self-selection for Physical, Behavioural & Emotional Issues

What is Applied Zoopharmacognosy?

Zoopharmacognosy is a term coined in 1993 by Dr Eloy Rodriguez, biochemist and professor at Cornell University.  According to Dr. Rodriguez, zoopharmacognosy is the process by which animals self-­medicate, by foraging and self selecting plants and plant extracts which aren’t a part of their regular diet. The word comes from the root “zoo,” meaning animal, “pharma,” meaning remedy, and “gnosy,” meaning knowing.

The process of self-medicating has been employed by animals since the dawn of time. If you’ve ever seen your dog or cat eating grass, you’ve watched them practice zoopharmacognosy.

Applied Zoopharmacognosy involves identifying animal self-medicative behaviour in the wild and applying this understanding to the use in domestic and captive animals by offering plant extracts that would contain the same, or similar constituents to those found in an animal’s natural environment.  Applied Zoopharmacognosy encourages and allows domesticated animals to guide their own health, when unable to forage on medical plants due to lack of opportunity to roam. This method developed by Caroline Ingraham  is a growing area of interest in animal wellbeing, and is the subject of a number of scientific studies.


Applied Zoopharmacognosy provides a behavioural method of helping animals. It involves offering choices of essential and macerated oils, and dried plants for self selection. Dogs tend to select plant remedies that contain the same or similar constituents to those found in their evolutionary history. These often include: essential oils, clays, algae, macerates and vegetable oils, seaweeds, minerals and other nutrients found in grasses and hedgerow remedies. Animals utilize the plant extract as they need it; via inhalation, ingestion or sometimes topically.

The animal’s body language indicates appeal or lack of appeal for the plants and oils they are being offered. It is therefore vital to be aware of facial and body language responses when offering. Animals are never forced to consume anything nor is anything added into their feed. This is a purely self-selection method of assisting animals to return to their health and optimal state. Animals can self-select for physical, behavioural and emotional issues. Many behavioural problems in dogs are rooted in past emotional trauma and/or physical discomfort. The evidence of our pets self-selecting for these issues is growing all the time.

Applied Zoopharmacognosy is not intended to be a replacement for veterinary care and advice. A vet should always be your first point of call when you are worried about the health of your pets.


Happy Tails

Ethical Puppy and Dog Training /

Holistic Approach Behaviour Consultations / Zoopharmacognosy