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Homeopathy for Animal Health

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Dogs can have their homeopathic medicines given in water.

Dogs can have their homeopathic medicines given in water.

Homeopathy is viewed with a degree of cynicism in some sectors of animal husbandry, but is practised mainly by keepers intent on high standards of welfare. Heidi M. Sands, herself a convert, investigates:

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Homeopathy is widely regarded as an alternative form of medicine understood to have been recognised and practised by the Ancient Greeks, where a disease is treated by tiny doses of a natural substance that may otherwise cause symptoms of that disease. It’s a complementary treatment that has long been used for humans and is also used for pet animals, farm livestock and horses.

Cattle and most other livestock can be treated homeopathically.

Cattle and most other livestock can be treated homeopathically.


As a form of medication, homeopathy is gaining respect throughout the veterinary world, and although not all vets are qualified to use it to treat animals, most will readily respect the wishes of owners who might like to try out such medicines on their pets and livestock. If you wish to use homeopathy to treat your cattle, poultry or sheep it is possible, in some areas, to access veterinary homeopaths or practitioners to help, advise and guide you. The rest of us need have no fear though, for there are ways that we can learn just how homeopathy works.

Homeopathy is a way of triggering the body to heal itself, and very effective it can be too, if administered in the right way. This method is all embracing – that is to say it relies on treating the individual rather than the illness. By the same token, homeopathic medicines are prescribed in a different way to conventional medicines. One medicine does not ‘fit all’ with homeopathy, as each treatment is determined based on the temperament and type that the patient exhibits, as well as the apparent illness. This means that one medicine can actually treat different illnesses, dependent on the individuals being treated.

Although recognised since the time of the Ancient Greeks, it wasn’t until the 18th-century German homeopath Samuel Hahnemann began to develop the basis of the system of homeopathy that we see today, that the practice of homeopathy really took off. By experimenting on himself, Hahnemann was able to prove the effectiveness of hundreds of remedies made from largely natural materials including plants, earth minerals and animal substances. Through his work he was able to discover that the more dilute he made his remedies, the better and safer they actually became. By determining which remedy would treat which illness on which patient, Hahnemann and his followers built up a range of treatments that are today capable of treating almost anything and everything, from the physical such as cuts and grazes through to the mental, including anxiety, depression and stress.

Homeopathic medicines come in a variety of types.

Homeopathic medicines come in a variety of types.

So it is that a whole range of medicines is available to us today in a variety of forms, including powders, pillules, tablets, liquids and creams. These generally come in a choice of strengths, starting with ‘6C’ potency and working up to those that can only be prescribed by a practising homeopathic vet. The choices available make it possible to tailor the treatment to the individual animal; for although it may be possible to give a tablet to a well-behaved pony by popping it into a slice of apple or carrot, the same clearly isn’t going to work with a flock of sheep. However, thanks to the availability of powders and liquids it’s easy to administer homeopathic treatments to an entire flock by adding them to drinking water.

Slices of carrot are a good way to entice a pony, goat or other herbivore to take homeopathic remedies.

Slices of carrot are a good way to entice a pony, goat or other herbivore to take homeopathic remedies.

One of the differences between conventional and homeopathic medicines is that homeopathic medicines shouldn’t be physically touched, as the active ingredients are generally to be found on the external surface of the tablets or pillules to be administered. Handling them will remove and possibly damage the necessary medicine. Tablets, which can be obtained either hard or soft, can be crushed between spoons for administration. The fragility of these medicines means that they must be carefully stored away from strong smelling substances, in particular mint, and preferably kept out of strong sunlight and in a cool place. Kept in this way these substances should last for several years.

From left to right. Hard homeopathic tablets, soft tablets and pillules.

From left to right. Hard homeopathic tablets, soft tablets and pillules.

Of the remedies available, arnica probably rates as the best known. As with all homeopathic treatments it is prepared by succussion and dilution, that is to say a mother tincture is made by steeping a mixture of the substance, which is then diluted and shaken. Arnica treatments, available as creams, ointments or for administration by mouth, are derived from the herb Arnica montana. Growing at heights of between 4,000 and 9,000 feet, either on or at snow level, this plant has long been used by climbers and mountain dwellers to relieve cramping muscles after a day spent on the mountains, and also by knowledgeable householders for use on sprains, strains and bruising. Today, it is the remedy of choice following accidents and injury.

