I recently received an email from a dog lover, anxious to protect her dogs from disease using homeopathic nosodes. Her dogs had bad experiences in the past with pharmaceutical vaccinations and had dog vaccine side effects. With plans for a new puppy or two in the works, she asked for advice about alternatives to vaccinations for the new pups, to protect them from the most common canine illnesses: distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and rabies.
More specifically, she asked for recommendations for where to obtain homeopathic nosodes for each of these pathogens.
What Is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy falls under the alternative and holistic medicine arena of veterinary care. Homeopathic principles tout the idea that “like cures like” and this sounds very similar to the way conventional vaccines work. Vaccines “wake up” the immune system by exposing the patient to tiny but innocuous amounts of a disease-causing agent to stimulate natural protection against the illness.
Homeopathic remedies don’t stop with virus or bacteria protection. Homeopathic physicians identify substances that cause specific symptoms. They use those substances in incredibly minute amounts to “prime” the body’s protection. For example, the lethal poison arsenic becomes a homeopathic remedy Arsenicum when diluted enough times (1000 times or more!) and succussed–or shaken–to imbue the final liquid with the energy of the substance.
No detectible amount of the arsenic remains to cause illness. Yet the encoded memory of the substance remains in the liquid to treat an illness that presents similar symptoms. This dilution preparation makes many scientists, including mainstream veterinarians, question the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies.
What Are Nosodes?
Nosodes are the homeopathic alternatives to vaccines but given orally (not injected). Homeopathic veterinarians recommend nosodes to help prevent core diseases and/or reduce the symptoms or severity of the disease. I don’t know how it works, but many respected homeopathic veterinarians say they’ve had great treatment success.
I’m a skeptic by nature. But after interviewing more than 70 holistic and homeopathic veterinarians for my book New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats, I try to keep an open mind. Perhaps we’ll understand the mystery of how homeopathy works sometime in the future.
Still, when it comes to a pet’s health, I want to err on the side of safety and rely on the expertise of veterinarians. I am NOT a veterinarian, and cannot diagnose or prescribe or offer anything but the best information combed from the true veterinary experts. And when it comes to DIY health care, there be snakes out there, too, so beware!
How to Use Homeopathic Nosodes
I wish my answer to this reader offered more concrete advice. But here is the gist — and I’ve included more details in this blog post, based on information from my Natural Healing book (above) and so will send her a follow-up.
Homeopathy in the OTC strengths available from health food stores and pet supply outlets won’t harm pets, even if given the wrong one by mistake. It’s also fine to use human homeopathic remedies. The size of the pet makes no difference in the dosage. Increasing the frequency increases the dosage strength. Homeopathic veterinarians recommend you give only one remedy or nosode at a time. Otherwise, any positive results may be confused.
You can get many homeopathic remedies over-the-counter but I still recommend you partner with homeopathic veterinarians. For those interested in going this route, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation or a consult with a holistic and/or homeopathic veterinarian. My Natural Healing book offers many suggestions for homeopathic treatments of common pet problems. You can also buy books (called materia medica) that list all the homeopathic remedies, such as Organon of the Medical Art by the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann.
Vaccinations & Reactions
I applaud anyone’s diligence in seeking safe, effective protection for dogs. Also, while you can certainly go the nosode route for most of those concerns listed, the law requires rabies vaccination because it is a human health risk.
Certain kinds of vaccinations (and breeds of dogs) seem more prone to vaccination reactions. Reactions usually happen within 48 hours of receiving the shot. Severe reactions include hives and swollen face, to anaphylaxis (breathing problems), collapse and death. Milder reactions range from injection site tenderness to lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting. Small dogs weighing less than eleven pounds, and the leptospirosis vaccination seem most commonly implicated.
One way to GREATLY reduce the risk of vaccinosis (reaction to the vaccines) is to space them out and not give in combination. Homeopathic vets also recommend following any vaccination with the homeopathic remedy Thuja Occidentalis. More about that here in a PetMD article from a holistic veterinarian.
I interviewed Dr. Christina Chambreau, a homeopathic veterinarian, for my Natural Healing book. Here’s one of her blogs on vaccinosis prevention, where she recommends Jackson Galaxy’s flower essence preventive before and after vaccines.
Final Thoughts . . .
Today, veterinarians no longer routinely administer a boatload of shots all at once. They spread out the core (most serious) vaccinations over a period of time. Puppies receive initial vaccinations over weeks. Adult dogs get recommended “boosters” every two or three years on a rotating basis. If your dog lives in an area with low-to-no risk of exposure, ask your vet which vaccinations may not be necessary.
Here’s the thing. Nosodes won’t hurt your pet. But they will NOT offer the same level of prevention that standard vaccinations offer. So reducing the associated risks of over-vaccinating by spacing out the shots, and using homeopathic and/or flower essences to reduce risks of reactions may be your best compromise.
Your turn. Have you used homeopathic remedies with your pets? What about nosodes? Has your dog (or cat) ever suffered from a vaccination reaction? Do tell!
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!