The majority of them recovered from their acute diseases. Even after thirteen years of practice though, the same animals kept returning with the same chronic conditions. Orthodox treatments, herbal medicine, and nutritional supplements would only help temporarily. Either my patients were getting sicker or I was losing my healing touch.
Everything changed when I "discovered" homeopathy six years ago. As a scientist, homeopathy's tenets of "like cures like" and the "infinitesimal dose" were initially too far out for me. Although I had practiced holistically for over a decade, I had never taken the time to try to understand homeopathy.
When I read historical accounts of homeopathic doctors' success in treating epidemics even before the use of antibiotics, however, my curiosity was piqued. My initially tentative literature research led quickly to serious study. I then began using homeopathic remedies on myself, my pets, and my wife (all cooperative guinea pigs!). Homeopathy has changed our lives.
A healing coincidence
While taking Bryonia for a shoulder injury in the Spring of 1998, I noticed a funny coincidence. Aside from my shoulder healing nicely (which I cynically figured would have happened anyway), my lifelong seasonal allergies never appeared. I decided it probably just happened to be a low allergen year and that once the heat and humidity of summer hit, I would be back on my daily regimen of antihistamines and inhalers. The allergies never did return.
When I realized that my allergies had resolved at the same time that I'd been taking the homeopathic remedy, I eventually put two and two together. I knew my patients could benefit just the way I had, so that fall I enrolled in Dr. Richard Pitcairn's Professional Course for Veterinary Homeopathy.
A gateway to health
That year, instead of feeling frustrated and helpless when a chronically ill pet walked in my door, I began to feel hopeful that their illness, with homeopathic treatment, could be a gateway to better health. Best of all, I now had a strong scientific framework for understanding why my patients got sick and how to help them get well.
The goal of veterinary medicine is to keep our patients free of disease. In conventional medicine, this means eliminating their outward signs. For example, itching pets are treated with antihistamines and cortisone to stop the itch; red, smelly ear "infections" are treated with topical antibiotic/steroid/antifungal ointments, etc.
Suppression of disease
In homeopathy, we understand that these signs/deviations from the norm are actually our clue that there is an internal imbalance that needs to be corrected. By eliminating the outward sign of the internal disease, the body is stopped from trying to tell us that something is wrong. This suppression of signs of disease is an extremely important contributor to the development of later problems.Unfortunately, many patients first enter my office after having been suppressed by conventional treatments all their lives. Manifestations of imbalance like eye and ear "infections," hot spots, benign skin growths, etc., are all treated as if their elimination will rid the body of the underlying disease. These treatments cause weakening of the body and the inability to produce any more acute signs of imbalance. Inevitably, what results are a myriad of chronic diseases: like liver, kidney, and autoimmune diseases, or cancer. There is no effective and safe conventional treatment for many of these. Fortunately homeopathy can often help.
Only some of these animals can actually be cured. Most, however, will have a longer and better quality of life under homeopathic care than they would otherwise.
One of the joys in my life is seeing new, young patients before the development of outward disease. These are often the puppies and kittens that are brought home after the death of a previous, beloved pet. Having seen homeopathy lead to dramatic improvement in their earlier pet's chronic condition, these guardians want to "start out right" with their new companion.
On a beautiful fall day in November 2002, one such patient came bounding into my office. Daisy was a vivacious 9-week-old Golden Retriever puppy who had been part of her new family for almost 5 weeks. The family had lost their 7-year-old Golden Retriever 9 months earlier to leukemia after a lifetime of suppression with conventional treatment.
Healthier dog breeding
This popular breed is just one of many that are getting sicker at younger ages and having shorter lifespans. Daisy had been bred, however, by one of the new generation of "holistic" breeders who are trying to improve breeds by raising their dogs more naturally.
These breeders typically start by feeding a species-appropriate, fresh-food diet and by minimizing vaccinations. Eventually, they often knock on my door or that of some other veterinary homeopath in order to avoid unnecessary drugs. Despite what they've been told, many breeders understand intuitively that what they have been doing (suppressing symptoms), often for decades, is just not working. Homeopathy is the medical treatment of first choice for their dogs.
A wiggly little teddy bear
Daisy was a wiggly bundle of joy who looked like a little teddy bear. Her history and examination would be considered "normal" by an allopathic veterinarian.
What I found were common signs of imbalance—but they were not "normal" from a homeopathic perspective. These included morning eye discharge significant enough to be cleaned daily and slightly waxy ears. Daisy was also licking her vulva after urinating, as if she had a burning sensation. At six weeks of age, she had received her first puppy combination vaccine containing Distemper, Parvo, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, and Parainfluenza.
