Homeopathic Remedies for Dogs and Cats
Introduction – The origins of Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a popular form of complementary medicine which was founded on the medical traditions and beliefs of the Greeks and Romans many thousands of years ago. Its real potential was not realised until the late eighteenth century and the pioneering work of the German physician Samuel Hahnemann. Medical treatments of the day seemed to rely on a large amount of good fortune. It appeared that the more pungent and unpleasant a medicine, the more effective it was likely to be. Many of the treatments, such as bloodletting, were harsh and most cures probably occurred as a result of the patient’s own ability to recover rather than as a direct benefit of any treatment.
As a consequence, Hahnemann gradually became disillusioned with the medical practices of the time. Instead, he advocated the provision of a good diet, increased exercise and better living conditions, basic commonsense advice which applies as much today as it did in Hahnemann’s time. Eventually ceasing work as a doctor, he decided to earn a living instead, by translating medical texts into German.
His work on one book in particular, Cullen’s Materia Medica, was to become of major significance in the development of homeopathy. Cullen’s book suggested that the benefits of quinine (isolated from Cinchona bark) in treating malaria was because of its action as an astringent. Knowing that other and more powerful astringents had no effect in treating malaria he set about trying to discover how and why quinine worked.
To do this Hahnemann took repeated doses of Cinchona bark over the course of several days and noted the effects. Somewhat surprisingly he developed a set of symptoms closely resembling those seen in malaria. However once he stopped taking the medicine, the symptoms disappeared rapidly and he returned to normal once more. This experiment he termed a “proving” and concluded, after repeating the test on other people, that like is capable of curing like. In Latin this translates to similar similibus curentur or “like cures like”. This is the basic principle on which homeopathy is founded.
Testing the theory
Over the following years Hahnemann tested a number of other substances on himself and on friends. In each case he carefully noted down the symptoms, both physical and mental, which developed as a result of taking each individual substance over a period of time. These he compiled into his own “Materia Medica”. By listing what a substance could cause, he was able to predict what symptoms it was capable of curing. He was able to put his theories into practice by successfully treating a typhoid outbreak during the winter of 1812-1813.
The Dilution Factor
Hahnemann was very aware that some of the remedies he tested were quite toxic and produced side effects, so he set about finding the minimum dose needed for a cure. To do so he began diluting his medicines finding that as he did so, that they became more effective. This is, of course, in direct contrast to modern drugs, which become less effective when diluted. His discovery that infinitely diluted medicines could be used to treat patients meant that a wide range of substances could be used to treat illness without worrying about side effects. In fact almost any substance can be made into a homeopathic medicine including metals, minerals, snake venoms, plants, bacteria as well as both healthy and diseased tissue.
How Remedies are Produced
Preparation of an individual remedy involves a number of serial dilutions with vigorous shaking in between each individual stage. This process is known as succussion and is vital to the correct preparation of a remedy. Dilutions (termed potencies), are commonly carried out in stages of 1 in 10, giving decimal dilutions denoted by the suffix x, or in dilutions of 1 in 100 giving centesimal potencies. This range is denoted by the suffix c. Once the desired dilution has been reached a few drops of the remedy are added to the delivery medium ready for dosing the patient. All of the Denes range of homeopathic remedies are in the 30c potency except Fragaria which is in the 3c potency.
Matching the Symptoms
Correctly applied homeopathy can be a remarkable and effective system of medicine, which has the benefit of being safe and without side-effects. The remedies can be used to treat any type of animal of any age without fear of doing any harm. However, the key to using homeopathy successfully lies in matching the patient’s symptoms to the symptom picture of the remedy, as accurately as possible. The closer the remedy matches the patient’s symptoms, the more likely the chance of a seeing a response. If the wrong remedy is given then quite simply nothing happens.
Care & Storage
Homeopathic remedies are available in various forms, usually liquids, tablets, granules or powders. As “energised” medicines they need special care, handling and storage. They are easily deactivated by strong smells and vapours such as camphor and eucalyptus. Because of this it is best to store them well away from any aromatherapy products. Bright light, heat and electromagnetic radiation (e.g. from televisions, mobile phones and computers) can also deactivate or depotentise them, rendering them less effective. Stored properly though, the remedies will keep for many years (particularly if stored in glass) without losing their efficacy. In tablet form they should not be handled as this also can also deactivate them.
