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Chronic, grinding, bothersome diseases like the itchy, smelly ears that would never improve. Seizures that necessitate constant drugging to stay at bay. Joint disease that all but cripples a young dog, too young for the arthritis diagnosis
When these things just let go, after a proper remedy, and the animal comes out of treatment full of enthusiasm again, shiny of coat and gleaming in the eyes, you can’t help but smile. You’ve just seen a miracle.
Well, it sure seems like one. A lot of hard work went into it, of course, searching for symptoms, modalities that make those symptoms better or worse, trying to see the remedy that most closely matches those symptom patterns in the patient, deciding what potency to use, to repeat or not to repeat the dose.
And then evaluating the response or lack thereof. What got better? What didn’t? What’s new? And, what’s next?
But BOOM, when the remedy is well chosen and the dose was correct, and the repetition or its lack was well done, Way Better emerges. Wow! emerges.
“I’d forgotten he used to do that!” “She played like I haven’t seen her play since she was a pup!”
And you want to tell everyone. Shout the glories of homeopathy from the rooftops, to your grocer, your office mate, your mother in law! And they might look at you with that “Bless her heart” pity, smile wanly, and move on to their next distraction.
I’ve had a few clients eagerly send people to me. Friends, family, acquaintances. People who should have never come. People who, when they got here, were obviously not expecting to hear what I have to say, to answer the myriad of questions I need to ask about their animals, or to even consider that they could be doing healthier things for their animals that I suggest they might want to consider.
I try to be gentle. I can be very understanding. I don’t push, but suggest, explain, give examples. But I can see in their faces that they wish they weren’t here. That this is not their model of a veterinary visit. That it’s just too much for them to shift gears into.
And so, it goes nowhere. In one instance, after I spelled out the possibilities of what “getting better” could look like, I could see in the sick dog’s owner’s eyes that that wasn’t desirable or even acceptable. Disease + drugs for life was far preferable to the picture I was painting. So I never even prescribed a remedy. The dog and his human went home. Never to know the glorious possibility of miracle that could come to be.
After having had a handful of cases like this, where zealous clients have proclaimed, unsolicited, to other animal owners, that they just HAVE TO see Dr. Falconer for this poor animal’s condition, I now quietly ask the client to please send them to my website first. So they can get a taste of who I am, how I see health and disease, how I treat illness.
And prevent the awkwardness of landing in a place where they didn’t want to be.
All things need to come when they are ready. Pushing holistic medicine on someone who is not seeking it doesn’t help that person or holistic medicine.
Best just to share your miracle with those who are genuinely interested. It’s yours, after all. And your animal’s.
My friend and client Gina Benner heads up animal care for the Williamson Country Humane Society, and alerted me today that they’ve got some 84 barn cats as a result of an ASPCA hoarding case. These are not house cats, but rather semi-wild, and tested negative for FeLV and FIV. These cats are FREE to a good outdoor/barn home.
Details on this poster from the HS:
If you’ve been in my office lately, you’ve likely seen the poison on my desk for show and tell. Right there for you to sample, on the edge of my desk. If you’re tempted to take some, I encourage it. It’s a chewing gum that’s actually good for your teeth. Sweet little chicklets of poison. But it’s not poisonous for you.
They are sweetened with xylitol, known by dentists the world over to discourage bacterial growth in your mouth, strengthen your enamel, and have no bad effect on your insulin levels, unlike sucrose, regular sugar. A Finnish study even points to a possible osteoporosis benefit.
So, when I pointed it out to Jeanne on Friday, and asked if she knew about its effects in dogs, she was surprised to learn that it was toxic. Her new pup would surely have a very different experience than her young son, if allowed to eat some.
I remember well from my days in mixed practice in Wisconsin, some thirty years ago, using a drug to tranquilize horses and cows. The very same drug, xylazine, would do the its good work of temporarily “taking the edge off,” whether I had to do a minor teat surgery on a dairy cow or stitch up a horse who’d run through barbed wire.
But my, oh my, don’t mix up the dosage across species lines! A thousand pound horse might get 5 ml in his vein, and stand still while getting sutured, but a 1200 pound Holstein who’d tromped her teat and couldn’t get her milk out well needed barely ¼ ml to get the same dopey sedation!
