More than Pampering, Essential Oils Are Essential Pet Care Tinctures for One Area Veterinarian

In her veterinary practice, Dr. Janine Oliver says, she marries modern medicine to what she feels is the best of alternative medicine.

She provides surgeries, vaccinations and parasite prevention medications.

But sometimes, essential oils and pheromones are what’s needed to help make kitty feel better.

“The goal is to get the best results for my patients,” she says. “There are some things that Western medicine is much better at, and then there are things that it can’t make a difference with. So you bring in an alternative medicine, and it helps. There are more studies being done with alternative medicine to prove what works and what doesn’t. We have to be careful not to jump on any old bandwagon. When I use something, I use it because either there is evidence for it, or I’ve seen it work.”

Dr. Oliver runs Benessere Animal Hospital on Grecade Street, near Battleground Avenue and Benjamin Parkway. The practice opened in 2015, and the name of it means “wellness” in Italian.

As far back as she could remember, Dr. Oliver says she wanted to be a veterinarian. When she was a little girl, her father helped her sand down a piece of wood for a shingle. She painted a dog with a broken leg on it and her name with the letters DVM: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

She started off her career, however, treating humans, graduating with a degree in physical therapy from East Carolina University in 1987.

The experience gave her an appreciation for alternative medicine.

“I got trained in massage and acupressure and acupuncture points,” she says.

While working as a physical therapist, she began volunteering at veterinary offices and eventually got a part-time job as a veterinary assistant. In 2002, she decided to go back to school. She graduated from NC State University with a veterinary medicine degree in 2008 and went to work for a veterinarian in Charlotte who practiced holistic methods.

“She hired me to be her conventional doctor because she didn’t like surgery,” Dr. Oliver says. “So the idea was we would together. I did mostly conventional, she did mostly alternative, and it exposed me to a lot. Working with herbs and essential oils can take longer to achieve the same effect as a steroid, but they don’t have bad side effects.”

She says alternative methods work well for inflammation and chronic pain.

“Boosting the immune system and managing viral diseases are harder to do with Western medicine,” she says. “We have anti-viral medicines, but they have side effects a lot of animals can’t tolerate. So we sometimes use essential oils, mushrooms. Those types of things do well at fighting viral infections.”


Clients say Dr. Oliver also has a unique approach in interacting with the animals.

Becky Causey says she began going to Benessere after an emergency vet referred her. When she first brought her dogs, she says Dr. Oliver got down on the floor with them.

“She was just so in tune and bonded immediately,” Becky says. “She is like an animal whisperer, really like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The way she can read an animal, it’s like magic.”

Kim Kirkman says she first became acquainted with Dr. Oliver when a friend went to see her with a dog that had a health issue that was difficult to diagnose.

“It was paralysis in the dog’s jaw,” Kim says. “Nobody could figure out what was wrong. And Dr. Oliver did not stop until she figured it out and how to treat it. Her tenacity was beyond anything. She has a real energy with the animals. I had a cat that you could barely touch. Dr. Oliver was so calm in approaching, and she sprayed cat pheromones on herself and was able to do whatever she needed.”

Dr. Oliver says she puts a great deal of emphasis on “fear-free” medicine—keeping stress levels low for both the animals and the humans.

“We do a lot of hand-holding with clients,” Dr. OIiver says. “Make sure all questions are answered, explained. We do a lot of client education, and we take our time with animals. We don’t just pull a cat out of a box. We coax it out, let it walk out of the carrier, use catnip and positive pheromones.”

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Breathe—a proprietary blend of laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon and cardamom—can help soothe coughing and respiratory issues.

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