Keeping dogs out of vets since 2011

Applied ZooPharmacognosy

a photo of a labrador eating grass

a photo of a labrador eating grass

Applied ZooPharmacognosy

Two weeks ago a lady asked me did I know of any Applied ZooPharmacognosy (AZ) practioners in Northern Ireland? In Northern Ireland?!!! I don’t even know any in the South either. In fact, to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. Then I got to thinking. We recently added Holistic Hound’s range of our products to our store as the reviews of her products are resoundingly impressive. Behind these products is Jo Arbon, and I seem to remember reading something about AZ on her website. Sure enough, Jo is exactly the person to talk to.

Are There any Truly Natural Products out There?

Lots of people produce “natural” products. Sadly everyone’s definition of natural differs hugely. For example, dry food manufacturers are free to use the words natural and holistic in their heavily processed, plant-based crap for dogs. Case in point The Natural Dog Food Company in the UK who produce a pelleted feed for dogs (apparently “the first truly balanced complete dog food”). They state on their website;

Dogs are primarily carnivorous and benefit from a meat rich diet. With an average of 41% meat in the adult varieties and up to 55% meat in the puppy foods, Natural Dog Food is formulated to accurately recreate the natural diet of the dog, the kind of diet a dog is evolved to eat.


A pic of three bags of "natural" dog food

This sort of marketing mumbo jumbo, of course, spreads into natural treatments and supplements too. I’m constantly looking for great, natural products that work. You can see we don’t stock a huge range. I don’t want to be another pet shop with a cacophony of products that might do the job. I want to be able to stand over our natural products. But also, when I pick up an apparently natural product and read the back I want it to appear, well…natural. Often I struggle to pronounce half the chemicals on the back and this annoys me (though it’s fair to say, in my ignorance, I could be misunderstanding some perfectly harmless compounds, still….). This is why I love products like Canident and Oculus Prime (for weepy eyes) as they are so simple and yet so effective. It’s why I love Rawdry, dehydrated, natural meat treats as she makes them by hand and adds nothing! And it’s the reason I love Jo’s products. Upon reordering a few weeks back, Jo told me there would be a possible 6 week wait for one of them as she “crushed the mullein by hand and has to leave it for six weeks” to do something or other. That is the sort of natural I want.

a herb shed
What I imagine Jo’s shed to look like…

Jo, who you can’t reach half the time as there is no coverage where she is, adding to her mystique and allure, keeps it very, very natural. And she would know. She is qualified in Complementary Therapies for Pets with the Animal Care College (UK), subsequently specialising in the use of herbs, essential oils and flower essences for dogs. She has spent time studying Herbal Therapies for Dogs with Dr. Jimmy Symmonds (co-founder of the British Association of Veterinary Herbalists and more recently with Caroline Ingraham (founder of Applied Zoopharmacognosy). Add to that she’s a canine first responder and a licenced wildlife rehabilitator. One of those people that kind of makes you feel bad about your lack of ambition.

What is Applied Zoopharmacognosy?

a photo of a cat eating grassSo I asked Jo what was AZ really about. Coined in 1933, Animal Zoopharmacognosy stems from the Greek roots zoo (animal), pharma (drug), and gnosy (knowing)). In short, a choice of herbs and plant extracts that would commonly be found in that animal’s natural environment is presented to them. The animal is free to choose to inhale, lick or have the remedy applied topically, essentially allowing them to manage their own health, rather than having medications administered based upon oftentimes flawed perception or diagnosis. They choose or walk away. In this way, AZ encourages your dog to effectively self-medicate depending on what they need “both physically and emotionally”.

Now, this might sound a bit wishy-washy but lets take a look at that. Aided by incredible senses of smell, we know dogs and cats are notorious self-medicators. In this respect we often think of them eating grass, likely as a digestive aid but also to help them vomit, clear of parasites or potentially source minerals that may be lacking in their diet. Cats love a role in peppermint and catnip. There is no doubting there is some very positive effects to be had here.

