I’m a holistic vet. To support my patients and clients professionally and ethically, I have to allow them to make informed choices. This means I must discuss surgery, even though it’s something I encourage my clients to avoid whenever possible. And almost always, it’s not necessary …
… That said, there are rare situations where surgery may be necessary despite the toxic load of drugs and anesthetic agents, combined with the abrupt physical shock of the surgeon invading the body. Even well-intentioned surgery is inherently violent and is difficult to accept if you want to care for your pet in a holistic, harmonious way.
WHEN SURGERY IS UNAVOIDABLE
The good news is that if surgery does become necessary, there are many things you can do to support your pet through surgery using a holistic approach.
First, let me explain situations where surgery may be unavoidable.
Violently acute issues (when you’ll have no time to think about it). These may include:
- Traumatic accidents such as your dog being hit by a car; caught in a bad dog fight with puncture wounds penetrating a body cavity; any physical trauma causing massive bleeding, wounds to organs, fractured bones or cranial trauma. Without emergency surgery, your pet will die.
Others that don’t usually need immediate attention (you’ll have hours or days to consider your decision):
- Orthopedic issues: a broken leg, for instance, or really severe developmental joint disease (for example, such severe hip dysplasia that euthanasia is the only other choice).
- Intestinal blockage from a foreign body like a bone or toy, or an intussusception. A dog died from a blockage at a holistic veterinary hospital because we left surgery a little too late. That really upset us all.
- Bone cancer: this can be so irredeemably agonizing that the only way to palliate the pain is to amputate the limb involved or euthanize your friend.
- Urinary blockage from bladder stones, usually in male dogs. Again, this can fairly quickly cause death. You can dissolve many types of stone with diet, but if many stones form before diagnosis, a blockage may be an acute problem that must be dealt with.
- A bitch whelping with a stuck puppy and not responding to holistic or non-surgical interventions.
DEALING WITH EMERGENCY
So if you’re confronted with an unpreventable surgery, what can you do to help your dog cope with the procedure and then recover as quickly as possible?
I’ll focus on the more acute situations today, but these principles can be applied to less acute issues that require surgery as well.
In any emergency, the first thing to do is to look after yourself. Remember to breathe and relax.
In any emergency, the first thing to do is to look after yourself. Remember to breathe and relax. And be careful! If your dog is seriously hurt, don’t grab her immediately or you’re likely to get bitten. Rescue Remedy has a powerfully calming effect in these situations. First, take several drops yourself every 5 to 15 minutes. The calmer you are, the better, because you’ll have to make critical decisions. Give your dog Rescue Remedy as well. It doesn’t have to go in their mouth; a couple of drops anywhere on the body will help. Rescue Remedy really helps with the shock of acute trauma. It can make the difference between life and death.
Homeopathic Arnica montana is also fantastic with any shock or injury that involves physical trauma and bruising. Start giving it immediately. If it’s a major trauma, you can give very high potencies (1M, 10M) immediately. Give 2 doses, 5 to 10 minutes apart. If you have lower potencies (6C, 30C) give a dose every 5 to 10 minutes until you see a positive change of some sort. If you need to do any first aid (mainly pressure to stop bleeding), get it done and then take your pet to an emergency vet.
It’s a great idea to have a little holistic first aid kit handy (in the car glove box, your pocket or purse).
Build your own homeopathy first aid kit [Find the instructions here]
At The Veterinary Hospital
The situation will continue to be intense and you’ll need to make critical decisions calmly. Keep taking Rescue Remedy yourself. Be sure to ask all the questions you need to. You can ask the vet to continue giving your dog Rescue Remedy and Arnica (6C or 30C) during surgery. Some homeopaths say that Arnica shouldn’t be used during surgery, as it may interfere with the anesthetic, but I’ve worked in a holistic hospital where we used it routinely during surgery, and we never had a problem.
I must warn you that some vets will refuse to administer these remedies. You’ll have to let it go. Conflict at this point won’t help the vet do what they are doing, which is their level best (in the paradigm they understand) to save your pet’s life …
… However, you can visit your pet once or twice a day after surgery and give her the remedies yourself. You’re within your rights to do this!
Healing Energy Can Help
You can ask a good energy healer to support your dog through surgery. This may be impossible if it’s super acute and in the middle of the night. If so, you can be the healer. Breathe, relax and send golden arrows of love to your pet with all of your compassion and good wishes for her, while continuing to nurture yourself with Rescue Remedy.
Immediately after surgery, you can support your dog’s recovery with the following holistic remedies:
- Arnica montana for trauma and bruising
- Ruta graveolens for sprains and strains
- Hypericum perforatum for crushing injuries and nerve damage
- Ledum for puncture wounds
Note: a potency of 6C to 30C is safest for home prescribing.
Need to know more about dosing, potency, how to give them to your dog? [Get the homeopathy basics here]
#2 Flower Essences
Rescue Remedy for shock and emotional trauma – though a specialized blend formulated by a practitioner will be even better. You can give this many times a day.
#3 Energy Healing And/Or Craniosacral Work
These can help the physical body come back into balance while at the same time clearing emotional trauma from both the injury and the hospitalization or surgery.
After the stitches come out, bodywork or massage will help release deeper physical tension and emotional trauma left over from both the problem or injury and the surgery. e work must be very gentle until at least one to three months after the incident.
If your dog was given antibiotics, give her a high-quality probiotic once or twice daily for two weeks.
Prebiotics, probiotics or both? [Find out more here]
Dogs can recover well from surgery, particularly when we take care of their whole being.