We hadn’t appreciated quite how important this was to him until lockdown. This started having an effect on him after four weeks of being confined to walking round his home town. To try and help him, we’d vary the routes or let him choose the way. However, to our great concern, he started to cut the walks short and also began to lose interest in his usual evening playtime.
Following a necessary trip to the vet, it became clear he was either bored of his walks or he was missing his adventures in the car as he immediately returned to his joyful, playful self as soon as he got in the car, barking with excitement as the handbrake was let off! However, it only cheered him up for a day, after which he withdrew into himself once more.
Worried, we sought advice from Dawn Ash-Bunting, dog trainer, behaviourist and founder of No Longer in the Doghouse www.facebook.com/nolongerdoghouse/ who gave us these great tips:
What’s the problem?
Depression in humans can make us very tired and not wanting to socialise or go out – we hide away from our ‘normal’. The key with dogs is to find their 'happy hormones' which generally involves social contact, sleeping, chewing, hunting, playing and exercise. If we can refresh Ralph’s core needs, his depression will lift, a bit like ours does when we start to go back to our 'normal'.
Going on normal walks are part of your working week so try to keep to this, but also look at ways to enhance them. It’s almost like Ralph is saying to you – “It’s not worth my energy going out on them,” so something needs to change.
I always ask my clients to write down the following in two columns -
1. What do you like to do on your walk?
2. What does your dog like to do on his or her walk?
If we can answer the above and make it part of our walks, it really does make a huge difference to the well-being of the dog and us.
At present it will feel like your walks have merged into one big walk, so new smells are now old smells and when you venture onto new land (or go to the vets!) it is very exciting! Even us humans will get bored of the same route and this will come out in our energy and body language. Can you change it up a bit - take a shortcut to make it short and sweet - or add an extension to the route?
Things to think about
Try your best not to get worried on your walk and give him space to 'be' as much as providing the suggested distractions. Remember when you have your family walks and weekends away, it’s all new and exciting which will be beaming off both of your body languages. These ideas will help replicate that. I'm sure you are both tired of walking the same walks so well done for looking for alternatives and for venturing out, and it will get easier now we have the recent lockdown changes.
In the meantime, I would still look at incorporating the above suggestions on walks, even your more exciting ones since if you repeat them too much, even they may become boring. And in general, look at the core of Ralph’s happiness first rather than the distance you have to travel.
Blog by CAM4animals supporter, Helen Wilson, with grateful acknowledgement to Dawn Ash-Bunting's input. And of course, thanks to Ralph who has appeared in our blogs before.
This is Billy, our Easter Bunny.......
In an Eastery mood I’d taken my smallest child to a local wildlife centre to cuddle chicks in the hatchery and we were smitten with this fella. He loved company so on a friend’s advice we introduced him to the spaniels. Initially worried about this combination, we were quickly reassured by his dominance of them both, chasing them from his food and claiming their bed.
Worried he thought he was a dog, the following summer we consulted the vet for the best combination of friends and got him two little boys to hang out with. At least they were supposed to be boys!
After their check-up visit to the vet it was decided the best thing to do would be to spay the girls since Billy was considered quite old at 18 months for neutering and it is supposed to improve the health of females. As a mother myself I felt awful taking them to the vets for the operation, but we did so as early as we could. Our vet is also trained in homeopathy amongst other specialities. After the operation she discussed how I could use remedies such as Arnica and Calendula which I frequently use in my own practice as a homeopath for people who have had operations or injuries. I find they speed up healing and prevent infection.
The vet also gave me painkillers and antibiotics along with an energy paste to slip into their mouths to keep their stomachs moving. Rabbits are like cows and sheep and have to eat constantly to keep the juices in their stomach in the right balance. Gut stasis is a common, potentially life-threatening condition affecting rabbits. According to Vets Now:
“It occurs when the normal, regular, wave-like movements of the intestines either slow down or stop altogether. Bad bacteria can then build up within the gastrointestinal tract resulting in bloating. This makes the bunny more reluctant to eat and drink which, in turn, causes their condition to worsen. Affected rabbits quickly become dehydrated and starved of essential nutrients. As the condition progresses, food or faecal material within the intestines starts to dry out becoming firm and very difficult to pass. This can lead to an obstruction.”
That evening, hours after their operation, my two still hadn’t eaten and were refusing to let me inject the energy paste into their mouths. They were not their cheeky little selves at all and seemed cross with me. I decided to give them both Staphysagria, a remedy which I hoped would address the shock they seemed to be in after their operation. Thistle perked up immediately and started to eat the garden salad I had prepared for them. She hopped about sniffing at her surroundings and quickly seemed her old curious self again.
Clover on the other hand sat looking miserable and sore in the corner, refusing the orally injected food and water. The Staphysagria had made no difference and I was very worried about her because it had been 12 hours since she last ate or drank.
Sadly, in the week when we had introduced them to Billy, before it was clear they weren’t boys and believing them far too young to be able to reproduce in any case, Billy had managed to impregnate them both and the babies had been removed along with their reproductive organs.
Rabbits have such a gargantuan reputation for reproduction you can’t imagine they can love their offspring like we do, but as I sat quietly with Clover that night I wondered if she was grieving. I often prescribe Ignatia for grief in my human practice and there’s an almost visible heaviness and sadness which sits on people needing that remedy. I gave her a pill and was amazed, seconds later, to see her hop across to her salad and start tucking in.
