Starting a Newbie Down the Natural Path

Can you help me get vital?

Can you help me get vital?

Damaged Goods

A reader writes,

If you didn’t start with a naturally reared animal, what are the most important, first steps to take? Dogs from the shelter systems are riddled with problems stemming from too many vaccines, skin problems, poor diet, fear/aggression etc…”

This is a common problem, right? Your new youngster may have come to you after who knows how many ills have befallen her, whether by circumstance or by man’s hand. Shelters are notorious for vaccinating every animal who comes through their doors, history of previous vaccinations be damned. Before landing under that needle, the poor waif may have been starving, worm-ridden, terrified by tormenters, and perhaps in a “teen bride” scenario.

What to do to turn that rescue around?

Start down the natural path.

Best First Step

Your natural inclination to feed this waif is of course the best place to start. Whatever malnourishmen happened, and however much damage was done, the body will have a hard time with repair and even maintenance until the nutritional plane is raised.

The best diet for most, with rare exception, will be one that is “species appropriate” in the popular jargon. It means feeding food like the ancestors and wild cousins would have eaten, knowing that this domestic dog or cat has a genetic heritage stretching back millennia.

For cats in particular, it means making the transition away from dry, pelleted food-like particles to moist, prey-like food. Texas Ray (may he rest in peace) showed us clearly what was possible, leaving a commercial health food brand for something far more instinctually satisfying. The transition may have to be a slow one.

The Inevitable Vaccine Damage

Given all the shots most shelters demand for foundlings, there’ll most likely be vaccinosis issues to deal with. While that’s best dealt with by a professional veterinary homeopath, you may want to try a few known vaccinosis remedies first, and see if you can notice a response towards better health.

Here are a few top vaccinosis remedies that you might consider:

  • Thuja needing animals often have proliferative tissue like warts or lipomas. They typically are much worse in wet and cold, dampness, wet feet, etc. The urinary and/or genital tract may show symptoms, like recurrent bladder inflammation or a green or yellow discharge from the male’s prepuce. Skin is often itchy or erupted in some way and is worsened by cold baths. It could be dirty and odorous. Ears may be inflamed and have a smelly, waxy discharge.

  • The Silica state is one of malnourishment, physical weakness, and a lack of sturdiness or “grit.” These animals could have eruptions of pustules, perhaps calloused joints or lick granulomas, and “unhealthy” skin that just doesn’t seem to heal, despite your best efforts. They often seek heat. Many are constipated, many have deformed or splitting claws, and some have a tendency to vomit. Glands can be effected for ill, from anal glands to thyroid glands.

  • Sulphur patients typically hate heat and are worsened by hot weather, and they may have a red appearance (lips, eye margins, gums, skin, anus, etc.). They’ll often look disheveled, especially the cats who don’t seem to groom, or, if they do, their coat never quite lies down smoothly. Bad odors are common, whether it’s body odor, bad breath, stinky ears, or foul stools. Skin itchiness is common and they can have dirty look to their bellies or arm pits that doesn’t just wash away.

Remedy Overlap: All Too Common

These three remedies may all have these symptoms in common, hence the frequent need for a professional to guide you to the best outcome:

  • Itching without eruption
  • Discharging eruptions
  • Body odor
  • Hard, thickened skin
  • Worse in heat
  • Ear inflammation
  • Ear wax or other discharge

So, you can see this is not easy work, and besides these three remedies, we have at least 20 other vaccinosis remedies that may be a better fit. A veterinary homeopath will have lots of questions to ask about your animal, beyond these few key symptoms I’ve outlined, and will be better able to manage the course through the inevitable future remedies that will be needed to cure your charge.

But, given that, you won’t harm a new foundling and may help by seeing if the pattern of illness in your animal matches the pattern of one of these remedies and giving one a try.

How to Treat

Here’s how I’d do it.

Get a 30C of your chosen remedy. That’s a tube full of pellets, usually fat BB-sized. Crush up three pellets in a folded 3 x 5 card and dissolve the powder in a half glass of purified water. Stir well before each dose, and give a nightly dose for five days in a row. A dose is a dribble in the cheek pouch. Keep the water at room temp, covered until you’ve given all the five doses, then pitch the rest.

Watch for a week or more after you’ve dosed for five days with your chosen remedy, keeping close track of symptoms for any change. If you’ve seen improvement, hurray, you’ve likely found a homeopathic match for your animal’s state, or at least the piece that is vaccine related.

