Understanding Your Pet’s Behaviour Part One
John Saxton explains the importance of ignoring animal stereotypes when treating them homeopathically
The secret to treating animals – and people – successfully is observation, and knowing what they are like normally. In selecting the correct remedy you need to know the changes from how your animal usually acts. For example if your animal doesn’t generally like to go near the fire, and suddenly wants to hug the fire, then that is significant when it comes to prescribing.
So the first thing that you’ve got to do is clear your mind of stereotypes and start looking at the individual animal. Secondly, you’ve got to know what the norm is with the individual animal. Take persistent vomiting for example. Animals, especially cats, tend to vomit as a normal thing with a much greater frequency than a doctor would find acceptable in one of his or her patients. A cat that vomits regularly is no big deal, but a person who vomits regularly would be taken very seriously. This is another example of how, as a vet, you’ve got to know your species, and you’ve got to know what the norm is.
I was recently speaking to a lady who was having a problem with her cat spraying in the house. It transpired that this behaviour had started after the introduction of a new kitten to the house. To that lady, the cat spraying in the house was a problem. To the cat it was a normal response to the introduction of a stranger into the pack. Spraying is a territorial act, and it’s normal feline behaviour. It is very difficult to adapt animals to what we demand for our own social convenience. However various remedies – Staphisagria, Lachesis and Nat mur – can be tried, based around the resentment, jealousy, territorial aspects but the response may be poor or only temporary because the cat is essentially behaving naturally.
Everyone who has a dog knows that at some time or other the dog will have diarrhoea. A whine and a wet nose in your ear forces you out of bed, you stagger downstairs, open the back door and throw the dog out, wait for it, close the door and send the dog to its basket. Now as good homeopathic owners, that is no longer acceptable. When the dog nuzzles up, you should spring wide awake, and immediately record the time, because the time of the diarrhoea is very important. If the dog has diarrhoea at 2.00am, you should immediately be thinking about giving Arsenicum album.
So you’ve noted the time, you’ve rushed downstairs and you’ve anxiously examined your best carpet to see if the dog has made a mess. This gives an indication of whether the animal has been able to hang on to its motion, or whether when it’s got to go, it’s got to go. Then you need to go outside with the dog because we want to know whether the diarrhoea is liquid, does it shoot out like water, is there any mucus in it, is the animal straining, is there blood in it?
The point is that in the conventional world, diarrhoea is just diarrhoea. Treating homeopathically, we are looking for very small differences, and it’s often small differences that can give you the clue to the remedy that the animal needs. For instance, a dog’s got violent diarrhoea. It’s been a bit off colour all day, but now it’s really unwell, and it’s 9.00pm. That time factor sets you thinking about the remedy. If the dog has a diarrhoea that is minimal during the day but gets worse at night, you may need Merc sol. Merc sol is worse from sunset to sunrise. The homeopathic vet will take you seriously when you note these signs but your conventional vet is unlikely to.
Another thing you check is heat. One of the symptoms calling for Arsenicum for example is burning pains, particularly in the abdomen, but which are relieved by heat. You can test whether this is the case for your dog by putting a hot water bottle (suitably wrapped up of course) on your dog’s abdomen. If you find that the dog looks peaceful and relaxes, it’s another indication that you’re relieving the pain and, all other things being equal, the dog needs….
Stand by for part two next week!
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This article has been adapted from a talk given by John Saxton at the Homeopathic Trust supporters’ event held in London in September 1999.