a flea
repellant to a wound healer.
Mr Thomas was initially sceptical aromatherapy would work,
until he saw the results at a dog sled competition.
Mr Thomas offered the owner the remedy for a dog which was so
stressed it had diarrhoea.
''We gave him the drops and within 45 minutes the diarrhoea
had stopped. After more drops ... he dog slept right through
the night. That was when I became a convert,'' Mr Thomas
Mrs. Thomas said her remedies could not treat barking.
''You need a dog trainer or therapist to deal with that