Cistus (Cistus ladaniferus) is a single essential oil with big importance. I recommend that it is in your collection today - not tomorrow!
It is a sad situation. Let's say someone rescues a female dog. It sounds very happy, and certainly it should be. The new dog starts to get the care that has been so neglected in the past. Maybe this rescue dog has a history of having puppies; possibly many, many litters. Most likely the dog had received poor quality nutrition (the cheapest that could be obtained) which ravaged her body and limited immune system function and tissue regeneration.
Evidence of this degraded body shows up as a rough, dull hair coat, excessive shedding, secondary infections, susceptibility to respiratory infections, digestive problems, skin infections, parasites, and more. Almost certainly, the dog has never been spayed. However, how many people want to wait months to years to spay a dog until they have "regained their full health"? I will tell you, not many. And, if the dog is destined for a rescue organization, the goal is often to get them spayed as quickly as possible so that they can be adopted out, even if it is not ideal for their body at the time. Combine this with vaccinations, deworming, flea and tick chemicals, and we now have a recipe for disaster on the horizon.
Allowing a dog to go through heat cycles is not only messy, but also runs the risk of unwanted pregnancy, as well as increases the odds of mammary cancer. Unfortunately, the reality of spaying dogs who are not exactly "ideal candidates" for surgery and anesthesia is a very common occurrence. Even in dogs who have been well fed and cared for their entire life - if they have had previous heat cycles or pups before a spay - they naturally run into higher rates of complications during the spay surgery than dogs who have not.
I would say the most common complication that I see in "difficult spays" is hemorrhage. This means bleeding from various tissues or surgical sites, into the abdomen. My own dog did this after her spay surgery. Certainly, I am an incredibly careful surgeon - especially in my own dog. But, none-the-less, Shuggie (pictured at the top of this newsletter) experienced a hemorrhage from her "post-puppy", "rescue-dog", malnourished uterine tissues. In dogs who have been through a heat or have had puppies, the uterus is larger and contains a larger blood supply. Combine a larger blood supply with previous poor nutrition - and the tissues just become less and less able to hold strong suture placement needed to stop blood from leaking out. Every surgeon, even if they are the most traditional in the world, has been taught that nutrition is vital to healing (even if some of them forget it). Unfortunately, almost every dog today is experiencing malnutrition. If they are a rescue dog, it is 100 times worse!
So the scenario goes like this:
"Mrs. Jones? This is Dr. Smith from the St. Elsewhere Veterinary Clinic. I have some bad news about Fluffy. She made it through surgery fine, but has been slow to recover from anesthesia. We were concerned about her, so we investigated further. We did a belly tap, and have found that she is bleeding into her abdomen after her spay. We've checked her Red Blood Cell count and so far, it is holding steady, but she is going to need to have a second surgery to find out where she is bleeding from, and hopefully repair it. The second surgery is going to be $800 - we need your permission to go ahead with this."
BAM! Well, who expected this, right? You just got this dog. And now this? But, what else can you do? There are no other answers. Or, are there???
Since this same exact scenario happened to Shuggie, I can tell you what the other options are! Of course, I was willing and able to go back into surgery on my own dog. And no, I don't charge myself the additional $800. But, I would still rather not do a second surgery if I don't have to. We have a lot of alternative things that can be beneficial for post-operative hemorrhage. From Acupuncture to Herbs, to Color Light Therapy and Homeopathy. Shuggie's bleed came right at a time when I was starting to use essential oils more and more in my veterinary practice. I had learned that one of the properties of Cistus Essential Oil was the control of hemorrhage, and especially internal hemorrhage. Having this oil at my disposal, I figured I should try it out before cutting my dog open for a second time that day.
We had already used all of the other various alternative tools in our veterinary practice. However, after 5 hours, Shuggie's belly tap was still positive for frank blood (and not just a little bit), and she still had not fully recovered from anesthesia (something that is VERY odd in our practice). Since our vet clinic is in our home, we got the kids down for bed, and planned to perform a second surgery at around 11 o'clock at night. At about 10:30 pm, I tried the Cistus Essential Oil. I dripped about 5 drops into her mouth (she weighs about 35 pounds). Shuggie did not appreciate the taste much! Within 5 minutes though, she was much more awake and actually got up to go outside (she hadn't gotten up at all since the surgery). I thought maybe she woke up because the oil tasted so bad!
Never the less, she was awake and walking, which made me feel a little better. With the kids asleep, my husband joined me to commence our repeat surgery. I decided I should repeat another belly tap with his help, and also draw a sample of her peripheral blood to help evaluate the severity of her bleeding. Low and behold, when I drew the sample from her belly, it was completely clotted! This was approximately 1/2 hour after her previous belly tap, which was followed by the Cistus administration! Well, you can say I was nothing less than shocked. I decided to wait on the surgery and monitor her instead. Since the blood was clotting, she was not anemic, and she was waking up more and more - this was a very logical thing to do. I never did "go back into" Shuggie. The bleeding stopped, she resorbed the clots, and completely recovered!