Same thing with metabolizing this sweet called xylitol, a sugar alcohol. Humans do it just fine, dogs don’t.
While we get no apparent blood sugar drop from eating xylitol, dogs can get a life threatening one, with seizures even possible within 30 minutes of ingestion. In addition, acute liver damage occurs in dogs, not in us.
How much consumption is a worry? As with most things, the more that’s consumed, the greater the risk. My gum has 0.72 grams (720 mg) of xylitol in a piece. The toxic dose in dogs is more than 0.1 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. So, that’d be a bit more than a single piece of gum in Jedi, the 17 lb French Bulldog who Jeanne brought in to see me.
And it’s an attractive poison, as it tastes sweet. Some of my patients have been so hungry they’ve been known to eat soap and other non-food things. So, imagine these characters getting into some yummy gum!
If your dog has gotten into xylitol sweetened things, you can expect vomiting, within 30 minutes. This can be followed pretty quickly by lethargy, imbalance, collapse, and seizure.
If you see this, and know the product consumed, grab it and your dog and head for the Emergency Clinic. If you want to try a remedy on the way, bring nux vomica and phosphorus along with you. Have your copilot put a pellet of one or the other on your dog’s tongue on the way in. If no response to the one in 5-10 minutes, change to the second one. I have no experience with either of these in this disease, but they both are prominent remedies for intoxication, collapse, and liver problems.
At the ER, they will administer glucose and liver protective medicines, like silymarin and, if the dose wasn’t too high, will have a chance of saving your hapless dog. There’s usually too rapid an onset of collapse to induce vomiting safely, without risk of inhalation.
So, if you have some of this good-for-you sweetener around your house (check the labels that brag about “Sugar free!”), pay special attention to how you store it and use it. It also comes baked into sugar free cookies and brownies and cupcakes. Read your labels. Mannitol and sorbitol, other sugar alcohols used as sugar substitutes, don’t have the same toxicity to dogs, and are likely to be safe.
Be extra careful if you feed your kids foods made with xylitol. Let’s face it: dogs know an easy mark when they see one! Kids with xylitol sweetened goodies may be no match for a big tongue coming at them, hoping for some yummy licks or bites of cookie.
So, hey, let’s be careful out there in sugar free land.
If you’ve had any experiences with dogs and xylitol, please share them in the comments.
My clients are asked to gather information on their animals as we go through treatment. Often, symptoms that come and linger are the signposts for finding the next remedy needed to continue the journey back to a vital, healthy animal.
Here’s an email report I received recently, useful to illustrate a way of looking at health and disease:
I saw a little white spot at the opening of Calvin’s anus and after getting a tissue realized it was maybe pus? It’s creamy white colored and maybe that is why he keeps licking that area…Is that something we need to be concerned with right now?
I assured my client that we wouldn’t worry about this, but instead, learn all we can about this discharge and how Calvin is licking this area. Calvin is talking to us! Giving us useful information to get him well!
The basis of homeopathic prescribing is in viewing everything that’s not well about a patient, and objectively listing this to help us find a proper remedy.
The Cliff’s Notes version of how homeopathy works is that, if a patient is suffering in a certain way, and they (or their owners, in the veterinary situation) can describe that, a remedy can be found that could create the same symptoms if taken in excess by a healthy individual. That remedy will, in very minute doses, spur the sick individual to heal himself.
So, I learn all the symptoms I can during an intake, whether that’s in the clinic or over the telephone with my long distance clients.
Examples of symptoms I come to know often include:
This latter realm can lead to interesting phone time when my client is calling from work.
Me: “Can you describe this loose stool? More like pudding or more like water?”
Client, looking around nervously, with lowered voice: “Errr, ah, pudding.”
Me: “Uh huh, and how is the odor? Is it more foul than usual?”
Client: “Erm, yes, quite foul.” Now quite sure that people are overhearing this weird conversation.
Me: “And how about straining before, during, or after the stool? Or does it just pour out easily?”
Client: “I, ah, really couldn’t say…”
Me: “I see. Because you haven’t looked closely, or because you have office mates who are beginning to wonder about you and how this conversation could possibly be relevant to your work?”
