Just Gimme What Works!

The Race to Mediocre Results

“My new car really works great! I keep it filled with gas, jump in and drive where ever I want to go, and play some cool tunes along the way. I love it!

When those pesky warning lights come on, I just get my black electrical tape and cover them. Who has time for that? I’ve got places to go!”

You may not think this is something you’d ever embrace in your driving career, but it may surprise you to know that this is exactly how most of medicine works. For your animal or even your own health.

If you’re not savvy.

Conventional medicine, that is.

It “works” by making symptoms go away. And it works to keep pests like fleas and heartworm away with pesticides, aka poisons. That often have their own unintended consequences.

Works to Kill Pests Fast!

Here’s an example from my old Facebook page, where a discussion started around a post promoting my ebook on drug free heartworm prevention (Have you bought this book yet? If not, please consider it today. I show you how to avoid a fatal crash).

I was pointing out in the post that there are some serious side effects inherent in using these monthly heartworm prevention drugs, including autoimmune diseases that are fatal about 50% of the time!

Here’s a response from a reader:

Works like a charm!

Works like a charm!

Hmmm, so what does that mean, exactly? In Janie’s mind, using the cattle or horse dewormer ivermectin prevents heartworm.

And she drives blissfully on.

Side effects? Toxicity? Autoimmune hemolytic anemia?

Not seeing them, not thinking about them, just driving on, month to month.

Till “luck” runs out and the car runs out of oil.


Burying Symptoms “Works,” Too

Another common example in conventional medicine is the use of cortisone drugs, sometimes orally, and often topically.

In the steroid class, these are powerfully suppressive drugs that in essence tell the body,

“Stop All That Inflammation! Now!!

Inflammation is redness, heat, swelling and perhaps pain, and is a natural part of healing.

It’s there for a reason.

Cortisone and it’s cousins like prednisone are champions at stopping it. Quickly.

So, if Bowser has a rash or Puff starts licking her belly bald with her barbed tongue, it “works” to rub in a cortisone antibiotic combo ointment (like Panalog) or inject one of the steroid drugs.

Or take home a bottle of wee pred pills to give daily.

Rash? Disappears.

Itchy skin that’s getting bald from too much licking or scratching? Gone by evening after the injection that morning.

That stuff works!

You bet it does. But how, exactly?

By artificially, and temporarily forcing the body into a quiescent, non-inflammatory state.

Cured the problem then, right?

No, far, far from cured. It’ll be back.

When (not “if”) it comes back, and you persist in suppressing it with powerful drugs, that car won’t drive after a while, either.

Diabetes. Cushings disease. Cancer. Crrr-RASH!

Veterinarians can contribute to loss of insulin sensitivity by prescribing drugs that cause insulin resistance, especially if these medications are used long term or if long-acting forms are chosen. A wide variety of pharmacological agents such as corticosteroids are known to be diabetogenic [diabetes causing] in people.

Corticosteroids and progestins are the most commonly used drugs in cats that cause insulin resistance.

Two or more treatments with corticosteroids in the 2 years preceding diagnosis of diabetes were a significant risk factor for diabetes in Burmese cats… and are reported as a risk factor in domestic cats…. [1. Canine and Feline Diabetes: Nature or Nurture?]

Suppression drives symptoms deeper and the uncured disease sets up housekeeping on a new, more serious, internal plane.

We homeopathic vets often see this in the histories of patients coming to us. What started as a bothersome but external skin disease, after aggressive treatment, later manifested as serious and internal.

Freya the Wonder Dog is  a case I saw that illustrates this progression (and it’s reversal, with homeopathic medicine).

And Dr. WhiteCoat has no idea the two were related, he now just has a new diagnostic label on his problem list.

Step on the gas, man! We’ve got work to do!

A Holistic Vet: Use What Ever Works!?

I remember as I was slowly becoming a holistic vet, I heard a colleague define holistic as “whatever works!”

Something about that definition really didn’t sit well with me.

Even before I’d learned about suppression and palliation and cure, I instinctively knew all treatments that “work” were not having equal outcomes for the animal.

