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What’s the first thing you think to do when confronted with a gash or puncture wound?

Doctor. Stitches. Antibiotics.

Even those of us deep into the holistic mindset might think twice about declining antibiotics when looking at a bloody, oozing mess of a wound. We’ve been programmed to think of antibiotics as the only real solution to an open wound, but the truth is, there was a time before antibiotics, and people and animals still managed to heal.

Homeopathy is a powerful medicine that can often come to the rescue in situations like these. Here are three remedies to keep on hand for those unexpected ouches your dog may get…

Calendula officinalis

Calendula is easy to find and is often listed as a go-to herb for wounds and a key ingredient for first aid kits. A member of the sunflower family, its yellow and orange daisy-like flowers are easy to spot in gardens and fields.

Learn more about the benefits of herbal Calendula here

Homeopathically, Calendula can be used for skin infections as well as painful cuts and abrasions. Will Falconer DVM says it’s often used for cuts and wounds that are raggedy looking. They may be raw and bleeding, and can be very painful.

“They don’t wanna be touched in the area,” he says. “The edges of the wounds can be red and inflamed. These wounds can have either pus present or be threatening pus, meaning it looks like maybe they’re gonna head in that direction. So they can be pretty funky-looking.”

Calendula has also been used to treat even life-threatening cases. Dee Blanco DVM tells a story of one of her patients, a Labrador Retriever who ate a ball that ended up causing necrosis in the gut. The surgeon who was going to operate on the dog recommended euthanasia, which is when Blanco came in to treat homeopathically.

“We used homeopathic Calendula and the dog recovered, is still alive to this day, he’s about 15 years old. It was a beautiful case. I had another case like that where the dog ate charcoal briquettes. Same thing, necrotic tissue, and really amazing … it’s amazing what the body can do, given a little bit of help,” says Blanco.

Arnica montana  

Like Calendula, Arnica is also a member of the sunflower family, and like Calendula, it is also known as a first aid go-to. If there is trauma involved, Arnica should be at the top of your list of remedies. The herb itself is known for its abilities as an anti-inflammatory, bruise reducer and pain reliever.

Learn more about the benefits of Arnica here

Falconer recommends Arnica for rips and tears and any kind of traumatic injury.

“You really cannot go wrong by giving Arnica orally,” he says. “So that’s a great place to start and even things that you think look like they might need stitching – boy, I’m conservative about sending guys off to the ER to get stitched unless it’s really dramatically big, I mean 6 inches or something.”

Blanco suggests another use for Arnica that may not be as obvious. And that is for treating emotional traumas and wounds, including dog fights and big moves.

“The other thing about Arnica that people don’t realize is that it’s really awesome for emotional wounds. I had a client of mine whose dog was kidnapped out of her yard, she found the dog a month later and I had her give a high potency of Arnica once and the dog ‘came back.’ I’ve seen people that have moved into new houses, the whole family goes, everybody, it’s all copacetic. But that animal, emotionally, was traumatized … If you find somebody on the road and they’ve just had an accident, and they say: ‘I’m fine. I’m fine.’ That’s the Arnica state. It’s usually dull, and they often think that they are better than they are … Just remember it again, that old adage, ‘When in doubt, give Arnica.’”

Ledum palustre

Also known as Marsh Labrador tea, this shrub is used homeopathically for bite wounds, insect stings, puncture wounds and as treatment for tetanus from puncture wounds. It is also used as a treatment for Lyme disease and after tick bites.

Learn more about homeopathic treatments for acute conditions here

Blanco considers Ledum first in cases of animal bites, insect bites and punctures.

“One of the amazing things about Ledum is it’s been shown in people, at least, and I suspect in animals as well to prevent tetanus if it’s given early enough in the wound time. So you’ll hear admonitions to go out and get a tetanus shot if you’ve been bitten by a dog or you stepped on something or your horse has or your dog has impaled themselves. I’d get the Ledum out and odds of getting tetanus I think are very slim,” Falconer says.

Dosing

When it comes to homeopathically treating emergencies like wounds, 30c potency (very widely available) should work, according to Falconer. You can find it at your health food store and then it’s all about frequency.

“Repetition can affect the dose, and if something is acute, it’s just happened, it’s traumatic, it’s bleeding or it’s painful or there are shocks setting in, that sort of thing, you can give doses rather close together, even every 5 minutes or so,” he says.

You can give a pellet directly in the mouth, or crush a few pellets and put them into a glass of water and give a few drops or a squirt from a syringe or dropper on the tongue or across the gums every 5, 10, 15 minutes until you see you’re getting some response and some settling down. As things resolve, the frequency is reduced and then you might consider another remedy.

“If you’re forgetting about giving it because your animal is so normal, then it’s probably time to stop giving it,” Falconer says.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about a wound, consult your holistic or homeopathic vet immediately. Remember to keep these three remedies in mind if your dog plays a little too enthusiastically and ends up with a wound. Homeopathy is a powerful medicine and may come in handy for those cuts, scratches and bites.