Herbs for Dogs and Cats with Swanie Simon


Share this!



Are you concerned about safe herbs for dogs and cats, as well as cautions to be aware of when working with herbs for cats and dogs? If so you won’t want to miss this informative and inspiring interview with animal herbalist and naturopath Swanie Simon! I love it when my guests make things practical and Swanie delivers with instant access to two herbal recipes for pets, a paw salve and a carrot soup that can work wonders to relieve diarrhea.

Swanie’s love of animals and nature was apparent from a very young age and she has spent her life working with animals and learning everything she could about them. Influenced by Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s books, she went on to become an herbalist, TCVM practitioner and naturopath for animals (Tierheilpraktiker). Juliette de Bairacli Levy went on to become a dear friend and lived at Swanie’s farm in Germany for several years.

Swanie is highly specialized in the natural rearing and treatment of dogs and cats and is one of Europe’s most renowned authors, teachers and herbalists. She is credited with making the subject of raw diets for dogs and cats popular in Europe and has written several best-selling books on the subject.

Swanie has been teaching herbalism, TCVM and dog & cat nutrition since 2005 and online classes in Germany since 2014.
 She is planning online classes in English starting in 2023.

Today Swanie lives on a beautiful farm in the high forest region of Germany with 4 dogs, 5 cats, 2 horses, about 20 goats and a gang of chickens. She splits her time between her farm in Germany and her home in the beautiful Provence region of south France.


Listen in for:

► What diet is best for dogs and cats?

Are essential oils a good idea for flea and tick prevention?

Are there any maintenance herbs that are safe for pets?

I met Swanie years ago and her depth of knowledge was immediately apparent. Because I’m often asked about working with herbs for dogs and cats, I leaned into Swanie's expertise to hear her many insights on working safely with herbs for dogs and cats and let the conversation go on longer than usual. I think you’ll agree that was a good choice and I’m thrilled to share our conversation with you today!



-- TIMESTAMPS -- 

  • 01:29 - Introduction to Swanie Simon
  • 04:50 - How Swanie became interested in herbs for animals
  • 07:34 - Getting to know Juliette de Bairacli Levy
  • 14:34 - What is the best diet for pets?
  • 16:52 - What to know about transitioning from a processed diet to raw foods
  • 21:03 - How bitter herbs can help dogs transition to a raw food diet
  • 25:48 - Wellness-supporting maintenance herbs for dogs
  • 28:24 - Herbs that are unsafe for cats
  • 31:16 - What are safe herbs for cats? What are cats’ dietary needs?
  • 35:45 - Can a holistic approach help animals who are very ill?
  • 41:35 - Swanie’s Paw Salve recipe
  • 43:00 - Carrot soup for diarrhea
  • 44:07 - Caring for elderly dogs and elderly cats
  • 50:30 - What are potential underlying causes of hot spots?
  • 53:57 - Swanie shares her current projects

Download Your Recipe Card!

Connect with Swanie


Transcript of the Herbs for Dogs and Cats with Swanie Simon Video

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Hello, and welcome to the Herbs with Rosalee podcast, a show exploring how herbs heal as medicine, as food, and through nature connection. I'm your host Rosalee de la Foret. I created this channel to share trusted herbal wisdom so that you can get the best results when relying on herbs for your health. I love offering up practical knowledge to help you dive deeper into the world of medicinal plants and seasonal living. Each episode of the herbs with Rosalee podcast is shared on YouTube as well as your favorite podcast app. Also, to get my best herbal tips, as well as fun bonuses. Be sure to sign up for my weekly herbal newsletter at the bottom of this page. Okay. Grab your cup of tea and let's dive in.

I am so thrilled to bring you this conversation with Swanie Simon. This is a super important topic, especially in regards to safe herbs for dogs and cats. Stay tuned to hear about what herbs are safe for dogs and what herbs are safe for cats as well as are there cautions to be aware of when using herbal medicine for cats and dogs? I met Swanie years ago and her depth of knowledge was immediately apparent. Our mutual friend, Christophe Bernard says that Swanie is one of the most generous and kind people he's ever met in his life, and I wholehearted agree. Because I'm often asked about working with herbs and pets, I decided to throw my usual condensed podcast formula out the window, and instead leaned into Swanie's expertise to hear her many insights on working safely with herbs for dogs and cats.

For those of you who don't already know Swanie, she's an animal herbalist and naturopath who was born in Germany, but lived in the United States for 30 years after her family moved to New York when she was just one year old. She spent her youth in the suburbs of New York with frequent trips to Europe followed by several years in Greensboro, North Carolina to study. Later, she lived in Florida and Texas and returned permanently to Europe in 1992, living in both Germany and France. Her love of animals and nature was apparent from a very young age, and she has spent her life working with animals and learning everything she could about them. Influenced by Juliette de Bairacli Levy, she went on to become an herbalist, a TCVM practitioner and a naturopath for animals. Juliette de Bairacli Levy went on to become a dear friend and lived at Swanie's farm in Germany for several years.

Swanie is highly specialized in the natural rearing and treatment of dogs and cats, and is one of Europe's most renowned authors, teachers, and herbalists. She is credited with making the subject of raw diet for dogs and cats popular in Europe and has written several best-selling books on the subject. Today, Swanie lives on a beautiful farm in the high forest region of Germany with four dogs, five cats, two horses, about 20 goats and a gang of chickens. She splits her time between her farm in Germany and her home in the beautiful Provence region of Southern France. Swanie has been teaching herbalism, TCVM and dog and cat nutrition since 2005, and online classes in Germany since 2014. She's planning online classes in English, starting in 2023. Welcome to the podcast Swanie. I'm absolutely thrilled to have you here.

