Zoo, Farm, Avian species - how zoopharmacognosy can help

Most of my clients are cats, dogs and horses.   This probably isn't surprising, but it doesn't mean that they are the only animals which can benefit from Zoopharmacognosy.

Most animals kept under human care will have their ability to roam and forage for natural medicines limited to some degree.  

Captive-care species including exotics/zoo, birds and farm animals quickly show an interest in natural remedies if given the opportunity. 

Self-selection allows the animal to take whichever medicinal compounds it needs, in the quantity it needs, and in the way it needs it:

It might not always be certain which medicinal plants an exotic species might benefit most from, but allowing them to self-select from a broad choice allows them to show us.

A sickly animal that refuses to drink water may eagerly drink a plant “soak” containing natural minerals and electrolytes, or select some easily digestible plant powders for nutritional support.

An animal grieving for a lost mate or friend may benefit hugely from aromatics often selected by animals where bereavement or separation of some kind has occurred. 

An animal that appears to have behavioural issues will often select plant extracts that contain pain-killing properties, even though there is no visible evidence to suggest it is in pain.

The chance to self-medicate not only gives the animal a choice - it gives it a voice, the opportunity to demonstrate what it really needs. 

What I do 

As a Zoopharmacognosist, I facilitate self-medication for animals.  I do not diagnose or “treat” – I enable the animal to self-select by offering pure, natural plant extracts in a safe and species-appropriate way.

There are different ways to make natural remedies available to animals that are stressed by human contact - such as offering different extracts in water buckets, creating a “herb-garden” rolling area, or a type of “medicine field” laid out on grass or rocks so that you can return and see which remedies are of interest and which have been ignored, and so on.

I work with natural remedies including essential oils, base and macerated oils, aromatic waters and dried and powdered herbs.  I offer extracts that I believe are most likely to be relevant for the animal concerned, based on the in-depth client consultation.

This sounds straightforward but must be sensitively paced, and directed by each individual animal’s responses.  Each session is adapted accordingly.

I will explain what's happening throughout the session and happily answer any questions you have.  The animal must have the freedom to “choose or refuse” at all times, and you will probably find their responses both fascinating and informative.

Later in the session we can discuss the best approach to follow-up care, so that you feel confident working with your own animal for a few days afterwards.

How it works

Most animals have an amazingly sophisticated sense of smell. They have also evolved with an innate ability to utilise medicinal herbs for their health.

The brain communicates with the nose when an animal encounters a particular medicinal plant it needs - it's all about chemical messages.   

The animal isn’t deliberately choosing “nice” smells or tastes - it is responding to messages from the brain. 

It's really important to realise that selecting medicine is not the same process as selecting / eating food.  Whether an animal sniffs, rolls in or licks / eats a herbal remedy, it is quite deliberate.  Your animal will not "eat everything" I offer it - that's a promise.

More clever messaging from the nose to the brain means the animal stops medicating when it has taken what is needed.  

What issues can Zoopharmacognosy help with?

Firstly, self-selection is a wonderful preventative health approach, enabling your animal to support its immune system.  This is only ever going to be beneficial, so don’t feel you need to wait for an “issue” to arise before booking a visit.   


Zoopharmacognosy can support a wide range of physical issues, including:

  • allergies
  • dietary imbalances
  • digestive system
  • fevers
  • hard-to-resolve
  • hormonal / reproductive
  • immune deficiencies
  • infections
  • kidney / urinary
  • liver support
  • nerve damage
  • pain & inflammation
  • respiratory
  • skin & coat problems
  • tumours & growths
  • wounds and burns

Behavioural issues include:

  • aggression
  • abuse
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • dominance
  • fear (anticipatory)
  • fear (noise)
  • fear (objects)
  • grief
  • insecurity
  • irritation
  • new environment
  • separation
  • shock
  • stress
  • trauma past/present

If your animal has any symptoms giving you serious cause for concern, you should always speak to your vet first - zoopharmacognosy is not a substitute for veterinary advice**.   However, it can be an amazing additional “tool in the box” for animal wellness and hard-to-resolve issues.

If your vet has any concerns or questions I am very happy to talk to them in detail in advance.  

**Please note: I do not “treat” your animal, nor diagnose (both would contravene the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966). 

Why is it so helpful as a complementary or alternative health approach?

It involves natural plant compounds that the animal has evolved with

Nothing is ever forced:  the animal is always free to “choose or refuse”

Individual dosage of remedies that are relevant for your animal:  too much, too little or inappropriate medicines can slow down full recovery

Long-term use:  Plant extracts can be offered for as long a period as needed without negative side effects (eg pain-killers, anti-bacterials etc)

The opportunity to address past trauma or present fears and their physiological effects is a huge step towards a more balanced, healthy animal

Holistic approach:  a simple injury might see your animal selecting a combination of extracts that support cell repair, inflammation, infection, pain, trauma, shock, anxiety! 


This gentle therapy can be highly effective for hard-to-resolve behavioural and physical issues, and preventatively for naturally well-balanced, happy and healthy animals.

Zoopharmacognosy is fascinating to observe.  You will gain a new understanding of your animal, and be able to use what you learn to support its physical and emotional balance in the future.

By giving an animal a choice, you give it a voice.

Book a session.  See for yourself. Understand.