Pet Peeves: Snake-Oil For Animals
An SGU listener recently brought to our attention a product which claims to help your cat or dog with behavioral issues. It is called “Spirit Essences”, and they have formulations for both dogs and for cats. It is a liquid solution which can be added to your pet’s food, applied topically, or sprayed in the air. How does it work? From the manufacturer’s website, it “helps construct an energetic “bubble” around your cat.” And in the case of dogs, it “helps establish a vibrational “bubble of protection” around your dog. Terms like “energetic bubble” and “vibrational bubble” are about as unscientific as you can get.
But wait, there is more! The manufacturer, Jackson Galaxy, is eager to remind us that this solution is meant to compliment any training a dog receives. That way, when the dog’s behavior does improve over time, you can credit the potion for at least some (if not all) of the positive results. This is a classic deception in the world of “alt med”, and again, no science is to be found.
And as The Amazing Randi famously says, “these things ALWAYS get better”. That is to say, the ridiculousness spewed forth by the peddlers of snake-oil knows few limits. According to Jackson Galaxy:
“There are several easy ways to give Spirit Essences™ to animals, but no matter the method, always do this first: Tap the bottom of the bottle against the palm of your hand approximately 5 10 times before administering. This activates the essence remedy and should be done each time immediately prior to administering.”
Sounds homeopathic, where solutions are shaken or “vibrated” a fixed number of times. Tapping a solution to your palm has no effect on the contents – they are the same molecules floating around that little vial.
And for the final indignity of this pseudoscientific garbage, here is a nice summary of the nonsense that they sell at Jackson Galaxy:
“Spirit Essences™ are not like medicines, drugs, or supplements and need not be swallowed. Once they contact the animal (even slightly via an animal’s living area, such as bedding, brush, or spraying inside a kennel or carrier, etc.), they are doing their job. This is because the remedies are energy-based. The ingredients do not contain actual plant, animal, or mineral material, but the energy blueprint of various plants, animals, minerals, objects, or even places.”