It’s six months later, Easter again and they’ve moved outside to their summer residence.
What I know now about bunnies is that, like my children, they need regular diversion.
They love a new cardboard box to play with, they escape constantly, but never run away.
When they are happy they jump for joy, hopping, chasing and skipping about the garden and in the middle of trying to catch them they frequently stop to wash their ears so nonchalantly you know they’re taking the mickey out of us!
More details about homeopathic remedies and how to find a vet can can be found from
The British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons
More information about rabbit care and welfare can be found from the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund
Various treatments such as physiotherapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy and massage could all have a role to play in helping a dog with arthritis. This might be as a complementary treatment to drugs or as an alternative therapy.
This article highlights the benefits of canine massage.
Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, affects the joints and is mostly found in older dogs, but it can affect younger dogs too. In a healthy joint the facing surfaces are coated with slippery, cushioning cartilage designed to reduce friction and impact. When the cartilage within the joint is damaged it can cause inflammation and further wear to this protective coating. Eventually the bony surfaces may be exposed and their constant rubbing can cause additional bone growth resulting in a visibly enlarged joint, pain, inflammation, and further reduced mobility.
If your dog has canine arthritis then you probably already know all this and are now looking for ways to make your dog more comfortable and bring some joy back into their lives. A lot of owners will have tried physiotherapy, acupuncture and hydrotherapy, or their dogs are already taking the maximum dose of painkillers but they may still be finding daily activities uncomfortable to the point where owners are starting to question their quality of life. People often try canine massage as a last resort.
We recommend an initial three sessions of massage close together and we give advice on lifestyle adjustments to support your dog’s progress at home.
Often owners have noticed a marked improvement not just in their dog’s mobility but also in their overall demeanor and well being, even after the first session. I hear comments like:
“I can see she’s a lot happier and more comfortable.”
“He went home and got all his toys out.”
“Their cheeky side is back!”
“People in the park have really noticed a difference when we’re out on a walk, she’s holding her head up and there is a spring in her step again.”
“He’s sleeping better, not moving around through the night.”
The fact that the dog is feeling better is backed up by the dog’s behaviour when they come for their next appointment and the owner gets dragged across the road in the dog’s eagerness to get to my clinic!
So, if arthritis is an orthopaedic condition why does canine massage, a muscle therapy, give such dramatic results?
Muscles pull on bones to create movement and when a joint starts to lose its full function muscles have to work harder to maintain that movement. Muscles consistently doing a job that they were not designed for will result in tightness, stubborn trigger points, wide-radiating myofascial pain and adhesions.
We refer to these as areas of overcompensation but you may see them as general stiffness, struggling to get up or lie down and tiring easily on walks. Maybe they prefer to be alone and isolate themselves at home or perhaps they have become grumpy with other dogs or people.
Those tight, sore muscles will struggle to remove metabolic byproducts from the tissue. This could be why your dog looks so exhausted.
Clinical canine massage uses a range of recognised techniques to relieve those worn out muscles. We use massage methods to squeeze out those toxins from the muscles and allow fresh, nutrient and oxygen-rich blood flow back in to nourish the muscles. We break down painful trigger points to restore the muscular function and employ myofascial release techniques to break adhesions, relieve pain and improve range of motion.
If you have ever had a good sports and deep tissue massage with some myofascial release and soothing Swedish techniques, then you will know that although sometimes it can be a bit uncomfortable the relief you experience is visible all over your face and will show in how you carry your body. It is exactly the same for your dog. Over the course of a session you can see their face relax and one of the sweetest sounds is when they have a big sigh of relief.
Case study: Ky
Ky, a 13 year old Samoyed, was referred to me by his vet. He has arthritis in his shoulder, both hips and wrists. He was on Tramadol to ease his pain and had reached a point where his vet’s only option was to change to a more powerful drug. Luckily, Ky’s vet knew all about the benefits of clinical canine massage as he’d brought his own dog to see me and recommended Ky for an initial three sessions to see if massage could help.
Ky’s movement was very stiff and he was in a lot of pain despite the Tramadol. As joint function decreases muscles overcompensate. He had chronic trigger points, wide-radiating myofascial pain and adhesions in the muscles and fascia which were working extra hard. Ky was very brave as we worked to relieve the pain, free up the muscles and return them to healthy functioning.
After three sessions Ky returned to see his vet, who was so pleased with the results that rather than increasing his medication he was able to take Ky off his regular dose of Tramadol and save it for bad days.
Douglas Paterson of Apex Vets said:
“David (the owner) and I are delighted about the effect that massage therapy has had on Ky (a 13 year old Samoyed with multiple arthritic joints). The addition of regular massage sessions has allowed me to withdraw one drug (Tramadol) from his therapeutic regime, and maintain the same levels of comfort and mobility. This is a fantastic success story for massage.”
Ky’s family are also very happy with the outcome
David Sinclair, Ky’s dad, said:
“Since Ky started massage treatment we have noticed some marked differences in his mobility. The difference to his gait when he walks out of the massage session is the complete opposite as to when he walks in. Ky has arthritis in all 4 of his limbs, he struggles to walk and is in constant pain. But a ‘recovery period’ starts as soon as we get out of the car to go to one of his massage sessions with Catriona. As soon as he realises where he is he literally pulls us up the steps to the front door, and he knows exactly where to go.
