Homeopathy for Man's Best Friend:
Your Dog Part I
Is there any animal which has captured man’s love more than the good old dog? Dogs have unconditional love, always reacting as if they are seeing you for the first time that day, even if you left for only a few minutes. Their loving eyes mesmerize you as if to say, “Please tell me what I can do for you today.” When you feel bad, they seem to understand. Maybe work was a bummer for you today, but your friend the dog is ready to take a walk with you and make you forget the day.
For women dogs take on an even bigger picture. The husband or boyfriend has not behaved that day? Guess what! He is in the “doghouse” and the dog, always faithful, is in bed with the mistress. Her cold feet can be warmed up on the inviting fur, and no matter what mood she is in, the dog is ready to melt down her heart. No wonder the dog has such a high priority in the family hierarchy: children “might” come first, but the dog almost surpasses the husband. Woe to the man who has to compete with a dog for a woman’s love. Don’t even start unless you have a tail to wiggle and some dreamy puppy eyes. No wonder that if anything is wrong with that wonderful animal, no costs will be spared. “Do whatever you need to do, doctor. I don’t know what to do without him.” Fortunately dogs respond well to homeopathy, as do horses, cats, and birds. (So much for the “placebo effect” of homeopathy!). Anyone learning homeopathy should practice on her pets as well as her husband and children. Great are the results, and the gratitude and health of your canine friend will follow.
In this article I will not focus on acute incidents, which are covered in my guide to acute prescribing, The People’s Repertory (a book for humans and animals alike!) For example, just as for humans, if the dog’s best friend dies (be it another dog or sometimes even the cat), Ignatia will save the day.
What I want to describe in this article are the chronic illnesses. While you can perform simple acute care for your dog with my book, chronic care is a matter of a trained professional, your homeopathic vet. (In Greater Boston you are lucky to have one of my best students: Dr. Margo Roman in Hopkinton, at 508-435-4077. Or you may find a homeopath who can work with your vet to bring relief, and yes, cure to your beloved pets.)
The first thing a homeopathic vet will try to find is your dog’s constitution: “What kind of a dog is your dog?” I don’t mean whether he is great watch dog or warms up your feet very well, but rather, what is his character? Of course we can’t ask questions to the dog, but the art of observation is very important. The vet will ask many different questions: How is he with strangers? Reserved, overly friendly, hostile? How is he with other animals? With children? Does he like to eat all the time? Does he like to walk or is he a couch potato? Is he sensitive to being scolded? Is he more of a coward or does he never back off to protect his territory? Does he like to lie in the sun or is he always looking for fresh air in the house, lying under the fan? Does he jump up early in the morning for his morning walk or do you have to drag him out the door? What kind of food does he like? Is he very particular? Very thirsty or hardly at all? Is he playful or is the pillow his best friend? Does he want closeness to you? Does he follow you around everywhere? Does he like company or is he rather off by himself, minding his own business? Does he tend to gain weight, or is he a nervous “race horse”? Is he messy in his eating habits or does he clean out his bowl till the last particle? How is his stool? Three times a day, or once every other day?
These questions refer to the nature and temperament of the dog. If we see a sudden change in temperament, we should pay attention. A dog who goes from very docile, submissive behavior to being aggressive and irritable should be examined to find out what caused this sudden change, and to ward off a possible physical illness from developing.
For example, I have two bull mastiffs, Ali Pasha, a female (age 6), and her brother Souliman (age 5). By the way, both are vegetarians and the picture of health. But we have to keep Ali on a constant diet. She tends to have a round womanly figure because she adores food, in any shape, form or color. The moment my wife rattles the pots in the kitchen, she is right at her feet, drooling away with a look of passion. Souli, on the other hand, is disdainful about the whole affair. He will not show any interest in the food until my wife brings it to his knees (he is the only one in the family with that privilege!). My wife has to stick some of her homecooked food for him in her own mouth and tell him how good it is. And he is not dumb: he scoops out his favorites, eggs and tofu, and leaves his vegetables for Ali, who cleans both his bowl and hers.
Obviously food is high on the list for Ali, not at all for Souli. But mention going for a walk, and Souli is right there. He is the first one up in the morning, like clockwork. The way he walks me in the morning, while I am half asleep, makes me wish I had his energy. The walk is never long enough, his gait is swift if not pulling, and he wants to join the occasional jogger anytime. Poor Ali has to be be dragged out the door. She does her “duty” right outside on the driveway and wants to go right back in. The home is her castle.