Swanie Simon:
It's good to be here.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Well, Swanie, I've known you for, wow, it's been six or seven years now, I think. And I got to know you during our intensive time in France, where you came already like you could have taught the class, and you came very knowledgeable-

Swanie Simon:
I don't know about that.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
... and added so much and on so many levels. And it's really just my pleasure to be here with you and to talk about a subject that I get asked about all the time, which of course is herbs with animals. And I'd love to just begin with who are you and when did you start falling in love with animals and how did you find yourself on this path?

Swanie Simon:
Okay. So basically my parents tell me, ever since I could walk, I was chasing after every animal I saw. So that seems to have started very early and I could never have a dog until I was 14. So I used to jump over fences. I knew every animal in the neighborhood. And people used to call me actually when their pets were sick, when I was a kid and I'd say, "Well, you can do this or take it to the vet." So then when I got a dog at 14, since I was a weird kid anyway and read a lot of books, I became a nutrition expert at 14, and was really interested in that subject.

And I used to work in dog kennels and I was responsible for feeding the dogs and I got onto this path of fresh foods for dogs pretty early. And I used to fly to Germany to buy German Shepherds for breeders in the States. So I think it was 1986 or something. I had to fly to Germany, to a dog show. I didn't have a book to read because back then you needed to have a book to read on the plane, way back then. And somebody had given me the herbal handbook for the dog and I'd thrown it in my shelf, like, "Ah, herbs, who cares about herbs?" And I never read it and I thought "it's better than nothing". So I took it with me on the flight and read it. And a lot of it's about nutrition and I was fascinated. I read it twice on that flight. And then I thought there must be something to all this herb stuff.

And that got me kind of interested in herbs, and yeah, from there on I just... Yeah, I didn't have any money, so I had to learn a lot by myself from books and stuff. And yeah, and then I moved to Germany when I was 30. And then I did a training to be what we call a tierheilpraktiker, that means like a holistic practitioner. So you're not a vet, it's like a three year training. It's pretty intense. You have to learn a lot and you can do all kinds of stuff, and I'm very specialized in herbal medicine, Chinese medicine and do acupuncture and of course, nutrition. Nutrition is what I'm known for most here in Europe. I kind of introduced the concept of raw diets to Germany and Europe, so.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
And later you went from herbs to then becoming friends with Juliette de... Help me with her last name. Juliette de Bairacli Levy.

Swanie Simon:
Juliette de Bairacli Levy. Yeah.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. Thank you.

Swanie Simon:
Well, I was so fascinated by her book because she wrote about vaccinations. She wrote about a lot of things where I just thought, wow, these are my thoughts. And I wanted to see if she was still alive somewhere. I want to know more about her, if I could track her down. And I'm a little bit obsessive when I want to know something, so I hunted her down and finally caught up to her. I think she was in upstate New York somewhere. I remember the first time I was going to have a phone call with her, I was so excited. I couldn't even stand it. I was just, I was freaking out. You'd think she was a rockstar.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Oh, she is.

Swanie Simon:
Yeah. So we kind of hit it off and we'd talk on the phone a lot. And then I kind of got from Tish Streeten who did the film Juliette of the Herbs. She's always kind of taken care of Juliette, that Juliette needed a place to stay, and I was like, "Here." So then she came to Germany and stayed with me for a while. And then she'd come stay a while and then she'd go somewhere else. And so the last years of her life, she spent quite a lot of time. In fact, she lived in here where I'm sitting right now.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Oh, wow.

Swanie Simon:
We put in a wood stove because she liked to sit in front of the fire in her bedroom once... That room over there.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. I picked up one of her books in anticipation of our conversation, just because I wanted to remember Juliette, and I'd open it up to different sections and she was in one section, she was really opposed to Pasteur's germ theory, which was becoming more and more accepted now. But way ahead of her time in terms of that where a lot of people were really into just killing everything and not looking at the environment. And she's really, she had some deep insights.

Swanie Simon:
She was way ahead of her time. What is also fascinating is like today everybody's an expert, you Google. I can see when I ask my students, tell me something about calendula, they're all Googling. And I say, "Don't Google. Just tell me what you know." She wanted to be a vet first and went to veterinary school and then she quit that because she didn't like it. And then she learned about herbs by traveling through the entire world. That means like she would take a trip for three months to Afghanistan to learn about two herbs. Imagine acquiring your knowledge like that. That's just, that's a completely... And I think then you really have a completely different relationship and knowledge about the herbs when you go to those countries and see how people use them there. It's really interesting. So that's something that I've always been interested in and it makes her a story. And plus she's a little tiny woman. I mean she's very small and she was traveling as a woman alone in the 30s. 20s and 30s and 40, 50s. That takes a lot of chutzpah. I mean, so-

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. I was struck. I picked up the handbook for farm and stables when I was reading and I was struck just how encompassing it was, how much information was in that. And I did think... and she was not double checking her facts on the computer. This was all her innate knowledge, or not innate, but at least her acquired knowledge.

Swanie Simon:
... She was typing on an old typewriter. Yeah.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. Yeah. It's really amazing.