Then follows an hour of relaxation and massage for Ky, set with gentle pulling, stretching and massage. Ky really enjoys this and he stays put on the table for as long as needed, occasionally lifting his head if a particularly sore area is being treated. Catriona knows exactly where the sore areas are and uses just the right touch and some soothing words throughout the process. There have been occasions when he has actually jumped into the back of the car without pausing, to go home after a session – something that he is normally unable to do. Usually he has to be lifted in, no mean task seeing as he weighs 30kg. The massage sessions have helped Ky so much that we have been able to discontinue his Tramodol with our vet’s agreement.
In conclusion, Ky enjoys the massage sessions so much, and is like a different dog after one. He walks and moves with much more ease and this seems to last for a few weeks or so. We are so glad that K9 massage was recommended to us by our vet, after we started to think that we’d exhausted all possible treatments.”
What about other therapies?
Hydrotherapy is great when the muscles are ready for exercise. As we’ve already discussed areas of overcompensation can be painful, toxic and debilitating. So before embarking on a hydrotherapy programme I’d recommend a course of massage to free the muscles of painful trigger points and myofascial pain so that your dog can exercise without adding to their muscular stress.
Many vets now offer acupuncture as a pain-relief option. This is a technique known as dry needling where they insert a needle into the trigger point to help it ‘unwind’ relieving pain and tension.
There are many treatments which can support arthritis and you may need to try a variety or consider a combination for the best results in your dog. I do often hear from clients that without massage they would have lost their dogs years ago so don’t give up hope until you have tried it.
I am part of a network of therapists trained to support this condition and you will know within just three sessions if it is going to make a difference to your dog. As with all complementary therapies you will need your vet’s prior approval to ensure that this is an appropriate treatment for your dog. Your clinical canine massage therapist will give you a consent form for your vet to sign.
Further information and links
CAM4animals would like to thank Catriona Dickinson for writing this article.
Catriona Dickinson, K9 Massage Clinic, has been treating dogs and educating owners since 2013. K9 Massage Clinic is based in Stirling with regular clinics in West Lothian, Perthshire and Angus.
Tel: 07715 818194
Catriona is a member of the Canine Massage Guild which promotes best practice and would never treat a dog without prior vet’s consent.
You can download a pdf explaining how to spot the subtle signs that your dog is in pain. Click here.
Catriona also runs workshops teaching a beginners guide to massaging your own dog. Get more details here.
As we highlighted in our Valentine's Day blog, roses can help and heal in lots of ways. As well as culinary uses, there are numerous applications for medical, emotional, and behavioural problems for you and your animals. Here we look at flower and other essences, herbal medicine, aromatherapy and homeopathy.
Flower & Other Essences
Essences: general information
Essences are made by infusing the item’s particular vibrational qualities into water and then stabilising it. There are several different types of essences which have been developed from different habitats or geographical areas. Some of the rose-based ones are discussed here.
There are three different types of Alaskan Essences - Flower Essences, Gem Essences and Environmental Essences. Plants have a very short growing season in Alaska which gives them a lot of vitality. Healthlines, based in the UK, has the full range of Alaskan and other sorts of essence. Here is the main website for Alaskan Essences.
Note – specifically for animals, there is a superb combination essence available in spray or drop form called Animal Care developed by someone who worked in rescue centres.
Alaskan Flower Essence: Prickly Wild Rose
Affirmations that relate to the qualities of this essence are:
"I celebrate life with courage and openness."
"I live each day with joy, optimism and trust."
This essence is useful if you or your animal are feeling:
Prickly Wild Rose’s healing qualities
Interestingly, the physical characteristics of Prickly Wild Rose offer us a visually descriptive representation of its vibrational healing qualities. The flowers exist in a state of openness and vulnerability – their petals are easily loosened from the base of the sepals. They beckon to us with their beauty, invoking in us a sense of interest and wonder.
The thorny branches give protection to these delicate flowers so that they may evolve into the fruiting stage of the nourishing rose hip.
The Prickly Wild Rose Essence supports the recipient to feel safe and to be more open and courageous even when circumstances look dangerous. It brings a sense of calm that allows the individual to blossom.
The essence is particularly helpful for those who have become disinterested in life after what they perceived were past failures and lost opportunities. These feelings can surface more often as we get older. In humans it is useful for a mid-life crisis, when we sense that we haven’t been able to do what we wanted to do in our lives and wonder if we ever will.
Animals have similar feelings, especially at difficult times of transition and as they get older. They can benefit from the boost of love that this remedy gives.
In summary, Prickly Wild Rose can help the recipient let go of past difficulties, look at challenges and accomplishments honestly, and look forward to the future with joy, optimism, and excitement.
Alaskan Gem Essence: Rose Quartz
Rose Quartz is a pink crystal associated with the heart and love. Note that having the physical crystal in your home can bring similar qualities to you as the essence does.
The essence is useful if:
Rose Quartz’s healing qualities
Rose Quartz develops the heart chakra. It helps anchor love into the physical body through the heart centre. It also nurtures us by opening, strengthening and stabilising the heart forces. The individual is consequently able to maintain intimacy with him or herself, others, and the planet.
In effect, the essence allows us to let more love into our lives. As we allow this flow of loving energy to increase, we become less defensive and more open to others.
For an animal who has lost trust in life, and the humans in it, this remedy could gently start to build trust and allow it to build relationships again. It would be particularly useful for rescue animals.