When we come home their welcome is so different: the boy, the athlete and the skinny one, always runs to us with one of his stuffed animals, with great anticipation and a hearty welcome. Ali, the couch potato, simply lifts up a paw for a hug while she stays on the sofa. Souli is the worrier, the curious one, the guard dog, while nothing disturbs Ali, who would invite robbers in as long as they bring her a cookie... You get the picture. Ali is an Earth type (a Calc. carb. constitution) and Souli is a Liver or Wood type (Sulphur constitution). Yes, these constitutional types apply to animals as well as to people, and you may recognize your husband or children in them as well as your pets. (See the descriptions in The People’s Repertory). I will now discuss some problems commonly encountered with pets.
Putting your pet through anesthesia involves a risk for the sensitive ones, just as for people. While your vet may assess anesthetic risk with blood work, a chest X-ray, and an EKG, homeopaths can recognize sensitive dogs (and people) even better by assessing their constitution. For instance my two dogs (Earth and Wood type) would withstand anesthesia very well, but a Phosphorus dog (Heart-Fire type) most likely would not. This type of dog (usually female) is beautiful with large expressive eyes, emotionally sensitive (e.g. if scolded), very friendly with everyone, loves playing and company, and does not like long hard exercise (although they love walking just to socialize with people and dogs). This type of dog risks the consequences of anesthesia, including Addison’s disease (low adrenal function), since the anesthesia is often too much of a stress on the adrenals. Addison’s is often not correctly diagnosed because the primary symptoms—depression, loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea—are easily attributed to other, frequently minor medical problems.
I saw one such case, a beautiful female dog who originally was chosen for breeding but who could not breed because of her poor menstrual cycle and refusal to interact with males. A homeopathic vet could have prescribed the remedy Sepia at that point, restored her cycle and saved the dog much suffering. But instead she was spayed, and two days later she developed Addison’s disease. (The stress of the operation and/or anesthesia was too much for a dog whose adrenals were already affected). Sepia still could have saved her at this point. Instead the allopathic vet prescribed cortisone. (You would be surprised how veterinarians use the same disease names and even the identical drugs as allopathic medical doctors. And don’t forget, the side effects are the same, unfortunately!) Cortisone is expensive, has to be taken for the rest of the dog’s life, and has many dreadful side effects.
To protect a sensitive dog (or person) before an operation, give a dose of Phosphorus 200C, one pellet dissolved in 4 oz of water, one tablespoon one hour before the procedure. It will prevent abundant bleeding as well as the harmful effects of anesthetic agents. You can’t go wrong. And after the operation, administer tablespoons of Calendula 200C for quick healing of the surgical incision and a natural antibiotic effect.
How do you handle air travel for your dog? Remember that safety regulations can’t guarantee your dog’s safe passage. Over two million pets and other live animals are transported by air every year in the United States, but not all arrive safely. The cargo space for animals is cramped and virtually airtight. So overheating or suffocation is a real danger. For the lack of oxygen, give a tablespoon of Carbo Vegetalis 200C just before departure and another when your friend the dog arrives at the destination.
And of course think about the emotional trauma they undergo. Separated from their loved ones, caged up in a dark space … no wonder they tremble with fear and hesitate to go. Give them Gelsemium 200C, one tablespoon again. (If you have to give more than one remedy as in this case, dissolve each remedy in a separate cup and give them at least 15 minutes apart.) And Gelsemium is great when your dog is afraid of the vet. My boy dog runs away the moment he sees the vet’s door (what a smart dog!) and trembles all over his body. But a dose of Gelsemium and the careful choice of a female vet (Sulphurs always prefer women!) are enough to avoid an explosive situation.
Remember too that over-the-counter medications can be dangerous. Many antibiotics, vaccines and other medications are readily available without prescription from pharmacies, pet supply houses and feed stores. Don’t let this easy availability fool you into assuming that these drugs are safe. Dogs have died from over-the-counter antibiotics intended to control coccidia (an intestinal parasite). If your dog has received many rounds of antibiotics and vaccinations, your homeopathic vet can protect him from the longterm side effects with professional doses of Thuja. What you can do to protect your pet is to give Ledum 200C, one TBS after each vaccination to diminish the side effects. Children can be protected in the same way.
Many more conditions will be discussed in Part Two in the next issue.