Daisy was either born with her imbalance (latent psora inherited from her parents), or she developed it as a very young puppy. Assuming she started life in perfect health, many factors may have contributed to Daisy's psoric signs.
Vaccination at an early age, inadequate diet, external toxins, infectious agents, etc., all could have been stresses to her young body. Straining back against this stress produced the telltale symptoms that I saw at her initial examination.
Daisy was not given a homeopathic prescription at this time because her symptoms were so mild.
At three months of age Daisy vomited a roundworm. Her worried guardians rushed her to the emergency center where she was treated with a dewormer.
Because we all wanted to avoid unnecessary drugs in the future, I had Daisy's guardians give her Sulphur 1M. I chose Sulphur because it seemed to correspond best to the state of imbalance that I saw in Daisy: the nondescript runny eyes, waxy ears, and licking after urination.
Three weeks later she began developing swelling and blistering of her right ear. It was also now filled with pus and quite itchy. She was also teething.These new symptoms can be found in the materia medica of Sulphur. I decided that this must be a mini "proving" and was evidence that the remedy was working according to the law of similars. Aside from her yucky ear, Daisy seemed fine so I decided to give her body one more week to do a better job of reestablishing harmony within itself.
Helping her significant discomfort
I saw Daisy again only two days later when she became significantly worse. During this examination she was a little less bouncy than previously. She was also running a low-grade fever of 102.6. She appeared to be in considerable discomfort and was now frequently shaking her head and scratching her ear. To make matters worse, now her left ear was also getting red.
Because the ear inflammation was getting worse, and Daisy was beginning to show systemic signs of illness, I did not want to wait any longer. Even though I believed this was not a true acute illness but rather a flare-up of her chronic disease, I decided to intervene with one of Hahnemann's "acute" remedies. Hahnemann advised just such a strategy to Dr. Stapf in his letter regarding the treatment of Dr. Stapf's wife's acute skin infection (erysipelas) which was secondary to her chronic disease. (See Life and Letters of Hahnemann by Thomas Bradford, p. 184-185.)
I wanted to minimize any further exacerbations of Daisy's disease, so I chose to switch from the centesimal potency scale to LM dosing. When used "as needed" (see Hahnemann's Organon, footnote to paragraph 246), the LM scale is known to be more gentle. I prescribed Belladonna LM 0/1 because of the redness, swelling, inflammation, and Belladonna's known relationship to Sulphur as being useful for the acute infections that arise during constitutional treatment with Sulphur.
The day after one dose of Belladonna 0/1, Daisy was improved. She acted better, her left ear was no longer red, the swelling was going down in her right ear, and she was barely scratching it. Even though she was better, her guardians elected to run some tests to try to get an idea of what was going on inside their poor puppy. Though such tests are often not germane to the selection of the homeopathic remedy, I find the results useful in evaluating remedy responses and giving a prognosis. Daisy's tests were all normal.
A novel new symptom
Over the next few days, Daisy plateaued. In addition, she manifested a novel symptom: bleeding eruptions that formed scabs came up very quickly around her nose. Even though the symptom is found in the materia medica of Belladonna and was therefore another related symptom, Daisy's energy and mood did not improve further.
I decided that Belladonna wasn't helping enough. This acute flare up of Daisy's chronic disease would likely need a deeper-acting anti-psoric remedy for resolution. The initial dose of Sulphur was given based only on a few observable symptoms of Daisy's disease. In response to it and the Belladonna, her body was giving me more specific clues or characteristic symptoms that guided me to Calcarea carbonica.
One day after getting a dose of Calcarea carb LM 0/1, Daisy's temperature increased to 103.2 and she developed additional eruptions around her nose and ears. Her right ear canal swelled shut, and the base of her left ear also started swelling. Despite these physical changes after the dose of Calcarea carb, Daisy acted better overall. Within a few days she was eating again and seemed happier.
A strong inflammatory response
I was glad to see Daisy's strong inflammatory response after she received Calcarea, and that, combined with the fact that she seemed to feel better overall, led me to expect further improvement. Fevers and discharges are often early clues that the body is mounting a healing response—even conventionally trained health care practitioners now acknowledge the importance of fever as a mechanism for healing in acute illness.
The next time I saw Daisy (4 days later), she had to be carried into my office. She was now very weak and was spending most of her time away from her family in a warm back bedroom under a desk. This was the first time since she had gotten sick that she wanted to be left alone.
