Homeopathy is a safe and effective healing modality that has been used for over 200 years. Homeopathic remedies are prepared primarily from animals, minerals, and plants and are used to treat a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions. They are nontoxic, and when properly administered, they can be safely used with animals.
Founded by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in Germany, homeopathy is based on the principle that “like cures like”—a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy individual can stimulate the healing of similar symptoms in a sick individual. For example, cutting a raw onion can cause watery eyes and a burning nasal discharge. When you give the homeopathic remedy prepared from onion, Allium cepa, to a patient with hay fever with similar symptoms, it can be curative. In homeopathy, the symptoms are considered valuable and help guide us to understanding the true cause of the illness. Remedies are carefully chosen to match a patient’s whole being—mental, emotional, and physical. They work on a gentle but deep level to help stimulate the body’s own ability to heal and cure.
Homeopathy can be very effective at treating many acute conditions including shock, trauma/wounds, bites/stings, vomiting/diarrhea, poisoning, bleeding, fear, and infections, to name only a few. Use them on your way to the vet and potentially as an adjunct to the treatment prescribed by your vet. They are not meant to be a substitute for appropriate veterinary care or to treat chronic conditions.
Deciding what potency to use depends on many factors, especially an animal’s vitality and the severity of the symptoms presented. I generally recommend having a first-aid kit with 30 c potencies, which is the midway point between low and high potencies. But sometimes whatever you have on hand is best.
Here are some of the most important first-aid remedies to have in your kit and some of the indications for their use:
Aconitum napellus (monkshood)—This is the first remedy to consider for trauma and injury with shock or intense fear. It’s used for symptoms that are intense, painful, and acute (occuring quickly); the dog (or cat) may be very restless or timid.
Arnica montana (leopard’s bane)—This is often selected as the first remedy for traumatic injury such as bruises, falls, blunt trauma (car accidents), sprains, and fractures. It can be helpful for an animal that desires to be left alone and does not want to be touched or cannot get comfortable; other indications could include being sore, lame, or having a bruised feeling with a tendency for bruises to hemorrhage; some vertigo (dizziness) after head trauma; or overuse of muscles.
Arsenicum album (arsenic)—This is useful for vomiting, diarrhea, poisoning, and exposure to some toxins and viruses. Symptoms to look for include sudden weakness, restlessness, and anxiety; loss of appetite with intense thirst; or drinking little and often, which distresses the stomach and may be vomited immediately.
Calendula (marigold)—Marigold supports healing of open, torn, cut, lacerated, ragged, or suppurating wounds, but it should not be used with deep punctures. It may be used for hemorrhage after lacerations or scalp wounds; it also promotes healthy granulations; and can be used topically (dissolved in water) or orally.
Carbo vegetabilis (vegetable charcoal)—Vegetable charcoal is appropriate for extreme trauma and/or shock, weakness, and collapse. Indications include difficult breathing with panting; icy coldness of the body, especially lips, (blue) gums, and paws; and some digestive problems.
Gunpowder (gunpowder)—Use this for blood poisoning or septic suppurations after wounds (gunshot and bites). It can be used on deep, painful wounds that are expected to become infected or septic (though sometimes it is used prophylactically).
Hepar sulphuris (calcium sulphide)—This is an important remedy for abscesses and small wounds that fester and become easily infected. It might help for an animal that is oversensitive to all impressions, cold, pain, noise, odors, is easily irritated, or chilly.
Hypericum (St. John’s wort)—This is a great remedy for injuries to the nerves, especially toes, nails, tail, and coccyx as well as punctured or lacerated wounds. It is useful for excessive painfulness or crushing wounds; concussions to the spine or brain; spasms after injury; effects of shock.
Ledum (marsh tea)—This is for deep puncture wounds, including bites, stings, injections, and bruises that are swollen, puffy, and purple. Use it if a puncture wound feels cold. Marsh tea supports puncture healing, from the inside out.
Nux vomica (poison nut)—This can aid with digestive problems, especially after a dog has been eating an improper diet or overeating. An angry, irritable, impatient patient might benefit, as could a dog that cannot bear noises, odors, light, etc., or one experiencing possible vertigo or one that is easily chilled.
Phosphorus (phosphorus)—Phosphorus can assist with suddenness of symptoms such as a hemorrhage of bright red blood, wounds that bleed easily and profusely, bright red blood, and many respiratory symptoms. The dog might indifferent or experience great weakness after stool or have debilitating diarrhea.
Symphytum (comfrey)—Comfrey can help with injuries to bone, periosteum, and cartilage, including fractures. It is commonly used after Arnica for bone injuries. Comfrey is good for eye injury and pain after a blow or blunt trauma and traumatic injuries to the eye. Follow standard fracture management protocols, and do not use until after the fracture is set.
Heidi Hill is a homeopath and the owner of Holistic Hound, a health food store for dogs and cats in North Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto. Visit the store online at www.HolisticHound.com or in person, 1510 Walnut St. You can contact Hill by calling 510-843-2133 or by emailing her at Heidi@HolisticHound.com.
Main article photo by: Alexander Raths