Adapting to a new home can be a difficult transition for rescue dogs. Fortunately there are homeopathic remedies you can use to help your new family member or foster dog settle into his new life.
Dogs experience a wide range of emotions, just as humans do.
A stable home life is just as important to dogs as it is to people, and changes to a dog’s environment and lifestyle can cause the same feelings of fear, insecurity and worry that humans would feel. This is an important consideration for anybody working with rescue dogs.
In Nature …
Dog packs function like a family and have a similar social structure. Dogs feel safe and secure when they’re part of a family and have an established role, and transitioning between multiple homes requires a constant adaptation to changing environments and social structure, just like a child repeatedly changing foster homes. Dogs also bond with the humans who care for them and frequent changes of caretakers can create a real sense of loss.
Given their lack of a secure home, it’s no wonder that many rescue dogs have behavioral or emotional issues, especially when they first adapt to their newest family. Fortunately, homeopathy can help ease the transition into new foster or adoptive homes.
Homeopathy For Transitions
Many of us use homeopathy to treat acute injuries or illness like vomiting or diarrhea. But there is a deeper quality to homeopathy that can also address behavior and emotions.
There’s a famous homeopath I once knew who would take any movie or book and choose a homeopathic remedy for each character in the film or book, based on his or her behavior and personality traits. We can do the same thing for our dogs and choose a remedy that best matches their personality and actions.
A common remedy that helps many rescue dogs. Nat mur is made from, amazingly enough, common salt. It’s the remedy for the heroine in the movie who has decided she’ll never love again for she’s been hurt by a man one time too many. She’s loved and lost too many times, so she will never let anybody get close to her emotionally again.
Like our movie heroine, the rescue dog who needs Nat mur won’t look you in the eye, will look away when you look at her, may tend to be shy and will definitely be reserved. You may sense that she’ll accept love, not hungrily, but very conservatively as if it’s very nice to finally receive it but she really can’t return it in kind.
I’d recommend you give this type of dog Nat mur in 6C or 30C potency twice a day and continue for two weeks or until you see her open up and start to relax and express and receive love freely.
Another remedy that’s great for emotional stress. It’s made from a small tree, named after the Spanish Jesuit St Ignatius, who brought it from Europe to the Philippines in the 17th century.
Ignatia is great for nervousness, moodiness, depression, bereavement, homesickness and more. It’s great for kids who miss their families when sent off to summer camp. I commonly prescribe Ignatia for puppies when they’re taken from their brothers, sisters and mothers and sent to a new home.
Ignatia is the first remedy to consider in cases of emotional shock, such as loss of a loved one. But for deeply rooted and long-term grief, Nat mur may be considered.
Try Ignatia in the 6C or 30C potency and give three or four times a day for a week, or until you see improvement. If you see partial or short-lived improvement, try moving to Nat mur.
A short acting remedy, Aconite is typically used for cases of shock, acute illness, after being chilled, and for fear of new places. It’s the latter use – fear of new places – that makes this a valuable remedy for rescues.
Aconite is a remedy for mental tension, fear and anxiety. A rescue dog who seems very nervous, restless and panicked in her new surroundings may benefit from a few doses of 30C potency, given a few times a day.
Although Rescue Remedy isn’t a homeopathic remedy, it bears mentioning here. This Bach Flower remedy is great for any kind of stress and can be used much the same way you would use the homeopathic remedy Aconite.
Nutrition and Disposition
In addition to homeopathy, there are some nutritional changes you can make to help dogs settle nicely into their new homes.
Linda Aronson DVM of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine advises the hormone melatonin can help calm anxious dogs. Melatonin works alongside endorphins, which are stress-reducing chemicals produced by the immune system. Melatonin enhances the effect of endorphins, aiding the ability to withstand stress, and promoting a greater sense of general wellbeing.
Melatonin tablets are commercially available but there are many foods that carry a good amount of an amino acid called tryptophan, from which melatonin is derived.
We’ve all felt sleepy and relaxed after a hearty meal of turkey, thanks to its high tryptophan content. Other foods that are high in this handy amino acid include duck, quail, fish, goat and game meat, as well as eggs, spinach and spirulina. You can put these foods into your rescue dog’s meals to help him transition smoothly.
A healthy diet will do more than deliver tryptophan. B vitamins are collectively known as “stress vitamins” because they help balance the body when under stress.
Recent research also shows a link between vitamin D3 and mood. Vitamin D3 activates receptors in the brain that are responsible for the regulation of behavior. Vitamin D3 also increases the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that is believed to play an important role in anxiety. Calcium and zinc also play an important role in brain and nerve function. For more information on Vitamin D and your dog, click here.
While a safe and stable home are important to rescue dogs, the transition to a healthier diet can also have a significant impact on his stress and behavior.
Overall, a few simple and inexpensive changes can have a definite and positive influence on the ease of transition for many rescue dogs. A small investment can go a long way toward helping rescues and adoptive homes give dogs the best chance at success with their new families.
From the Nov/Dec 2014 DNM Issue