self selection, animal health, herbs, dried herbs, plants, self-medication, naturally animals, be complete, pet care, horses, dogs, cats, alison canavan, holistic animal care, be complete

Herbs Rock!

Last week I introduced the concept of self-selection to you, and this week I hope you are going to have some fun with your animals trying a few simple self-selection techniques! These blogs are not intended to fully train anyone how to work with self-selection with their animal, but they will introduce you to the concept so you can start experimenting straight away and trust me your animals will love it!


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Dogs love to self-medicate. Their amazing sense of smell makes this easy for them, and it will give you a real insight into areas of their diet and environment that may currently be lacking! The key with dogs is to put several remedies down at once and allow them time to explore and ingest what they need! Popular remedies with dogs include:

  • Organic virgin coconut oil
  • Organic Linseed or Olive Oil
  • Organic Barley or Wheat grass
  • Bilberry Powder
  • Brewers Yeast
  • Organic Spirulina
  • Organic Chlorella

Where possible use non-metallic bowls and put a small amount of each in a bowl – initially a tea spoon will do! For powders, some animals prefer them dry, some mixed with water into a watery paste – experiment and see what your dog prefers. Avoid using metal bowls for spirulina and barley grass. Some small animals such as dogs and cats prefer a small amount offered from the tip of your finger first. Powders are very popular with dogs!

Make a list of the order your dog selects the remedies in. When they finish one, top it up and keep going until they have had enough. It should be noted though that some dogs will purge (be sick or have diarrhoea) after this first session if they select a lot, as sometimes dogs need to purge out toxins from their body. This is completely natural for them and not a cause for concern (unless you have a cream carpet!).

Why not leave some bowls down in your kitchen to allow your dog to continue to select when you are not there – this is a great way to enhance your dog’s environment. Once you have seen what your dog selects you can then offer this daily to them, allowing them to select their dose.


self selection, animal health, herbs, dried herbs, plants, self-medication, naturally animals, be complete, pet care, horses, dogs, cats, alison canavan, holistic animal care, be complete

As above for dogs but cats also love to roll in their herbs, as this releases the potent essential oils. For your cat also try the following dried herbs: put a small amount of each out in a small pile (again start with about a tea spoon) at least a foot away from each other and watch your cat enjoy!

  • Cat Nip
  • Valerian Root (a real favourite)
  • Lavender flowers
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Rose buds



self selection, animal health, herbs, dried herbs, plants, self-medication, naturally animals, be complete, pet care, horses, dogs, cats, alison canavan, holistic animal care, be completeAs herbivores horses love and need herbs to maintain health. Leaving some in their environment or taking them for a herb walk will really be appreciated.

Put as many dried herbs and powders down in bowls and allow your horse time to select. Favourites include:

  • Nettles
  • Spearmint
  • Rosehips
  • Dandelion (root & leave)
  • Cleavers
  • Calendula
  • Milk thistle
  • Plus all on the dog list!

 self selection, animal health, herbs, dried herbs, plants, self-medication, naturally animals, be complete, pet care, horses, dogs, cats, alison canavan, holistic animal care, be completeOnce you have tried this trained Zoopharmacognosy Practitioner will be able to explain the properties of what your animal has selected and how you can easily incorporate this into their daily routine. Your animal will select what their mind / body needs at that particular time, and that their needs will change over time, especially when they are undergoing a healing process from a trauma / injury / illness. The more you familiarise yourself with the properties of the remedies the more confident you will be in knowing what to offer when, but always follow your animals guidance and you will not go wrong! Relax and enjoy the process, your animal certainly will! This cannot be rushed, so if you are short of time then leave the remedies down so your animal can take their time.

Do let me know how you get on and I am always happy to answer and questions!


