Alternative Medicine for PetsPublished December 15, 2008
Alternative veterinary treatments such as acupuncture and homeopathy are all the rage. Sure, these treatments sound fascinating, but it's natural to be somewhat skeptical. After all, we don't want to subject our precious pets to experimental medicine. So, we talked to two veterinarians and a pet owner to learn more about homeopathy and what it can do for your pet. According to Dr. Jill Elliott, a New York City-based veterinarian who practices traditional and alternative medicine, homeopathy is the use of natural and animal products diluted to their lowest forms. "These products cause a gentle but slow cure to achieve homeostasis with the least amount of side affects," says Elliott. "Homeopathy is a cure that eliminates the toxins making the animals sick, whereas conventional medicine suppresses the disease." Natasha Bonilla has used homeopathic treatments on her pets for more than 20 years. "I've found that when they're abandoned very young, cats tend to be neurotic," says the Geneseo, New York-based paralegal. "Bach's Rescue Remedy has been a miracle worker, because it calms my cats down." Dr. Kim Curtis, a veterinarian who practices alternative veterinary medicine at Integrative Pet Care in Chicago, says homeopathy is also useful for pets that have reactions to vaccinations. Bonilla says she used a homeopathic treatment called Thuja Occidentalis on her cat Theo after he had a bad reaction to routine vaccinations. "He almost died the first time," she says. "So, the next time he got vaccinated and became ill, I fed him two pellets of the treatment. Within a few hours, he was fine." "I always recommend homeopathic medicine for older animals," says Elliott. She says the treatment works wonders for pets with liver and kidney problems, Cushing's disease, ear problems, and skin conditions. "A typical treatment depends on the animal's weakness, strength, and age," she continues. And if a patient is on conventional medicine, she gives the animal a low daily dose of homeopathic medicine. Elliott stresses that she never recommends that pet owners abandon Western medicine if their pet is ill. "If you're a homeopath for people, you don't tell them to stop their heart medicine," she notes. "I've discovered that as my patient's condition gets better, the need for Western medicine reduces naturally." Curtis says her clients are very satisfied with the alternative treatment options she presents. "Many of my clients have pets that are on steroids and are better, but not well. They want natural alternatives that won't damage their dog or cat." She has cured cats with chronic respiratory infections and has seen homeopathy work wonders on animals who suffer from chronic pain. Homeopathic medicine takes into consideration the complaint and also the personality of the patient, Elliott says. She sees many chronic disease cases and, using homeopathic and conventional medicine, evaluates each one on an individual basis. She notes that animals with the same condition may be prescribed entirely different homeopathic treatments. "I recently treated two 9-year-old standard white poodles with chronic ear infections. They went to the vet every two months, for years," she recalls. "I gave them each two different doses over two months, and their ear infections cleared up. That was as least a year ago." Although homeopathic treatments are not inexpensive--Elliott charges $300 for the first hourly consultation--your pet will be prescribed a remedy during the first visit. "I think the treatment is cheap because there aren't recurring visits," says Elliott. If you decide to try homeopathy as part of your conventional treatment plan, be aware that it's not a quick fix. "When people see their pet hasn't been cured in a week, many give up," warns Elliott. "But once people witness the results, they're very impressed."
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