However, many other animals demonstrate this ability too. Studies show that starlings deliberately choose specific plants (that they also source with their sense of smell) to include in their nests which serve to both boost the immune systems of chicks and reduce their bacterial loads. Ants infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus, selectively consume harmful substances upon exposure to the fungal pathogen, yet avoid these in the absence of infection. Great apes consume non-nutritional material to balance gut acidity or combat intestinal parasitic infection. Chimps do it to rid of parasites. African elephants appear to self-medicate to induce birth by chewing on the leaves of the Boraginaceae tree, and Kenyan women too brew a tea from this tree to induce childbirth. Wild boar do it to kill tapeworm. Sheep. Parrots. Insects.

I imagine if they look hard enough, every animal is at it.

Jo offers Applied Zoopharmacognosy sessions. Crucially, her focus is less on a diagnosis, something we all crave when our loved ones are sick. Rather, it’s very much more a holistic approach, a noting of potential problems and natural solutions. Crucially, Jo enthuses her clients to consider natural therapies but also to work with their veterinarian. Sadly, the reverse can rarely ever said to be true.

In Jo’s words,

The best holistic approach is to integrate and use all appropriate therapies, taking the best from each.

Holistic Hounds Products are now found at Dogs First. They include:A bottle of Worms Away, a natural worm treatment for dogs


Share This Article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email


Need Advice?

1-to-1 Online Consultations

Should you need a little hand holding, I’m here to help. Consultations are typically 1 hour in length: 15 minutes to read your presubmitted questionnaire and prepare for your pet, 30-40 minutes with you directly via Zoom / Skype and 10-15 minutes to write your summary email, including all necessary tips and their diet plan. It also includes a follow up email should you need it.


"Finally! A well-written, well-referenced thorough examination of the raw dog food debate. A fantastic gift for your favourite veterinarian."
Dr. Karen Becker


For the most up-to-date advice, support, tips and ticks from Dr. Brady and his team, please subscribe below .

Related Articles

Torn ACL in Dogs
Dog Health

Torn ACL in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Cost

So what is the ACL, and where is a dog’s ACL? The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is located in the centre of the knee (stifle) and is responsible for stabilising the hind leg when the dog is straightening, bending or rotating the leg.  In this article, we will be discussing: What is an ACL tear

Read More »
symptoms of bloat in dogs
Raw dog food

Bloat in Dogs: Causes and What to Look Out For

Bloat with torsion in dogs is a scary, painful, often life threatening and all too common occurrence in large, deep chested dogs . As the science is yet to pin a definite culprit, there is a lot of confusion. In this extensive review piece I present the most up to date thinking on the matter and make some important dietary recommendations for at-risk dog owners.

Read More »
Raw dog food

Everything About Raw

Everything You Need To Know Abut Raw Dog Food In Ten Minutes… Below is a short summary on ten key articles in raw feeding. Each article is linked out to the larger article should you fancy doing a little more research. What do dogs eat? What is raw dog food? The benefits of feeding raw

Read More »
How Much Raw Food Should I Feed My Dog
Raw dog food

How Much Raw Foods Should I Feed My Dog? Dog Food Calculator

Initially, moving to a raw diet for your dog can seem a little tricky. One of the most likely questions when shifting to raw dog food is how much should I feed my dog? The answer can be simple (2.5% of his body weight per day, if an adult) but thereafter the figure varies depending

Read More »
What causes yeast Infection In Dogs
Dog Health

Yeast Infection In Dogs: Causes, Treatments, Foods To Avoid

Extreme itchy and irritated skin with a foul odour can indicate a yeast infection. This is a very common problem in particularly dry-fed dogs today.  Yeast infections in dogs are highly uncomfortable and over time they can cause severe damage to the affected areas. Knowing how to treat yeast infections in dogs is thus a

Read More »
Raw dog food

A Fairly Thorough Review of Hemp, CBD and Ending With Advice for Pets

To understand where we are with CBD, why mothers have to walk the length of Ireland to get permission to use a herbal product that prevented epilepsy in her child suffering 300 back-breaking and life-endangering seizures a month, an entirely natural product that is supported massively by the science as beneficial in the treatment of

Read More »