Rose Quartz strengthens the inner architecture of the heart chakra so that both the generation and reception of love can increase exponentially. It gives a feeling of being surrounded with a constant vibration of love and protection. This encourages relaxation and a trust that all will be well.
Bach Flower Remedies: Wild Rose
This is a key essence for resignation and a lack of interest in life. When life feels pointless and you're just trudging apathetically from day to day, Wild Rose helps to rekindle the spirit of joy and adventure in life.
It can be used for deep sadness, resignation, apathy, surrender, failure to make an effort, fatalism, drifting downhill, dullness, lack of interest, no spark or vitality, a sense of monotony, expressionless drone to voice, weariness, a dull companion.
Wild Rose Essence might need to be part of a long-term therapy as the soul conditions inherent in this state are often firmly ingrained from birth, or even before.
These people/animals are boring company – they are uninterested and uninteresting. Their deep depression creates an apathy that casts a pall over every gathering.
In a milder lingering Wild Rose state, these people/animals may engage in frantic activity to compensate for their lack of true interest.
Although usually a chronic state of being, the negative Wild Rose state can sometimes occur as a temporary condition. This might happen after a miscarriage or during a phase of intense work on one's personality.
It may be useful during periods of intensive training for an animal. During these times, Wild Rose will help the person or animal return to their normal energy levels and enthusiasm.
Treatment gradually leads to a new interest in life and the joyful expectation of better things to come. The patient gains a new flexibility and inner freedom and is once again able to let the riches of life flow through him or her – they "come back to life."
Lotus Holistic Flower Essences
Lotus Holistic Flower Essences have been developed by holistic therapist Julie Bowman. They include:
Pink Dog Rose Essence
This balances and heals the heart chakra. It brings in the energy of generosity, kindness and patience. It’s about loving the self and others.
It expands the heart chakra, helping you to breathe deeper with life.
The Helping Hands Combination was successfully used in the Grenfell Tower therapy clinics. It includes White Rambling Rose which will sooth when emotions are running amok and you are left feeling raw.
More information can be found here. The Lotus website is here.
Rose contains chemicals which make it slightly astringent (i.e. it pulls tissue together) and very mildly sedative. The high amount of essential oils contained in the petals as well as in some varieties in the leaf, make rose highly anti-microbial (good at fighting bacteria, viruses and fungi).
Looking at the traditional use of rose, you will find it was used for heartache, heart burn, mouth ulcers, stomach upsets, gall and liver infections and other related problems, gastro-intestinal upsets and infections, for wound application, to strengthen the heart, after 'fainting', to reduce high blood pressure and to lift low blood pressure (it's adaptogenic so it can do both depending on what the body needs), for eye infections and even headaches.
The Common Dog Rose, Rosa canina, is part of the rose family. The rosehips have a wide use in herbalism. With their high vitamin C content, as well as other minerals, they are fantastic as a supplement for humans as well as animals.
This article highlights a wide variety of uses for all parts of the rose - leaves, petals and hips.
Rose essential oils such as Rose Otto and Rose Damask, have a very important place in aromatherapy as they reduce adrenaline through both the olfactory and limbic systems. They have a host of healing benefits for the body and mind.
Rose essential oil relieves stress, fights anxiety and induces relaxation.
During rose aromatherapy, the essential oils move deep into the skin and permeate the air in the lungs. This not only rejuvenates the skin, but also comforts the mind.
It slowly relaxes the muscles, relieves spasms and reduces inflammation.
Rose has long been associated with spirituality. It exhibits the highest vibration of any essential oil, giving it a special affinity with the heart and the emotional spheres of mind, body, and spirit. Rose has no parallel in treating grief, hysteria, or depression.
Rose essential oil is often selected by animals who have problems with excitability - often combined with vetiver (which is super grounding).
See this article for more information.
The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
The power of love
Poor St. Valentine, martyred on 14th February AD 269, won’t have foreseen the world celebrating romance and love on his feast day centuries later.
Of course, there are many different kinds of love to celebrate, but they all have one thing in common – a release of oxytocin known as the love or cuddle hormone. This helps to form the basis of all our bonding and
social interactions and has also been shown to decrease stress and anxiety
levels when released into certain parts of the brain.
Special animal bonds
There’s even more cause to celebrate if we are lucky enough to have animals in our lives. People are often cheered up when they are greeted with enthusiasm by a friendly dog, for example. We’ve shared a special bond with dogs for millennia ever since they figured out it was worth their while sitting by our firesides to gain a bite to eat and keep warm.
Or was it us who invited them to do a few things around the place……. probably a bit of both!
Either way, it has been demonstrated that touch between a human and
a dog can have therapeutic benefits for both species. Petting a dog can trigger the release of oxytocin in both human and dog and reduce cortisol (although you do need to be sure the dog is OK with you doing it). It can also lower heart rate and blood pressure . The Complementary Medical Association recently highlighted the many studies demonstrating that having a pet dog is associated with improved physical health.
They also boost our psychological wellbeing and appear to reduce symptoms of depression and make people more resilient to stress. See here and here.
Dogs seem to sense sadness or dis-ease in their humans and often attempt to make their owners happy by initiating a cuddle. Some dogs are so
good at this, they are specifically trained as therapy pets.
If you are homeless, the deep bond you have with your dog may well be your lifeline. There are several charities which look after the homeless community and their dogs including Dogs on the Streets and Streetvet.
There's a special festival In Nepal called Kukur Tihar which specifically thanks dogs for their loyalty and friendship.
