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Updated April 2008
As regular readers of this site will know, I am a huge advocate of using natural preparations where at all possible in animal husbandry. Many of you have asked if I would write a page detailing homeopathy that I have used over the years. I would stress that homeopathy does not take the place of conventional veterinary medicine and also consult your vet if in doubt.
Homeopathy is not a new phenomenon - it has been used for thousands of years on both humans and animals. It is a gentle and holistic approach (heals the whole body not just the problem) and is therefore suitable for both physical and emotional problems. Homeopathy was used in Ancient Greece and since Samuel Hahnemann developed the scientific and philosophical foundations in 1796, its use has proved very popular. Today, homeopathy is making a comeback as people are beginning to realise that antibiotics and steroids are not the answer to every problem.
Homeopathy works on the "like for like" principal. For instance, for hay fever Mixed Pollens could be a suitable remedy; for firework fear Phosphorous could work. It also works on the "less is more" principle, ie take one dose and wait. If nothing happens, try again. However, some remedies do need to taken on a regular basis to work properly. Homeopathy works with the body to stimulate a healing response and not against it. Patients may suffer what is known as a "healing crisis". This is where the symptoms get worse before getting better but this is a sign that the healing response has been triggered.
Homeopathic remedies are perfectly safe to use on both dogs and cats, unlike some alternative therapies. They are diluted to such an extent that no evidence of the original substance can be found but the remedy relies on the energy of that substance. If the remedy is right, it will work. If it's not, nothing will happen. Homeopathy can be used alongside conventional veterinary medicine but it should never be considered a replacement. However, there are conditions and ailments that respond extremely well to homeopathy even when conventional treatment has failed to work.
It should also be pointed out that by law, only a qualified veterinary surgeon and the animal's owner are allowed to treat an animal.
Listed below are some popular remedies used on dogs and cats for those of you out there with both. Remember that you can also use these remedies on yourself.
- Aconite - Good for cases of shock and fright. Their symptoms are staring eyes, panting, trembling, packing or circling. Also good for anxiety, howling, confusion and animals that are inconsolable. Can also be used as a tranquilizer.
- Allium Cepa - Sneezing fits with streaming eyes and nose and also for hay fever symptoms.
- Ant Tart - Coughs which rattle. A vet should be consulted as there may be an underlying problem.
- Apis Mel - Good for stings and insect bites. Also used for swollen joints. In cats it may be used for kidney malfunction if urine retention is a symptom.
- Argent Nit - Good for nervous agitation.
- Arnica - A remedy no animal owner should be without! It's good for physical trauma and blows. Also give before and after surgery to minimise bruising. Good for slight lameness, sprains and strains.
- Arsen Alb - Anxiousness and chilly animals who seek heat sources, ie radiators and fires. Used for skin problems where the skin is burning, dry and flaky.
- Belladonna - Good for dogs that attack without warning or provocation, get overwrought into an excitable, anxious state or have fits of raging, biting and tearing at things.
- Bryonia - Good for an animal who chooses to sleep in a cool place away from the normal hustle and bustle of the house. They tend to lie on the injured side and do not like being touched. The animal is thirsty but will only get up to have a long drink. The tongue can be white or brown.
- Calc Carb - Slow developers and older animals with weak joints.
- Calendula - Helps promote healing of any wound.
- Cantharis - Cystitis, burns and scalds.
- Carbo Veg - The animal is cold, lifeless and in a state of collapse. Offensive flatulence and ulcers.
- Chamomilla - For dogs that are sensitive, irritable, thirsty and hot. They whine and are restless. Pain threshold is very low. Excellent in teething puppies.
- China - Post operative wind pains and lethargy. Diarrhoea containing undigested food. Use if Carbo Veg has not helped.
- Cocculus - Excellent for dogs who suffer from epilepsy. Also used for travel sickness.
- Drosera - Kennel cough or coughs with retching.
- Euphrasia - Conjunctivitis or allergic eye problems.
- Ferrum Phos - Bronchitis or earache with fever.