Naturally Animals, animal health, our pets emotions, catherine edwards, be complete, holistic animal care, animal welfare, pet health, animal experts, love your pets, treat your pets right, animal wellbeing

Life is a journey, we never stop learning. Just as we are all individual, so are our animals. However, we are also able to quite confidently understand certain species specific needs which, if not met, will cause stress to our animals. Listening is a key skill for successful relationships, most people acknowledge that if we are not truly listened to it can be hurtful at best and truly damaging at times. It can mean our physical and emotional needs are not being met and that always comes at a price.

I have been exceptionally lucky over the last few weeks to be introduced to a mentor who is truly a gifted expert in his field, and importantly an expert in human potential too. Having a mentor in your life that knows more than you do and has your best interests at heart can be life changing, they will oversee your journey to becoming the best version of you possible, and to achieving your goals. But how is this relevant to the animals in our lives?

  • Do you listen to what your animals are telling you? Do you really listen?
  • Do you take time to research your animals needs – from food, environment, companionship, exercise to name but a few;
  • Do you strive to make your animals life the best possible – keep them physically and emotionally balanced?
  • Do you have an animal ‘mentor’ in your life? Someone who really understands your animals needs and can help guide you to make the best decisions on their behalf?

Unfortunately I see all too often that people do not take their responsibility towards animals seriously. I see health professionals who feed their animal’s poor quality food and the wonder why their animal’s health suffers; people that in all honesty should know better due to the fact that they clearly understand the impact that poor nutrition has on their bodies. It is not that they do not love their animals, but that they are not really listening to them and researching their needs. If you understand that food is your medicine then you perhaps should understand that the same applies to your animals?

I see other people that tell me that their dog is quite happy being left at home all on their own – they are not, fact, but perhaps it is that they have just given up complaining as no-one listens?

I see people who keep their horses stabled all day, and think that is acceptable, but then will not spend any money on giving them the physical and environmental stimulation and nutrients they need, but will spend a fortune on lessons in an indoor school that offers no enhancement to the horses at all. Keeping a horse restricted all day with no social interaction is not acceptable physically or emotionally to the horse, or a dog in a house all day on its own, or a guinea pig in a hutch – but who is listening to the animals when they cry for help? I want to scream on behalf of the animals and I can assure you the animals are screaming – sometimes silently and sometimes more overtly! What happens when they scream overtly – they get punished, called rude and told ‘this behaviour is not acceptable’ (often with physical violence) – well to whom is this behaviour not acceptable because to the animal the humans treatment of them is certainly not acceptable, but the poor animals have no control over their environment so they depend on us ?


But enough of doom and gloom – what can you do about it?

  1. Research your animal’s needs – knowledge truly is power BUT only if it is applied;
  2. Find an animal mentor – someone who is truly an expert in their field, and follow their advice. Your animals will soon tell you if you are getting it right;
  3. Really listen to your animal’s needs, sometimes what they are not ‘saying’ is as important as what they are! If your animal is not energetic, playful, with a shiny coat and good social skills then there is something wrong, most times what is wrong is the decisions that the owner is making for them!
  4. Change your mind set – when you truly believe that your animals have the same rights as you do you will be rewarded tenfold, and your interactions with humans will also improve exponentially.

Start today, your animals are worth it and so are you!

Naturally Animals Shares the Gift of Knowledge.

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At this time of year people are more conscious about seeing their friends, recommencing with distant friends who they may not have seen or spoken to at all, and being more aware of visiting those who may be on their own. We all know how amazing it feels to know that someone is there for you, and we all know how difficult it can be when we feel we are alone.

How many of you have animals or pets that do not share their lives with their own species? I constantly hear people complaining that their horses (herd animals) do not like leaving their friends; I constantly see signs of physical and emotional stress in horses who are not in fields with other horses, and so are prevented from interacting with them in a natural way. Herd animals must live with others of their species to avoid long term stress – this does not mean seeing a horse over the fence! They need to groom each other, play with each other and interact e.g. they will bunch together if they perceive a threat or danger.