Swanie Simon:
Yeah. Yeah. So she was quite a character too. I mean she was just a hilarious person. So yeah, she's just quite... Always left an impression.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Well, so you've always loved animals and you came to herbs, you went to intensive schooling. And I know you, you go like, anything... I see you going to courses and doing that kind of the same thing that you're saying that Juliette did, and in a way you do that too. I know you do, going to take classes here and there, wherever you can. And you have your own particular way of working with animals. And I'd love to hear about that. Like what is Swanie's philosophy?

Swanie Simon:
Well, I think the word is eclectic. I've learned all kinds of things. I've taken so many classes about so much stuff and I kind of take what makes sense to me and incorporate it into my practice. So diagnostically, I do something that's TCM-ish, with my own Swanie... You gain experiences and just see things that maybe just don't fit so neatly in that system. And through the experience you have, you just have your own ideas about things then too. But what I do is basically I look at the entire animal, the energetics of the animal. Where is their tension, where are the differences? I always tell my students to touch both sides at the same time and see if the animal's warmer or stiffer, if there're differences, just like that to just actually feel it and see it. I do tongue and pulse diagnosis, diagnostic acupoints and stuff like that. And then I do a whole history.

I need about an hour and a half for a patient, so it takes a while. Plus, with dogs, I can't just say, stick your tongue out or how do you feel today? You kind of got to get a little bit of a feeling for it. So like my students always say, "Swanie just looks at a dog and knows what's wrong." But that's not actually true because I'm sure you, with people, somebody will walk in the door and you'll be like, "Ah, kidney person." You learn to recognize this pretty quickly. So it's not magic. It's something you can actually learn and you just have to practice it.

So what I do is I kind of do an anamnesis of the dog or cat, and then I try to match a formula or herbs to the animal. And of course, one of the biggest things is nutrition. You can't fix things with herbs if you're eating garbage, basically, so you need to address that. And processed pet foods are just not good, no matter how high quality they claim to be, it's just the whole idea of processed is unnatural. So, yeah.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. Could you speak more about that? I know that you, that is your specialty, and yeah, I just want to know more about that. Like, what is an ideal diet for a dog? I know that's kind of a big question. There're different dogs, different times of life, but what is your philosophy there?

Swanie Simon:
Diet is one of the topics where animal owners will really beat themselves up in an internet forum. There's a lot of arguments about it. And the best diet for an animal is one that maintains its health and that the animal can eat and do well on. So there are dogs or cats you'll have to cook for, and there are dogs and cats that can eat basically anything raw food. And then once in a while, you'll have a case with an animal that's so reactive and allergic that it can literally only eat one specific brand of processed foods. If that's the situation you have, then no matter how much I hate that it's eating this food, I'm not going to change that.

The first, most important thing is always my patient. I want them to feel good, and not my ideology and my ego, but patient has to feel good. So that's the most important thing that you don't get caught up in this kind of, only my way, only this way. In my opinion, obviously, I mean, if we were talking about people now and I said, "Well, processed foods, they're great. McDonald's hamburgers and stuff. They got everything you need. There's lettuce. I mean, come on." You'd think I was an idiot. But when you talk about animals and you suggest processed foods, people are like, yeah. And then it's scientifically formulated. Think of Science Diet and things like that. So a lot of it is just, it's highly processed food and the quality of ingredients is generally pretty bad. And it's just not something that will really maintain optimal health.

So the best thing you can do for a cat or a dog is fresh foods. Now, if you want to cook them or not cook them, you don't lose that many nutrients cooking depending on how you prepare the food. You know that, right. So, I mean, you can, you can supplement it a little bit, but my dogs eat raw foods and they don't have any trouble with it. But I've had dogs I've had to cook the food for because the digestion is just not up to it. And processed dog foods are just really highly digestible. The stomach doesn't have much to do. And then you start getting issues where people say, "Well, I switched him to raw and he's throwing up." Well of course, if I'm eating processed foods they pass through the stomach pretty quickly. So what happens? The stomach isn't producing acid because it doesn't need to.

And then normally a dog will have a pH in the stomach after eating of one or two. I mean they have very strong stomach acid, but it, what do you call it? It regresses with time if you're eating processed foods. So if you're eating processed foods, there's less mixture with acids because they digest really quickly in the stomach. They kind of fall apart and the chyme comes in the duodenum, and the pH is higher than it would normally be. And then the pancreas does what the pancreas does, enzymes bicarbonate water to neutralize the acid that isn't really there. So the pH in the intestines goes higher, which is then an ideal environment for pathogenic bacteria and parasites. So one thing leads to another and then you have these dogs that just can't get rid of a giardia infection because they're just not eating right.

So when you're switching a dog from processed foods to fresh foods, one herb or some herb or class of herbs that is really helpful here can be bitters. They have the same effect on animals as they do on people. So this will help normalize the stomach acids, so that they can digest better, but it will take a little bit of time. So at the beginning it might make more sense to... What do you call it in English... to grind the meat and maybe even cook it, because it's more digestible that way, until the stomach starts returning to its normal function. So I think it's just important not to get so caught up in this, he's only going to get meat and bones. A dog that's eaten processed food for six, seven years is going to have trouble digesting bones. I mean it's pretty obvious, right?

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. Yeah. So when would you recommend, if somebody wanted to move from a processed food to raw, or whole cooked foods, you recommend bitters. Would you also recommend weaning them off? It's like all of a sudden one day they just get meat and bones, but maybe it's like they get an increasing amount of whole foods and decreasing amount of processed foods.

