Homeopathy offers a gentle approach to wellness throughout the lifetime of your pet. What is homeopathy and how does it differ from conventional veterinary medicine? In modern society, we are comfortable with conventional medicine—it’s what we know. When we are in pain, have an infection, or are diagnosed with a disease, our first thought is care that includes pharmaceuticals to suppress the symptoms and help us feel better. The same holds true for our pets with veterinary medicine.
As holistic medicine gains acceptance as an option in treating disease and improving wellness, pet owners are increasingly interested in these same options for their four-legged companions. Holistic methods can include (but are not limited to) Western herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)—which includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, Chinese nutrition and massage, nutrition therapy, chiropractic, and homeopathy. These methods are not new in treating disease; in some cases they have been used for centuries.
WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY
In the United States homeopathy is experiencing a resurgence of interest after many years of primarily being practiced in other countries. About 200 years ago, a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann—yes, as in Philadelphia’s Hahnemann University Hospital—“discovered” homeopathy. The term means “treat with similar disease” which is different than what we understand about the mechanism of conventional medicine.
In allopathic, or “conventional” medicine, drug therapies are primarily designed to work against something—the word allopathy means a system of medical practice that aims to combat disease by use of remedies (like drugs or surgery for example) producing effects different from or incompatible with those produced by the disease being treated. If you have an infection, you take an antibiotic. If you have pain or inflammation, you take an anti-inflammatory. By contrast, homeopathy is a gentle approach to helping the body to heal itself—much like a vaccine helps to protect against disease—by presenting the body with a set of symptoms similar to the natural disease process.
To better understand how homeopathy works, Dr. Richard Pitcairn explains Hahnemann’s findings:
“Dr. Hahnemann found that substances could be used to stimulate healing by applying the principle of “like cures like” in very specific ways. He would give the patient a substance that would gently nudge their system in the direction of the “disease”, reproducing the same (or almost the same) syndrome or whole set of particular symptoms in a mild form.
He found this to be a very effective way to stimulate their natural defenses. It is almost as if the patient’s defenses cannot distinguish between the natural disease and what the similar substance is doing. Thus homeopaths fine-tune the use of medicines to enhance the patient’s own attempts to overcome the disease.” ~ Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, Pitcairn Institute of Veterinary Homeopathy
BENEFITS TO HOMEOPATHY
Veterinary homeopathy offers numerous benefits to the patient and the pet parent. Homeopathy…
- Increases the overall health of the pet: In treating a chronic disease, the focus is on the pet as a whole. The presentation of symptoms for a disease state can be different for each pet, so treatment options are customized to the unique patient. During the initial appointment, a life history is taken as well as discussion of the symptoms and behaviors of the pet. Proper nutrition and environmental factors may also be discussed as part of the overall plan to reach optimum wellness. With each step in making the pet healthier, the body gains a greater ability to heal.
- Produces longer lasting results with a decreasing number of treatments needed: Since the objective of homeopathy is to trigger the body’s natural defenses, the body becomes stronger and the period between treatments usually lengthens. If a stressful event causes symptoms to reemerge, medication is given and additional treatment may not be necessary again.
- Eliminates toxic side effects: Often modern pharmaceuticals come with a long list of possible side effects. Where one symptom is treated, another—whether mild or life-threatening—may emerge. The homeopathic approach eliminates these medication side-effects and the result is curative rather than suppressive.
- Reduces healthcare costs over the life of your pet: Especially when treating a chronic condition—such as hip dysplasia and joint problems, respiratory and urinary disease, or gastro-intestinal issues—conventional treatment is usually on-going management of the chronic condition. A homeopathic approach is designed so that the body is naturally able to address the underlying cause of the symptoms so that continuous medication administration—and the costs associated with long-term care—is not necessary.
“Homeopathy can help almost every patient, and we can especially see the dramatic life improvements it can create in young dogs and cats. As a profession, veterinarians see more and more young pets with early chronic disease issues such as allergies, skin disease and orthopedic problems. I know there are pet parents who are looking for something different from conventional veterinary care,” said Dr. Laura Weis, who owns Doylestown Veterinary Hospital and Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center with her husband Dr. Randy Weis.
HOMEOPATHY OFFERED AT DOYLESTOWN VETERINARY HOSPITAL
Doylestown Veterinary Hospital (DVH) is now offering homeopathy as part of its focus on offering clients many options for optimal care. Dr. Laura Weis, whose practice at DVH is limited to homeopathy and nutrition, has studied veterinary homeopathy at the Pitcairn Institute of Veterinary Homeopathy in Portland, Oregon.
She has been working with several clients with visible results for the treatment of acute and chronic conditions. Some interesting cases include a canine with a ruptured ACL that couldn’t walk and was on the verge of surgery before starting homeopathic care under Dr. Weis. The dog now has full use and strength in the injured leg after three months of care. Dr. Weis has also been working with several feline patients to treat chronic conditions, including asthma and sterile cystitis (chronic bladder inflammation). She is also treating a cat suffering from nerve damage to the bladder and tail as the result of being hit by a car. In all patients, a decrease in symptoms and increase in patient well-being with fewer treatments have been noticed.
If you are interested in talking to Dr. Weis about a homeopathic approach to care for your dog or cat, call 215-345-6000 to request an appointment.