Liquid remedies (as in the Denes range) are often easier to use where animals are concerned particularly bearing in mind the difficulties in handling the tablets. The remedy drops can be tipped straight into the animal’s mouth, onto a paw to be licked off, added to food or even added to drinking water.
Dosing your Pet
The Denes range of popular homeopathic remedies in liquid form can help with a wide range of everyday problems. The dose is irrespective of the breed, age or size of the animal. For all the remedies (except Fragaria) the recommended dose is:
- For Acute problems 5 drops every 2-3 hours until the symptoms resolve
- For Chronic illness give 5 drops 2 or 3 times daily
For Fragaria use the chronic dose only.
If you are unsure what dose to use, please contact us on our helpline or by email for additional help.
DENES RANGE of HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES
Suggested remedies & their uses:
1. ARNICA (LEOPARD’S BANE)
Arnica is the one remedy that no pet owner should be without. It’s keynote is INJURY – accidental or otherwise. It helps prevent BRUISING, limits bleeding, encourages HEALING and reduces pain and the effects of SHOCK. It can be used in any situation from minor sprains and strains to helping with serious traumatic injuries such as a road accident. It is a good idea to give Arnica a day or two before any planned SURGERY (such as spaying or castration) or dental work and for a day or so afterwards. By doing so you can help reduce the risk of haemorrhage and associated complications and ensure that wounds heal quickly with the minimum of bruising or infection. You can use Arnica for dogs that have been over exercised or are just exhausted. It can assist in recovery from STROKES and help revive newborn puppies or kittens.
2. ARSENICUM ALBUM (WHITE ARSENIC)
Arsenicum album has been famed as a classic poison throughout history. Since good poisons make excellent remedies homeopathic Arsenic has a multitude of uses. One of its main indications is in treating GASTRO-ENTERITIS, particularly from eating spoilt food or rubbish. NAUSEA, VOMITING and RETCHING are prominent and food is refused. There is thirst for small quantities of water, which may be vomited back immediately. The Vomit can contain blood, bile, food or mucus. There is often simultaneous DIARRHOEA, which is offensive and may also contain blood. The animal is very cold and hugs the fire. Symptoms are often worse around midnight. Arsenicum is also a major SKIN remedy where there is ITCHING, REDNESS AND FLAKING (DANDRUFF) which is often ALLERGY based. It is also a remedy for ANXIETY or RESTLESSNESS especially where this is a problem at night with pacing around.
3. BRYONIA (WHITE BRYONY)
Bryonia acts chiefly on joints and on the chest. It is used for treating ARTHRITIS where the symptoms are better for rest and in cool weather and worse in hot weather and for using the leg. Affected joints are sometimes hot or visibly swollen. Bryonia is also used to help with DRY COUGHS where bouts of coughing are induced by the animal moving around. Other uses for Bryonia include CONSTIPATION (with very dry stools) and IRRITABILITY.
4. CANTHARIS (SPANISH FLY)
Cantharis is a well known remedy for CYSTITIS where prompt use can bring immediate relief of the main symptoms which include straining to pass urine, frequent urination and sometimes blood in the urine. This is also the remedy for RED, RAW SKIN as is sometimes seen in some forms of ECZEMA and DERMATITIS. Cantharis can also help with healing SCALDS AND BURNS.
5. EUPHRASIA (EYEBRIGHT)
As its name suggests, Euphrasia can help with EYE PROBLEMS predominantly. It is commonly used to help with cases of CONJUNCTIVITIS where the eyes have a sticky yellowish discharge and where they appear sore.
6. FRAGARIA (WILD STRAWBERRY)
Fragaria has a reputation of helping dissolve dental PLAQUE from teeth and in PREVENTING THE BUILD UP OF PLAQUE after teeth have been cleaned.
7. HEPAR SULPH (CALCIUM SULPHIDE)
Hepar sulph is often used for treating infections such as PAINFUL ABSCESSES or infected WOUNDS where there is a discharge of pus. Affected areas are sensitive to the slightest touch. SKIN and EYE INFECTIONS where there is a mucky, foul discharge often respond well.
