“The highest ideal of cure is the rapid, gentle, and permanent restoration of health…in the shortest, most reliable and most harmless way…”  – Samuel Hahnemann, M.D. (1755-1843), founder of homeopathy

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy (home-ee-AH-puh-thee) is the branch of medicine which is based on the principle that disease can be cured by strengthening the body’s natural defense mechanism. This is in contrast to traditional (allopathic) medicine which uses drugs to suppress symptoms (which are the visible result of the body’s attempt to heal itself). Unlike allopathy which considers some symptoms to be unrelated to an animal’s “condition”, in homeopathy all of the symptoms are examined as part of the disease process and help elucidate the state of disequilibrium of the body. In homeopathy, a medicine (remedy) is selected which would produce in a healthy body the same symptoms found in the sick animal (“like cures like”). This substance is selected from herbs, minerals and natural compounds which are then diluted beyond the point of possible toxicity.

The first recorded use of homeopathy was by Hippocrates in 400 B.C. He noticed that herbs given in a low dose tended to cure the same symptoms that they produced in a large poisoning dose. In 1790 a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, made similar observations and spent the next twenty years developing a medical system around this principle. The prescription of a particular remedy is based upon the totality of symptoms of the individual. Unique and characteristic symptoms (like diarrhea which causes your pet to wake from a sound sleep early every morning while s/he has no bowel problems the rest of the day) are especially important. General observations including behavioral traits (especially if there is a change) are also important. In addition, occurrence of a certain symptom at specific times of the day or during certain environmental conditions (seasonal, during storms, in the cold, heat, etc.) can also be useful. It is sometimes helpful for owners to keep a written log to remember what happened and when.

Homeopathy for your pet

The goal of homeopathic treatment is to achieve the highest possible level of health. Homeopathy does have important limitations however. Because it relies on the natural healing abilities of the body, advanced organ pathology such as cancer or crippling arthritis (which involve changes in the structure of the body) can rarely be fully reversed. The animals who suffer from such conditions will often however be helped to become stronger and more comfortable and have a better quality of life. In addition, surgical intervention is still required when appropriate (such as for traumatic diseases).

What are homeopathic remedies?

A homeopathic remedy is a single substance derived from a plant, animal or mineral. This is then subjected to a special procedure called potentization which brings out the medicinal properties of the original substance. There are currently about two thousand substances whose specific effects on the body have been carefully recorded on healthy individuals (provings). Examples include minerals like sulphur, plants like poison ivy, and animal products like bee venom, etc.

What should I be aware of when my pet is being treated homeopathically?

Homeopathic preparations are extremely safe because of their highly diluted form. Remedies should not be taken together with food because this will interfere with their action. Give them at least one hour before or after feeding. Do not handle the remedy. Open the vial or envelope and shake the pill(s) directly onto the back of your pet’s tongue. If necessary the remedy can be mixed with a small amount of water or milk and administered with a dropper. Sometimes a worsening of your pet’s symptoms may occur. This initial aggravation is usually a good sign and indicates that the body is responding to the remedy. Although the physical symptoms might get worse for a short period of time, in general your pet as a whole should start to feel better almost immediately. The homeopathic aggravation will subside quickly followed by recovery.

What should I expect from homeopathic treatment?

After taking the remedy:

Homeopathy is a safe form of treatment in that there are no chemicals or drugs in the remedies so there are no side effects. As mentioned previously, there may be temporary aggravations after taking the remedy. While these might seem uncomfortable for your pet at the time, they are generally a positive sign and are only a temporary part of the healing process. It is best to let them run their course as this leads to the quickest cure. There may be a discharge or other change as part of the healing process. This is particularly common where there has been some form of suppression in the past. The problem may be physical, e.g. diarrhea, eye, ear, nasal or skin discharge, or it may be behavioral, e.g. change in sleeping location, new fears etc. This is healthy and is a sign that your pet is getting rid of accumulated “toxins.” It may be difficult to watch, but its important not to interfere with these symptoms. After successful constitutional therapy, the body often goes back and “cleans up” old problems that have never been properly resolved. Old complaints may resurface briefly, in reverse order from which they appeared (e.g. there may be a brief episode of straining to urinate if your pet had cystitis at some point in the past.). Notice that the natural healing process is gradual, unlike when a drug is used to rapidly stop an individual symptom.

Source: The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy

Recommended reading:

Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs by Dr. Don Hamilton
Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Dr. Richard Pitcairn

Finding a Homeopathic Practitioner:

Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association

National Center for Homeopathy

Sources for Homeopathic Remedies:

Washington Homeopathics

Hahnemann Labs