I can tell her not to eat that plant. But.

Tulips and other plants in your home or garden may pose a danger to your animal companion. (Image by Vlad from Pixabay)

As an animal communicator, I can tell your dog why it’s in his best interest not to nibble in your garden. I can advise your cat that eating the fresh-cut tulips you just brought in would result in illness, at least one upset human, and a trip to the vet. Or worse. Pets and plants can be a deadly combination.

Clear communication about expectations and consequences is important with any species. But for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, we often have to go further and block the path to temptation or remove it altogether. You can tell your teenagers that the liquor cabinet is off limits, but it might be best to keep it locked.

An animal-specific example: those Easter lilies are beautiful, and who doesn’t want a bit of life and symbolism after a long winter? But they are so toxic, especially to our feline friends, that I advise people with cats not even bring them home. It’s just not worth the risk. I don’t think Jesus will mind.

For harmony of animal and plant life, and to avert a horrible outcome, I recommend these steps. All of them.

  1. Know what’s toxic before planting it in your garden, adding it to the pasture, or bringing it into your home. The ASPCA maintains a list of plants known to be toxic and non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, but advises that ingesting any plant material can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal problems for cats and dogs.
  2. Know your animal companion, his curiosity level and interest in plants or other unauthorized objects. For example, if your dog is a shoe guy and has never looked twice at your flowers, you may have less worry than if his tastes are more universal (i.e., gets into everything).
  3. Be clear with your animal about what will happen if they chew on or eat plants. “If you eat this, you’re going to feel very dizzy, your tummy will hurt really bad, and I’ll have to rush you to the vet. I’d be so upset and frightened if that happened.” Picture all of this as you speak. “So find something better to do.” Then picture him calmly walking away from the plant and picking up a favorite toy, going to look out the window, or coming to you to be petted.
  4. Consider using a taste deterrent on your plants; I’ve had pretty good luck with Bitter Yuck, which I get through our veterinarian’s pharmacy.

Bottom line: If you know or suspect your animal may have ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian, emergency vet clinic, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, (888) 426-4435.

Permission is key in animal communication, Reiki

Photo by Unlaw on Pixabay

Respect for animals and their people is the foundation of my work as an animal communicator and Let Animals Lead® animal Reiki practitioner. This means an animal is free, at any time, to choose not to communicate with me or participate in a Reiki session. We can try again another day or I can issue a refund. Either way, the animal’s “no” is honored.

It also means that regardless of who pays, I must have permission of the animal’s owner for an animal communication or Reiki session. By owner (or guardian) I mean the person who is legally responsible for the animal, whether that is an individual or an organization such as a shelter or rescue.

That permission is required is stated on my website, but it’s still come up a couple of times recently. So this is to let you know where I’m coming from and how you might handle potentially problematic situations.

Why permission is needed

Having permission from the person who is legally responsible for the animal:

  • Keeps everything above board, which naturally brings better outcomes for the animal communication or Reiki session.
  • Protects the animal and respects the boundaries and relationships of all humans involved. (Put another way: Say you have a child, or an adult for whom you are legally responsible. Barring some kind of emergency, you would not want a friend or relative to arrange a counseling session or alternative treatment for that person without your permission. Anyone who tried to do so, however well intentioned, would probably lose your trust. You wouldn’t think much of the practitioner involved, either.)
  • Is in keeping with the codes of ethics I follow for animal communicators and animal Reiki practitioners.

But what if …

There’s an animal you love and want to support with animal communication or Reiki, who isn’t technically yours. How do you handle that?

Here are some examples:

  • A rescued horse has been returned — again — to the sanctuary where you volunteer. The vet has ruled out injury or illness as a cause for his behavior issues. The director, barn supervisor, and other volunteers are all at a loss as to where or even whether to try to place him next. Asking the horse could yield information about the behavior and what kind of home he wants, and you are willing to pay for the session out of your own resources.
  • You are fostering a cat from your local animal shelter. The cat has been over-grooming to the extent that raw, bald patches are showing up on her legs and belly. The cat was thoroughly checked out by the shelter vet before coming to your home, and there is no medical cause. You know from experience that this is a common sign of stress, and the bald patches could put off prospective adopters. That is, if you don’t adopt this sweet kitty yourself. You’re happy to pay for a Reiki session to help her feel more relaxed and secure.
  • Your sister is struggling with decisions regarding the care of her dog, who is severely ill. Her veterinarian has placed a couple of choices before her, and she is overwhelmed. You love this dog, too, and you’d do anything to help your sister. Should you just go ahead and book the session, see what the animal has to say, and then tell your sister?

