Zoopharmacognacy: should unqualified people be allowed to broadcast advice on medical care of pets?

At the 2015 Hay Festival, a practitioner of  zoopharmacognacy, Caroling Ingraham, recommended that an arthritic cat should be taken off the pain relief recommended by her vet, and instead allowed to choose the herbal remedy of her choice.

Yes, the cat’s choice, not even the owner’s choice.

Am I missing something here? Do people really believe that pets are smart enough to choose pain relief that is more effective than pharmaceutical preparations that have been studied, refined and manufactured so that they are in the most effective, safest formulation?

More importantly, is it right that unqualified individuals should be allowed to broadcast this type of advice, without any addendum such as “Make  sure you check this with your own vet”?

There’s nothing wrong with having these beliefs, but there is a problem when such views are broadcast without any “public health warning”. There is a serious risk that animals could suffer unnecessarily if members of the public follow this kind of advice to the letter.

Following the publication of my article on this subject at VetHelp Direct, Caroline got in touch with her response, and it follows the article.


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