by Dr. Annette Richmond, DVM
Common ailments that affect animals can be resolved using natural remedies and allowing time for the body to heal itself. The immune system is very intricate, with millions of cells that are designed to recognize abnormalities and initiate a healing response. This healing response is a cascade of events that occur quickly. However, the actual healing process takes time. Our fast-paced culture demands immediate health, and therefore it is common that the medical profession doesn’t allow time for healing. With the correct supportive supplements and tincture of time, the body can resolve many ailments.
Often by using modern medicines, we hinder the natural healing process. For example, antibiotics can adversely affect the immune system by taking over its function and by destroying healthy bacteria that are crucial to the body’s defense against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Steroids are designed to suppress the immune system and may allow other infections to occur. Though there are specific times to use these medications, they do not need to be the first line of defense.
One common ailment from which dogs suffer is a hematoma, or blood blister. Hematomas usually occur after a lot of ear scratching and head shaking. Often the primary cause is an ear infection, or itchy skin around the ear. The way many veterinarians treat this is to anesthetize the dog and then suture the two parts of the earflap together. Some dogs require multiple surgeries on the same ear, or risk having both ears affected. I have even heard of some veterinarians offering to remove an ear due to recurrent hematomas! There is a way to successfully treat hematomas more gently and without anesthesia. The process includes removing the fluid that has built up and then injecting a solution that includes essential oils. Herbal anti-inflammatories are also prescribed. This treatment is done several times per week, and owners can be taught how to do the treatments themselves. The process often lasts several weeks, but it is a wonderful alternative to the more taxing surgery.
Emotional problems for animals are also common, including separation anxiety, fear of new places or travel, or difficulty adjusting to changes in environment. Flower essences, essential oils, and herbal remedies all have the ability to calm animals in these situations. The English physician, Dr. Bach, first discovered that flower essences or combinations of flower extracts helped humans resolve emotional disorders like depression, anxiety, despair, and shock. This knowledge has been applied to help heal animals, and these safe and natural products are now available for our pets. Essential oils can be used in a diffuser, or in very small amounts topically, but it is best to receive advice about them first, as some animals can be quite sensitive to them. Herbal combinations like valerian and tryptophan can also help anxious or stressed pets.
There are many natural remedies that can be used to help heal skin disorders. Common problems include itchy skin, which can be caused by allergies due to food and environmental factors, and skin infections. Sometimes a drastic diet change to an all- natural diet with no preservatives can reduce the severity of the problem. Essential oils can be used in hypoallergenic shampoos or as a spray or scrubbing solution to ease itchiness and resolve infections. There are also dietary supplements such as fish oils, antioxidants, and natural anti-inflammatories, which can help heal skin problems. Acupuncture can support the immune system and reduce inflammation. Many different Chinese herbs soothe itchy or inflamed skin as well. Some well-known treatments we use on ourselves, like aloe vera gel and calendula, can also help our canine companions.
Another common disorder for dogs is the occurrence of acral lick granulomas, wounds that dogs lick at incessantly and don’t allow to heal. They are usually found on the legs or other easy-to-reach spots. This disorder can be frustrating to treat with modern medicine, where steroids are usually used orally and topically. Several natural remedies have proven to be very effective, including laser therapy, acupuncture, and essential oil treatments. The goal of these treatments is to reduce inflammation and improve circulation, thereby allowing the body to heal itself.
Before using pharmaceuticals that may have adverse effects on our pets, it is important to remember that there are healthier alternatives that give the body time to heal itself from within.
Dr. Annette Richmond is a doctor of veterinary medicine, earning her degree from UC Davis in 1997. Dr. Richmond uses many natural remedies on a daily basis in her practice, including: Chinese and western herbs, acupuncture, laser, dietary changes, nutraceutical supplements, essential oils, and flower essences. Natural Veterinary Therapy is located at 510 Lighthouse Avenue in downtown Pacific Grove and can be reached at 831-655-0501 or www.naturalveterinarytherapy.com.