Hand in hand with arnica for emergency use goes aconite, used mostly but not exclusively for shock, which may of course accompany any accident. Both of these could be viewed as essentials when preparing a first aid kit for animals that could also double up for use by livestock owners and home farmers too.

When considering the basics for a first aid kit, euphrasia is another important inclusion – it’s perfect for eye ailments, and can be used to treat a pony that has stood in a draught and got runny eyes, a cow that has managed to lodge a hayseed in its eye, and even a common cold in a farmer that has left him or her with red or swollen eyes. It can also help with nasal discharge or hay fever too.

Another personal favourite is silica, used primarily for forcing out anything from the body that we do not wish to be there, such as splinters, boils and abscesses. I’ve also seen it work wonders for white line disease, which often follows laminitis in hoofed animals including horses, ponies, sheep and goats. It does well, too, for animals that feel the cold or for those that are slow to grow as youngsters. It can also be useful for athlete’s foot, and we all know how common that can be in those who wear wellies on a daily basis.

From the point of view of the livestock keeper, some of the most useful homeopathic remedies to have on hand are those that will treat a myriad of regularly encountered minor ailments. Apis mel is useful for bites and stings, particularly those inflicted on grazing animals where fly and insect bites swell or are fluid filled; belladonna is often prescribed for use in animals with mastitis, and it can provide the answer when all else has failed in recurrent or persistent cases. Another handy remedy is graphite, often used for skin ailments, including eczema in dogs, and nux vom can be influential in treating stomach upsets, including hair-balls in cats and hiccups in puppies.

Dogs can have their homeopathic medicines given in water.

Dogs can have their homeopathic medicines given in water.

The list is seemingly endless, and from bone injuries to ear infections homeopathic remedies are available to treat most afflictions, including the emotional. More common individual remedies are usually available from high-street chemist outlets, and human remedies can be used without alteration for animal use. More specialised remedies are available from homeopathic chemists online, some of which are able to offer a service to make up some of the more rarely used treatments. Once you’ve seen for yourself the usefulness of these homeopathic treatments you will probably want to build up a cabinet of favoured remedies of your own. It’s also possible to use homeopathic remedies alongside conventional medicines, and not everyone will feel entirely comfortable ditching the acceptable in favour of alternative ways.

Whilst studies vary in the way in which they view the usefulness of homeopathic treatment for both animals and humans, converts hail homeopathic treatments as superior to conventional ones. If you do wish to use such medicines exclusively on your animals it may pay to engage suitably qualified assistance.

Vaccinations can be performed in a homeopathic way and likewise worming or other health programmes, but do be aware that few boarding kennels will accept animals without conventional vaccination certificates.

On the other hand, if you yearn for, or have already joined in with, organic farming schemes or methods, homeopathy may be preferred – after all, certain members of the Royal family have been known to prefer the use of homeopathics as a gentler way of treating their animals.

As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of ways to administer homeopathic medicines to livestock, and sometimes it pays to be a bit cunning. A tiny piece of meat may be all that is required to entice a hidden tablet into Fido’s tummy, and the same method might work on the farm cat, but ten or twelve cows may need a specially prepared pump-administered liquid in order to be treated.

Using a knife blade to make a pocket for a homeopathic tablet to sit in for ease of administration to the patient.

Using a knife blade to make a pocket for a homeopathic tablet to sit in for ease of administration to the patient.

Treatment time varies with homeopathics; it’s not like a course of antibiotics, where the course must be finished. Usually, treatment is reduced when an improvement is noticed, and if none is observed it is customary to stop the use of a particular remedy, wait to see if improvement happens, and if not, then to reassess the case before trying another medicine.

Experience is everything when it comes to homeopathy, and long-term use of this treatment method can provide a first point of call that is safe for use on both young and old alike.

2 Comments on "Homeopathy for Animal Health"

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  1. dave says:

    An extremely misguided and potentially harmful article. The author seems to be under the illusion that homeopathy is “..tiny doses of a natural substance..” when in fact it is simply water drops or sugar pills as explained here: and as such it will come as no surprise that homeopathy has never shown any effect in any medical or scientific trial since it was first invented.

    One can only guess at the degree of suffering animals will have to endure if your first port of call is a disproven myth rather than a qualified veterinarian.

  2. Andy Lewis says:

    Utter nonsense from start to finish. Homeopathy practiced on animals is cruelty. It is the deliberate avoidance of effective medical care and users should be prosecuted. This article should be withdrawn and a correction made.

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