I can guarantee you that without the Cistus Essential Oil, I would have been repeating surgery. Of course, this is not an oil that you can "wait to order" until you need it. This oil racks up there on my "must have" list, especially since it truly could save you thousands of dollars by having it on hand "just in case".
We have had many other instances where we have used Cistus Essential Oil to aid in bleeding and hemorrhage control - and not just for females or spay surgeries. From humans who are on blood thinners and get a cut, to post-op neuters, tumor removals, and splenic tumors. I now recommend using Cistus in patients who are just "good candidates" to have bleeding complications, in a proactive manner.
My dog Ripper donating blood for a dog in need...
If you are a veterinarian - encountering a surgery that is a bit "weepier" than most, and you just have "that feeling" that you want to watch that case a bit closer than others - placing a drop or more under the tongue of a recovering animal can mean all the difference in the world. I am truly a skeptical person. Even though I love essential oils - and see what they can do everyday - I still need to "prove" to myself that they truly performed the task that I was hoping for. It took a few "dicey" cases for me to commit to how wonderful Cistus really was. Because, quite honestly, I detest the smell of Cistus like there is no tomorrow! Just really not one of my favorite odors. But, I don't use Cistus for smell. I use it for hemorrhage control!
When our veterinary hospital was changing over into more of a research facility, instead of seeing general appointments, I started to do more and more rescue work. We would get in a "batch" of dogs and cats from one really great rescue group, and I would work to get all of their "processing" done within the week. Spays, neuters, dental extractions and cleanings, even specialized surgeries were performed - but these animals were usually fresh from puppy mills and hoarding situations. Their nutrition and health status was certainly less than ideal, and many of the dogs had produced litter, after litter, after litter of puppies. Many had hernias, uterine infections, cystic ovaries, and a whole gammit of strange ailments. There were many opportunities to be proactive in our protocols! And, after an entire summer of these sorts of cases, I was pretty convinced that Cistus made a huge difference in a large majority of the animals.
If you share your life with an animal, and are not a vet - you can still use Cistus to benefit your animal prior to a surgery, after a surgery, or if your veterinarian is open to it, during the surgery if needed. The main point however, is you will need Cistus immediately when you do need it! It is not really one of those oils you can wait to order, or wait to arrive if your animal is hemorrhaging!
If your dog is going in for a surgery (especially a higher risk one), you can talk to your veterinarian about the potential of having your bottle of Cistus available "just in case." You can also be pro-active, and prior to dropping your dog off for their surgery - give approximately 1 drop per 10-20 pounds of body weight orally. Again, it doesn't taste great, but, this is one situation where I don't mind making my dogs think that I "suck" for just one day. I do prefer to drip it directly into their mouth, and allow their mucus membranes to absorb the essential oil. For an awake dog, this is usually in the cheek pocket. For a dog under anesthesia, this is usually under the tongue. For cats, I DO NOT tend to "pre-treat" them with Cistus, and typically use it only if needed - since cats seem much less prone to post-operative hemorrhage in the same way that dogs are.
For horses or other large animals - Cistus can be a really great addition to surgeries that are anticipated to bleed more than usual, or with castration surgeries (especially in older animals with larger testicles and larger blood supply). Swelling and bleeding can certainly be a concern for them, and giving 5 drops of Cistus in the pocket of their lower lip before, during, or after the surgery can really keep down excessive bleeding.
Creating a little lip pocket in a horse to deposit oils into...
Cistus is currently available in a 5 mL bottle from animalEO for $38.95. Soon, a 2 mL size will also be available for purchase at $25.95. I chose to keep the price of this essential oil very low - as it typically is a very expensive oil to purchase. I would rather everyone have the ability to have this oil on hand, than to make a profit on it! After all - animalEO - "Puts the animal FIRST!" CLICK HERE to order Cistus Essential Oil.
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You can also visit my website www.OilyVet.com for information on classes, links to past newsletters, to purchase books on using Essential Oils in animals, to view You Tube Videos, and more!
And remember, I only recommend the use of what I term, "veterinary grade essential oils" for use with animals (or humans for that matter). The use of essential oils that have not been evaluated and proven safe for use in animals, is not recommended, and may prove dangerous for your animals. Through research, case studies, and retrospective studies - I am documenting the difference in qualities of essential oils in my veterinary hospital - and we are continually striving to provide more information to everyone who desires to use essential oils for their animals.
Until Next Time!
Melissa Shelton DVM
Disclaimer: This information was provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat any illness. If you or your animal have a health concern, you are encouraged to seek the counsel of a health care professional who is knowledgeable in your area of interest.