Itchy Pets: A different perspective on a common problem
By Christie Keith
We've all heard it. The thumping sound of our pet's leg as she scratches her ear or flank, or the slurping noise he makes as he sucks and bites at his feet or belly. What can we do?
While conventional medical treatment does give relief to some of these pets, for many dogs and cats, itching, recurring skin and ear infections, and symptoms of allergies make life hell. The list of tests and treatments is almost endless, and relief usually temporary.
There is a branch of holistic medicine that offers a different way of looking at skin problems, and it might offer something more than temporary relief to itchy pets.
A German physician named Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) developed a system of medicine known as homeopathy in the 1700s. After many years of working with the theory and practice of this new discipline, Hahnemann came to believe that at the root of most human illness was the suppression of "the itch." He called this almost universal tendency to skin ailments "psora," categorizing it what we might call a genetic or acquired predisposition. Hahnemann called psora "the mother of all disease."
What on earth, a pet owner might think, does this have to do with my itchy dog or cat?
To understand this, it's important to examine how homeopaths see the body and its relationship to illness and disease. In homeopathic theory, skin ailments and eruptions are the most minor of all conditions. In other words, the body has managed to externalize the imbalance, disease, or disorder to a high degree. If we use powerful drugs or herbs or topical treatments to suppress these symptoms, where does the "disease" go? It has no choice to go deeper into the organism. We don't see it anymore, but since all we did was suppress the visible symptoms without addressing the underlying weakness, it's as if we, in modern terms, cut the wire to the "check engine" light on our dashboard, rather than having the engine checked.
If this is an idea that makes sense to you, the obvious next question is, what do you do with your itchy pet? After all, intense itching is serious, as a bout with poison oak taught me. Many itchy pets are in horrible pain and discomfort, and the quality of their lives without suppressive treatments has been poor.
For most dogs and cats, I find that a healthy, balanced homemade diet makes all the difference in chronic skin conditions. Bad diet is considered an "obstacle to cure" in homeopathic theory, and most skin conditions resolve on their own, "from within outward," when the diet is addressed appropriately.
For those few that do not, treatment by homeopathy can bring about a real, lasting cure, not suppression of the symptoms. Homeopathy, in the hands of a skilled practitioner, treats each individual with a personalized course of remedies, designed to address that pet's own symptoms. The treatments are gentle and non-invasive. To locate a veterinarian who is certified in veterinary homeopathy, you can visit the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy website at http://www.theavh.org, or phone them at 866-652-1590.
For more information on homeopathy for pets, the book Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs by Don Hamilton, DVM, is an excellent introduction to the subject, and has a wonderful section on skin disease.