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Animal Natural Therapies

Animal Herbal Choices

Animal Herbal Choices is a behaviour-led method based on animals' natural innate ability to self-select herbs for their health (also called 'applied zoopharmacognosy').


Examples of some problems where the animals have benefited from a herbal choice session include digestion, skin, respiratory, pain, inflammation, noise sensitivity, fear of cars, stress and anxiety.


What is zoopharmacognosy?

This is the scientific name for an animal self-selecting plants for their health and well-being. The simplest example is a cat or dog selecting grass to chew. In the wild animals naturally forage in their local environment for plants and minerals to self-medicate, either to prevent or treat disease and keep themselves healthy.  

Research studies have observed self-medicative behaviour in domesticated and farm animals too.  Very often domesticated animals have reduced access to local plants for foraging as their wild cousins. The practice of providing plant extracts to domestic animals for them to instinctively select is called 'applied zoopharmacognosy', and was developed by Caroline Ingraham. It is an area of growing scientific research and interest.


What happens in a Herbal Choice session?

A herbal choice session offers your dog or cat a range of plant extracts to self-select from. These may include dried herbs, floral waters, herbal oils and powders. The client animal may sniff, inhale, ingest or sometimes rub against the plant extract as they choose.


Each session is according to your animal's requirements, based on the information provided by the pet guardian. This helps structure the session, though ultimately the animal selects what they need. At the end of the session, samples of the extracts selected by your pet are provided for you to continue offering at home.  


A consultation includes guidance on this method, how to recognise the behavioural signs of self-selection, and the properties of the plants chosen by your pet, as well as a post-session summary report.


Note:  this method does not diagnose nor prescribe.  It is behaviour-based as the animal chooses to select.


Important safety note: Cats are very sensitive to essential oils, which can be toxic if inappropriately used. However if correctly offered for inhalation only (using self-selection principles), they can be of benefit. Never put essential oils on a cat's fur or skin, and do not let them ingest any.


How many sessions will I need?

This depends on the issue, and how your dog or cat responds. They can benefit from one session with continued work at home. Sometimes follow-up sessions are needed to maximise effects. To achieve best results, it is essential that you continue offering the chosen extracts regularly as advised.


What if my pet is having veterinary treatment?

Your vet must always be your first contact if your dog or cat has a health problem. With your vet's agreement, an Animal Herbal Choices session can be complementary to veterinary treatment and may support recovery. Before a session can commence, we require you to inform your vet of the use of gentle herbs and oils. If your pet is receiving medication, there may be some restrictions with offering herbal extracts.

A herbal choice session does not prescribe, diagnose, or replace conventional veterinary treatment. Always consult your veterinarian first.


See Appointments page for info and fees.

IMG_1726 Applied zoopharmacognosy. 
Applied herbal choices for dogs Applied zoopharmacognosy.
Animal Herbal choices for cats IMG_4937 IMG_5020