While it’s important to have a conventional first aid kit containing bandages and antiseptic solutions, it’s also wise to put together a more natural and holistic first aid kit, starting with homeopathic remedies.
A holistic first aid kit can help you keep your pet safe without the use of chemicals and drugs. Homeopathic remedies are extremely diluted solutions made from an original parent compound. They do not contain any chemical residues from the parent compound – just the physical energetics. Due to the number of dilutions involved in preparing the remedies, homeopathics are extremely safe, even when made from compounds that are toxic in undiluted form.
The following remedies can usually be found at health food stores. You can choose from liquid tinctures, lactose tablets or small pellets, depending on which form you prefer to administer to your companion. In general, a potency of 30 M to 30 C is adequate for mild ailments. Anywhere from one to three pellets or tablets, or 1/2 to one dropper of tincture, can be given to the animal several times a day. For more specific dosing advice, check with a holistic veterinarian. You can either put the pellets inside the lip of your dog or cat or dilute the pellets yourself in a small amount of distilled or reverse osmosis water and syringe it into her mouth. Remember not to touch the pellets with your hands.
This remedy is made from a dilution of the entire plant. Arnica is well known for relieving swelling, making it a useful remedy for any sort of trauma or injury. It can be used to help dogs or cats with any type of wound. In my practice, I typically prescribe it for animals suffering from soft tissue injuries like sprains, strains and pulled muscles. It is also one of several therapies I use for arthritis. While it is typically given orally, several homeopathic gels and ointments containing Arnica can be applied topically. I find topical formulations especially useful for animals suffering from mild hot spots. However, dogs and cats do tend to lick off topical medications so their effectiveness will be more limited.
Prepared from bees and their venom, this remedy is prescribed any time there is swelling or inflammation. It is typically used for reducing pain, swelling and inflammation associated with bug bites. Apis can also help with conjunctivitis, pulmonary edema, swollen joints, and heart and kidney diseases, where fluid accumulation occurs and diuresis is indicated to relieve congestion.
3. Nux vomica
This dilution is prepared from the seeds of the poison nut Loganiaeceae. Ingesting this nut would cause gastrointestinal disturbances, so the homeopathic remedy treats similar disorders that cause vomiting and intestinal gas. It can also be used to treat overeating of inappropriate foods.
Made from elemental sulfur, this remedy is well known for treating many skin problems. It is often prescribed for various forms of mange, and is also good for animals with dry skin, dry hair, and any generalized body odor (especially caused by seborrhea or infected skin).
This is probably one of the most well known homeopathic remedies. It is prepared from twigs of the Thuja plant. I use it clinically along with other remedies for treating various warts and tumors (especially the fatty tumors called lipomas). Thuja is also indicated in the treatment of vaccine reactions (vaccinosis).
Prepared from the toxin of the blister beetle or Spanish fly, Cantharis is com- monly used in cases of bladder irritation, especially if there is straining or blood in the urine. It is one of my favorite remedies for cats with FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disorder). It usually helps the cat feel better within 24 to 48 hours. However, while it is considered safe, it should not be used until any urinary tract obstructions are relieved.
This dilution is made from St. John’s wort. It is helpful for any condition in which there is nerve damage. It reduces pain from nerve irritation. Doctors find it useful in the treatment of postoperative pain, especially pain associated with nervous system trauma. I find it particularly good for animals, especially dachshunds, with disc disease.
Always take your dog or cat to the vet if serious illness or injury arises. For minor problems, however, any of the remedies in your holistic first aid kit should help him recover.
More healers for your kit
• Flower essences are prepared from flowers that have positive effects on emotional states. The extracts are prepared in alcohol and usually given orally in liquid form. The most famous and commonly used essence is Rescue Remedy from the Bach Flower Company. It contains alcoholic extracts of five flowers – Rock Rose for terror and panic, Impatiens for irritation and impatience, Clematis for inattentiveness, Star of Bethlehem for shock and Cherry Plum for irrational thoughts. Rescue Remedy is also available in a topical cream. It’s useful for any sort of emotional trauma that occurs by itself or in conjunction with medical problems. It is helpful for animals with mild anxiety, storm phobias, fear of the veterinarian or groomer, anxiety during boarding, or car sickness.
•Two herbs, or volatile oils made from herbs, are particularly good for the holistic first aid kit. Chamomile and lavender are very effective for calming animals with mild anxiety. I find the following trick particularly helpful for animals that don’t like visiting the vet. For dogs, simply place a few drops of either or both oils on a cotton ball and place it in your car or animal carrier approximately 30 minutes before leaving for the vet’s office. For cats, use a hydrosol as they can be adversely affected by pure oils. Remove the cotton ball just before setting out. Most animals will stay calm during the trip and at the clinic.
Veterinarian Dr. Shawn Messonnier wrote The Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats, The Natural Vet's Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and 8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog. He's the pet care expert for Martha Stewart Living's "Dr. Shawn — The Natural Vet" on Sirius Satellite Radio, and creator of Dr. Shawn's Pet Organics. His practice, Paws & Claws Animal Hospital (petcarenaturally.com), is in Plano, Texas.