If no signs of improvement, try one of the others, or study some of the other known vaccinosis remedies and give a (hopefully) better fitting remedy in the same manner.


A detox may help as well, and I’ll give you a few simple ideas to include to help the elimination of toxins your street urchin may have picked up.

  1. Colon
    The most obvious organ to think about first is the bowels. Waste accumulates in the form of stool and that must get out regularly to stay healthy. How many meals a day are you feeding? At least two? There should be at least two full bowel movements a day! Not marbles, not unformed cow patties, but well formed, easy to pass stools.

    Things that help regular stool elimination include canned pumpkin, cooked yam or sweet potato or perhaps a soluble fiber like oat bran. Tinker with fiber doses from a 1/4 teaspoon for a cat meal up to a 1/4 cup for the big breed dogs. Same with those veggies, from a teaspoon of mashed yam or pumpkin up to a cup in the giant breeds. The goal is a couple of easy, well formed stools daily.

    Add in some probiotics or fresh green tripe regularly to build up the good guys in the gut.

  2. Liver
    Everyone knows the liver is a major organ of detoxification, one of its many, many functions. And so do the manufacturers of supplements! Search out a liver helper that could include herbs like silymarin, dandelion, burdock root; B vitamins like folinic acid, niacin, and riboflavin; antioxidants like N-acetylcysteine, vitamin C, SOD and curcumin.

    Feed some raw liver, either 10% of the whole diet on a daily basis or a twice a week “liver feast” where you feed a meal of mostly raw liver. Feeding the organ is thought to spur your animal’s own organ to higher function. I have seen this help in practice.

  3. Kidneys
    Another big player in elimination of wastes, you can support the kidneys and their waste management with herbs like parsley tea, dandelion leaf and root or uva-ursi.

    Feeding raw kidney, like raw liver, can help nourish your dog’s kidneys and help them do their work of elimination.

  4. Skin
    Known as the “largest eliminative organ of the body,” the skin is often a great place to start detoxing a foundling. Especially if they’ve come from street life, where they may have been exposed to any number of toxic chemicals from pesticides to automotive waste to golf course herbicides. [By the way: did you know golf courses are one of the leading users of herbicides? Best to avoid walking dogs on them.]

    A good warm bath with a mild soap like Dr. Bronner’s can help elimination via the skin. When dry, and in between baths (given no more than monthly), a vigorous brushing with a natural bristle brush will help open pores and remove dead skin cells and old hair.

Dealing With the Emotional Illness

I’m sure you’ve seen the dogs who duck when ever you raise your voice or get out a broom to sweep your floor, or the cats who spend most of their waking hours camped out under the bed. You know their early life had some pretty fearful or abusive experiences that still affect them.

This is where the Bach Flower Remedies can be a huge help. Dr. Bach was a human physician in Britain who realized his sick patients often carried stressful emotions that hindered their complete recovery. Emotions like fear, worry, panic, depression, grief, homesickness, rage or indignation can be helped with the gentle flower remedies he developed in the 1930’s.

I’ve put together a free course on these, based on my very popular postings in Vital Animal News for about a year. You can access this course and learn how to choose and use these simple remedies to help heal the emotional side of illness in your animals. Vital Animal Pack members now have access. It’s free and easy to join us by clicking that link. You can take the course at your own pace.

Please note: the course is under construction, but you can get started with the first 10 lessons right away. I’ll be adding to it until I’ve covered all 38 Bach Flower Remedies. Up right now: how to mix your own remedy blend, in a video lesson.

Much Can Be Accomplished!

Leaping cats

I’m regularly amazed at what my clients have accomplished in foundlings with an obvious history of a rough start or even abuse. If you find yourself taking in one of these unfortunates, start them on the Natural Path right away and watch them bloom. Remember: this really works!

If you’ve done all of these things and still see remaining problems after months of helping your charge, don’t hesitate to hire a homeopathic vet to help you get further towards true cure. Remember: you don’t need one in your neighborhood to get your animal helped greatly. On my Resources page, you can scroll down to find the AVH list where you’ll see many homeopathic vets who practice by telephone consultation.

And if you haven’t been getting my popular newsletter, Vital Animal News, be sure to sign up for your free Vital Animal Pack membership and start now. You’ll have a chance to search through past issues, including a recent one where I wrote about how to choose a veterinary homeopath to help you with your animals.

Tell us in the comments what you’ve experienced with foundlings you’ve taken down the Natural Path. I know you’ve got some amazing experiences that others can learn from.