So, here once more, you’ve got to be an intelligent consumer of medicine and decide how you’ll define what “works” for your animals.

Wow. Now This Really Works.

In my mind, I see that carefully prescribed homeopathic medicine works, as I often see a small miracle when the right remedy is found:

My patient not only loses that bothersome symptom, but he has really nice “side effects” as well!
He may lose his fears, clean up his teeth and breath, and stop being a gas generator, even though he came to me because of his itchy, waxy ears!

In fact, even within homeopathy, I don’t settle for what works to quiet a symptom. If I don’t see my whole patient get well, my job’s not done yet.

That drive can be longer, but the vistas at the end are nothing short of gorgeous.

Vital animals are a sight to behold!

Have you seen the negative side effects of short term treatments? Ever had an external disease disappear to find a more serious one appear later, after treatment?

Tell us in the comments. We’ll all be wiser and drive more carefully for your experience shared.

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  1. Lil Fecek on March 19, 2023 at 8:14 pm

    I was not a big believer in homeopathy for my dog. I did not know enough about it to be able to make informed judgements about his recommended plan of treatment. I went with a well known vet who has been doing homeopathy for about 40 years so I put full trust in him.At the beginning my dog had an irregular heartbeat (benign), and nocturia and somewhat elevated UPCR, and just old dog xrays the end of March last year, 2022. Then came the beginning of June and he died. I faithfully and trustingly gave my dog two remedies that were COMBOS from this vet who appeared lazy to me—the consult he never seemed to even have looked at the records I so dutifully pulled together. He never arranged for another consult and just said “Let me know how he’s doing.” Upon necropsy, the dog had fibrotic heart and kidneys. He died a traumatic “sudden death” in the hospital—but I might add it was under the “care ” of Dr. Nincompoop who could not even read his cardio report or take a history or do any differentials. Ditto for the cardiologist there who never lifted a stethoscope to even note whether he had an irregular heartbeat or take charge of him. At any rate, after he died, I consulted with vets who DID do the one remedy kind of homeopath and find in your post, Dr. Falconer and also online that not finding the one remedy is sloppy (my word) homeopathy. You are absolutely right, I found out this homeopath just suppressed my boy’s symptoms and he had azotemia at the end (worsening of kidney disease—) and he had tachycardia there at the hospital—my vet said it was fear induced—with subsequent sudden death from a probable dangerous kind of ventricular irregular heartbeat… Recall in March I said it was a benign irregular heartbeat and it progressed to a fatal kind. I feel guilt giving my compliant good by the remedies twice a day. I told the vet he was lazy and this was not homeopathy. I told him he did not seem to even view my dog’s xray’s I sent him and he charged too much considering he wasn’t even doing homeopathy the right way. Another homeopathic vet I talked to in May or June even interceded for me and called him to tell him that he did not seem to be addressing the vital force in my dog. The vet said that my dog didn’t have much a vital force to balance… What BS. Anyway I have a new rescue now and don’t want to hear homeopathy anymore until I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT IT so I can spot an imposter. My trust is gone. On other things medically I kind of have a handle on and can choose treatments for my dog but I trusted this phoney 100 percent. Turns out, another vet put him on Pulsatilla but he did not live long enough to be on that one remedy.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 28, 2023 at 9:04 pm

      I’m so sorry you lost your dog, but there’s a larger story here. No one who “practices homeopathy for 40 years” should be using combo remedies. So, maybe he’d been “holistic” for 40 years, a much confused term with “homeopathic,” but he was clearly not the homeopath to take on chronic disease. Whether the combo contributed to this death is an open question.

      For anything chronic (long lasting, as in months or years), you’ll want to carefully choose your professional to take the case. I’ve outlined a pretty fool proof method on sorting who you can trust to do this deeper work in this video: https://youtu.be/XyEklB8W6M0

      If you’d like to get more aware of what homeopathy is, please take my Homeopathy Short Course.

