Vanessa Brookman was scared.
Her beloved six year old pit bull terrier, Jack, had suffered a rare allergic reaction to a medication prescribed for an ear infection, causing him to lose control of his bladder.
Blood tests revealed the worst case scenario. Within days of the reaction, Jack was in full kidney and liver failure.
“My heart was broken. They told me if I hadn’t brought him in when I did that Jack would have only lived three more days, at most,” Brookman, a Palmdale resident, recalled. “The only thing left to try was homeopathy.”
Her veterinarian at Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia recommended a protocol of Standard Process K9 Hepatic Support, as well as human Vitamin E and milk thistle supplements.
Within a week, Jack had control of his bladder again. Ten days later, blood tests revealed Jack’s liver and kidney function was within the high range of normal.
Brookman was grateful for the alternative medicine that saved her dog’s life.
“I didn’t know there were homeopathic options for animals before Jack’s incident,” she said. “It was never broached to me before, but that was definitely a time where I was willing to try whatever was suggested.”
Dr. Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets, said most of her clients are in the dark when it comes to the practice.
“Not too many people know what homeopathy really is or understand it, so it can be difficult to recommend,” Vega said. “You have to be open to alternative treatments.”
According to Merriam-Webster, homeopathy is “a system of medical practice that treats a disease especially by the administration of minute doses of a remedy that would in larger amounts produce in healthy persons symptoms similar to those of the disease.”
While in use for humans since being discovered by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1789, homeopathy for pets was popularized much more recently by veterinarian Richard H. Pitcairn, who began teaching basic principles of homeopathy for pets in 1985.
Vega took a veterinary homeopathy class under Dr. Pitcairn in 2005 and has been a fan ever since. She’s used it successfully on herself and on her own pets for more than a decade.
“When I travel I always bring my box of remedies with me, just in case,” Vega said.
Happy Pets clients have been treated homeopathically for conditions ranging from bladder infections to anal gland irritations or parvovirus to coughs associated with collapsing tracheas or heart conditions, as well as osteopathic surgery recovery and arthritis treatments and even rattlesnake bites.
To start the process, a detailed history is taken on the pet to know its personality type, likes and dislikes as well as the symptoms.
“Pets are treated the same as people, we need to assess the whole pet,” Vega said. “For example an aggressive, fearful cat suffering from a urinary tract infection that likes to drink fresh cold water would have a different remedy then another cat with a UTI that is shy, hides and likes to drink room temperature water. In homeopathy we treat the patient, not the disease.”
A remedy or several remedies, usually in pellet or liquid form, are then prescribed for two to three weeks to see how the pet responds.
“Sometimes we can also combine homeopathy with western or conventional medicine, for example using topical arnica to help control bruising after a surgery along with pain relief medication and antibiotics to prevent infection,” she said. “We still need to practice good medicine and diagnose a condition by doing lab work, X-rays, or ultrasounds.
Vega stated that homeopathy tends to be inexpensive and generally safe. The main risk is that the remedy may not work.
“Sometimes if the remedy is not the correct one, it can aggravate the symptoms, but this usually resolves on its own,” she said.
Jack didn’t suffer any repercussions from homeopathy. To be on the safe side, Brookman kept him on treatment for two years before weaning him off completely last year.
Now 10, Jack is feeling as spunky as he did before his life-threatening allergic reaction.
“Nobody ever believes he’s 10, except for his light facial hair,” Brookman said proudly. “He’s still like a toddler. He races around with his sister and jumps on the bed.”