Client: “Yes, the latter, thank you Mr. Jones, I’ll see that we get this taken care of for you right away!” Click.
Stella had a knack for getting gorgeous pictures of her dog’s stools, and because my records are all digital, I could paste these right into the record for future reference. Like this beauty:
I really appreciated the first hand, up close information this provided, seeing things in their natural environment, and was grateful to be spared the odor by viewing it from the comfort of my Mac, miles away.
So, in homeopathy, as in probably most areas of life, worry never helps anyone. It’s far more useful to put that energy into learning what your animal is “saying” with her symptoms. The more we know, the more accurate can be the homeopathic prescription, and the quicker we can get her well.
And that’s really the goal of it all, isn’t it?
To no one’s surprise, the AVMA (think AMA for animals/vets) passed their resolution against raw food feeding of pets yesterday, August 3rd. What’s interesting about looking “behind the curtain” is that there was a bit of controversy before the final vote. Not much, but the little there was reveals more of who we are dealing with.
The link above reveals the amendments that were proposed to be added to the policy statement, in red text. Recognizing what a hot button they had pushed (as evidenced by the huge outpouring of comments on their blog), some additional language was proposed to be added:
The AVMA recognizes that some people prefer to feed raw or undercooked animal-source protein to their pets. The AVMA recommends that veterinarians inform pet owners of potential risks and educate them on how to best mitigate the risk of pathogen exposure in both handling the food and in managing pets consuming undercooked or raw animal-source protein diets.
This paragraph gives some recognition to the many intelligent voices on their blog and elsewhere that made it clear raw feeding was of great importance, providing distinct health benefits, and even clearing disease that AVMA drugs were not touching.
This amendment was voted against being included by a watery ⅔ majority. Too strong a statement in favor of raw feeders? Or just not wanting to ask vets to study more to learn what it would take to “mitigate pathogen exposure” in “managing pets” who eat raw food?
“You know, Suzie, Bowser here could be carrying Salmonella, what with you feeding him that raw stuff like you do. So, ah, well, how to say this? Just don’t be kissing on his mouth, okay? And get some Clorox wipes for his anus, and wipe him down after every BM. Who knows what’s coming out of his keester, ya with me?”
What the AVMA delegates could really rally around, though, by a sweeping majority, was changing a word. A bold move indeed.
They took it from this:
They got behind this at a whopping 91.9% in favor.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure what they accomplished with such a change. “Never” to “Avoid?” I’m sure they had to think long and hard on that one. Sheesh.
The laughable piece of all this, of course, is the following:
Prior to the discussion, all in attendance were requested to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. (This is standard procedure.)
Now, think aloud with me on this one:
(Note: if you didn’t know this, our “education” in nutrition came from Hill’s, makers of Science Diet et al, who also handily donated all the food to the vet schools’ teaching hospitals)
So, you can bet there were no disclosures and the vote was made, the policy adopted, and the raw feeders marginalized.
A step on the road to regulating or even banning prepared raw foods? Let’s hope not.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
My patient Amante came to see me this morning, before he was going to be put to sleep. What an amazing dog.
You see, Amante got a diagnosis, back in November of last year, that he had a tumor in his nasal passage. He’d begun sneezing, then finally sneezed out a piece of tumor, and it was analyzed and found to be a malignancy.
His loving owners were given two options:
They opted to do neither. And his “dad” is an MD. That should tell you something about the perceived value of conventional cancer treatment from an expert who lives in that world.
Luckily, I got to be his doctor. Until today. I’m welling up with tears as I think of where he’s been from then till now.
Amante is this bigger than life white German Shepherd, weighing in around 128 pounds. With a heart as big as any I’ve ever met. Always came in with tail wagging, looking for petting, putting his head right in my chest.
He was given a two month death sentence last November. I wasn’t able to work any real miracles with him under homeopathic care, other than bringing a bony hard nasal tumor to soft, spongy, and discharging some. That’s when we got pretty hopeful that he was dissolving this mass, and might just beat it.
But it wasn’t to be. He had ups and downs, discharging and closing the opening, and the tumor slowly, steadily grew. Until today, when I got to see him and help make the decision about euthanasia.