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  1. Linda Bolvin on February 3, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    We have a guy, lab mix, 8 years of age, who has “leaks” for lack of a better word. Previously on kibble, they occurred occasionally, now they seem to occur more often since eating raw. Has anyone experienced this anal gland leakage with your dog? He gets marrow bones also. We wonder if the food is too soft to express the glands with a bowel movement. The leaks occur during rest. He is happy and healthy and full of energy, gets plenty of exercise. Love this site, love my dogs!

  2. Kelly Hall on November 9, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Dr. Falconer,
    I loved this article setting out starting points for homeopathic remedies to vaccine issues. I have a foster dog I picked up in our neighborhood. Long story short my sister is taking her home to Colorado so I agreed to let the vet give her a rabies shot in case she flew her home. ): But I also asked for a thuja detox to give her which I did for five days afterward. My question, in light of your suggestion to use thuja, regards a direct comment to me recently from another website author to “be cautious with thuja…, very strong herb and can create negative neurological symptoms and in a quick period of time…” Can you elaborate on any issues with thuja? Much thanks!

  3. Dianne Trawick on September 10, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Hello Dr. Falconer,
    Thank you so much for all the extremely important information you provide to animal lovers – you’re a supernova!
    I’m praying that you’ll be able to help us with our 6 yr old cat who has had a breathing problem for four days now. She was diagnosed with spontaneous pneumothorax, and the vet has been withdrawing air from her lungs every day. The first time was 50ml, then 37ml, then 30ml, and the vet said she was better and we could take her home. She did not get better, and we monitored her breathing all night. When we went back today for the follow-up, the vet took out more than 50ml of air!! We’re absolutely heartbroken! We don’t want to put her down; we don’t want to have air taken out of her lungs every day; but we don’t want her to suffer. Please please please help. Is there anything we can do?
    Special blessings to you,

    • Will Falconer, DVM on September 16, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      We spoke on email, Dianne, and I was glad to hear your cat was getting better. Amazing vital force to heal in the face of such a challenge!
      I hope it continues.

  4. Charlene Robinson on September 7, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Dr. Falconer,
    My ten year old papillon has very flaky itchy skin. How do I better help her? She has not had any vaccines since she was a puppy.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on September 7, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Hi Charlene,
      I’d start with diet improvement, follow the link in this article. If you’ve gotten to a balanced raw diet for a month and haven’t seen this improve, I’d get a homeopathic vet hired to help you. But start with diet. And, of course, get the flea and heartworm poisons out (two links for there for those as well.)
      Best of luck with her.

  5. Lizzy Meyer on August 29, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Thanks Dr. Falconer!
    This is very useful and I plan to give this to my clients with adopted animals. I appreciate you sharing practical help and resources to treat our own animals who we’ve adopted.
    Great remedy descriptions and above all, the perspective is so WHOLE-ANIMAL. That’s the way that homeopathy works best.

  6. John Sturgess on August 27, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I am trying to find info on dealing with Mange on a dog Holistically , I see nothing on the site here, any suggestions its a 8 yrs old dog

    • Emma's Mom on August 28, 2015 at 3:47 am

      Neem seed oil kills both types of mange mites on dogs. Online shopping should get you the best prices, local stores in our area were about 5 times higher. You want cold processed product as it’s the best and most effective. If this is the non-contagious type, your dog’s immune system is the problem. Do all that’s listed on this website to improve his health along with the neem seed oil baths and/or spray treatments. This website gave us the information on this; we had a friend who got sarcoptic mites from a hotel room and it resolved it for him along with a dog we rescued years ago who had the same type of mange:

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 28, 2015 at 5:09 am

      Hey John,
      Eight is an unusual age to see this, if it’s demodectic mange (the non-contagious more common variety). Maybe he had some steroids recently and his immune system was impaired?
      Killing mites is one thing, but boosting immunity is usually even more at the heart of the issue. I have a protocol in my free ebook, Insider Immune Protocols on how to use transfer factors to get the immune system on high alert, full court press. Get it by joining the Vital Animal Pack.
      In addition, feed him well. Stop the vaccines. Stop the poisons. And you’ll go even faster with a vet homeopath on board (see the AVH list on this page).
      Good luck and be patient. This can take months to turn around.