Horses can heal too
Riding and Driving for the Disabled has successfully enriched people's lives with horses and ponies who seem to instinctively know that they need to be careful with their riders or drivers - even with equines who may be, shall we say, "characters" in their day-to-day lives.
There are also many examples of the emotional support given by horses and their amazing contribution to the rehabilitation of people with a variety of conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, various forms of abuse and addiction to drugs and alcohol.
It’s very likely that friendly interaction with other animals will have similar effects.
And when there’s heartbreak….
Of course, this love is all very well, but if our hearts are broken, a cuddle with the dog can be the perfect antidote. The author Dean Koonz summed it up when he said of his dog:
The natural world
Contact with nature and growing things – like roses – is another way of lifting the spirits and improving mental health. As the TV gardener, Monty Don said:
Without wishing to anthropomorphise, there seem to be demonstrations of love throughout the animal kingdom. Valentine’s Day coincides with the early signs of spring and nature has an extraordinary array of courtship unfolding around this time. The first frog spawn appears. Tawny owls hoot to potential mates. Baby badgers are being born underground. Greater spotted woodpeckers start drumming to stake out a territory and attract a partner.
Great crested grebes embark on their mating ballet dance. They puff up their neck plumage and mirror each other with neck bending, diving and gift giving – waterweed rather than roses!
And of course, nature’s palette becomes increasingly varied as flowers add colour to our lives.
We can show our love for wildlife by feeding the birds, making our gardens wildlife-friendly and supporting one of the many wildlife conservation organisations.
Roses – the classic Valentine’s Day symbol
Roses have been the flower of choice for thousands of years when it comes to mesmerising the desired person and bringing the love so desperately longed for. Roses are the symbol of love all over the world; a unique language. But why is this? Apart from the enchantingly sweet smell that lingers around like a gentle veil of love, roses actually have an astonishing effect on the endocrine system - they can reduce adrenaline by up to 30%. How’s that for being wooed!
Cleopatra is known to have used roses and the scent of other flowers like jasmine to scent not just herself and her bed, but also the sails of her barque when processing down the Nile. This would have mingled with the overwhelming smell of roses from thousands of rose petals which were strewn into the water by onlookers. No wonder Rome was a close
In the language of flowers popularised by the Victorians, a gift of red roses epitomises the joy of Valentine’s Day. They look, and often smell, gorgeous and hopefully evoke a feeling of everlasting love and passion when given and received.
Roses can help and heal in other ways too. As well as culinary uses, there are numerous applications for medical, emotional, and behavioural problems for you and your animals. We look at flower and other essences, herbal medicine, aromatherapy and homeopathy in our blog here.
Please remember that if your animal has had an accident or is seriously ill, first aid remedies may benefit them while you are waiting for help, but you MUST seek immediate advice from a veterinary surgeon. Before going any further, it is also essential to quote advice from the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, BAHVS. BAHVS members are all conventionally trained vets who have gone on to gain further qualifications in homeopathy which are credited by the Faculty of Homeopathy.
“Homeopathy is a powerful and effective form of treatment, providing the possibility of cure for many serious and chronic conditions. Treatment of such conditions requires a level of skill and experience. Apart from this capability, however, it also offers extremely effective and wide-ranging first-aid applications, which are amenable to use by the caring animal owner.
Specialist knowledge is not required, unless the chosen remedy appears not to work within a reasonable period. In that case, the BAHVS recommends attention from a qualified veterinary surgeon.”
And, with regard to the law:
“The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (other than your own) by anyone other than a fully qualified vet.”
Most people will be familiar with using Arnica pills or cream to help with bruising. However, a wide range of other remedies can also be used in first aid circumstances (in addition to their deeper uses when advised by a qualified practitioner to help with other conditions). This blog features an A to Z of the more commonly used remedies from Aconite to Urtica. Week by week we’ll add information to the following list and publish a series of slides illustrating their uses. We’ll give the name you’ll most likely see on the remedy bottle as well as their Latin and common English names.
Look out for us on FB, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Where to find a homeopathic vet
A list of homeopathic vets is found here.
Where to buy the remedies
Several homeopathic pharmacies sell handy pet remedy kits including Helios, Ainsworths and Freemans. You may also be able to purchase remedies if you are using a homeopathic vet who may have their own supplies.
Aconite - Aconitum napellus - Monkshood or Wolfsbane
This remedy treats shock, both mental and physical and will also assist in the treatment of acute febrile conditions, such as viral or bacterial diseases.
Apis - Apis mellifca* - Honey Bee
Urticarial swellings, oedema and fluid in joints will often respond to this remedy, apart from its benefits for insect bites and stings. It may also help urine retention, if this is physiological.
* Zoological nomenclature later changed to Apis mellifera
Arnica - Arnica montana - Leopard's Bane
This is homeopathy’s great injury remedy. Its use will minimise bruising and speed healing. It also has ‘antiseptic’ properties.
Belladonna - Atropa belladonna
High fevers with head, ear, throat or eye pain are especially helped by this remedy. Very painful abscesses may also respond.
Bryonia - Bryonia alba* - White Bryony
Arthritis, rheumatism, pneumonia, peritonitis or mastitis, when the animal refuses to move, are the main areas of use of Bryonia.
* Nomenclature later changed to Bryonia dioica
Calendula - Calendula officinalis - Marigold
Used as a lotion, this remedy speeds healing of cuts, grazes or open wounds, in addition to helping the animal to fight septic infection of such injuries.
