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Homeopathy for Animals

medicine bottle, leaf, pillsFido’s arthritic legs sometimes collapsed under him. He was having difficulty walking up and down stairs, and he could lie on only one side.

His owner started him on a homeopathic remedy. Three days later, the leg trembling had stopped, and within a week, he could climb and descend stairs without pain. He no longer favored one side when he was lying down.

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a method of stimulating the body to heal itself. While its roots are in ancient Greece, German physician Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) is credited with the more modern version of homeopathy.

Sometimes homeopathic treatment produces almost instant results. Other times, it takes longer.

A key principle behind homeopathy is the Law of Similars: "like cures like." A greatly diluted amount of a substance that causes the same symptoms as the disease is used to help the body fight the disease. The more diluted the substance is, the stronger its positive effect, while the dilution process eliminates potentially toxic effects.

The body’s vital force, another key principle of homeopathy, maintains health and balance. Toxins, drugs, vaccines, poor nutrition, and stress weaken the vital force. Homeopathy seeks to help support the vital force — the body’s natural defenses — so that the body is better able to fend off illness.

Homeopathic practitioners consider the animal’s symptoms, personality, and age as well as their assessment of the patient’s vital force when they choose a remedy. To make this assessment, they need to ask a lot of questions and to listen.

Some homeopathic remedies affect the emotions and mind as well as the body.

Why use homeopathy for animals

  • Homeopathy doesn’t produce the side effects that many drugs do.
  • It’s non-invasive.
  • While the initial consultation time may be more expensive, the long-term care is often much less expensive than conventional treatment.
  • It sometimes helps when conventional treatment has failed.

Does homeopathic treatment always work for every ailment? No — but neither does conventional treatment. As with conventional treatment, sometimes a few remedies need to be tried to find one that works for a particular animal, and occasionally none of them works. With both conventional and homeopathic treatments available, your pet has a greater chance of regaining health.

The safety of homeopathy

It’s often assumed that homeopathy is harmless, but homeopathic practitioners warn that it is not. The wrong remedy may cause the problem instead of promoting healing, they say. Special care must be taken with older and weaker animals, and all animals on homeopathic treatment should be monitored.

Conditions that homeopathy can treat

Homeopathic treatment is sometimes adequate by itself. At other times, it works best with conventional treatment. A partial list of what homeopathy is used for:

Physical conditions

  • Arthritis
  • Gastrointestinal problems: colic, constipation, diarrhea
  • Heart disease
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hormonal disorders: Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism
  • Immune disorders: allergies, autoimmune diseases
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Lung-related problems: asthma, coughing, wheezing
  • Skin irritations: dryness, eczema, hives, inflammation, itchiness, psoriasis, rashes
  • Tendon and ligament injuries and pain

Mental and emotional conditions

  • Behavioral disorders
  • Emotional trauma: distress, fear, mourning, shock

Homeopathy and skeptics

Critics of homeopathy say that the substances are too diluted to have any effect. The critics point to scientific studies that fail to prove that homeopathy works, and they question the weight given to anecdotal evidence.

It was easy for homeopathy to look good in the 19th century, when the alternatives were such things as bloodletting and arsenic — some patients would improve just by avoiding the conventional treatments of the day. The time that practitioners spend with patients could help therapeutically.

Proponents of homeopathy agree that according to accepted science, the diluted substances are unlikely to have any active ingredients. They disagree with the skeptics’ assertion that just because it’s unlikely to work according to their reasoning, it can’t work. The substances may have properties that we don’t yet understand, and the real proof is in whether or not patients get better. Psychotherapy and the placebo effect don’t work on animals.

Not every remedy works for every patient, but the same is true with conventional medicine. With homeopathy, the remedy must be chosen to fit the patient. Studies that use the same remedy for all the subjects are not going to have as high a success rate as remedies chosen for each individual.

How to find a homeopathic veterinarian

At the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association site, you can search under Homeopathy and other specialties for a veterinarian in your area. Many homeopathic veterinarians offer consultations by phone as well as in person as long as another veterinarian can examine the animal and do diagnostic procedures such as blood tests.

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