Friend to all
Amante loomed large in his family. He helped raise four kids, and got to be part of a third generation once a couple of grand kids came into his world. He loved to swim, go for walks, hated thunderstorms, and kept his work-from-home mom constant company. He was friends to the neighborhood dogs and their people. Everyone who knew him was fond of him.
And I got to be his doctor.
But today was inevitable. When the door opened, Amante strode right in and parked his head in my chest as I stroked him and welcomed him once more. His nose and forehead were misshaped by the tumor. He was breathing with a sort of snorting, choking sound at most every breath. But his tail was still fully wagging. Happy, bright soul, loving Amante (means “lover” in Spanish).
Bobbi told me his tumor had broken through the roof of his mouth. And came to see if I’d agree that he should be put to sleep now. Before he really suffered.
As I bent to examine him, I hoped I wouldn’t have to pry his mouth open and upset him by this act. He complied. He raised his head as I caressed him, and panted with his mouth open, showing me clearly, for as long as I needed, the ulcerated tumor on his hard palate.
What a difficult call!
But I had to agree. His parents had decided it was time to call it the end for Amante. I concurred. He was still eating, drinking, wagging, walking, even swimming. But we could see where this was going. And none of us wanted him to suffer.
Although I no longer offer this service, I recommended euthanasia. It would be a blessing to end his life while he still felt good. No need to prolong this till he couldn’t eat, started bleeding, or lost his love of life.
Amante’s family knew a house call veterinarian who would come. Come to where he was on familiar ground. Where he could leave this body that was failing him behind, without the fear of a strange place filled with stainless steel and odors of strange chemicals. Perfect. A blessing.
I only added some arsenicum album, a homeopathic remedy known to help the death process.
So, Amante, you larger than life dog. Fare thee well. You’ll leave us, and we’ll miss you and all your hugeness, your benevolence, your deep lovingness for all you came in contact with. We’ll mourn your passing.
And I got to be your doctor. A truly great fortune.
There’s been a bit of a storm raging about an upcoming AVMA proposed policy against raw diets for pets, due to be voted on at their House of Delegates meeting in San Diego next week. This is, of course, the veterinary analog of the AMA. Yawn.
At first, I pretty much ignored it, as one after another of my colleagues posted about it on our homeopathic email lists. After all, what can a policy recommendation do? It has no force of law.
But, as has been pointed out, it could pave the way for legal denials of raw pet food manufacture, once a body of professionals (who must know the True Scientific Facts) takes a stand against raw feeding.
And, (not that this carries much weight in my mind) it’ll give conventional vets more grist for their “Now, Don’t Feed Raw Food!” mill. But then, most who are feeding raw are probably also not buying into the conventional recommendations like repeated vaccinations, topical poisons for flea control, internal poisons for heart worm prevention and the like.
So, why would an AVMA policy decision saying “Tsk, tsk, raw food can carry pathogenic bacteria” be of concern to someone dedicated to understanding true health and feeding appropriately wild diets? Dedicated raw feeders will always find a way.
And it’s pretty likely the AVMA will keep their collective head in the sand about the following truth:
All the recalls of pet food over the last few years have been commercially prepared, cooked dry food and treats. NOT RAW.
Whoa. Ermm. Ahem.
And, if you want to find bacteria in raw meat, just check your local supermarket. Bring your swab and petri dish. I wrote earlier about handling the stuff carefully when you are making raw food for Spot and Puff.
But then, the plot thickened, and I feel this deeper twist must be brought to light. As is usually the case, we need only “follow the money” to find the real answers.
And boy, is there a lot of money in pet food! Think billions per year spent on it. The statistics include close to $20 billion on pet food in 2011 in the US, and roughly $24 billion for the EU. Nothing to sneeze at, eh?
So, imagine my lack of surprise when it came to light that, behind the push to come down on raw pet food is an organization who’s been against raw feeding for at least a couple of years. Who does otherwise neat things, like getting animals into hospitals to help sick people: The Delta Society.
But, here’s the money path: on the executive committee of the Delta Society is one Brenda Bax, who, <cough> is also, umm, well, just the Marketing Director of Purina. You know, that big checker boarded outfit that makes dry kibble in St. Louis and is like a household word?