Cantharis ~ Cantharis vesicatoria
This medicine helps most cases of cystitis.
Watch this space - we will be adding more information on the following remedies over the next few weeks:
A dramatic insight into canine behaviour
and the discovery of integrated veterinary medicine
It was my fault....... I’d left them alone when we'd always had a feeling that Basil, our rescue collie cross, was overly wary of our two year old son.
Basil came flying downstairs, ears flat with a crestfallen look on his face just as my son let out an awful scream. I rushed upstairs faster than Basil had come down, to find our son had been bitten on his chubby elbow – no blood, just a hole or two and a heartrending wailing that I couldn’t stop however hard I tried.
A kindly neighbour took us to the hospital where a nurse passing our cubicle just gently rubbed our son’s back and, at last, silenced the cries. To his credit, the doctor decided against antibiotics, but we were told to keep an eagle eye out for any signs of infection.
Thankfully, there were none and our son made a full recovery as well as receiving a deeper insight into canine behaviour than most small children ever get.
It turned out that Basil was starting with an ear infection and, as far as it’s possible to gather information from a toddler, my son had been trying to fuss him. He must have had Basil cornered and the dog lashed out with a single bite as a way of asking to be left alone. Being so young, my son wouldn’t have understood any calming signals Basil may have given to diffuse the situation. We had always been careful regarding their interactions as Basil had very clear boundaries. However, I had taken my eye off the ball. My son was left with a lifelong scar, and we as parents and dog owners were left feeling very guilty.
Something had to be done. As you can imagine, we were given a lot of advice - most of it suggesting that Basil should be put to sleep. Indeed, our vet at the time was adamant that this is what he would do if Basil was his dog. We refused, however, and Basil stayed with my sympathetic parents for a while until we figured out what was best. When he came back home, we had a strict common-sense routine about who was allowed to interact with Basil and how.
This turned out to be a complete success, but our immediate task at the time was to find a new vet.
Forced to think outside the box, I searched Yellow Pages and other sources of information – remember those pre-internet days? I happened to see an advert for a homeopathic vet and reading up to find out a little more, I rang for an appointment. Thankfully it was well worth the hundred mile round trip. Basil responded positively to a more holistic approach and we gained a greater insight into what was going on with him.
It’s possible that Basil had had a bad experience with small children before he was rescued off the streets of London and sent to Battersea Dogs Home where we were to fall in love with that gorgeous face. Or perhaps he was never socialised with uninhibited toddlers. Whatever it was, something in him manifested in this sudden on-off anger switch underpinned by fear.
A constitutional remedy was prescribed for his general physiological, emotional and mental makeup including the fear aggression he demonstrated. Things improved dramatically - although we were always careful to remain sensibly vigilant.
We carried on seeing the homeopathic vet and although we eventually moved too far away for a round trip to be feasible, the homeopathic vet worked alongside our new open-minded local
vet to look after Basil’s health for the rest of his life. Using a more integrated approach with homeopathy as a cornerstone of treatment enabled Basil to live until he was nearly 17.
So, no harm done. Instead, it allowed us as family to gain a greater understanding of our dog and to discover a more varied and successful approach to his health care.
24 years on, our son still has Basil’s scar but has always loved dogs!
And the day Basil came, without bidding, to snuffle his nose into our son’s hands was one of the best days of his life.
Homeopathic vets are fully trained in conventional medicine with further qualifications in homeopathy. Other holistic treatments may also be offered such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, chiropractic care, osteopathy, massage therapies or herbal medicine. More information and a directory of vets registered with the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, BAHVS, can be found here.
The turning of the year is an opportunity to glance back at 2019
before eagerly stepping into 2020
At two years old, CAM4animals has witnessed some significant changes in the world of veterinary medicine and has come of age. Despite the detractors, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is becoming ever more popular as evidenced by the upsurge of enquiries to vets and practitioners along with the growth of casework demonstrating its effectiveness. We celebrated this progress on the two year anniversary of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) position statement on holistic modalities back in November. This is great news, but we need more people training and practicing in the many regulated and effective CAM therapies that are available if practitioners are to meet this increasing demand.
Of fundamental importance to CAM4animals is the belief in an integrated approach to veterinary care that combines the best of complementary, alternative and conventional medicine and therapies. This ensures there is an increased capacity to prevent and treat disease that would not be possible using one system of medicine alone. We underlined this cornerstone of our work here.
Over the year, CAM4animals has:
Fire Dog Kai, a gorgeous Belgian Shepherd Malinois and one of only 15 fire investigation dogs in the UK, launched our blog back in April where we saw how Galen Myotherapy (a form of bodywork) is helping this heroic dog to keep super fit for duty. This marked the start of a regular series of informative blogs and case studies.
A major milestone in the fight to protect the use of homeopathy was highlighted in a blog outlining the exposure of the inherent weaknesses and questionable tactics employed in the so called "Australian Report". This is one of the three main reports that are typically used in the case against the use and effectiveness of homeopathy by its detractors. It's also being examined for serious fraud by the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
Another key blog dealt with the various ways of enabling pets and other animals to cope with fireworks .
This can be a very stressful time for pets, horses and farm animals, not to mention local wildlife and some humans. It's well worth a read in light of the current New Year festivities.
Among a range of things to try, reading calmly to your pet may help reduce their stress and yours!