Swanie Simon:
You can do that, but some dogs will have problems with that, because the processed dry food especially tends to get gassy in the stomach. It creates just more gas. So that can be a problem. But it can be helpful. It can be helpful, to just start cooking and then reduce the cooking times over a period of two or three months. But really I kind of... It depends on the dog. Like young animals, puppies, kittens, you can switch them immediately. They're not destroyed yet. But older dogs, especially old dogs have to be very careful and they may never be able to eat bones. You just have to use something else. So just a little common sense actually. And so it can make sense to gradually switch them, but some dogs will have some problems with that, so you just have to see.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. I really appreciate your specific approach of common sense and also really listening to the patients and seeing what they really need, rather than a dogmatic view of this or that. I wanted to mention or I wanted to see if you'd mention bitters in particular. Are there bitters that you tend to use for this process, that are better?

Swanie Simon:
Oh yeah. I have my favorite bitters. Well, I tend to use herbs. It's another one of my little things, but I like to use herbs that grow in my environment because I think they're in the same environment as me. So I try to use things that grow here. What I use a lot is Rumex. So burdock is the best dog plant. And stuff like that. What else? I'm having to translate now.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
So you use Rumex, like yellow dock root and burdock?

Swanie Simon:
Yellow dock root. Yeah, burdock root. I like to use a root herbs too, like the liver herbs, which are almost always bitter, for dogs with allergies too. Because I've just found that, especially if you tincture them, there's not a lot of allergic potential then. You're not having any pollens underground, so that can be helpful. So that can be helpful in different ways because these bitter herbs, they're usually also liver herbs. Or if you have one, like burdock is the best herb because it's a liver herb, it's a kidney herb. It's a lymphatic herb, and it's really... I've never had anybody not tolerate it. It's a super well tolerated herb. It's very doggy. When you look at the burdocks, they're really annoying because what do they do? They stick in your animals' fur, so they're kind of saying, pick me.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
And so when you're giving the herbs to the dogs, are you giving them the fresh root chopped up or dried root cooked, or how do you like to give it?

Swanie Simon:
All of the above, basically. But for my patients, I'll go outside and say, look, that's burdock, but I guess it's when you do something too long, you sometimes lose the ability to see how difficult it is for somebody that is starting out to identify burdock. Like to me, it's screaming burdock, but I guess people are just very unsure of digging up the right plant, which is if you're not a 100% sure, don't use it. So we sell dried burdock in my company. Dried burdock, ground root and I use tinctures a lot with animals.

And I mean you could use a tea and you can also feed the fresh roots, obviously. And even the leaves.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Wonderful.

Swanie Simon:
And the seeds you can use too. It's a very useful plant.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
It is. I feel like when I was in clinical practice, all the time, even now as a teacher, I get questions like, "I have this problem, what herb do I take for it?" And I'm always like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa." Hold on here, it is looking about the whole person. And so often there are these other things like diet or lifestyle really play a huge role in the healing process. And herbs. I always think of, in my mind, I think of a pie chart and herbs might be like 30%, which is a really important percentage in the healing process, but we can't forget about sleep or diet, et cetera, all these different parts to make the whole. So I'm getting that sense that it's not unlike that working with animals.

Swanie Simon:
It's called holistic medicine because of the whole. Yeah, you can't just treat one aspect and ignore the rest. If you've got a dog outside on a chain, miserable, you've got to treat that too. If you've got an unemployed border collie, he needs a job as well. So these things you have to treat. And then of course, diet, lifestyle, all these things play a huge role. So yeah, my patients always, they get supplements, they get herbs, they get recommendations, tips, tricks, and then they get dietary advice always. But they know me, they come here, they kind of expect that with the nutrition.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
I'm wondering about, are there general maintenance herbs that you love for dogs and also for cats? You've mentioned that you love burdock a lot, but are there things if somebody lives with a dog or a cat, are there herbs that maybe they could think about? I think of nettle. I love nettle for myself. It's not that I take it for a particular ailment. It just, I feel great when I am working with nettle regularly. So is there something, some herbs like that you think of for dogs and cats?

Swanie Simon:
Sure. And the great thing is, especially dog owners, they walk their dogs. So they're basically out every day. So I just encourage them to pick some dandelion leaf, some nettle leaf, some cleavers. Cleavers are great. Stuff like some burdock. Just to learn a few herbs that they can safely pick. Some chickweed. You can stick that in their food on a regular basis. Plus burdock is, I mean, it's a powerful herb, but at the same time, it's relatively mild.

And then as a supplement, I often recommend rose hips. Yeah. I started selling rose hips 20 years ago and now every last herb place for pets in Europe sells rose hips. It's kind of funny. And I just think that's a good way to get some extra nutrients and vitamin C and stuff like that. And then I have different herb mixtures that I make to sell, which is different than what I do in practice. Because my preference is always to make a very specific mixture for each animal. But that's not realistic. Not everybody can come here and sit here for an hour and a half and mix their own herbs. So we sell some mixes that are kind of... And they have herbs like burdock, like nettle seeds, depending on what they're for. They'll have some alfalfa, some kelp, stuff like that. Right? It's just to tonify different organs. We have different mixtures.