- Fragaria - Good for removing staining and plaque from teeth and for improving "doggie" breath. It will not have any effect on rotten teeth and the dog should be taken to the vets for a dental. Should be used twice a day for a month.
- Gelsenium - Useful for anticipated fear, for example a vet visit.
- Hepar Sulph - Abscesses and foot problems with lameness due to infection. Painful wounds which show signs of infection.
- Hypericum - Crushed digits or limbs. Puncture wounds, particularly from teeth. Pain caused by operations.
- Ignatia - Grief remedy - loss of puppies, companion dogs or human. Good for hysteria, nervous temperament, sensitive and easily excited.
- Ipecac - Kennel cough.
- Kali Bich - Catarrh which is thick, sticky or stringy. Mastitis. Ulcers.
- Lachesis - Jealousy or suspicion.
- Ledum - Bites from fights and puncture wounds.
- Lycopodium - Separation anxiety. Digestive or urinary problems with bloated abdomen. Good for liver problems. Dry coughs.
- Mag Phos - Colic.
- Merc Sol - Good for gingivitis. Use alongside Fragaria to reduce inflammation of gums.
- Mixed Pollens - Hay fever and grass irritation.
- Nat Nur - Depression due to bereavement.
- Nux Vom - Constipation. Also useful for poisoning as it helps to expel toxic products from the body.
- Passiflora Co - Relaxation and assists sleep.
- Phosphorous - brilliant for firework fear, loud bangs and fear of thunder. Works particularly well when used with Rescue Remedy.
- Pulsatilla - Good for attention seeking and animals who object to being home alone.
- Rhus Tox - Rheumatism or lameness.
- Ruta - Strains or lameness.
- Sepia - Excellent for bitches who become snappy and irritable before or during a season. Also good for pyometra.
- Silica - Infections after Hepar Sulph has removed the inflammation. Good for dispersing scar tissue.
- Staphisagria - Good for any behaviour that could stem from resentment or grief. For example, being kennelled, a new dog coming home, change to circumstances.
- Sulphur - Skin problems where the skin is burning, hot and dry.
I also use a product called Dog Combination made by Ainsworths (www.ainsworths.com) as a replacement for conventional vaccination. It covers Leptospirosis, Parvo Virus, Hepatitis, Distemper, Hard Pad and Kennel Cough. Please see Ainsworths website for more details on this product. A similar product is also available for cats.
Ra was my Siamese cat who had repeated problems with cystitis after having a blocked bladder in 2002. Initially I took him to the vet who prescribed antibiotics to treat him. The antibiotics did not work and whilst doing some research on the net, I found that only a small number of cases actually respond to antibiotics. Therefore I was filling Ra's body up with chemicals that would not work anyway. However, I discovered that Cantharis was a recommended remedy. I gave Ra a dose and nothing happened. 2 hours later I gave him another dose. That seemed to do the trick and he started to pass urine properly. Over the following 5 years, every time Ra contracted cystitis he was given Cantharis. It worked every time. However in July 2007, I had to have Ra put to sleep as he had a blocked bladder again and at the age of 10.5 years old, I wasn't prepared to put him through the treatment again.
When I first had Casper, one time when we went for a walk I noticed that he wasn't peeing properly. Believe me, this dog can pee for England! He was obviously uncomfortable and was displaying the classic signs of cystitis. Once at home, I gave him one dose of Cantharis and then sat down to watch TV. About 20 minutes later, I thought I had left a tap running. Poor Casper simply couldn't hold it any longer and was doing a huge pee on the kitchen floor. Cantharis had worked again.
Recently Casper was attacked quite badly by another dog (totally unprovoked I might add). He was given Rescue Remedy to calm him down, Aconite for shock and Arnica for bruising. His wounds were bathed with salt water but I knew he would have to go to the vet for antibiotics. Bites are notorious for producing bacteria. However, the point here is that homeopathy was used initially to help him and was still used in conjunction with the antibiotics that the vet prescribed. Both approaches helped him heal quicker - both emotionally and physically. The vet agreed that by using both approaches, Casper's healing time was greatly reduced.
Debbie Buxcey 2007 - not to be reproduced without permission