Responses To Treatments
In conventional medicine I was taught two main approaches to treat animals. One was to give drugs (or do surgery/radiation) to stop the symptoms, the other was to assume organs were broken and would need continued drug therapy for life (pancreas – insulin; hypothyroidism – synthroid; kidneys – fluids and drugs, etc.)
My evaluation of the response to treatment was mostly if the current symptoms stopped.
Holistically, our goal is to restore to complete health, so we have several ways to evaluate response to any lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, mental stimulation, etc).
How individuals become ill and heal
Symptoms are rarely directly caused by an outside problem (bacteria, virus, toxin).
Something, and we may never know what it was, triggers the energy field to react. The energy field causes the symptoms in an attempt to heal itself and come back into balance. Understanding the systematic order in which this happens will help you know the level of illness and how the healing is progressing.
First, there is an energetic imbalance where you just know something is off. When asked by the vet what is wrong you can give nothing specific, just that it feels wrong. At this level you can use the 100% safe general treatments (Reiki, acupressure, massage, HTA, etc) and may get the energy field balanced again.
If you did not notice the energy imbalance (most of us do not), or your treatments were not successful, there is a functional level. Then symptoms like itching, behavior changes, frequent urination where lab tests are normal. Of course you may be successful treating with the 100% approaches, or you may need professional help at this point, or more specific home care treatments.
If these are not resolved by you, the vet, lay help or the animal’s energy system, inflammation occurs with redness, pain, swelling, fever, heat. Now there are hot spots, hair loss, frantic itching. There are white cells, blood and maybe bacteria in the urine and there may be crying out with urination.
Finally, there are tissue changes (pathology). The skin is now thickened, blackened, maybe warts and tumors are appearing. The bladder wall is thickened, there may be crystals or stones. Even at this stage good holistic methods can often return the animal to health.
The further down the illness cascade, then longer it may take to resolve the symptoms and deeply heal. How do we measure our success?
Responses to Treatments
There are only a few responses to any treatments or lifestyle changes.
The master list of symptoms you made earlier, including carefully quantifying them, will make it easier to tell if the veterinary or your home treatments are deeply healing or merely temporarily helping.
This is critically important. Sometimes a current problem disappears yet your pet feels less happy or energetic—for example, an issue with diarrhea resolved with an injection from the veterinarian and since then she has had a very picky appetite and has a body odor. Or the current problem remains, though less severe, yet surprisingly neither you nor your pet are as bothered by it—for example, itching may continue and yet she is so energetic and happy that you know you must be doing something right. Keeping track of symptoms is your primary tool to evaluate which therapy is producing the more desirable results.
You can stand firm with what you feel is working. You know your pet best.
Thinking outside the box and using your common sense will help you a lot. Usually we merely pay attention to the current problem, which either improves, worsens, does not change or goes away completely. To maximize health, it is important to look at the whole animal, including previous problems and energy levels, along with the current problems.
The following applies to any animal or person, cat, dog, horse, guinea pig, etc.
The desired cure is when all the symptoms disappear, never to return, and your companion is glowing with health. They can, and should, get sick occasionally with acute illnesses that resolve quickly with minimal treatment. The most important clues that you are progressing towards a cure is increased happiness, playfulness, and interactions, and you sense that there is more resilience, more healthy and centered activity. Some symptoms may continue to resolve slowly, especially if they have been present for a long time. There will often be a brief return of old symptoms or a short worsening of the current symptoms. There could be a brief time of skin problems (exteriorization of the disease), and various discharges (vomiting, eyes, saliva, diarrhea) while the cat still feels pretty good. A cure occurs when the treatment we have selected stimulates the body to heal itself. Your companion first heals on an energetic level. The body, especially on a cellular level, resolves both current ailments and the tendency to become ill. Improvement will be quick if the pet has been sick a short time, and usually will take much longer if the illness is longstanding.
For instance, if your pet has been licking her belly raw for 5 years, it may take 5 to 10 months to completely heal the skin and the itchiness causing the licking. If the itching goes away much more quickly without general improvement, palliation or suppression have probably occurred and that is not good in the long run. When there is severe diarrhea for one day, you could expect it to disappear in a few hours. If you find you must re-treat frequently to keep the symptoms in check, or your pet feels worse overall even though the main problem is still gone, you need to talk with your practitioner or consult with someone new.