8. NUX VOMICA (POISON NUT)
CONSTIPATION is the main indication for Nux vomica. It works well where the dog or cat strains, but either little or nothing is passed. In fact, if straining is absent then Nux vomica is not the correct remedy. It is also a remedy for the LIVER and for helping restore the DIGESTION after an upset. In this context it is useful after surgery where it helps DETOXIFY THE LIVER and stimulates the appetite. It can also be used for VOMITING caused by overeating, change in diet or rich food and for colitis induced by similar problems. Nux vomica is indicated for strengthening WEAK BACK LEGS where there is a tendency to drag the feet and for low grade LOWER BACK PAIN.
9. PHOSPHORUS (THE ELEMENT)
Phosphorus has a great many uses. Amongst these it has two important indications. Firstly VOMITING. It is useful where there is thirst for large quantities of water, but as soon as the fluid becomes warm in the stomach it is vomited back. If food is brought back, this happens soon after eating and is returned in large amounts and is mostly undigested. It is also a prominent LIVER remedy especially where there is jaundice. The other main use for phosphorus is in helping to arrest BLEEDING or haemorrhage from any cause including tooth extractions, wounds or tumours. Animals that respond well to this remedy tend to be bouncy and bright, craving affection and company. Phosphorus is also one of the remedies useful in dealing with FEAR of THUNDER and other sudden noises (such as FIREWORKS) and in treating DRY COUGHS. It also acts on the NERVES and can help where there is nerve weakness affecting the back legs.
10. PULSATILLA (WIND FLOWER)
FALSE PREGNANCY in bitches is one of the principle indications for Pulsatilla where symptoms include nesting, milk production, variable appetite, seeking attention or company and submissive behaviour. Pulsatilla is also used for CATARRH, RHINITIS and SINUSITIS where there is a creamy yellow colour discharge and for DIGESTIVE UPSETS caused by rich, fatty foods.
11. RHUS TOX (POISON IVY)
Rhus tox grows in the USA and is renowned for its effects on the skin. Contact causes intense itching with redness and blistering. This effect might suggest that its main use is in treating skin problems, however it is better known as a remedy for ARTHRITIS, STIFF JOINTS, BACK PAIN and RHEUMATISM. It is one of the most frequently prescribed remedies. Rhus tox works where stiffness is evident and is worse in damp, cold weather and after rest. Symptoms ease with warmth and gentle exercise, whereas prolonged activity tends to make things worse. Sometimes the joint or muscle pains make the animal restless, resulting in moving around from place to place in an attempt to get comfortable. These symptoms may be especially noticeable in the evening or at night. Rhus tox is also the main remedy for STRAINS and SPRAINS, especially to muscles, where the symptoms match. This remedy is also used to treat SKIN PROBLEMS, especially those that are ALLERGY related including where there is inflammation of the skin around the eyes or genital region.
12. RUTA GRAV (RUE)
Ruta grav is a lot like Rhus tox and is used mainly for treating STRAINS. It acts on tendons especially where they attach to bone. It also acts on the periosteal (outer) layer of bone and is important in treating INJURIES to BONE including FRACTURES. It is another remedy to be considered in cases of ARTHRITIS especially where symptoms are worse for resting and in damp weather. Animals that respond well often have great difficulty getting to their feet after lying down or have a tendency to flop down as their legs give out easily.
13. SILICA (FLINT)
Silica is well known for helping expel FOREIGN MATERIAL from the body such as thorns or grass awns or seeds. It can be used to help resolve ABSCESSES which have burst and to heal discharging sinuses or fistulae. Conditions like CHRONIC CATARRH and SINUSITIS often respond as well. Silica will also slow the development of CATARACTS and will aid the healing of EYE ULCERS.
14. SULPHUR (THE ELEMENT)
Sulphur is best known homeopathically in the context of treating SKIN PROBLEMS. It can help with cases of FOX MANGE and with FLEA ALLERGY DERMATITIS and with many other skin conditions especially where there is an allergic basis. Sulphur is also used to help in general with ITCHING, SCRATCHING, nibbling and rubbing as well as DANDRUFF, SCABS, SORES and SMELLY, (SEBORRHOEIC) GREASY SKIN.
15. SYMPHYTUM (COMFREY)
The common name of Symphytum or Comfrey is ‘Knitbone’ and, as the countryside name suggests, it is useful in speeding up and in ensuring that FRACTURES heal well. It is also extremely useful in helping with JOINT, CARTILAGE, LIGAMENT and TENDON injuries in general. It is often used alongside other remedies. General injuries to the EYE can also benefit, where it can assist in healing ULCERS.