  2. Tricia Keeley on November 2, 2017 at 9:39 am

    My 10 y/o yellow lab started 3 years ago with what seemed to be bee stings, or spider bites (our prognosis) as her entire face, nose, and her rt side jowl was so enflamed and swollen you would think alergic reaction to appear so horrific looking at her. Blood tests, visits to Vets office, only showed alergies to dust mites, mold. We gave her the recommended dose of benadryl and it would work or not fast enough to minimize the swelling. Eventually the vet prescribed apoquel, i did research and i didnt like the fact of studies and trials not positive in my mind. We did not keep her on the medicine too long and then the horror. She started acting sad, tired not well while looking at her. She would start out of nowhere, mostly evening when going to bed to hyperventilate, or sit up and start breathing strong, fast and heavy, and lean up against a wall or anthing and anyone with support, and then start crying, circling around with her back side tucked under, screetching in such pain. We thought at first it was seizures, the way her eyes looked etc. And then she would stop, pant and be so weak. $8000 later, and tests from a vet hospital, they all gave her different meds, tests, scans with no outcome. Here we are now, swelling in face again, husband gave her apoquel, 2 days, and now shes waking up, panting again. Wanting to lay outside alone, cooler air, and thats odd for her, especially while im cooking, she always would be right where she could give me her cute head tilted puppy face for a taste of what um cooking. All of my children come over at different times and notice Roxy right away as to her not being herself. When she stands up, her body, bone structure looks haggard and sunken, she has developed over the past 2-3 years masses all over byt Long story short, last winter she st

  3. laurh@paulbunyan.net on November 18, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Gavin, I am in northern MN and my yellow lab suffers w/seasonal allergies as well. They begin w/the first pollen and end w/the first freeze. A couple of summers were so bad for her that I let our vet give steroid injections and also gave her oral antihistamines. None of that really helped much and I was very concerned about the possibility for damage to her. We did serum allergy testing. Don’t bother with that if you haven’t already. It is pretty much meaningless. And expensive. After researching atopica and apoquel I finally got a prescription for the apoquel. I had huge reservations about it but it did knock down the itching in remarkable time and left my dog comfortable. Knowing the possible adverse effects I very quickly reduced the prescribed dose from 16mg twice/day to 8mg once/day. That kept things under control for that season. I also began giving her transfer factor and kept that up throughout the winter. This past summer, for whatever reason, was much easier on her. I got another prescription of apoquel in June when the itching got really bad. That prescription, if given as prescribed, would last 2 weeks to a month. To date, we still have several pills left. I continue to give her the transfer factor and have paid attention to her diet as well. She has eaten a raw diet since I adopted her but I did try to feed her “cool” meats and foods for the most part during the summer months when she is most affected. That was all something I was unfamiliar with but found good info easily online. I also made a point of rinsing her w/the hose before going inside and tried to keep the house vacuumed regularly to cut down on what was carried in. I do know that after the last round of vaccines she received 4 years ago her allergies really amped up significantly. We do not vaccinate any more. I get titers on her every couple of years and her antibodies are strong. So, I don’t know why she did better this summer but she did and it is a huge relief to only use the apoquel as needed which was not very often. I know when they are miserable and cannot find relief we do whatever it takes to provide some relief even if there may be negative consequences. But we don’t have to accept that the drug is the only option for relief. There are some holistic/homeopathic vets in your area who could probably provide you with some great help. I also think that consistent use of the transfer factor is a good idea. The allergy thing is miserable for everyone involved! Hope this is of some help to you and your dog.

    • Carissa on November 28, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      I need help quick. My dog has a topic dermatitis and his years and has been itching for the last three months. They started him on apiquel and it helped but he got lethargic and got diarrhea one day that cost me $300 to take him to the vet to get him healthy again. So I stopped it. Now the itching has came back full force and he’s miserable. I’ve tried apple cider and water with no relief plus Benadryl. Any suggestions?

  4. Gavin Allen on November 18, 2016 at 2:56 am

    Hello my mixed breed medium sized dog, Maggie has severe seasonal allergies. She chews on herself all day long kicks at her face/head to relieve the itch. I’ve tried Prednizone and it did suppress it for some time. I’m thinking of trying to use apoquel but i ran into this. I live in Minneapolis MN please help.

  5. Tabitha Thompson on August 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Very well said. I adore the way you think!