In the above scenarios, I need the permission of the sanctuary director, the shelter director/adoption supervisor, and your sister, respectively. Talk with the animal’s owner, share a link to my website, and offer an animal communication session as a gift to support the animal — and them. They’re also welcome to contact me with questions. If the answer is yes, I am honored to help. If the answer is no, that is absolutely fine.

If you are interested in an animal Reiki or communication session but are not sure about potential permission issues, contact me. Some situations are confusing, and I will do my best to help you sort it out and find the best way forward.

Giving animals a voice is a responsibility, and part of that responsibility is maintaining the trust and respecting the boundaries of the people and animals involved.

It lets us all speak, and more importantly listen, freely.

Scientific studies on Reiki and animal communication

white kitten with scratching post
Several scientific studies support animal communication, animal sentience, and animal Reiki. (Image by Daga Roszkowska from Pixabay)

What does science say about whether and how animal Reiki and animal communication work?

What we know (or hypothesize) about anything today may only scratch the surface of what we’ll figure out tomorrow — but there’s more scientific knowledge out there than you might think.

Animal Reiki benefits

There are a few studies about Reiki, but not many about animal Reiki specifically. Here’s what I found in late 2021:

• The American Kennel Club recently published a story on the benefits of Reiki for pets, also citing a study you can find on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website. That 2017 (human) study, published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, indicates Reiki is better than a placebo. In particular, it “activates the parasympathetic nervous system to heal body and mind. It has potential for broader use in management of chronic health conditions, and possibly in postoperative recovery. Research is needed to optimize the delivery of Reiki.”

• An Innovative Veterinary Care Journal article also touts the benefits of Reiki to animals, especially in clinical settings. This one cites an animal-specific 2008 study, “Reiki Improves Heart Rate Homeostasis in Laboratory Rats,” from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. It showed Reiki reduced heart rate and blood pressure in noise-stressed rats.

• Kathleen Lester’s 2019 article in the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Association, “Reiki as Complementary Care in Veterinary Medicine,” cites numerous scholarly sources to discuss how Reiki can benefit not only animals but the veterinary staff caring for them. (With a shortage of veterinarians exacerbating an already stressful job, I think this will be increasingly important.)

Animal communication: dog brains, cat names and more

I found a bit more research on human-animal communication:

Dogs have some understanding of what we say and how we say it, Hungarian scientists found. They trained a group of family dogs to enter an MRI machine and scanned the way their brains responded to not only words but their tone. The study appeared in the journal Current Biology in 2014.

Two books reviewed in the Christian Science Monitor further delve into research on how attuned our canine companions are to our emotions, speech, and behavior. Alexandra Horowitz, cognitive scientist and author of Inside of a Dog, followed that bestseller up with Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond. Clive D.L. Wynne, a dog behavioral scientist examines that bond in Dog Is Love: The Science of Why and How Your Dog Loves You.

Cats react to the sound of their names, according to a group of Japanese scientists whose study appeared in the journal Scientific Reports. Monique Udell, an animal behaviorist at Oregon State University, told the Associated Press the study shows “cats are paying attention to you, what you say and what you do, and they’re learning from it.”

Goats prefer positive human facial expressions, says a UK-based study published by The Royal Society. “These findings suggest that the ability of animals to perceive human facial cues is not limited to those with a long history of domestication as companions, and therefore may be far more widespread than previously believed,” the authors concluded.

• Norwegian researchers taught 23 horses to express their needs using symbol boards — for example, to request a blanket on a cold day. “When horses realized that they were able to communicate with the trainers, i.e. to signal their wishes regarding blanketing, many became very eager in the training or testing situation,” the authors wrote in their study, which appeared in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. “Some even tried to attract the attention of the trainers prior to the test situation, by vocalizing and running towards the trainers, and follow their movements.”

When you look at any study, pay attention to who conducted the research, who paid for it, and whether any conflicts of interest are disclosed.

Also keep in mind that many factors influence what we believe about the legitimacy of animal communication, Reiki, or anything else.

Scientific inquiry, by nature, is ongoing, so please send or post a link to any animal Reiki or animal communication study you find that I didn’t!

And, as they used to say on television: Stay tuned.