Similarly I know many people who have one dog, cat, guinea pig or rabbit. This can cause real stress on the animals. We put our worst offenders in solitary confinement, and this has been used for years as a form of torture, yet we feel it is acceptable for animals. Being isolated from members of your own species is very stressful for virtually all animals (there are a few exceptions). However much time we spend with them, we are not the same species and we see the world through different eyes / ears / smells etc. Dogs that are left alone for long periods always show signs of stress (sometimes the owners are not aware of this); small animals such as rabbits get very depressed and stressed when they do not have others to interact and snuggle up with, and any owner of multiple cats knows how they love to cuddle up together! Birds are generally very sociable too!

So what can we do to ensure our animals do not feel lonely at this time?

  • For those of us with horses make it your commitment to ensure they have daily turn out with a herd of horses – a minimum of 3 is normally Ok. This will allow them time to groom, play and interact with each other as they choose. If this is not immediately possible then negotiate some free play time in a school and start looking for a new yard!
  • For those with dogs on their own, arrange walks and play time with other dogs; offer to dog share whilst people are at work; take your dog with you as much as possible; consider getting a companion for them!
  • For cats on their own – if possible get another cat (there are loads of amazing rescue cats looking for a new home) and introduce them gradually – rescue centres or I can advise how to make those initial introductions a success!
  • For small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs again investigate getting them a friend (introduce gradually and with expert advice), spend as much time with them as possible and give them as much space as possible.

You will be so thrilled with how grateful your animal is – they are our best friends, now let’s make sure they have a best friend of their own! Happy Christmas!

Naturally animals, catherine edwards, words hurt, alison canavan, animal health, holistic animal care, horse, do animals have feelings, be complete

As an animal therapist I visit many different environments. It can be hard at times, as I have been invited in by the ‘owner’ to help their animals, but sometimes the situations still shock me. It is vital that I stay non-judgemental and that I approach every situation with love and compassion. I always do.

This week I attended several clients whose horses had gained a bad reputation for themselves through no fault of their own. They had been labelled as ‘dangerous’, ‘too nervous / spooky’, ‘rude’, ‘disrespectful’ to name but a few. It amazes me that people do not understand the impact of these labels on another being, whatever its species. Every word has an energy associated with it, and animals are far better at picking up on this energy than most humans. Being constantly miss-labelled for something you are not has a devastating effect, emotionally, which then leads to physical problems.

There is always a reason for perceived ‘bad’ behaviour, whatever the species (and yes that includes us humans)! These horses were both in severe pain that had not been detected, despite all the warning signs being given by the horses! These horses were expected to carry a rider, both had poorly fitted saddles which would have been causing severe pain when ridden, yet when they expressed this pain via initially facial expressions (which were ignored), then by more extreme behaviour e.g. not being caught, biting or bucking, they were told off severely, often physically but always emotionally by being told by everyone how horrible they were and that they would be sold.

During their session with me, amongst other therapies, I used essential oils to help release traumatic emotions (more on this amazing process of animals self-medicating in a later blog). The release of emotions is amazing and heart breaking at the same time, the scale of hurt and abuse these majestic animals carry is humbling. I then working with the humans to change their perception of the animal, to see that when you have no language for communication, the only way you can express your fear, pain etc. is through physical actions, and if no one listens to you then your actions have to get more severe to try and be ‘heard’.

When people understand why an animal may be behaving in a certain way, it changes their approach completely. The animal immediately respond to this new approach, and the healing of the relationship can truly begin. Knowledge truly is power, but only when it is applied!

So today I encourage you to always talk kindly to others, whatever their species. Unkind and insensitive words really do hurt and can have a devastating impact on an animal. By trying to understand why an animal or human is behaving in a certain way, and by approaching them with compassion rather than judgement, a positive outcome can always be achieved. Our animals will always reward the slightest effort by us humans in kindness, compassion and true communication. They will help us understand ourselves and how we impact on others if we are prepared to listen, and we should be truly grateful for every interaction we have with these beautiful animals.

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Many of us are constantly working on self-development. It is really helpful when doing so to have a deep understanding of your true emotions, value systems and dreams. Often we as humans can say one thing and mean another. This can be for a variety of reasons, including not really understanding what we truly feel, or not wanting to hurt others feelings. However, when we say one thing and do another this can give misleading signals to those around us.

