Western Herbal Medicine and Pets

by | Mar 24, 2024

It seems that every day a pet owner presents me with a new supplement or has questions about natural pet products they have seen online. As much as I love questions (and there are no dumb ones!), I felt the need to become more informed in all of the different areas of natural veterinary medicine as it’s of growing interest to pet owners.

Let’s talk about herbal medicine for your pets

A lavender bush

Lavender growing in my yard supports me to be calm. My cats and passing dogs seem to love it too!

There are many herbal medicine traditions. To learn more, I pursued a certification from the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies (CIVT). Open to veterinary professionals, this organization offers three post-graduate levels degree programs Integrative Veterinary Therapies as well as evidence-based courses and webinars.
Prior to this, I received an advanced Chinese Veterinary Herbal certification through the Chi institute in Gainesville, Florida. That course involved 160 hours and really took my acupuncture skills to a higher level as well.

What I was looking for in the herbal certification course was a better understanding of the herbal products that my clients are using on their pets.

Is lavender safe for cats?

How about curcumin for my older dog?

I was about to find out!

The Veterinary Western Herbal Medicine certification program

Over the course of two years (approximately 1400 hours of study), I learned about herbal medicine history and traditions in many parts of the world. My coursework included making herbal tinctures and salves, creating herbal formulas and writing case studies, and tracking down modern studies that support the use of herbs.

I studied the growing and processing of herbs, sustainability, and quality control of products. CIVT provides a great learning platform and with the help of my online tutors I was able to finish my Graduate Diploma of Western Veterinary Herbal Medicine in 2021. Yes, that was my Covid hobby!

How I use Western Herbal medicine in my veterinary practice

One of my big take-home lessons from the course was learning to be a good consumer of herbal products. I can share with my clients the importance of careful sourcing and dosing of the herbs they find in pet stores and online or that are commonly used by humans. Another important caution is that of herb-drug interactions.
I believe that true wisdom means looking at all possibilities, and I hope to combine Chinese Medicine, western herbal medicine, and conventional therapies to do the very best we can for our animal family members.