Palliative treatment results in a quick resolution of symptoms, but they keep coming back, need to be retreated frequently and there is no overall improvement in energy level, attitude or resolution of minor problems. This is the most common result of attempts to stop symptoms with anti-inflammatories and antibiotics (note prefix – “anti”), and even a lot of holistic treatments that are focused merely on resolving symptoms. This is why it is always evaluate the energy level, overall health and emotional state in addition to any symptoms.
- The Siamese, Ming,’ had diarrhea after any change in diet, and sometimes for no apparent reason. He was given antibiotics, antidiarrheals and antispasmodics. He would feel better by the next day, or within a few days. However, it seemed as if his stomach was sensitive for he would vomit, not eat or have diarrhea frequently when not on drugs. Each time the symptoms would quickly resolve, but as the years went on he became less active, grumpy and his hair coat was poor.
- Molly, a German Shepherd, was diagnosed at age 3 with hip dysplasia and she had become less able to jump up quickly. The owner started supplementing with a glucosamine supplement and gave some pain pills from the veterinarian and the limping improved sigificantly. If they stopped the supplement, he became lame again. Over the next few years they had to give stronger doses of Glycoflex, a natural supplement. At age 8 he developed Degenerative myelopathy (rear end paralysis) and they euthanized him. The veterinarian and many of the list serves said this was a normal illness for German Shepherds. From a holistic perspective, it was palliation. Along with the Glycoflex, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy or other modalities may have balanced the underlying energy field so the disease would not progress.
- With a cure, the symptoms slowly go away, and she feels better in every way. An example of palliation then a cure: Baby, a DSH, had been receiving steroid injections for 8 years at an ever-increasing frequency, finally every 6 weeks, to keep her from licking her abdomen raw and bloody (diagnosed as Feline Endocrine Alopecia). She had not become more ill in any other way. This is an example of palliation. The steroid shots made the itchiness stop for a period of time, then it would recur, unchanged, and she was not more ill in other ways, even after 8 years of injections. After nine months of homeopathic treatment her abdomen was free of lesions. She lived 10 more years and never had skin lesions again. One year later, she recovered quickly from an upper respiratory infection for which 2 other cats in the house had to be treated for 2 weeks. A year after that she again recovered quickly with no treatment from a fever of unknown origin that the fourth and fifth cat in the house suffered with for a week or so. She was active and healthy until close to the end of her life at age 18. That is a cure.
Suppressive treatment causes the current symptoms to quickly go away but more severe symptoms appear, and the cat feels no better or may even have less energy. For example:
- Fluffy received a steroid injection for the ulcers in her mouth that appeared after vaccinations. Within days the ulcers disappeared, yet she became lame on the left front foot, drooled copiously, drank a lot and slept most of the time.
- Nellie, a very sweet golden retriever, had been scratching and losing hair for three years. She was given the homeopathic remedy the veterinarian felt most closely matched all of her symptoms. Two weeks later her owner was thrilled to report that the itching stopped within an hour. When asked how she was doing overall the owner reported the same normal appetite and the same energy level. When pressed she remembered that the dog had begun attacking the children in the house (which she had never done before). Superficial symptoms disappeared more quickly than would be expected and her mental state deteriorated (a more life threatening symptom). This is suppression. Wrong remedy! A better selection quickly changed her behavior and slowly improved the skin.
If you think your practitioner is not curing your pet, express your concerns. Request a referral or simply choose another veterinarian or another healing approach.
You may need some support to evaluate what is happening so you do not change too soon and a Pet Health Coaching session by phone with me will get you on the right track.
To learn more about the potential for cures, read the cases section of Edward DeBeukelaer’s book Homeopathy: What to Expect – 101 Cured Cases. While there are many different species, you will see how cured animals become better in all ways. The second and third chapters of Don Hamilton’s excellent book, Homeopathic Care of Cats and Dogs, discuss how we become ill and how we heal. Wendy Jensen’s Practical Handbook of Veterinary Homeopathy, is excellent, including how animals respond to treatments in different ways (available in print and kindle versions).