help your animal
When you go to a veterinary homeopath to help your animal, whether it’s preventative or your animal is ill, you’ll find him very interested in these things called symptoms. What are symptoms and why are they so important?
Who or What Makes Symptoms?
Symptoms are the language of that amazing part of us all that homeopaths call the vital force. Chiropractors call it innate intelligence, TCM practitioners may refer to it as chi, and Ayurved often speaks of pran. This is that part of all living beings that directs the growth of youngsters, the repair of damaged or worn out tissue, the healing of wounds, the orderly dividing of cells, the beat of the heart, the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide in the lungs, the digestion of food, the elimination of waste — in short, all the processes we don’t have to think about or consciously make happen, that keep us alive and well until our death comes.
No Symptoms? All’s Well.
When the vital force is humming along happily and in balance, symptoms are absent, and the animal feels great and acts happily and energetically, doing what comes naturally. When we ourselves are well, we don’t have symptoms and we are free to be creative, happy, loving, and productive individuals. And homeostasis reigns. This means all is in balance, and the internal “gyroscope” keeps it that way. This is the vital force at work, quietly, efficiently, behind the scenes.
Symptoms: The Vital Force is Talking to You
When illness challenges us, the vital force immediately mounts a defense. Symptoms show up, often in two categories. An example we can all relate to is getting the flu, and fighting the flu illustrates these categories:
If it’s flu the vital force is dealing with, inflammation often includes fever and achy joints. Discharge may be a runny nose or diarrhea or vomiting. We don’t feel well while these symptoms are going on, so we stay in bed, leave work or school, and hunker down until this process is over. After fighting the good fight for a day or two, the fever breaks, the discharge resolves, the aches go away, and we feel ready to return to our normal activity. So, these symptoms are the evidence of the “fight” by the vital force, the way that we, as individuals, put up resistance to the illness and finally, overcome it.
Symptoms are different for different individuals
How you fight the flu may be somewhat different than how your neighbor or your sister fights the flu. You could be extremely thirsty, hate to move in the least and feel better lying perfectly still, and feel grouchy if others interact with you. Your neighbor, fighting the same flu, may have lost her thirst, feel restless, and just very dull, with heavy eyelids that seem to only be able to open half way.
Why is that significant?
Different Remedies for Different Types of Symptoms
In homeopathy, it was noted from the beginning that the “law of similars” is what helps us find the remedy that cures our patients. This means, simply, that a substance capable of treating symptoms can also cure those same symptoms when administered in a homeopathic form. An example is an herb Arnica montana, or leopard’s bane.
Different Remedies for Different Types of Symptoms
If a healthy person were to take repeated doses of arnica, say as a tea, with enough repetition, he’d feel sore and bruised, and perhaps even start to visibly show bruising on his skin. That same herb, made into homeopathic form, cures the individual who has sustained an injury and feels the same bruised soreness. For those who want more understanding of this, I’ll refer you to the Recommended Resources page, where you can download the best homeopathy intro book out there: Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine, by Timothy Dooley, MD., ND. (It’s free.)
How is Your Animal Talking about Her Illness?
So, your homeopath needs to find the best remedies for your animal, and that depends entirely on what symptoms she’s portraying. Remember: a diagnostic label tends to lump everyone together. This is useful in allopathic (conventional) medicine, where everyone with the same disease label gets basically the same treatment. Cats with “hyperthyroidism” will likely get one of a few common treatments, and dogs with hip dysplasia will get similarly treated.
In homeopathy, that disease label is not very useful, because we are looking for the remedy that fits how this animal is fighting their disease. Remember how the flu could look different in different people? Same thing with any disease in any species, whether it’s called arthritis or allergic dermatitis, or inflammatory bowel disease.
So, let’s look beyond diagnostic labels. We’ll need to be more specific in our observations, and since we can’t just ask our horse or dog or ferret, “how are you feeling?”, we’ll need to watch pretty carefully to ascertain her symptoms.
The Hunt for Symptoms in the Nonverbal Animal
Symptoms can occur anywhere in the physical body as well as in the behavior. I’ll give a few examples of symptoms that you might see. Remember: some of these things are common, but still not normal. Hence, they are worth noting and relaying to your homeopathic vet.
- Hair coat: shedding all year long, “doggy odor,” sores, rashes, discoloration
- Eyes: matter in the corners, redness, tearing, spots on the iris
- Ears: waxy, smelly, red, itchy, swollen
- Nose: too wet and drippy, too dry and chapped, discolored, pale
- Mouth, teeth: bad breath, tartar, missing teeth, redness of gums
- Appetite: hesitant; always hungry; desires odd stuff, like stool, dirt, rocks
- Thirst: too high or too low, or appropriate; loves ice cold water
- Digestion: gassiness, burping, vomiting, discomfort after eating
- Stool: too soft, too hard, too often or not often enough; smellier than others
- Urine: bed wetting, lack of urging, too frequent urging
- Respiration: snoring, coughing, wheezing, “reverse sneezing”
- Sexual sphere: humping or masturbation, short or frequent heat cycles, small litter sizes
- Limbs, mobility: clumsiness, stiff getting up, knees that “pop out,” joints that crack; feet that are licked a lot
- Hooves, claws and nails: brittle, breaking, opaque (cats), grow too fast
- Sleep: restless, needs to go out, twitching, jerking, vocalizing
- Temperament: fearful, aggressive, startling, fear of thunder, suspicious
- General symptoms, e.g. temperature, weather, air: loves fresh air, slows down in the heat, hates to get the feet wet, hates a bath
Maybe you see none of these things, but you’ll notice some others, things that are different from when your animal was as well, or that are different than the other animal in the house or the barn. By making notes of these things, you’ve helped your homeopathic veterinarian begin to see your animal’s unique characteristics, and these are the things that will help him find the appropriate homeopathic remedies to either cure an illness or increase the plane of the health of your animal resides on.
Keeping a Diary as You Go
Very necessary to the successful application of homeopathy is the journaling of how symptoms change once treatment has begun. Make a list of those things your animal shows, the symptoms you discussed with your homeopathic veterinarian, and see how they change after a remedy is begun. Details are helpful, such as:
- Time after dosing that something changed
- Sidedness of a symptom (note: your “left” is your animal’s “left”)
- Color of a discharge
- Time of day a symptom seems worse
- Anything else that makes a symptom worse or better, like waking, rising, eating, exercising, being outside, getting a bath, etc.
Extra Points: Find Some Modalities!
Modalities are those things that make some symptom better or worse. They are out there, but we may not have been aware of them until we start to watch more closely. Common ones that we may see, when we tune up our watching might include:
- Itching feet worse before bed
- Joints that are stiff when first beginning to move, but better after moving a while
- Burping that’s more prominent after eating, or vomiting that is worse 30 minutes after drinking
- Aggression that’s worse on the leash, or in the presence of strangers
- The ear that is commonly the worst producer of wax is the left, or the right
These are great if you can find them. But be sure: when you think you see a modality for a symptom, if it’s present 80% of the time or more, it’s real, make note of it. They make finding the appropriate remedy much, much easier for your homeopathic vet.
So, sharpen your senses, and see what you can see, hear, smell, and feel about how your animal is sick. This language, called “symptoms,” is what tells your homeopath exactly what remedy will be the best to elicit her healing response that will return her to full, glowing health.
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