Practical Herbalism- Common Canine Conditions

Learn how to select & use herbs to address a wide array of common canine conditions. Build your own herbal apothecary. Build a strong foundation in herbalism with Cat Lane, Dip. CFN, Chartered Herbalist

Practical Herbalism is a unique course, offered in two parts and focused on dogs, on herbs and on common canine conditions you as a home herbalist will almost certainly encounter.

Below is Part One of this unique course. Part Two will be available soon but you must complete part one first.

Why this course, and why now? There is a veritable avalanche of information today, online and in books, on the subject of “natural health” for animals. Some of this is a good thing, as working with herbs and diet can have a ripple-effect, not only healing the individual animal of any species, but bringing the one doing the healing work closer to a truly holistic view of the world. I’ve talked about this in my article “Healing Animals Heals Us and the Earth” – my deep belief in the Interconnectedness of all life, and how something as deceptively simple and small as changing your dog’s diet can bring much more healing to the world around us than we might ever dream. When I began this journey, there were only a few nutrition books for dogs and cats and none that I know of outside of Juliette de baraclai Levy, that focused on the unique needs of other species. Today, we still don’t have a lot of “animal herbals” but we have countless books on nutrition, countless sites – opinions – and the whole “natural health for dogs” has become a huge, multi-million dollar business.


Most critically, you will learn to think of about herbal actions, and energetics, and not just what condition it can be used for. Because we are going to learn about conditions system-by-system, you’ll come away with a much more sophisticated understanding of herbs than just “this-for-that” style (superficial) usage. Plant medicine is so much more than thinking of a herb as a natural, less toxic alternative to a drug. The art takes many years to master, but it goes much more easily if you know how to approach it. In other words – this course will not just teach you an amazing amount about the herbs we’re covering and the conditions everyone wants to know about – it teaches you how to go on learning.


Module One- Introduction to Herbalism

– How herbalism differs from the popular coverage – allopathic vs. holistic
– History of herbal medicine (Chinese, Ayurveda, Western)
– Using plant medicine – conditions vs systems, “quick fix” vs longterm support
– Actions – why you need to know them all…Actions describe what a herb does in the body (astringent, demulcent, alterative, cholagogue, nervine, stimulant etc ) and herbs have more than one action, so this is foundational knowledge. We’ll use the actions of a herb consistently throughout the course to help familiarize you with them all
– Constituents – an overview of the basic biochemistry of plants
– Energetics – a look at the spectrum of temperature (heat/neutral/cold) and moisture level /effect of herbs, and how these impact on our selection and formulation
– Constitution – what does the term really mean and how do we assess it?
– Special needs of the Dog – cautions and sensitivities

Module Two- Your Herbal Home Apothecary

– Getting set up – selecting and storing herbs
– Dry herbs – growing, ordering, storing
– Tinctures – alcohol, glycerites – what to purchase, when to use
– Jars and bottles, lids and labels,equipment for making and measuring
– The herbs from A – Z I use the most(and you will too)
– Other stuff you will need ( scales, funnels, gauze, infusers, sterilizing pans, and more)

Module Three- Preparation

Herbs can be prepared in a variety of ways, some methods are superior for extraction of some constituents, for example alkaloids tend to extract best in alcohol, mucilage extracts in water, and so on. Water preparations are often ideal, but your dog may not like the bitter taste of some herbs. This unit will cover basic methods of preparation, from cold infusions to electuaries (pills you can make by heating honey and stirring powdered herb into it, then rolling into balls).

– Water – Infusions and decoctions
– Alcohol and glycerin – Tinctures
– Sweet stuff – honey, electuaries, syrups
– Pills, powders and capsules
– What you will need – equipment list and resources

Module Four- The Skin

– Overview of the skin
– Nutrition and the skin
– Hot spots
– Fungal infections
– Atopy
– Yeast (Malessezia)
– Seborrhea
– Flea allergy
– Mange
– Abscesses
– Lick dermatitis
– Burns
– Bee and wasp stings, insect bites
– Canine acne
– Pyoderma: superficial, deep and skin-fold

Materia Medica for the Skin: Calendula (Calendula officinalis), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita ), Aloe Vera(Aloe spp), Rose (Rosa spp), Chickweed (Stellaria media), Plantain (Plantago major, lanceolata)

Module Five – The Cardiovascular System

– Overview of the cardiovascular system
– Nutrition and supplements for the cardiovascular system
– common canine conditions
– Nutrition imbalances
– Chronic stress

Materia Medica for the cardiovascular system: Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), Hawthorn (Craetegus spp), Linden (Tilia cordata), Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), Hibiscus(Hibiscus), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)

Module Six – The Urinary System

– Overview of the urinary system
– Nutrition and the nervous system
– Urinary tract infection
– Urolithiasis – types of stones, varying strategies
– Chronic kidney disease
– Incontinence

Materia Medica for the Urinary System: Uva ursi (Arctostaphylus uva-ursi), Echinacea (Echinacea spp), Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), Couch grass (Agropyron repens), Cornsilk (Zea mays), Yarrow (Achillea millefoilum), Horestail (Equisetum arvense), Gravel Root (Eupatorium purpurea), Parsley (Petrosolineum spp)

Module Seven- The Respiratory System

– Overview of the Respiratory System
– Nutrition and the Respiratory System
– Kennel Cough
– Acute rhinitis
– Sinusitis
– COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
– Allergic pneumonitis

Materia Medica for the Respiratory System: Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus), Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Elecampane (Inula helenium), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Osha (Ligusticum porteri), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), WildCherry Bark (Prunus serotina), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis), Sage (Salvia officinalis), Goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis),  Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

Module Eight – The Nervous System

– Overview of the nervous system
– Nutrition and the nervous system
– Anxiety
– Depression, grief
– Phobias
– Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
– Pain – types of(chronic, acute, mild, severe)

Materia Medica for the Nervous System: Skullcap (Scutalleria lateriflora), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis), Crampbark (Viburnum opulus), Linden (Tilia cordata), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Milky Oats (Avena sativa), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Monarda didyma,  common name Bee Balm, underused in veterinary herbalism but a powerhouse of actions including relaxing nervine, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, carminative and anti-spasmodic – useful for a variety of digestive upset, for yeast infection, abscesses and other infections,  for nervous highstrung dogs who run to a cold constitution or as part of various formulas for anxiety
Goldenrod, Solidago spp…often misunderstood as a cause of hayfever when for most people it is simply blooming at the same time as the real culprit: Ragweed! Goldenrod is an amazing herb, again underused, but has applications  for use both externally and internally. Goldenrod is astringent, anti-inflammatory,carminative, expectorant, antifungal and more – making it useful for rhinitis, diarrhea(astringency) for bladder infections,and topically it makes a lovely infused oil for sore muscles and sprains.
Gravel Root, Eupatorium purpurea, is a common sight along roadsides and near marshes in the summer months across much of North America. It’s an amazingly useful plant in cases of bladder and kidney stones, but should be used under the supervision of an experienced herbalist. 


Practical Herbalism for Dogs – Online Homestudy Course

This online course will be open-ended, meaning you can take as long as you like to finish.  However, if you want the certificate, you need to complete it within 12 months, or else contact me to make an arrangement. The course starts with covering some basic information on herbalism, describes how to stock up a home apothecary, and then goes straight into the conditions you, as home herbalist, are likely to face with your dogs.(Much, but not all of the information applies to cats – when in doubt, ask me!)

While this course aims to be comprehensive and cover not only common conditions, selection of herbs, preparation, dosing and potential interactions, it is also an Introductory programme and so we won’t be looking at some of the more severe diseases that a herbalist night be called to address. For example, the section on skin won’t touch on pemphigus, and the Immune system module will cover auto-immune disease, but not go into detail about working with conditions such as lupus or thrombocytopaenia. There will be a special module on cancer; unfortunately it touches almost every dog lover’s life at one time or another, so I feel it merits a special look. Important to remember too, that many conditions overlap; food intolerance starts with the immune system but affects both skin and digestion. In cases like this, I have placed the condition under the category of the system it originates in.

Each of these topics, from history of herbal medicine to actions and energetics, through each body system and on to cancer, deserves a whole course of study, and for the professional, a lifetime of adding to that study with cases, courses and keeping up with new findings as well as learning the old knowledge. For the home herbalist, I hope this course will provide you with a foundation for working more precisely and expansively.


Purchase the Course & Immediately Receive Access on the My Courses Page


Work Through the Course & Submit Homework Online


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Cat Lane, Dip. CFN, Chartered Herbalist

Cat Lane, Dip. CFN, Chartered Herbalist


Three things inform my life and work; the love of the earth and all her creatures,a profound sense of the spiritual, and the sense of calling to work with health, especially in nutrition and herbalism. I found my way to this role, as canine nutritionist and herbal healer, via a long and winding road. Many aspects of my early life led me here, beginning with early childhood when I accompanied my veterinarian father on his rounds and helped at his small but lively clinic. For as long as I can recall, dogs, cats,birds, horses and indeed, even insects fascinated me and felt like members of an extended family. Until I was about ten, I could never decide if I wanted to be a veterinarian or an entomologist – and saw no reason not to be both! But life had other things in mind for me. Through a couple of other eras, I studied nutrition (for my own fragile health) took the Tellington Touch practitioner’s training (which I have STILL not completed, after many years, but plan to!) and eventually, through the need to help my own precious dog deal with multiple health issues, I came to canine nutrition. Formal study followed years of personal investigation and research, and in 2002 I began consulting professionally. By 2005 I had the Possible Canine website, and from there I have remained immersed in the art and science of working with nutrition and herbs, for both human and canines.

Read more about me here,

How does a distance-learning course actually work? Do I need to be online at specific times?
This course is done entirely online, at your own pace. I have set up two classroom areas; one is primarily to hold the materials, the units which contain my Classnotes, and your assignments both practical and written. The other is a Facebook group for discussions and general herb-chat. You will be sent a Registration form once you have purchased the course using the Link above, and I will hold space for you. As soon as the course is officially started, I’ll add you to both the classrooms and you can begin your journey.
Aside from the cost of the course, what textbooks will I need?
This course relies totally on my own writings so no texts are required. That said, every herbalist I know is an avid collector or herbals, so you may well want to start at least a small collection. I’ll be providing an extensive list of recommended books and online resources.
Your Outline mentions practical exercises. Are there any special supplies I will need to purchase?
For the medicine-making module, and as we progress through body systems and herbs for related conditions, you will want to accumulate some herbs! These can be purchased in a myriad number of places, but I will be making recommendations (online sites). You will need basic equipment, and I’ll be posting a complete list – the essentials, some handy extras and even some luxuries.(A potato ricer works well to press out tinctures, but a tincture press is a great thing for anyone who plans to make a lot of medicine).So, you will want some jars, labels, funnels – a notebook – sieves and strainers, a foodscale – measuring spoons and a few others, most of which you already likely own. To make the salves, liniments, tinctures and other herbal medicines, you will need the herbs, plus alcohol, vinegar, various oils, beeswax – a full list will come with the course, but be aware you need some supplies.
Will there be a certificate at the end of the programme?
For any student who completes the work yes there will be a certificate.
How many hours a week should I expect to spend on this course?
This is a question I am asked a lot – but the answer is simply “up to you!” because the course is self-paced, you can devote as much or as little time as suits your lifestyle and preferences. I always advise students not to rush but not to miss too much time between assignments – knowledge builds on knowledge and momentum is your friend. But truly, it’s up to you how long you wish to take with the course.
What kind of support can I expect from you as a teacher/mentor?
I make myself available in the Facebook group as much as you need, as long as it pertains to the course material. I also mark very thoroughly, and insert comments I think will be helpful as I go. I do my utmost to facilitate learning, really mastering the material – and make it enjoyable as we go. What I cannot do; answer questions over the weekend, or put together herbal protocols for your own animals. I encourage case study discussion in the classroom, and can answer short questions about dosing, safety and more, but a full protocol is still a separate service. I still need to take a full history and monitor your dog’s progress. Outside of that, I am here to help.
Will you be offering a payment plan?
Yes- please email me at for inquiries.