Animals are amazing at giving a true reflection of whether we are being really honest with ourselves and others. Animals don’t concentrate on the words we say, but on the true meaning and emotions behind our words and behaviours. This can provide us with invaluable information on areas of ourselves that we may want or need to work on.

This week I attended an ‘Alignment with horses’ course. It was amazing. I have loads of animals myself, including horses, and am well aware that we can hide nothing from them emotionally! As an animal therapist, I also see close links between conditions that animals present with (physical and behavioural issues) and their owners. For those of you that are lucky enough to have animals of any species in your lives, trying these simple exercises can really help you understand your subconscious thoughts, emotions, values and also how you may be subconsciously judging others and why:

  • How does your animal react when you walk into the room? Does this reflect how you think you are feeling?
  • How does your animal react when you are angry? What emotions does this provoke in you when you see this reaction?
  • Look at your animal playing, or if for example you have a dog, out on their favourite walk. What emotions do you feel when you watch them?
  • If you see an old or sick animal how this make does you feel?

As animals have such sensitive energy fields they pick up our true emotions and often mirror them back to us. Taking an honest look in that mirror is so helpful and can really help to understand what energy you are giving off in certain situations – once you recognise it then you can decide which, if any, of your emotions and behaviours you would like to work on.

Do try this and let me know your results!


For anyone considering a new ‘pet’ please see this picture! These are four of our six rescue cats, we have three boys and three girls, all unrelated and they all love each other as you can see! They regularly cuddle each other and the dogs! We also have rescue dogs, ponies and guinea pigs. There are so many animals in rescue centres desperate for a loving home. They have ended up there through no fault of their own, and are often scared, bewildered, undernourished and lonely.


Many people want a puppy or kitten, of a particular colour and of a particular breed. However, how important is this really? The numbers of abandoned pets are shocking and growing. The sad reality is that Christmas time is often when many pets are abandoned. Many of these loving healthy animals are put to sleep. Others, like Ralph and Patch in the picture above, have spent years of their lives in a rescue home waiting for someone to pick them! We never pick an animal, I just can’t understand how anyone can walk past and say no. Every animal we have had has selected us, and they are all adorable, loving and we couldn’t imagine life without them. However, it is important that you and the animal are well matched, and most rescue centres will ensure that the right animal ends up with the family most suited to them.

There has been so much research showing how much owning an animal can help with many health conditions, physical and emotional. Taking on a pet of any species is a huge responsibility, and should be taken very seriously. You need to take into consideration the costs of food and medical care, holiday / work cover, safety e.g. cats near roads etc.

Some rescue animals have been through extreme trauma, and will therefore have special needs that must be taken into account. Patch, one of our cats, was so scared of humans when we got him that it took months before anyone could touch him, and over a year before we could pick him up. This is him now (the black and white cat) with his friend Daisy the cat:


and below is our beautiful rescue lab Rocket with my son Joe!


So if you do feel that your family is looking for a pet of any species please do consider a rescue animal first. You will not regret it and nor will they, and you will have a friend for life! Just be sure to give them love and the time they need to settle and build their trust in humans again, and it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Please ensure that the whole family is supportive and that you really area able to give your new member of the family a home for life! They deserve it and so do you.

If you need any advice we are here to help!

Naturally Animals


Today I was driving along a ‘B’ road, and I came upon two horse riders. There was a road sign by the verge, and one of the horses was clearly scared. It was trying to back away and keep a wide birth from the bright yellow sign sticking out. This is a perfectly normal behaviour for a prey animal, who are programmed to be cautious of any unexpected things in their environment (which could be a predator waiting to eat them). So how do you think the horse rider responded? Do you think they stopped, let the horse register the unexpected ‘hazard’, comforted it, reassured it that it was safe and then gently asked the horse to proceed?

Well no, unfortunately they didn’t! They repeatedly hit their scared horse with a whip forcing it past something they were clearly scared of, and then looked very pleased with themselves for doing so!

