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Many years ago my holistic physician gave me a homeopathic blend called Happy Puppy or Happy Dog. It was supposed to help my dogs accept the new dog and for the new dog to adapt to my home. I work in animal rescue now and would live to know that this was so that I can help our foster dogs adapt during transititions. Any help is greatly appreciated.

~ Kara

Dr Sara ChapmanDear Kara,

Rescue work is an excellent situation in which to use homeopathic remedies, as homeopathy can address the emotional upset caused by abandonment or rehoming. There are many combination products using homeopathic remedies; there are also combinations of Bach essences which can be useful. In my practice, I have found that homeopathic remedies and Bach essences are compatible, as long as they are given in separate doses. I do not generally use combination homeopathic remedies, as I find that superior results are obtained by using one remedy at a time. I provide rescue groups with a list of single remedies, and indications for their use, and a similar list of Bach essences. In contrast to homeopathic remedies, Bach essences do work well even when up to five essences are combined.

Let’s discuss the use of homeopathic remedies first.

  1. Find out as much as you can about every animal, because that will help you choose remedies better. For instance, a pet could come to rescue because their elderly owner died, or they could be a breeder rescued from a puppy mill, or they could have been a dog neglected in a back yard.
  2. Next, observe how the dog acts on its own, and how it acts when other dogs and people are around. Is it social, or excited, or fearful, or defensive? Does it bark, or whine, or hide?
  3. What are this individual’s physical problems? Can it see and move normally? Is it able to eat without pain? Does it have chronic metabolic disease? Serious physical problems will create adjustment problems, so these physical issues must be addressed.
  4. Choose a remedy from those listed below, based on how closely it fits the signs of the individual. There are many other possible remedies, but these are useful in many animals.

Guidelines for treating patients with homeopathic remedies:

  • Remember to handle remedies properly: Do not touch them with your hands, and keep them dark, clean, and away from sources of radiation such as mobile phones and computers.
  • Give granular remedies directly in the cheek pouch. If an animal is difficult to handle, dilute the remedy in distilled water, and put it in the mouth or drip it on the animal’s body. We have treated feral cats by dripping remedies on to them through the cage bars.
  • When using remedies for rescue situations like this, I would suggest medium potencies like 30 C, or low potencies like 6 C or 12 X. You will get a broader effect with lower potencies, which can be helpful when you do not know the animal well. With a low potency, you can repeat the dose every 4 to 12 hours, for up to five doses; with medium potency you can repeat every 12 to 24 hours for up to five doses.
  • Before repeating a dose, re-evaluate the case. If the problem is gone, do not repeat the remedy until signs of the problem start to return. Keep notes of what you see, so that you know which remedy helped, and how it helped.
  • If you give five doses, with no improvement, the remedy is almost undoubtedly not suited to this animal, so re-evaluate and choose another remedy.
  • If the animal is improved after five doses, great. You can continue the remedy, but no remedy should be given regularly on a set schedule. It is very important to constantly re-evaluate, and give the minimum dose needed for the individual to continue to improve.
  • Of course, if you can work with a veterinary homeopath, that is even better!

Possible homeopathic remedies to assist with adjustment:

Aconite – often a history of a sudden shock or fearful event, restless, fearful of being touched, cringe away from people

Belladonna – sudden onset of violent fright and possible aggression, dilated pupils

Argentum nitricum – anxiety with trembling, anxiety from anticipation, may have concurrent diarrhea; generally friendly, fears may seem irrational, may be destructive when alone

Ignatia – often a history of fear or grief in recent past, depressed or hysterical behaviour in sensitive animal, may alternate moods, hypersensitive to pain

Nat-mur – often a history of grief or rejection in more distant past, depression in depressed, withdrawn animal, usually well-behaved, may have aggressive outbursts

Phos-ac – grief in a mild tempered animal, leading to weakness and depression

Staphysagria – sensitive, gentle animal, may have history of abuse, can have rare violent outburst; also useful for animals who are depressed and healing slowly after surgery

Flower essences can be very useful in helping animals and people to deal with emotional or psychological upsets. They are believed to work by rebalancing the energy of the body, similar to homeopathy. They are compatible with homeopathic remedies (as long as they are not administered at the same time) and will not interfere with the action of any other medicines. They are very safe and can be given to any age animal. There are many, many flower essences. I list the 39 Bach essences easily available.

Guidelines for treating patients with Bach essences:

  • Choose up to five suitable essences from the list below, then administer them either in the drinking water or dierctly to the animal.
  • Put two or three drops of a suitable essence (or essences) in a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl of drinking water, and use this as the animal’s only source of drinking water. Rinse the bowl daily and make up fresh solution.
  • Combine up to five essences in a dropper bottle, and give a few drops of the combination, directly in the mouth or dripped on to the body, two or three times daily,

The Bach essences, and their use in rescue situations:

Aspen – nervous animals, nervous spraying, nervous hiders, after accidents/fright

Cherry Plum – ferals, uncontrollable behaviour, compulsive grooming

Mimulus – timid, shy, specific fears, rehoming, fearful spraying

Red chestnut – grief for loss of or separation from companions

Rock rose – fear following accident, sudden illness, other frightening situations

White Chestnut -preoccupied, worries over companion loss, over-grooming

Water Violet – quiet, reserved, independent, aloof, capable, shy

Rock Water – suppressed emotions causing over grooming

Holly – suspicion, violence, rivalry & aggression between animals

Impatients – irritable animals with short tempers and quick reactions

Willow – resentful, loss of social standing due to change, can be unpredictable

Beech – intolerant, inter-animal aggression, introduction of new animals

Chicory – possessive, self-centered, clinging, over-affectionate, over grooming

Vine – domineering, self-willed, bullies, persistent aggression

Gentian – depression and lethargy for no physical reason

Gorse – support in chronic illness, depression, especially after loss of companion

Hornbeam – support for sick or less vigorous animals

Clematis – revive post-surgery, traumatized animals, newborns

Honeysuckle – grief, illness after separation, rehoming, adjusting to change

Mustard – introverted, unhappy animals who avoid fuss and attention

Olive – exhaustion, injury, malnourishment, delivery of young

Sweet Chestnut – exhaustion, recovery during long illness

Wild Rose – prolonged illness, animals which give up or stop eating

Elm – depression, overwhelmed by situation

Heather – demanding, vocal animals, require company and attention

Agrimony – cheerful, illness due to repressed emotions, prolonged illness

Vervain – nervous, irritable, overactive, excessive behaviours such as over grooming

Centaury – passive animals who may be bullied, marking, runts, eager to please

Larch – submissive, timid, agoraphobic, hiders, insecure markers

Pine – introverted animals, always act guilty

Scleranthus – moody animals may have alternation of activity/lethargy, etc

Wild Oat – adaptation to group hierarchy, help settling into new home

Chestnut bud – awkward, clumsy animals, slow to understand any training

Cerato – poor developers, slow learners, uncertain, doubt their abilities

Walnut – any new situation: new living situation, boarding, companion loss, etc

Crab Apple – anxiety, chronic problems, over grooming and psychogenic dermatitis

Oak – support in long term illness for animals who are normally strong characters

Star of Bethlehem – trauma, fright, ill effects of any past event, loss of companion

Rescue Remedy = Cherry Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose – used for effects of fear and trauma

I hope this information is helpful for you in your work with rescue animals!

Regards,

Sara

S.F. Chapman DVM, MRCVS, VetMFHom