So that's something you can do. If you're going to pick herbs in the wild, you have to be 100% sure that you have the right plant. You really need to. And also pick each one, like some herbs, you could have something poisonous growing between it. So you don't just grab a handful. You're going to have to pick each one. Something like ramsons, where you could have... People in Europe every year, some people die when they're picking ramsoms because they eat, I think Crocus or something like that. They pick some. I don't know how you can confuse them, but they do. So you want to be careful with things like that.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Are there herbs that are generally safe for humans, but just not okay for dogs and cats? Things that people need to keep in mind.

Swanie Simon:
With cats, for sure. Cats are very sensitive to salicylates. How do you say it? Salicylate.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
I think you said it right, salicylates.

Swanie Simon:
Salicylates.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Something like that.

Swanie Simon:
So like willow, meadowsweet, things like that, you won't use for a cat.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
That's good to know.

Swanie Simon:
And then also cats have... their liver function's different. Their enzymes are always active in the liver, so they're more susceptible to toxicity from essential oils. And one thing I'm a little bit concerned about is aromatherapy has become very popular. And now it's everything that becomes popular with humans eventually comes into the animal world and dogs and cats have an incredible sense of smell. I've read that a dog can still detect one drop of urine in 60 million drops of water.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Wow.

Swanie Simon:
So just imagine going in a perfume store and when you walk in, somebody pours a bucket of whatever over your head and you have to walk around like that for a week. You probably wouldn't feel very happy. So I think we really need to be careful with essential oils with animals just because of the odor it's quite an assault on their senses. And also with cats, cats can react... Well, a lot of essential oils are very toxic for cats. So there're lists in the internet. Like in my classes I have lists. There's a few that you can use, but I always think, why?

Swanie Simon:
Some people will try to do flee and tick repellents with essential oils and I've read recommendations where they have 300 drops and 100 milliliters of pure alcohol. And I'm like, you cannot do that with a dog or a cat. That's just cruel. So maybe be careful with that. I think the best, I've seen some people that use aromatherapy with animals where they let the animal come and sniff it. That's a sensible way to use it, but pouring these essential oils on them where they can't escape from that odor, I think is something that you should be careful with.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. That's a perspective... "Hi, Tessa. Hi, Tessa." I think I skipped over if there's... I know that cats are very different in terms of their diet and everything, but are there general herbs for cats that you find to be useful?

Swanie Simon:
Well, I usually don't supplement herbs just without a reason for cats because normally I think cats should be allowed to go outside and then they'll partake on their own, things like that. If you have a house cat, I don't know what they call it in English. We have like cat grass that they can nibble on, so that. Also there are some house plants that are quite toxic for cats, so you'd want to be careful with that. But apropos cats, as far as a raw diet, a fresh food diet, cats are obligate carnivores. For cats it's even more important. The main diseases cats get is kidney failure, diabetes and gingivitis, tooth and gum disease, which is directly, my opinion, related to diet. So my cats all eat raw food. They chew chicken wings, they chew bones. They're spectacularly healthy.

And yeah, because cats normally, a cat would hunt several times a day. So cats in nature would get almost all the water they need from their prey animals that they eat. So cats, the nature of cats is that they don't drink much at all. They're not thirsty. Dogs are different since they pant, they need a lot of water. So when they're eating dry food, they'll make up for the missing moisture by drinking, but cats won't. So when cats are getting dry food, they're just chronically dehydrated and that's not good for the kidneys or anything. So that's something where a diet plays a huge role. On the other hand, it's extremely difficult to switch a cat's food.-

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yes, I think I found that.

Swanie Simon:
... You have to be very persistent and patient. Yeah. So best is to raise them that way. My cats won't touch processed foods, the kittens.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah, they don't eat... Yeah.

Swanie Simon:
They're like, "Eww. I wouldn't eat that."

Rosalee de la Forêt:
I have a story I want to share about my cat. Our cat was given to us by another and we instantly fell in love with him. And it's my first cat as an adult. So I'm kind of anxious, wanting to do everything right and make sure he's okay. Well, this one time he got sick and he didn't eat for a day. And I was like, "Hmm, that's weird." Then he didn't eat for two days. So I started looking on the internet and I read it's very important that cats eat, and you don't want... they can't go a long time without eating. So I took him to the vet because I didn't know what to do. So I took him to the vet.

The vet was very thorough, did a hands on thing. And the vet said, "Well, doesn't feel like the cat is constipated, but that's probably my best guess." And then she gave me a constipation medicine, laxative, and showed me the thing that was most helpful. She showed me how to give the medicine to the cat, holding him and had a little syringe to put it back in his mouth and stuff. So I was like, "Oh, okay." And I said, "How often do I need to give this to him?" She said, "Oh, every day." And I said, "For how long?" She goes, "Probably for the rest of his life." And I was immediately like, "Whoa. We don't even know if that's the problem."

So I got home and I started opening up my books on cats and trying to figure it out. And I read about slippery elm being helpful in this situation, so I didn't even touch the laxative. And I made up the slippery elm, and I don't know, probably the slippery elm helped. Maybe the cat just didn't want me to give him slippery elm anymore so he started eating again, and it's been fine ever since. But, I was so grateful to know about slippery elm, and I was kind of honestly a little bit horrified that the recommendation was to give this laxative for the rest of his life. Because that just immediately was red flags for me. Like, "That doesn't make sense." I'm wondering, are there other things that herbs are just really remarkable for that maybe people are often turning to more drastic measures for?

