What is enrichment?
Enrichment is something to keep the animals occupied for a while and chase the boredom away. Usually it involves treats to attract animals’ attention but enrichment could be anything as long as it stimulates the animal’s sensory organs and can keep them busy with the enrichment.
The simplest way to explain is: enrichment = toy.
Examples of common enrichments are scratch board for cats, toys, balls, Frisbees for dogs, water sprinkler, kong toys, and many more, bones. While some of you may think pet’s toys are expensive, you can make simple enrichment with very basic household equipment. One of my favorite enrichment is essential oil.
There are a lot of essential oil brands out there, some with good quality, which is of course pricey, while some cheaper brands only offer fragrance oil instead of essential oil. A good essential oil brand doesn’t add chemicals to enhance the fragrance. A truck of herbs or flowers may only result in/only yield/only produce a few drops or a few milliliters of pure essential oil, that’s why they are expensive.
Here are some reasons why essential oil can be a good enrichment for your pets:
- Your pet’s olfactory organ, especially dog’s, is better than any other sensory organs (sight, hearing, taste, touch). They are very observant with various smells surrounding them. You only need a drop or two of essential oil to make them busy for a while until the oil evaporates and the smell is gone.
- Essential oil is natural. A real essential oil is made of pure natural substance, such as flowers and leaves. When used correctly/when using the correct oil safely, a drop of essential oil is much better than a pack of chemical-loaded snack or plastic toys.
- Animals have amazing natural instinct. If the oil is dangerous for them, they might not like it. Always check with your veterinarian before giving an oil that you’re not familiar with. If you are not sure you can ask me for advice.
- If used regularly it can calm them down when they smell the oil. It can resolve ‘home sick’ problem (or master sick, in this case) when you are away from them
- You can use the oil for other purposes. For example, eucalyptus can be used as disinfectant; lemongrass can be used as insect (and external parasite) repellent; lavender is good to treat skin problem and to calm the nerves down; lemon oil can be used for cooking and making drinks; peppermint can soothes itchy skin and has energizing property.
Check the video of essential oil enrichment that I gave to Rambo the leopard at our rescue center. A few drops of various essential oils around his enclosure kept him busy for the whole afternoon!
Tips: Experiment with different smell and make note of which smells your pets like. The effect is similar to catnip effect in cats.
Always check your essential oil before giving them to your pets! Your pets may be allergic to it. Some oil can be dangerous for specific animals. If you are not sure you can contact me for free consultation.