CAM4animals has participated in various celebrations and awareness campaigns on social media such as World Homeopathy Awareness Week and National Tree Week. Trees and woodlands provide us with various herbal medicines, homeopathic remedies and flower essences as well as being uplifting places to walk and enjoy. We have also supported other organisations in their work such as the wonderful Dogs on the Streets who go above and beyond to help homeless people and their dogs. They too are advocates of integrated veterinary care and are about to build a much-needed sanctuary for dogs complete with a permanent vet station and a hydrotherapy pool.
Giving Voice is a collection of poems illustrating our love of animals
and some of the complementary therapies used to keep them well.
The book was inspired by Ilse Pedler, a homeopathic vet and
Thanks must go to Ilse and the impressive range of contributors as well as BAHVS for funding the production of the book and selling it along
with Helios Homeopathy.
And so, to the future
CAM4animals has evolved into the only consumer-led organisation safeguarding complementary and alternative medicine for animals as part of integrated veterinary care.
Our website is currently being transformed into the go to place for all things veterinary CAM. It will highlight the benefits of CAM, explain how treatments work and help make them more accessible to everyone. It will enable people to find a CAM practitioner and be packed full of case studies along with vet and owner insights. We are currently working with various registered CAM bodies to develop and update this resource for animal owners, farmers, vets, vet nurses and CAM practitioners alike. Look out for the launch of our Newsletter early next year too. Any suggestions for articles are most welcome.
We see ourselves as part of a bigger picture where we promote care for our animals, wildlife, the environment and ourselves. Open-mindedness, kindness, compassion, professionalism, discussion and knowledge will continue to underpin all our work.
CAM4animals would like to thank everyone for their support during 2019 and a happy, safe and healthy 2020 to you all
The mouse had heard a few beasts flump down on the straw in his time, but this was the quietest, the weariest. The donkey’s long ears flopped either side of his face as he landed, framing enormous brown eyes that drooped with tiredness. He peered at the mouse. “Is everything ready?” he sighed, his eyes almost closing with the effort of speaking.
“Ready?” asked the mouse, a little confused.
“Surely everyone knows,” thought the donkey to himself. In his exhaustion he’d almost forgotten it was the very meekness of their journey that was going to make it so remarkable. “You must’ve seen the Star.” The mouse looked blank. “Oh well, not to worry. I’m sure He’s got a plan for this bit.”
“Oh, I never worry about much,’’ squeaked the mouse. “Apart from getting squashed, of course. That’s the downside of living in a cosy stable. But it’s worth it for the free food and a mattress. As long as you keep your wits about you. Though Uncle Lazarus did come to a sticky end when that cow….” The donkey’s exasperated face loomed worryingly large in front of him.
“Ooh! That Star. I did wonder, now you come to mention it. Anyway. What plan? And who’s He?”
“Never mind all the questions, mouse. We need...”
“Oh, but you must call me Simeon,” the mouse interrupted. “What’s your name by the way? And who are these people? Most unusual in a stable. But I suppose the town is a bit busy at the moment.” Simeon muttered to himself as he skittered about in the straw by the donkey’s hooves.
“Stop! Now!” Simeon froze. The donkey sounded serious. “Right. I am Joshua and I have travelled a very long way with this man and his wife. Mary and Joseph? Mean anything to you?”
“Er, no. Sorry Joshua. We mice don’t hear of much beyond the stables, let alone the rest of Bethlehem or The Great Desert Beyond.”
“Well, if you think this is unusual, wait until the other visitors turn up,” said the donkey, his tired old face breaking into a grin.
“There’s more?” Simeon’s eyes widened.
“Oh yes. Only a few sheep and their shepherds to start with. But then there’ll be three very important Kings and their camels.”
“Camels! But they’re stinky and rude! And thinking about it, it was one of them that rolled on poor Uncle Lazarus, not a cow.” This was all too much for the mouse who was by now dashing back and forth in a blind panic.
Joshua opened his mouth to shout stop again but was interrupted by a cry of anguish from Mary. The baby must be on its way. “I can’t find my ring Joseph. I can’t do this without it. I need to hold it, feel it in my hands……”
“There, there, Mary.” Joseph tried to be soothing, but Mary was having none of it.
“Oh, good God, help us.” Joshua clambered to his feet as Joseph began rummaging around in the straw.
‘You can’t say that,” squeaked the mouse. “It’s not allowed!”
“Oh yes I can, believe me, Simeon. Today of all days I most certainly can. Mary’s mother gave her that ring. It means everything to her. She’ll panic without it. What are we to do? It’ll be like looking for a needle in a haystack.” Even wise old Joshua looked as though he was about to join in the commotion.
Suddenly Simeon felt a great sense of calm flow through him making his whiskers quiver with unexpected delight. “I’ll find the ring,” he shouted up to the donkey. “I’ll find it. Needles in haystacks are my speciality.” And with that he disappeared into the straw.
“Well I’ll be blowed,” thought Joshua. “That’s what he’s here for. I wondered where he fitted in. He tried to nuzzle Mary, tell her that it would be alright. But she was too frantic for comfort.
Sure enough, Simeon reappeared in a matter of moments with a band of silver in his mouth. He dropped the ring in front of Joseph who was still frantically pulling at clumps of straw. “Mary, look. It’s here. It seems to have appeared from thin air.”
Mary beamed with relief as Joseph placed the ring in her outstretched hands, light from the Star pouring through the stable door. “It’s a miracle,” she said.