Swanie Simon:
Oh yeah. I mean, I don't know, how many examples do you want?

Rosalee de la Forêt:
I am trying to work up to your recipe, but let's hear some other examples and I'll just-

Swanie Simon:
Well, my recipe isn't really for dramatic problems. But I have different formulas for things like anaplasmosis, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease. And then people buy it, because we only sell it for animals and they buy it and give it to people. But apparently it works there too, so that's good to know. But one of the big things is giardia. You'll see puppies with giardia, and they go to the vet and they get worm medicine. It's usually Panacur or something like that, for five days, which doesn't really get rid of the giardia. And so they'll test negative for giardia, but then they get diarrhea. And so they go back to the vet and then they get antibiotics. And all this makes no sense to me, but this is what happens.

And then after the antibiotics, then they have giardia again. And I've seen dogs they're one year old and they've been through the cycle like six or seven times. And they're really sick and only a year old. Their digestion is destroyed. And giardia is relatively easy to get rid of. First of all, diet. They prefer carbohydrates, so a raw, fresh food diet without grains or potatoes is the best thing you can do. And then the microbiome is like, what a subject. So probiotics is the next important thing. So you starve the giardia. You give the intestines some good bacteria and that's usually enough to get rid of them. And then if you wanted to, you could use a herb like hydrastis, what is that Goldenseal?

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Goldenseal. Yeah.

Swanie Simon:
Will work there. Colloidal silver will work. MSM will work. Simply you don't even need to really go to herbs. But there's quite a few herbs that are effective there. And that treatment it's, you'll never hear me say that a treatment works all the time, except with this one with giardia. It works always. I've never had it not work, and it has no side effects. You don't destroy the digestion. The dogs, it takes, you have to do this for eight to 12 weeks. I have a protocol that I have them follow and they do it for eight to 12 weeks, and then they're gone and they stay gone. And that's something that I find, so what did Albert Einstein said, he said, "The definition of insanity is if you keep on doing the same thing and expecting a different result." And this just seems insane to me like that. Just keep on giving this treatment, even though it's obviously not working, making the animal sicker. So that's one really good example.

And then a lot of digestive issues, kidney issues. I mean there's a lot of the patients, let's say 99% of the patients I get here, they've been through everything. They spent hundreds or thousands of euros on treatments. They've been to all kinds of clinics. Nobody knows what's wrong, because the blood panel's okay, so the animal's healthy. And then you have a cat or a dog covered in sores, like this. And they say, "Well, it doesn't have anything, because the blood panel's okay." And you know, that's kind of horrible. And they sit here and cry, the patients, because they just, they're just so done. And it's horrible because they feel so helpless.

And a lot of these animals, just by looking at the energetics, I don't really... Like I treat disease patterns. I don't need a name. I don't care what it's called. If they come and say, "Well it's IBD or IBS?" Well, it pretty much means they don't know what's wrong anyway and so it doesn't really matter. For me it's a spleen key deficiency or something like that. These are the kind of disease patterns. And I try to get it back. This dog was supposed to be put down because she got run over in Greece, and her hip's really messed up. All her bones were broken, and she's almost 10 years old now. And imagine this is the most incredible animal I've ever met. Yeah, she's like a little person.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. She is so sweet.

Swanie Simon:
You can do so much. I've had so many hopeless cases here or dogs that were supposed to be put down that we're fine. Some of them, you can get them back to almost perfect health and others you can always get an improvement, but you can't fix everything obviously. And animals are like people. Like I'm tall, I'm six foot one, so guess what kind of problems I have? Back pain, slouching. So, different people tend to have different problems. Everybody has, let's say one area in their body that's more sensitive and it's the same with animals. You'll have like my retriever he gets excited really easily. He's always afraid to do something wrong, so he gets stressed out. So he'll have stomach problems if he's going to have a problem. And Tessa's a busy body. So she has busy body problems. Every dog and every cat is different. So you get to recognize these types of animals too. The liver types, the intestine types, the stomach types, the skin types, you can just see them. I'm sure you can too, right?

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Well, the recipe that you're sharing with us is one that I love because it's so practical and I know many people will be able to use with their furry friends. And it's Swanie's paw salve.

Swanie Simon:
Yeah. It's a real simple recipe and I guess you could switch it up a little bit. But I made it quite a few times and tried to get it. So because when you put on a dog's paw, a salve, they're walking around your house, so you don't want it to be too oily. And you don't want them to slip. And at the same time it needs to be good enough so it can draw into the pads of the feet. So what you have in the winter, I don't know if it's the same in the States, but they spray a lot of salt everywhere for the ice and snow. And then the dogs walk on that and if they have a little crack in their pads, that's quite painful, rubbing salt in the wound. So you can put the salve on there before you go out. And also when you come back, maybe rinse the feet and put the salve on to kind of heal it up. So that works quite well.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing that recipe with us. And for the listeners, if you'd like to download your recipe card with the full recipe, then you can click the link above this transcript and get that copy.

Swanie Simon:
When I was at the IHS, I shared a recipe, which I was sure everybody knew, and nobody knew it and I was quite surprised. And it's making this thick carrot soup for diarrhea. And in Germany, everybody knows this, but it seemed like in America, nobody knows this. So I'd love to give you that recipe. It is one of the best treatments for diarrhea, whether it's children or animals. And it's super simple. You just boil carrots with a little bit of salt, to death, and then use one of these, what do you call them?

