Herbal and homeopathic remedies for dogs are receiving more attention as pet lovers search for alternative medicines and natural complements to standard veterinary care. Learn more about homeopathy and how herbals are used to treat common ailments.
What Is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is an alternative healing method that focuses on restoring and maintaining balance in the body through the use of natural substances derived from plants, animals and minerals. Although this may sound a bit "new age" to some people, the art of homeopathy has actually been around for hundreds of years.
In short, homeopathic remedies involve treating illnesses with small and frequent doses of natural substances that would actually produce the same symptoms of the current illness if they were given in larger doses. If you think this sounds contrary to the healing process, consider how vaccinations work.
A vaccine delivers a micro dose of a particular virus in order to provoke the immune system into a response. The immune system learns to recognize the virus as well as how to overcome it. This controlled exposure eventually results in a very swift immune response that provides future protection from the target virus.
Homeopathic remedies work in a similar way, assisting the immune system to heal the body itself.
About Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies for Canines
A good deal of what we know about veterinary medicine has been borrowed from human medicine. So, it's not unusual to see an increase in the use of herbal and homeopathic remedies for canines. The rising cost of veterinary care has probably played a role in the interest in homeopathy, however, this isn't the sole reason pet owners are exploring their alternatives.
Some of the medicines regularly used in veterinary care are targeted at symptom relief. All too often, once the symptoms abate, the actual cause of the problem fades into the background, only to resurface in time. In contrast, homeopathic treatments aim solely at boosting the immune system's strength, thereby enabling it to route the cause of infection or illness and restore balance to a dog's body.
Another bonus to these natural remedies is that they don't appear to cause unwanted side effects as some conventional medicines do. Additionally, nothing happens if the correct remedy isn't given for the target malady, although a cure isn't affected either. In conventional medicine, giving a dog the wrong prescription can result in dire harm to the animal.
Homeopathy encompasses more than oral remedies. Acupuncture and acupressure are also used to enhance the body's own healing energies to provide relief and restore the dog to balanced health. These therapies can be used in conjunction with other natural remedies as well as conventional treatments, however, you will likely need to locate a holistic veterinarian to provide these services.
Common Canine Complaints and Homeopathic Solutions
Let's take a look at a few of the more common health issues that dogs and their owners face and the typical kinds of herbal remedies used to treat them.
- Arthritis: Sea mussels provide nutrition to support cartilage production, which in turn eases a dog's joint pain.
- Constipation: Organic flax seed oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids that help regulate many canine body functions.
- Diarrhea: Podophyllum peltatum and aloe socotrina can both support balance in a dog's intestinal tract.
- Food/Skin allergies: Red clover, dandelion root and fennel seed are all good for detoxifying the system of allergens found in many dog food products.
- Kennel Cough: Bromium, drosera and aconite help boost the immune system to lessen the production of mucous in a dog's airways.
- Anxiety: Valerian, passion flower and skullcap all help sooth an overwrought dog's nerves.
Giving Your Dog Herbal Remedies
Canine herbal remedies are most effective when they are given to your dog on an empty stomach. This allows the liquid, powder or capsule to be digested quickly and more readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Additionally, herbal remedies are administered far more frequently than conventional medicines in order to quickly infuse the immune system with the enrichment it needs. Again, this can be done because the natural remedies do not produce harmful side effects.
A Few Words of Wisdom
It's never advisable to go it alone when it comes to your dog's health. Always consult with a vet, either conventional or holistic, whenever your dog is sick or injured. Homeopathic remedies can be effective, but it stills requires a trained veterinary professional to diagnose the root of any problem.
Find a Holistic Vet
The following associations offer referral lists that will help you locate the nearest holistic veterinarian.
Sources for Canine Homeopathic Products
The following e-vendors carry a wide variety of herbal and homeopathic remedies for canines, as well as information on how to use them.