Supporting your animal’s wellbeing naturally

An educational consultancy service based on natural animal behaviour


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Herbal self-selection for horses
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Cats also self-select herbs
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Dog working with essential oils for health support

Applied Herbal Choices for Animals (zoopharmacognosy)

Applied Herbal Choices is a behaviour led method that focuses on supporting animal health & wellbeing. 

What is zoopharmacognosy?

Self-selection of plants, algae & clays for the purpose of self-medication is an evolutionary behaviour practiced by wild & domestic animals alike that was originally termed ‘zoopharmacognosy’ in the 90s. The study of self-selection for self-medication is fast becoming an area of scientific interest as we attempt to learn more about the plants & animals we share the planet with. Perhaps the most common example of self-selection is your dog or cat eating grass, often resulting in them purging shortly after.

What is a Herbal Choices consultancy session?

Unfortunately our domestic animals may not have the same freedom to practice self-selection as their wild counterparts, limiting their opportunities to make natural choices when needed to resolve minor issues & maintain healthy balance. 

The Applied Herbal Choices method enables owners to facilitate foraging opportunities at home or on their yard for the purpose of self-selection & sensory enrichment. During a consultancy session you will be taught how to safely offer a combination of herbs, nutritive powders, aromatic waters & essential oils. Animals may choose to inhale, lick, chew, ingest or roll in the offerings & they may even request a topical application of an extract over a specific part of their body. They will often select a variety of herbs & aromatics to support several body systems, including emotional health, within the same session. By learning how to recognise & interpret the more subtle responses & body language owners can gain the confidence to safely offer the extracts on an ongoing basis for regular support & maintenance.

Who is the Applied Herbal Choices Method for?

​Your animal doesn’t need to have specific medical issues in order for you to learn how to use the self-selection process with them. Below are examples of reasons owners may wish to try this approach ;

  • General support & maintenance for continued wellbeing in healthy animals
  • Support for animals with chronic issues
  • Behavioural or emotional issues 
  • Hidden problems masked by behavioural issues
  • Rescue animals/time spent in shelter
  • Animals who have suffered abuse or trauma
  • Recurring/unresolved issues with no clear diagnosis
  • Animals recovering from illness, surgery or injury
  • As an enrichment exercise for animals on box/crate rest
  • As part of a maintenance programme for animals at competition level

How can herbs & essential oils help my animal?

​Sessions are always animal lead with offerings providing support for a combination of body systems, organs & functions such as;

  • digestion
  • gut flora balance
  • liver support
  • urinary system
  • kidney support
  • hormonal balance
  • circulation
  • blood sugar balance
  • heart health
  • immunity
  • respiratory system
  • musculoskeletal system
  • skin
  • cognitive function
  • nerve support
  • mental health
  • detoxification

​I offer 1 to 1 consultancy sessions for dog, horse & cat owners at the animals home.

Workshops & more…

Ocassionally I hold talks, demonstrations, workshops & mini forage walks for animal owners. To check what’s going on in your area click link below


Does Applied Herbal Choices replace my vet appointments?

Does Applied Herbal Choices replace my vet appointments?

No – Herbal Choices is a complementary method & not a replacement for firstline veterinary care.  If you have any concerns over your animal’s health you must always consult your vet first. When you book a Herbal Choices consultancy with me you will be required to inform your vet beforehand.

Can I stop giving my animal their medication if they choose herbs that will help them?

No – you must never alter the dosage or stop giving any medication unless told to do so by your vet. Any medication your animal is on must be given at least 2 hrs before & at least 4hrs after a consultancy session with me & any subsequent sessions you do afterwards.

Can you diagnose my animal’s problem judging by what they choose?

No – only your vet can diagnose health problems. Herbal Choices is a way of supporting your animal’s health & is not intended to cure specific issues.

Do I add the herbs they choose to their food?

No- the self-selection process allows animals to choose if, when & how they need to use a specific plant extract & in the correct dose required. When added to food extracts may be masked by other flavours & it can be hard for an animal to avoid eating them if they are not needed or they may not have enough of an extract if added to food & will not be able to satisfy their therapeutic need if the dose is too small.

Is it safe for my animal?

Yes- self-selection is an innate behaviour that your animal will already be practicing when they have the opportunity. During your consultancy session you will be given a set of simple rules/guidelines to follow & shown how to safely offer the plants or aromatic herbs & oils.

Are there any contraindications of using herbs with my animal?

As a consultant I do not prescribe any of the herbs used in a session. The animal is in charge of selecting what they need & the amount they need to support their health . A full case history will be taken prior to your appointment & occasionally I may choose to postpone the session if I feel it would be contraindicated – for example if there was a significant health concern that had not yet been checked by your vet or if between the time of booking & the day of your appointment there was a change in the animal’s health not yet reported to the vet.

Do I need to keep coming back for regular sessions?

No – as a consultancy service my aim is to instruct you on how to safely & confidently offer according to your animal’s needs. Most owners find 2 sessions a good starting point, others may opt for more than 2 sessions if their animal has complex needs & if they feel they need a little more guidance & confidence, & others may find that 1 session provides them all the guidance they need to continue the process in their own time.