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Immersion blenders.

Swanie Simon:
Thank you. And just make this thick soup and feed that a couple times. It's the best diarrhea medicine there is.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Oh, awesome. Thank you for that.

Swanie Simon:
Yeah. Carrot soup.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Carrot soup.

Swanie Simon:
Yeah. You need to spread that around America because it's really so simple and it works great with kids too.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Hmm. Wonderful. Well, I asked my friends on social media questions that they might have for you and one question that just kept getting repeated over and over was advice for caring for both elderly dogs and for elderly cats.

Swanie Simon:
Okay. So elderly dogs and cats, the age isn't really the problem. It's just, it's the same with old people. The older you get, the more illnesses you're going to have. Your joints hurt. You get tired more easily. Your digestion is sluggish or you don't see as well, you don't hear as well, these kinds of problems. And pets have the same problems. So to just say in general, for old pets, there's a few things you should watch out for. I have a good article in German, but I'll have to translate it into English. Just it's basically common sense again, just think of what happens when you get older. Like dogs, don't hear... A lot of dogs and cats, one of the first senses they lose is their sense of hearing. And what you'll notice with dogs for example, is that they start barking more and barking earlier at noises because they can't really identify them. That doesn't mean they're being bad, it may be that they just don't hear as well. Especially with kidney disease, any kind of kidney disease, you're going to have ear issues, Chinese medicine, right?

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. I was going to say that's a really great Chinese medicine.

Swanie Simon:
Well it's true though. So if your dog is losing its hearing, you might... or cat... you might want to just give it nettle seeds. They work fantastic for dogs and cats. I mean really well to bring down the... Excellent stuff. I've been using this for many years, since the first time I read this thing from Jonathan Treasure, I thought, oh, I'll try that. And it's incredible. It's great.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Oh, that's wonderful to hear.

Swanie Simon:
So that's one thing. And then, they may be losing their eyesight. Usually their sense of smell remains relatively good until old age. But when their sense of smell, when they start losing that, they may suddenly not want to eat stuff because they can't smell it. But what can you do? You can heat up the food. It smells more. Just picture a steak. You've got a raw steak in your fridge. Can you smell it? No. When do you start smelling the steak? When it's in the frying pan or on the grill. That's when you're like, "Hmm, somebody's making steak." So you can help old animals by cooking or heating their food to help them with the smell. Also, they may have trouble chewing if they have tooth issues or digestive issues, so you might need to switch them to ground meat, lighter digestive foods, not feed bones and stuff, hard-to-digest things.

They may have problems, a lot of animals. If they have back problems, when they squat to take a poo, it hurts. So they don't squat as often. And then they get constipated more easily. The longer the feces sits in the intestine, the dryer it gets. So you may want to just add some psyllium to their diet and make sure that they're having ease with bowel movements, to see about joint pain. If they're in pain, there's lots of great supplements. Also, anti-inflammatory herbs that you can use there. Just things like curcuma.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
I was just going to ask about turmeric and if that's something that helps.

Swanie Simon:
Yeah. Right. Yeah. Well usually you make, we call it the golden paste. I have a recipe in German, but I need to start translating more stuff. Okay. That works really well. With dogs, you can use basically the same herb as with people. You can use willow and stuff like that. But also nutritional supplements, like New Zealand green-lipped muscle. Omega three fatty acids are basically important with any kind of inflammation or pain. They're just, they really should be supplemented best as if there's a little bit of vitamin E with it. Then these chondroitin glucosamine supplements, MSM, they're all really helpful for joint pain, this kind of stuff.

And then there's some great tonics. Like we make a tonic mixture. I call senior phyt, P-H-Y-T like Phyto. Nobody gets it, but... And it just has different tonic herbs. It has some for the eyes, for the ears, for the digestion, the liver, the kidneys. Just a real gentle kind of tonifying. And there's some, there's some good Chinese mixtures. This, what is it called? The great tonifying decoction Shi Quan Da Bu, I think it's called... Don't nail me on that. I'm not sure if that's the right name. I think it's Shi Quan Da Bu... That are just great all around tonics.

You can give them something for their immune system. Astragalus is really good for that, with cats and dogs. It kind of tells the immune system "wake up, pay attention". So that's a good herb to take. If you're coming into a season when illness comes, a lot of times like in Germany, a lot of dogs in the spring, the first warm days, this kind of diarrhea goes around. With people it's mostly in the fall. The white cold weather where you'd want to take astragalus to get your... Right now you probably want to take it all the time.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. I am.

Swanie Simon:
During the pandemic, yeah. So yeah. Crazy times we're living in. Definitely.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Oh, my last question for you regarding animals is of a personal nature. My dad, he lives in the tropics in Mexico. And so it's pretty hot and humid there. And his best friend is Kiko and they are inseparable, and Kiko often gets hot spots. And I know that you don't do like, "Oh, take this herb for the hotspot." But somebody, if a dog comes to you with hotspots, what are things you're considering, thinking about that might be underlying causes.

Swanie Simon:
Well I kind of look at a hotspot like this kind of volcanic eruption. So basically something hot is building in the body and can't find a way to exit. It's usually just toxicity. So it'll find a way out and then it creates this hot spot. So that's kind of my picture to that. What underlying... is usually you want to treat the digestive tract with probiotics. Give them probiotics for a month. Some good mixture of probiotics. You want to clean the blood, like liver herbs. If you have skin problems, just remember when you have skin problems, treat the liver. Very simple. It's a basic tenant, right?