Probably not in Purina’s best interest if folks are jumping ship from the contaminated kibble and heading into Awesome Raw Feeding, right?
You got it. They’ll get a bigger bite of the dog food dish if they get the AVMA to come out again those nasty raw foods out there.
You know the foods. They make dogs’ coats shine, breath fresh, shedding stop, cure the diabetics, the inflammatory bowel disease sufferers, and take away my business. (Seriously. Raw fed pets are rarely coming to me for chronic illness. But that’s great. I don’t mind at all.)
So, if you want to add your voice to the hew and cry, there’s an open comment area at the AVMA’s blog (I know, right?). And probably a petition or two floating around if you Google those initials. I don’t have much faith that’ll do any good. Not when we’re talking a piece of a multi-billion dollar bone. But it can’t hurt, either. If you have the time and inclination, head on over.
How about you? Feeding some raw food, are you? Concerned? Let’s hear about your take in the comments.
Ever hear this one?
There’s a high white blood cell count (or fever)! This animal needs antibiotics!
This often comes from Dr. Whitecoat, and is repeated by animal owners who heard it while under conventional medical care. I maintain it’s patently false. And dangerous to accept as truth.
Let’s examine it critically.
The white blood cells are part of the immune system, and when they are elevated on a blood test, what does that mean? It merely means this animal is seeing the need for a good fight against some invader (barring a more rare, complicated diagnosis, like bone marrow cancer). It might be a bacteria, maybe a virus, a yeast, maybe even a chronic parasitic infestation.
So, the fight is on! The immune system is engaged, doing what it was designed to do, to take on the invaders and stop them from taking over the body and wreaking havoc. Why would antibiotics be needed in this situation?
Antibiotics do one thing, and one thing only.
They kill bacteria, and often quite indiscriminately, the good with the “bad.”
The good bacteria are those in the lower intestinal tract, a population thought to be ten times larger than the number of cells we have that are our own!¹
These “friendly bacteria” (and fewer yeasts) are working for us, and our animals, by producing vitamins, out-competing harmful bacteria, helping immunity, and even producing beneficial hormones. It’s common knowledge that giving antibiotics kills these good species and leads to the overgrowth of yeasts in the body, the commonest being Candida species, which can lead to problems of their own.
Fever is another part of a healthy immune response to invaders. When a fever is mounted, the body’s temperature elevates to make reproduction of pathogens more difficult.
Wait. That sounds useful, right?
You bet it is. And why would antibiotics help this battle, going on efficiently and concertedly, with the intelligence of countless years of evolution behind it?
That’s exactly what I ask, every time I hear this ILLogic.
Almost always we do not need to step in and “treat a high white count” or “treat a fever.” (Mom always gave me aspirin when I had one. Luckily, antibiotics weren’t so popular when I was a kid.)
Most of the time (98% probably), the incredibly well tuned vital force, that part of us all that keeps us well, is doing a great job, flexing the immune response “muscle”, killing invaders, walling them off, digesting their remains, and eliminating their toxic waste products. We just need to trust that, and let it happen.
If you want to be part of the solution, to help the immune response, don’t kill the good guys in the gut or turn down the internal thermostat.
Instead, add some well studied immune support. Maybe echinacea, goldenseal, vitamin C, or my favorite, Transfer Factor. For dogs, TF Canine Complete; for cats, Feline Complete. And for kids, TF Chewable. And everyone can use TF Plus. That’s what I take, and I haven’t had a flu or cold in so long I can’t remember.
Transfer Factors both increase the immune response and balance it, far better than anything they’ve been compared to.
Help is not indiscriminate killing of bacteria, or giving anti-fever drugs. Work with the amazing response that the immune system is waging. You’ll have a happier ending for all concerned.
I’ve had the good fortune to be able to work with a band of horses owned by Travaasa Austin, an upscale resort in the Texas Hill Country, not too far from where I live. These horses, besides the usual trail riding work, also help people to connect with horses in a manner that many, especially city folks, have not had the opportunity to partake in.
It pretty quickly becomes apparent when you spend some time around these big brutes, that they are very sensitive creatures. While they are big enough to run you over and cause untold mayhem if panicked, they are also very respectful and kind.
