Zoopharmacognosy – wow, that’s a big word but what the heck does it mean? Well, in simple terms, Zoopharmacognosy is a behaviour in which non-human animals self-medicate by selecting, inhaling, eating or topically applying plants, soils, insects, and psychoactive drugs to treat or prevent disease.
So what, if anything, does that mean for us? We have vets who can minister to all their needs right? Well yes, we do, but many people are opting for a more holistic and natural way of looking after our furry friends, often seeking out treatments of an altogether more natural route.
In the wild, its long been known that animals will forage and hunt for specific plants or minerals to help them “feel better”. Where as, when we feel under the weather, we simply nip down to the local pharmacy to pick up a tonic or treatment, a wild animal would do much the same in sourcing just what he needs from Mother Nature’s drug store.
For our domesticated or captive animals, such foraging is simply not an option so considering the practice of applied Zoopharmacognosy would enable our pets to display this self-medicative behaviour for themselves. By offering various plant extracts, oils, minerals, seaweeds or clays for example, the animal would then have the opportunity to select its own remedy. Once chosen, it could then self-medicate either by inhaling the vapours in pungent oils, or perhaps by chewing on a plant which might aid in digestion, or by rubbing a part of its body into it.
Oils such as such as Eucalyptus, for example, could be placed on a cloth and placed in your dog’s crate for them to use and inhale when they choose. Eucalyptus is known to be effective in respiratory and sinus problems along with the sort of chesty coughs that accompany such conditions as Kennel Cough. Perhaps you might consider Lavender for your pet. Lavendar is well known to have relaxing and calming properties which could be useful for treating things like separation anxiety and even as an aid to get through Firework Night should your pet be fearful of loud bangs and noises.
The opportunities and applications with Zoopharmacognosy are really wide spread and as more and more people are beginning to seek the natural alternatives to main-stream medicines, its certainly something worth considering.
If you are interested in using such methods, please speak with your veterinarian to ensure that any pre-existing medical conditions or medications they are currently taking will not be affected by the introduction of such therapies, and speak to a professional Zoophmaracognosy specialist to get the full “inside track” on this exciting approach.