  7. Anne Venus on August 25, 2015 at 5:35 am

    I have a 10 year old rescue terrier. He’s been with me for 3 years and is a different animal from the one who arrived. Very loving and affectionate. But his internal physical injuries still cause problems.
    Due to cruelty and abuse in the past he has a crushed larynx and scar tissue in his throat. The damage seems to be causing substantial mucus to form which blocks his breathing and sometimes makes him sick. In other respects he is an alert, healthy, happy dog but he cant go far without resting . I am looking for a homeopathic remedy that might help clear the mucus.

  8. kathi richards on August 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Hey Dr, Falconer,
    I have a concern about giving anyone straight up curcumin. I have been reading and studying the effects of whole, organic turmeric vs. curcumin found in capsules. My readings show that it is far better to give the whole root, fresh or dried, rather than an extract of one part of the root. Some things I have read indicate that too much curcumin can cause liver damage and that it shows up after 3 months of use. This does not seem to happen with using the whole plant. Your thoughts on this?
    Thanks for all of your articles and I can’t wait to get started on the Flower Essences.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Hi Kathi,
      I’d need to hear more what products were being compared. To my knowledge turmeric is turmeric, the source of curcumin. Now, the benefits to people come not from an isolate, certainly. Turmeric powder comes from the whole root, I’m sure, and it’s added to food during cooking. As Dr. Blanco points out, it’s often in the same dish with pepper, and that seems to enhance its uptake and effect.
      So, if indeed curcumen is somehow a fractionated product of turmeric, I’d beware indeed. I don’t know that it is, but maybe your research has shown this. It’s always a slippery slope, isolating a fraction and thinking that’s somehow better than the source. Vitamin C is a complex thing; we’ve taken ascorbic acid out and taken high doses of it, a very different thing than nature provides.
      I’d guess your concerns are warranted if that’s what’s happened to ancient turmeric.
      And: all things in moderation, right? If you’ve tasted turmeric, you know it’d be horrible in too high a quantity. Your mouth wouldn’t allow it! Capsules bypass that “defense” don’t they?
      Thanks for sharing your research with us.

  9. Jo Lupton on August 24, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    What a great article! Thank you Dr. Will. As a recent adopter of my sweet Penny from A local shelter, I chose to feed raw and to avoid unneeded immunization, & actually took a couple of homeopathic remedies with me to the shelter. I did not have the confidence to treat symptoms of vaccinosis, etc so contacted Dr. Falconer. It was expensive but worth knowing he would be available should Penny need him. If I had the info provided in this article, I may have had the courage to forge ahead. My hope is that many of you will do just that. I also hope that more people will reach out to shelter animals with the knowledge that they can be helped.

  10. Stacey Zanella on August 24, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    ♥ Thanks Doc for always getting my attention and teaching me something new every week. With a pack of dogs sick from vaccinosis I spent my days tending to my 6 loves of my live. They keep me busy and are living proof of The Natural Path. I’m quite certain they wouldn’t be in this life had I not gotten on the right road. Always sitting in the front row so I don’t miss anything.

    • Stacey Zanella on August 24, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      I sure wish I would proof read before I post 😉

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 24, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      I always sat near the front, too, Stacey! To hell with the cool kids, I was there to learn!
      p.s. I hired an editor I know to fix your comment. 😉

      • Stacey Zanella on August 31, 2015 at 2:01 pm


  11. Marcia on August 24, 2015 at 10:14 am

    On Saturday, I chatted with a veterinarian friend who had recently returned from a theriogenology conference. She told me that researchers are finding more reproductive “issues” in raw fed dogs. More Ceasarians, more resorptions, and strange, almost exotic, bacteria in the birth canal, causing illness in newborns (sometimes fatal).
    Of course, shelter adoptees are sterilized so this is not relevant to them. Nor am I concerned about *my* dogs as I am not a breeder, but I do worry about our freedom to feed how we want to, in the future.
    Thoughts? Thank you!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 24, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      It’s likely not a healthy population they are studying, Marcia. It’s the same group of animals that gave rise to another theriogenology “risk” that a wolf would never experience. We’ve all heard it, right? “Spayed animals have a greatly reduced risk of breast cancer, especially if spayed before the first heat!”
      Who’s in that population? Dogs fed lifeless toxic food (Sci Die, etc.), over vaccinated against all common sense, and likely poisoned with heartworm and flea pesticides. I’d rather compare to the intact wolf bitch, who I suspect *never* gets breast cancer. Or dies for lack of C-section. Or gives birth to fatally ill youngsters from birth canal bacteria.
      Then the question becomes, how can we emulate that close ancestor? Let’s count the ways…

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