Why do horse riders feel it is acceptable to carry and use a whip / stick to hit their horses with on a regular basis? What would our reaction be if we saw someone doing this to a dog, a cat, a child? Horror, I would think and hope. So why do we find it acceptable that people do his with horses?

Only this week I saw a lovely group of young children riding their ponies in a paddock. All of them had whips and all were using them regularly. The families are lovely and clearly love their horses, yet they saw nothing wrong with this as ‘everyone carries and uses a whip with horses’. Just because something has become the norm doesn’t make it right! I never carry a whip and nor do my children. Why would they? If it is there, then in a moment of frustration it may be used. Should we not be encouraging people to develop communication and understanding with their horse rather than beating it to do what they want?

Maybe the time has come for us to question all ‘norms’ in our life. Are they appropriate? Are they kind? Do they make sense and do they make the world a better pace? If not then change it today and try and encourage others to do so. You and your animals are worth it and they can’t speak up for themselves.


Often in life we are faced with tricky situations, where we see something that we perceive may not be right, but we don’t want to risk upsetting someone’s feelings by saying something. But what if the ‘someone’ in question is an animal who can’t speak up for themselves? One example which really saddens me is when I see dog on leads i.e. being restrained by their neck.

Many people without thinking consider having a lead around a dog’s neck whilst the dog is pulling, or yanking the dog back, or using choke chains to be ‘normal’. However, can you imagine doing this to any other animal or a child? Imagine putting a lead around your neck and someone pulling / jerking on it or dragging you along. Can you imagine the potential damage to the spine and other areas? We need to get people thinking about the consequences of their actions.

Just one yank can cause a lifetime of problems. Many nerves originate from the neck, and indeed many meridian lines pass through here. In addition you have the thyroid gland, windpipe, lymphatic system and veins / arteries – all of which can be damaged by just one tug! Damage to the spine or disruption to the energy channels can cause problems ranging from lameness, digestive, skin / allergies and even cancer. In addition there is some research to suggest that pulling on leads can lead to thyroid issues, as this delicate gland is situated right where lead damage occurs.

So what can you do to avoid this damage?

  1. Walk your dog on a well fitted harness, not on a lead. This will immediately alleviate the problem as the harness distributes the pressure far more evenly around the body and a good harness avoids the neck area completely;
  2. Ensure that your dog has regular red light therapy and / or chiropractic treatments to ensure that the spine is properly aligned and to free and blockages in the energy channels;
  3. Train your dog so it doesn’t pull on the lead;
  4. When possible allow your dog to be off the lead in safe areas.

And most importantly please don’t be afraid to politely tell other dog owners about the damage leads can do. Most will thank you for your knowledge and concern, especially when you help them with solutions. Whether it is an animal or another human, it is so important that we put our pride to one side and stand up for those that are unable to do so for themselves. As long as you are coming from a place of love most people will be very grateful!


Bonfire night can be a stressful time for you and your pets whether they are horses, dogs, cats or other smaller animals. Don’t forget that rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens etc. can be equally stressed by fireworks. Indeed, living in the countryside I see the stress suffered by wild animals at this time of year.

As responsible pet owners, it is best to prepare now to ensure you have everything you need in order to support them through the fireworks season, and indeed through any other periods of stress (vet visits, travelling etc).

Using natural products for animals will often calm the animal down quickly and safely. The use of plant extracts may also focus the animal’s concentration and attention on any training you may be undertaking with them to desensitise them to noise in the run up to Halloween and Bonfire Night.