One of the reasons I became a veterinarian, in fact, was early teen experiences I had with a herd of horses. And later, when my crazy brother who was my role model for some years, got a hankering to own Clydesdales, and I got to interact with these giants, I really was in awe of how responsive the horse can be. Walking into a narrow slip stall next to a huge 2200 pound Clyde and seeing her step out of my way with the gentlest of urging, sold me: I want to work with these guys!
When there’s not much to tell but, “I hurt!”
Jeeter is a quarter horse, one of the band at Travaasa, who was presented for treatment a month ago when I made a farm call there. He was described to me as “just uncomfortable,” and “unpredictable,” especially when he was asked to do anything more than just walk. Even with no one on his back, no lines and no saddle on, Jeeter really objected to being asked to run in the round pen, and he told everyone this by pinning his ears back. Ouch. He hurt!
His rear legs were deemed slow, dragging, compared to the other horses. Jeeter’s discomfort made it impossible to use him for trail rides. The wranglers could ride him, but had to be prepared for him to buck. Something just didn’t feel good, and it sounded like his spine was involved. A common place for discomfort in this species, as man is often sitting on this spine, perhaps on an ill-fitting saddle!
Digging Deeper for Clues
When a homeopathic vet treats a patient, it’s important to find out who this individual is, what makes him stand out. The name of the game is to find the patterns of how this particular individual shows his illness, as well as his unique nature.
So, Jeeter hurt, probably in his back. And, it was made worse by exertion, by bending, “gathering himself,” as horse folks say, meaning the digging in, flexing the body to run, getting his feet under him to propel himself forward. This is asking more of his anatomy than just walking around easily did.
But what else? It’d be very hard to prescribe accurately on one symptom, in any patient. I had to hear more.
Luckily, I had three wranglers present, all of whom knew Jeeter’s temperament and habits. And I valued all of their input, and took notes.
Here’s what else I learned:
A Swing and a Miss
Okay, and, like way too many of my patients, Jeeter had had plenty of vaccinations in his history. So, as is not uncommon is patients with some degree of discomfort and a history of vaccinations, he got a dose of a vaccinosis remedy: Thuja 10M.
I had a second remedy in mind, but wanted to start here, as I’ve seen how much pathology the vaccines can cause.
Three weeks later, I talked to Keith, the head of the horse program. “No better. Still can’t use him for riding.”
Okay, so he didn’t have enough in common with this vaccinosis remedy to get repair moving in his body. Time for a more constitutional remedy.
I had very little to work with, and some of it was assumption:
A Fitting Remedy?
I saw that the remedy Phosphorus fit all of this quite well. The individual needing phosphorus is often quite sensitive. For example, a lot of them hate thunderstorms, as it’s just too much for their senses to take.
Phosphorus centers on the spine quite well, as well as the lungs. Respiratory disease is not uncommon in the person or animal needing this remedy.
Jeeter, like a lot of “phosphorus patients,” loved stroking, brushing, etc. In the old books of homeopathy, this is often referred to as “magnetism” or “mesmerism,” after the popular practice long ago of passing one’s hands over someone’s body to aid their healing.
So, I sent Jeeter a single dose of phosphorus 1M. Keith was to put the granules on a slice of apple and feed it to him.
A Home Run!
We talked the other day to check in on the horses I’d treated a few weeks back. Jeeter was now able to be ridden without any pain! Bucking was a thing of the past. He was now a full fledged part of the herd and able to be part of the riding program instead of just being part of the “horse experience” as before!
So, sometimes a veterinary homeopath has to reach, make some assumptions, try and try again, but when the right remedy is found, boom. The whole animal responds.
If he’d have been a person, I could have asked him lots of questions and had an easier time of arriving at his remedy. “What does it feel like?” “Does it get worse in any kind of weather?” “How do you feel about being in this group?” “Anything scare you?”
But Jeeter is a horse. So, I had to work with what I could glean from his observant caretakers, the wranglers there at the resort. Luckily, they provided enough clues that I could find a remedy that fit the Whole Horse, and he’s a world better for that.
“Now, who wants to brush me?” Jeeter wonders. “I’ll follow you anywhere if you do!”
(for a heartfelt account of one guest’s experience with Jeeter, read about it in her blog, here.)