What is animal herbal self selection?


Wild animals naturally forage and have been observed seeking out and selecting substances on which to self-medicate.  This can be the selection of not only plants and foliage, but also minerals, which can be found in soils and clays.  On taking up substances and/or plant constituents this could relieve their issue or address an imbalance in their body.  This is known as zoopharmacognosy, and this method of self-selection also applies to, and is observed in, domesticated animals.

At a herbal self selection consultation a range of macerated oils, dried and/or fresh plants, and gentle essential oils are offered.   At this session the body language and behaviour of the animal is observed to see whether or not they are interested in the product choices offered.  If interested the animal may eat, smell or even  have them applied topically. 


These sessions offer support for animals for a range of issues, including emotional and  behavioural, as well as physical concerns such as inflammatory issues which could affect joints, stomach etc.  Additionally skin, eye, ear, respiratory and immune issues, to name a few, could also benefit.   Alternatively a range of detox or mineral rich products could be offered for selection if you feel your animal has no specific issues.

However where an issue is present that you contacted us about, animals do not always select herbs and oils initially to support this.  At the consultation you will be given information about this and the self-selection process.  Advice and support will also be given on how best for you to offer or apply any products that have been selected by your animal in order to maintain their future well-being.


If you wish to arrange a session please contact us and we will send through the appropriate consultation form for completion.  An information sheet with further guidance on arranging and preparing for the session will also be included.

  A tailored plan will form the basis of the products offered at the session. This is prepared using information from the completed consultation form (including current medication), along with our experience and knowledge.

Please contact your vet to ensure they are willing for the session to go ahead.  

If your vet requires further information we would be happy to communicate with them directly regarding this. 

The benefits of herbs and plants

Herbs were traditionally defined as plants with aromatic properties that have both culinary and medicinal uses.  However the term "herb" has been broadened to include plants or parts of plants (which includes seeds, berries, stems, stalks, roots and flowers) which have properties that have medicinal uses.   The medicinal substances obtained from these plants, which are often used in remedies, are referred to as botanicals.   A large number of studies have been conducted around the constituents of many herbs and plants, with their benefits documented in many research papers.  In fact due to increased antibiotic resistance in conventional medicine scientists are once again turning to plants for assistance.

The term herbal energetics, or herbal actions, defines how plants and herbs interact with, and affect, the body. Herbalists use this knowledge and their understanding of plants to match a plant's energy to a condition or issue.  As taste is one of the best ways to determine the energetic of a plant herbivores are best placed to take advantage of this, though not exclusively as carnivores and omnivores have an innate ability to self-medicate by foraging for, and selecting, plants too.

Therefore, by having a range of plants with medicinal properties that are easily accessible in either gardens or along fields could be beneficial your animals (and even yourself) as they too will be able to readily select these plants for their health and well-being

Dog Herbal Self Selection session

A snapshot of a herbal choices session in progress.  We bring a range of herbs/powders/hydrosols and essential oils for your animal to chose from as animals may have a preference on how these constituents are offered. (Shared with consent from their Guardian).

Horse selecting Marsh thistle

Horse with poor liver function selecting, and eating very carefully to ensure the spikes don't touch his lips.  

We bring a range of seasonally available forage to our herbal choices sessions for your animal to select.  (Shared with consent from the Sanctuary).