It’s never too early to start preparing for keeping your pet stress free. Here are just a few suggestions.
Do’s and Don’ts during the Firework Season
• Make sure your dog, cat or small animal is shut in during fireworks, and has a safe corner / bed / hiding place where they can go to if they choose;
• Walk your dog during daylight when the likelihood of fireworks is low;
• Keep cats indoors at night during this time of year.
• Horses are generally best left out in fields, as shutting a prey animal in a confined stable can massively increase their stress levels. They will feel safest in a large, safe field with their herd.
• Close windows and curtains at night so they can’t see what is happening outside;
• Play music to hide the sounds of the noisy fireworks.
• Ensure you remain relaxed and calm, as if you are worrying about your animal they will pick up on that stress;
• Move rabbits / guinea pigs into a shed or garage, and play soothing music. Ensure they have plenty of bedding to hide in.


Using essential oils: Allowing your animal to inhale the aroma can provide fantastic support at this time.

Favourite essential oils normally selected by animals during times of stress are:
Frankincense, Valerian (cats adore this – can be used as an essential oil or dried root for cats to roll in) and also Violet Leaf, Lavender and Ylang Ylang are great.

I am able to advise how to use these, but try placing a few drops on a tea towel, each oil on a different rag, and place them near your pet. For small animals such as rabbits, sprinkle a couple of drops in different corners of their hutch or on a twig that can be placed in their hutch. We also make a fantastic FEAR SPRAY using a combination of essential oils that can be used for all species.

Herbal tonics can be amazing, the JAMES HART SOLUTIONS Chill herbal tonic for dogs is a blend of herbs traditionally used to help calm an over excited and anxious dog or those that lack focus. It can also be used long term or when required, so it is very cost effective. Dogs and cats also love PASSION FLOWER MACERATED OIL and they will select this at times of stress.

For horses a combination of the V Calm (valerian) tonic and Mellow (St John’s Wort) work incredibly well together. Also offer passion flower powder and allow them to take as much as they need. You can leave a bowl of this down so they can select if stressed.

THE most important thing is BE PREPARED! Ensure if you have pets that you have suitable remedies in advance to use, and start using them before the fireworks start. We are here to help so please contact me if you need any more advice and wishing you all a lovely, safe Fireworks season.




Ring of Kerry

This week’s blog is how animals can provide comfort during times of stress, help us to live in the present and treat others how we would like to be treated ourselves. It fits well with Ali’s Blog ‘Finding Therapy in Every Day Life’

Many people may have seen the picture doing the rounds on Facebook, where apparently a young boy explains to the vet after his dog has been put down why he is not upset. People are born so they can learn how to live a good life like loving everybody all the time and being nice, well dogs already know how to do that so they don’t have to stay as long. Priceless!

Whether the little boy really said this or somebody else did really doesn’t matter – the point is that I think this is true and that it applies to all animals! In my experience animals really do see the best in everyone. Dogs are constantly happy and grateful, often despite what life throws at them. They are quick to forgive and even quicker to love. They don’t hold grudges and they don’t deliberately upset people to make up for how they are feeling at the time. Even if a dog is fearful of someone who treats them badly, they don’t normally let this affect other areas of their life. Even if they have just been mistreated by someone, if someone else who is kind to them takes them for a lovely walk they still enjoy it, they don’t let the past hurt spoil that moment!

Humans can have the tendency sometimes to bring their own troubles into the lives of those around them. However hard we try this can sometimes drag us down and make us feel hurt. Why do people we care about often talk or act in hurtful ways and what can we do about it? Well I think animals can help us with our stress and relationship management in the following ways:

  1. Act like a dog – Be cheerful & grateful for the slightest positive thing in your life (regardless of what else has happened) and see how great you feel. Imagine you have a tail and it is wagging – I guarantee that will bring a smile to your face! As the saying goes – ‘smile and the world smiles with you!’
  2. Pick up on people’s energy like a cat – Stay away from those that have a negative energy and surround yourself with those that give off a positive vibe! I won’t suggest you sit on their laps unless you want to!
  3. Try to see the best in people like a horse does, despite often their most basic needs being misunderstood. In spite of their strength and power, which could easily dominate us humans, most horses are gentle, kind and willing to please. This doesn’t mean you are a pushover, but it will mean that you try and take a positive out of every situation.

Let me know if this works for you and comment below as we would love to hear from you.


Naturally Animals