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah, it is. There's always that desire to just want to treat it topically, but that's generally not going to be a lasting solution.

Swanie Simon:
So you want to treat the liver, use alteratives, liver herbs, cooling herbs, because hotspot-

Rosalee de la Forêt:
So again like the burdock would be a great choice here. Yeah.

Swanie Simon:
... Yeah. And then, usually a lot of these dogs are not on a great diet, so that might be something he needs to change. Also good here are lymphatics, cleavers, calendula, that kind of thing, internally. Externally, what works great on a hotspot is just buy some cheap black tea bags in the supermarket, the cheapest ones, soak them a little in water and put it on the hot spot. Dries it up pretty quickly.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Because the astringency there. That astringency, is taking...

Swanie Simon:
Right. It kind of draws out the gunk. So you could do that. That you can always find everywhere in the world. So that's pretty easy. Other things, drying things, but it's not solving the problem. He's just going to keep on getting hotspots. I don't know if it's a long coated dog, it can be a reaction. Like if it's a dog that's in the water every day and never really dries, that can create a kind of bacterial infection on the skin that looks like a hot spot. But usually you see that with dogs like Huckleberry that are just always in the pool.

Yeah, or reacting to some kind of spot-ons or flee stuff. But you know, I'd have to know more about the dog, where are the hotspot? How often he gets them. But basically you want to detox a little bit, clean up the microbiome, and then topically, you could put calendula on it too. And I wouldn't use a salve, I would use a tincture. You can dilute it. Because the salve's just going to... You might get a secondary bacterial infection if you put fat over it. So you want something drying. A hotspot is always very moist. It's very smelly, moist and hot, so drying things.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Those are great tips. Thank you so much.

Swanie Simon:
And literally black tea bags work really well. Propolis you can try if the dog or cat... Well, cats, I haven't really seen hotspots. But propolis can be quite helpful.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Oh, nice.

Swanie Simon:
And as a tincture again.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Tincture, all right. Well, Swanie, you keep mentioning all these resources that you have in German. When are you going to be producing things in English for us?

Swanie Simon:
Well, in Germany, I've been teaching for many years and I teach live classes, so that's kind of, it's exhausting after a while. I've had up to seven classes a week. And so I'm starting my last classes now. So I'm doing one more herb class, one more TCM class, and one more nutrition class and then I'm finished. And after that, I'm going to stay in France for a while and translate everything into English and I'm going to prerecord everything. So the idea is have prerecorded classes and then maybe do a Q&A session once a month. My students love my ask-me-anything sessions, anyway.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
I can see why.

Swanie Simon:
Yeah. Because they have all kinds of questions. So yeah. So that's the plan, and then life happens and pandemics happen. So it's taking longer than I would've liked, but... And I'm also hoping to finish fixing the house in France and maybe having smaller groups there. I think we will be able to sleep 14 people when it's done.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Wonderful.

Swanie Simon:
That'll be cool, right?

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Yeah. It'll be so cool. Yeah. Well I know that I'm not the only one looking forward to your English offerings, so that will be something I will definitely let everybody know once they exist and have you back on too, so.

Swanie Simon:
Yeah. That'd be great. Yeah. Yeah. Promotion. I'm not very good at that, but yeah, I'm hoping to... It's going to take a while because my scripts are really long too, so it's like 500 pages, so it's a lot of stuff.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Wow. Wow.

Swanie Simon:
That's just the nutrition class. So, yeah.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Well you are a gift to the herbal world, to the animal world and I'm just so appreciative that you're here with us sharing your experience and practical wisdoms. Thank you so much Swanie for taking time to be here with us.

Swanie Simon:
You're most welcome. Thanks for having me. So this is fun speaking English, I have to get used to that.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
You do it so well.

Swanie Simon:
Well I learned everything in English, but the last 25 years, I've basically been speaking German all the time, except to my dogs.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Well, may this be the first of many English offerings from you. We're looking forward to it.

Swanie Simon:
Me too. Okay.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Thank you, Swanie.

Swanie Simon:
Thank you.

Rosalee de la Forêt:
Thanks for watching. Don't forget to click the link above this transcript to get free access to the recipes Swanie is sharing with us, including Swanie's paw salve and the German carrot soup. You can also visit Swanie directly a three-dogs-night.com. If you enjoyed this interview, then before you go be sure to subscribe to my newsletter below so that you'll be the first to get my new videos, including interviews like this. I'd also love to hear your comments about this interview and working safely with herbs for dogs and cats. I deeply believe that this world needs more herbalists, gardeners, and plant-centered folks like you. I'm so glad that you're here and a part of this herbal community. Have a beautiful day.


Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal and co-author of the bestselling book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and has taught thousands of students through her online courses. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.  



Choose the best herb for you!

The secret to using herbs successfully begins with knowing who YOU are. 

Get started by taking my free Herbal Jumpstart course when you enter your name and email address. 

By signing up for my free course you’ll also be joining my weekly newsletter where I send my best tips and herbal recipes. I never sell your information and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Information found on this website is meant for educational purposes only.
It is not meant to diagnose medical conditions, to treat any medical conditions or to prescribe medicine.
Copyright 2010-2022 www.HerbalRemediesAdvice.org by Rosalee de la Forêt
Affiliate Disclaimer