Once again, Joshua flumped down on the straw. He turned to Simeon whose little heart was beating with joy. “It certainly is that,” he whispered to the mouse. “Thank you.”
CAM4animals would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, health and happiness.
If you would like to help one of the wonderful donkey and other equine charities, here are a few suggestions:
The Donkey Sanctuary
Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys
Prince Fluffy Kareem
World Horse Welfare
Bransby Home of Rest for Horses
Hillside Animal Sanctuary
A celebration in poetry of the human-animal bond and the place holistic therapies have in the treatment of animals
The human-animal bond is incredibly strong and has been ever since we began domesticating and caring for animals. Veterinary care is integral to this bond and CAM4animals believes there is a significant role for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) within this. Giving Voice has been published to honour this - if you would like a copy see BAHVS or Helios Homeopathy.
Giving Voice was inspired, compiled and edited by vet Ilse Pedler of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, BAHVS. Trained conventionally, these vets have gone on to gain further qualifications to add to the choice of treatments they can offer their animal patients.
The poems reflect a deep love of animals and pay tribute to the significant role CAM therapies can play in their wellbeing. Contributions have come from vets, doctors, supporters of CAM4animals and other poets who feel strongly that they should have the right to choose such treatment options for their animals where appropriate. Some poems are from established poets, others from people moved to write for the very first time.
There are poems about dogs, cats, horses, cows, a falcon and even a tortoise. Rescued animals feature alongside wonderful descriptions of CAM therapies. And most movingly of all, there are poems devoted to the grief felt when losing a beloved animal.
All profits from the book will go towards supporting the CAM4animals campaign which was established in 2018 to safeguard the use of complementary and alternative therapies as part of integrated veterinary care.
The contributors include
Well established and widely published poets, many of whom are inspired by nature and wildlife including Alison Brackenbury, Geraldine Green, Jane Commane, Kerry Darbishire, Emily Bilman, Rebecca Gethin, Angie Holden, Stephen Payne, Nicola Warwick and Sarah Mnatzaganian.
Vets Richard Allport, Mark Carpenter, Alan Salter, Charissa Smith, Judith Webster and, of course, Ilse Pedler who is also a published poet.
Doctors Julia Chatterjee and John English.
Giving Voice can be purchased for £10 from
All profits from the book will go towards supporting the CAM4animals campaign which was established in 2018 to safeguard the use of complementary and alternative therapies as part of integrated veterinary care.
Brief biographies of contributors
Alison Brackenbury is a well-known award-winning poet who often writes about nature and whose latest work, Gallop, was published in 2019 by Carcanet. Her ‘poems are haunted by horses, unseasonable love, history, hares and unreasonable hope’.
Geraldine Green is writer in residence at the Quaker Tapestry Museum in Kendal. Often inspired by nature, Geraldine is a prolific poet. Her latest work, Passing Through was published by Indigo Dreams this year.
Jane Commane is an editor, writer and publisher of poetry as well as mentor and tutor. Her collection, Assembly Lines was published by BloodAxe Books in 2018.
Kerry Darbishire is a writer, songwriter and poet who finds inspiration from the landscape she lives in and the animals that inhabit it. Dawntreader and A Lift of Wings have been published by Indigo Dreams.
Dr Emily Bilman teaches poetry in Geneva and has had several anthologies published by Troubadour including Resilience.
Rebecca Gethin is inspired by her roots in Dartmoor and the Italian Alps and has had many poems published. She also teaches poetry to prisoners. Vanishings is about to be published by Palewell Press.
Angie Holden is a creative writing lecturer who writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry.
Stephen Payne is a published poet and a cognitive science academic. Pattern Beyond Chance was published by Happenstance Press in 2015.
Nicola Warwick has two poetry collections published including The Knifethrower’s Wishlist. Nicola’s work often reveals human relationships through the lens of the natural world.
Sarah Mnatzaganian is an Anglo-Armenian poet and has been widely published and shortlisted for the Poetry Business pamphlet competition 2016/17.
Richard Allport is qualified in herbal medicine, acupuncture and homeopathy. He too is a writer of short stories and poetry.
Mark Carpenter is now retired and writing lots of poetry, having integrated homeopathy and acupuncture into his small animal practice for several decades.
SFC uses CAM therapies in practice since 1995.
JM practices holistic therapies including acupuncture and has a lifelong love of horses.
Alan Slater uses homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic as well as kinesiology for food intolerances and desensitisation. He writes poetry and loves dancing.
Charissa Smith comes from a long line of Hebridean fishermen and co-founded the Australian Holistic Veterinary Association.
Judith Webster uses homeopathy as a cornerstone of her veterinary work. She also farms cattle and sheep on the edge of Dartmoor and writes poetry when she needs to stay awake during lambing and calving.
Ilse Pedler specialises in homeopathy, acupuncture and herbal medicine in a busy small animal practice. She is also a published poet as well as being the poet-in-residence at Sidmouth Folk Week. The Dogs That Chase Bicycle Wheels is published by Seren.
Julia Chatterjee was born in Russia and is both a Doctor of Homeopathy and a writer of poems, fairy tales and stories for children and adults in Russian.
John English was a GP and homeopath who lectured at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. Amongst other things, he wrote poems about the remedies to help his students learn - see Enjoy Learning Homeopathy.
Also, JH is a horsewoman who has worked for several professional riders who have used complementary therapies to keep their horses drug free and fit for high level competition.