Preventing larger problems from developing
Understandably, Daisy's family wanted to know if the homeopathic remedies I'd given her had caused her condition. After all, she didn't really have any obvious problems before the first remedy dose. I explained that the majority of Daisy's disease was hidden from view and that her earliest symptoms—waxy ears, runny eye, and discomfort after urinating—were merely the tip of the iceberg. My goal in starting to treat her at this young age was to prevent larger problems from developing.
Her family agreed to let me give Daisy one more remedy. Guided by my original repertorization with the addition of her new symptom of seeking a warm, dark area of solitude I prescribed Mercurius solubilis LM 0/1. Within hours of taking the dose of Mercurius, Daisy was doing better. She was more comfortable, the ear inflammation was subsiding, and best of all she had rejoined the family and started acting like a normal puppy again.
Five days later, in addition to obviously feeling better, the nose eruptions, ear swelling, and discharge had all begun to resolve. There were now scabby eruptions on top of Daisy's head. I interpreted these eruptions as further evidence of progressive curative improvement, and I elected to wait and see what the single dose of the powerful LM anti-miasmatic remedy, Mercurius, could do.
Nine months later Daisy is still doing well. She had a routine ovario-hysterectomy (spaying) at seven months of age and recovered uneventfully. Her ears are no longer a problem in any way. She does not even need to ever have them cleaned. She has a few new subtle symptom clues that point back to Calcarea. Although this remedy, which is well known to be a complement of Mercurius, had been given unsuccessfully earlier in the case, it may well prove useful in the future.
The ultimate preventative medicine
This case illustrates the importance of understanding homeopathic philosophy. Knowing what is normal and healthy versus what is common for the species being treating is essential. Daisy's first examination revealed multiple examples of abnormal but common findings, like waxy ears and runny eyes. These can all be found as examples of latent psora in Hahnemann's Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homeopathic Cure (see below).
Hahnemann talks about psora as being the mother of all chronic disease. In Daisy's case, there was no developed chronic disease but rather the predisposition to future active disease due to her psoric imbalance. By treating her early, we are able to prevent further development of psora. The gift of homeopathic treatment is the ultimate preventive medicine.
It is unbelievably rewarding when a previously very ill patient of mine bounds into the office to lick my face as Daisy has since done many times. Her guardian's dedication to working through her symptoms rather than suppressing them will reward them many times over. Daisy will live a longer and healthier life. Golden Retrievers are just one of the breeds that typically have recurring ear and other skin symptoms repeatedly suppressed over the course of their lifetime. Almost every patient I see with cancer has had such a history. Homeopathic veterinarians see these subtle symptoms as early warning signs that a deeper imbalance needs correcting to avoid the further development of chronic disease. Many breeders are now treating their dogs homeopathically to improve the health of future generations. I look forward to many years of continued health for my friend Daisy.
Some early warning signs of imbalance (latent psora) in dogs and cats:
By observing patients for over a decade, Hahnemann noticed that many of the same symptoms were appearing over and over again. These low-grade, chronic, recurring symptoms were observable before more serious diseases became evident. In his masterpiece, The Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homeopathic Cure, he writes: "Many hundred observations have gradually acquainted me with the signs, by which the internally slumbering, hitherto latent psora (itch-malady) may be recognized even in those cases where it has not yet manifested itself in any startling disease ..." p.44
When the body is in a state of optimal health, all systems are in equilibrium and no external manifestations of disequilibrium (symptoms) are apparent. Many of the subtle changes we observe in our pets are early warning signs that there is imbalance existing deep within the body.
These are not "diseases" per se but rather are commonly observed deviations from this state of equilibrium. Recognizing and treating these common but abnormal early warning signs (latent psora) are critical to preventing more serious problems in the future.
Some of these symptoms are:
• Runny or red eyes
• Intermittent vomiting
• Intermittent loose stools/"sensitive stomach"
• Eating stool/dirt/plastic
• Straining to defecate
• Excess thirst
• Gum redness
• Runny nose
• Frequent or difficult urination
• Red eyes
• Loss of pigment (nose, pads, coat)
• Red ears
• Rough, dry nose/pads
• Excess ear wax/discharge/"infections"
• Thin coat/excess shedding
• Anal gland problems/scooting
• Picky or excessive appetite
NB:Daisy is still doing great. She is over 9 years young (2011) and shows no evidence of the common problems of Golden Retrievers. To read the original "Homepathy Today" journal article please click here: