Practical Herbalism for Dogs – Homestudy Course

This online course will be open-ended, meaning you can take as long as you like to finish. 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.


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

PART ONE – Getting Started

Module One – Introduction to Herbalism
– How herbalism differs from the popular coverage – allopathic vs. holistic
– History if 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, alerative, 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


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.

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 Digestive System

– Overview of the digestive system
– Nutrition and the digestive tract
– “Colitis” what the term means and encompasses
– Diarrhea – types and causes, how to treat, when to see the vet
– Conditions of the stomach – gastric ulcers, reflux, enteritis
– Herbs for the Liver and gallbladder –
– Pancreatitis and EPI
– Constipation
– Food intolerance
Materia Medica for the digestive system: Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra) Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) Burdock (Arctium lappa) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Oregon grape root (Mahonia aquafolium) Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp) Blackberry (Rubus fructicosus)
Module Six – 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)

Module Seven- 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, Couch grass(Agropyron repens), Cornsilk (Zea mays) Yarrow(Achillea millefoilum) Horestail(Equisetum arvense) Gravel Root (Eupatorium purpurea) Parsley (Petrosolineum spp)


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. 

Module Eight – 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) Wild Cherry bark(Prunus serotina) Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) Sage (Salvia officinalis) Goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis) Angelica(Angelica archangelica)
Module Nine – the Immune System
– Overview of the Immune System
– Nutrition and the Immune System
– Food Allergy
– Atopy
– Immunodeficiency
– Chronic Allergic Bronchitis
– Hives
– Overview of Auto-Immune disease
– Idiopathic polyarthritis
– Rheumatoid arthritis
– Infectious disease – tickborne
Materia Medica for the Immune System: Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Medicinal mushrooms (Reishi, Cordyceps, Maitake, Shiitake, Turkey tail, Chaga) Echinacea(Echinacea spp), Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), Astragalus (Astraglaus membranaceus) Elder (Sambucus Canadensis) American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)

Module Ten – the Cardiovascular System
– Overview of the Cardiovascular System
– Nutrition and the Cardiovascular System
– Dilated cardiomyopathy
– Heartworm
– Infective Endocarditis
– Degenerative Valve disease
– High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
– Myocarditis
– Congenital heart disease

Materia Medica for the Cardiovascular System: Hawthorn (Crataegus spp) Motherwort(Leonurus cardiaca) Ginkgo biloba, Cayenne(Capsicum annuum), Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) Arjuna(Terminalia arjuna), Coleus (Plectranthus barbatus), Garlic (Allium sativum)

Module Eleven – the Musculoskeletal System
– Overview of the Musculoskeletal System
– Nutrition and the Musculoskeletal System
– Osteochondrosis
– Hip dysplasia
– Trauma and injury, muscle, tendon and bone
– Osteoarthritis v
– Osteomalacia (adult rickets)
Materia Medica for the Muscoloskeletal System: Devil’s Claw(Harpagophytum procumbens) Solomon’s Seal(Polygonatum biflorum) Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) Ginger(Zingiber officinale)
Module Twelve – the Endocrine System
– Overview of the Endocrine System
– Nutrition and the Endocrine System
– Diabetes
– Thyroid disease
– Cushing’s disease
– Addison’s disease
Materia Medica for the Endocrine System: Bugleweed(Lycopus spp), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) Asian ginseng(Panax ginseng) Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Siberian ginseng(Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Module Thirteen – the Lymphatic System
– Overview of the Lymphatic System
– Nutrition and the Lymphatic System
– This unit will focus on infection and the need for supporting healthy lymphatic function in specific ways according to condition. Materia Medica includes Cleaver’s herb (Galium Aparine), Red Root (Ceanothus velutinus), Violet (Viola odorata) and Wild Indigo(Baptisia tinctoria)

Module Fourteen – the Reproductive System
– Overview of the Reproductive System
– Nutrition and the Reproductive System
– Enlargement of the Prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)
– Prostatitis
– Inflammation of the testes and penis
– Vaginitis
– Mastitis
– False pregnancy
– Pyometra
– Infertility
Materia Medica for the Reproductive System: Lady’s Mantle ( Alchemilla vulgaris)Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) Raspberry(Rubus idaeus), Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Module Fifteen –Cancer
– Overview – what is cancer? Types of cancer…stages and grading…conventional veterinary treatments
– Popular therapeutic approaches, diet, supplements and herbs
– Nutrition and cancer
– Herbal support and cancer – importance of personalized protocols…herb/drug interactions
– The antioxidant controversy
– Resources for helping the owner
– Materia Medica(includes herbs from all of the above categories)

Note that the course is open-ended, so you can take whatever time you need, but if you want the certificate I need you to complete it within 12 months, or else contact me and we can make an arrangement. In each module, we will discuss the recommended herbs, with information about preparation (not all plant constituents can be extracted the same way) dosing, contraindications and interactions with other herbs or with medication. I place safety first in all my work, with both herbs and diet, it is better to ask if you aren’t 100% sure, and better not to give anything you’re not certain of, either. I encourage and enjoy classroom discussion, but cannot develop individual protocols for anyone’s dog via the classroom. We can discuss cases of course, but if you need support with a serious health issue I encourage you to book a consultation with me or find a qualified herbalist in your area to work with.
I look forward to getting started!