It’s a Dog’s life!

Myriam Shivadikar


My relationship with animals has always been a close one. Ever since I was a little girl, I had a burning ambition to be a vet, I loved animals and I felt that I could understand them. My Family, however, had other plans; they wanted me to treat humans. I now realise how right they were – Humans need more help!

As a girl, I took in every roaming cat to my house, until one day there were so many cats in the house, that my Parents ceded and I acquired my first cat. She was a stray that we found roaming the streets in a sorry state, she couldn’t even walk properly – My Dad remarked ‘She looks Tipsy’ and that became her name. Much later, I left home and moved to student digs in Nottingham for a year. My neighbours had a gorgeous dog that behaved rather strangely, these neighbours were students heavily involved with cannabis, and they were giving cannabis to their dog. The dog in question was a gorgeous tan coloured greyhound called Zook, I got to know him by taking him for walks – actually, he took me for walks! He then stayed at my place more and more and everyone fell in love with him. I got used to the usual questions from people ‘ Don’t you feed him?’ If people grow to look like their pets, I wasn’t complaining, the only issue was that as an average insecure teenager, I used to feel overweight just by looking at him!

As a Homeopath, I often prescribe remedies for animals, not directly as my patients but more indirectly through their owners being my friends or patients. Like many homeopaths, I don’t have the veterinary skills to fully understand the specifics of an animal and their various diseases. I started by recommending first aid remedies, as it’s fairly straightforward. The remedies that work for humans, also work for animals. As I got feedback from their owners, I began to understand what works on animals. Mostly, the same remedies as for humans, except for 1 exception – Bellis perennis works better than Arnica for sprains in dogs. Like young children, animals cannot communicate themselves using our linguistics, however, we can gain insights into their characters by being aware of their body language. Each patient will express their dis-ease through the language of their signs and symptoms, which can be picked up by an astute observer. As the late Les Dawson observed, ‘ there is nothing more unpredictable than animals, children and Mother - in- laws!’

An interesting phenomenon is that animals have far stricter guidelines and regulations on treatments than humans, legally; only qualified vets can treat animals. Generally, I don’t treat animals, I suggest remedies to the owners and they go and order them. As there is no National Health Insurance for animals the owner pays the medical fees. In some ways this is a good thing as the owners take some degree of responsibility for the health of their pet in order to avoid incurring the vet fees. This is reflected in advertisement for pet food with emphasis placed on the nutritional quality of the food, many of which are fortified with vitamins and minerals. (Farmers are aware of this and add up to as many as 40 vitamins and minerals to their animal feed. They cannot insure every animal as this will add to their costs and the price of animal foods would escalate.) Paradoxically, human formula milk only has up to 12 vitamins and minerals. Maybe we would be healthier if we ate pet food!


Animal Constitutions


One of our most effective homeopathic methodologies is Constitutional Prescribing, I particularly like it as it reinforces the patient’s constitution and prevents further disease. Also, by working out a person’s constitution, one can also figure out which acute ‘states’ they get into; and give the remedy for ‘acute’, should they need it. E.g. Calcarea carb constitution goes into Belladonna acute. The description of constitutions in our Materia Medica reflects the body type, colouring and temperament. E.g. Pulsatilla suits blonde, lachrymose females, Calcarea carb for slow, blue-eyed, fair haired chubby constitutions, Ignatia suits dark haired, dark eyes, rigid fibred, quick to comprehend, Aurum suits dark haired, dark eyed overweight predominantly male constitutions etc.

One day, as I was watching ‘Crufts dog show’, I became aware of the large variety of dog breeds. With so many different sizes, builds, coats, colouring of dogs, how are we to determine constitutions? As with humans, the constitution is an individual approach, as each dog has it’s own characteristic traits and personality etc. However, with dogs; due to the vast variety of breeds (and cross breeds), we have more clues to understanding the dog and finding their constitution. This method also applies to other animals and humans.

In order to determine the constitution, I use the universal Hermetic Principle of ‘So Above as Below’, which means that the inside is reflected on the outside. The body type of a human or animal reflects the internal state of the nervous system. (This is a generalised view & of course, there are always exceptions, but if one looks closely, one can find the reason for the exception. E.g. Cortisone causing weight gain.)

Hence: Blonde haired blue – eyed Pulsatilla and Calcarea carb are slower in temperament. Dark haired and eyed Ignatia & Aurum are quicker in temperament


Dog Breeds & Remedies:


When looking for a dog’s constitutional remedy, I first generalise the remedy group for that particular breed; from there, I find it easier to individualise the dog’s remedy. I place emphasis on the physical appearance of the dog, the build, legs, height, tail, coat, and particularly the nose. For me, the head and muzzle is like a micro system, which reflects the whole dog and it’s personality. Generally, as with humans, the larger boned dogs are slower and have a calmer nervous system than the slimmer, pointed muzzle breeds. Certain breeds have sensitive digestive tracts; I find that the bowel nosode – Gaertner, although made from human bowel flora, suits a variety of breeds. Generally, all dogs do well on Tissue Salts, also Colloidal silver for external ear irritations and any infections.


Labrador: Sporting Dog Group


Breed Description: The Labrador Retriever is the original water dog. Originally bred to assist fisherman in Newfoundland, these sturdy, muscular dogs are now respected worldwide for their contributions to the military, police work, as guide dogs and for performing search and rescue. They have exceptional patience and an easygoing temperament. This breed is intelligent, hardy and eager to please. A powerful swimmer, the Labrador retriever makes a reliable hunting partner and a friendly house dog.

Group: Sporting Group

Temperament: Labrador Retrievers are gentle and easygoing. They are intelligent, easy to train, and renowned for their patience with children. Labs are eager to please and very forgiving, so much so, that their good nature is sometimes taken for granted by thoughtless owners. This breed is courageous and hard working and adapts easily to new situations.

Common Ailments: Susceptible to skin allergies, epilepsy, eye diseases and hip dysplasia.

Homeopathic Constitutions: Calc carb, Kali carb, Carcinosin, Aurum, Cuprum.



Border Collie ( Lassie) : Herding Dog Group


Breed Description: The Border Collie is a graceful, medium sized dog with a tapered muzzle, semi-upright ears and broad, muscular hindquarters. This breed is well-known for its ability to herd sheep and control livestock with its intense gaze and stalking-like movements.

Temperament: Border collies are highly intelligent, sensitive and responsive. They can also be moody, strong-willed and territorial. They have a strong desire to please their owners and are considered workaholics. Highly affectionate toward family members, they are somewhat reserved around strangers. The strong herding instincts of this breed can cause problems like chasing cars and "nipping" children into behaving.

Homeopathic Constitutions: Ferrum phos, Calc phos, Kali phos, Ignatia, Mag phos.


Greyhound : Group: Hound Group


Breed Description: Greyhounds are slim, graceful and aerodynamically built for speed. They have long, flat skulls, long sharp muzzles, deep chests and strong, powerful legs. These dogs are incredibly athletic in build, highly intelligent and independent in nature.

Purpose of Breed: Racing. Greyhounds are the thoroughbred horses of the dog world and appreciate the routine of running every day.

Temperament: This breed is gentle and sweet. If properly socialized, they can be very friendly even a bit over exuberant at times. Greyhounds can also be somewhat mischievous-stealing items around the house-especially food. They are very loyal, loving and make wonderful family companions.

Common Ailments: Prone to bloat and bed sores; sensitive to insecticides.

Homeopathic Constitutions: Gaertner, Calc phos, Tuberculinum, Iodum, Avena sativa ( calms the nervous system), Ignatia. Arsenicum album.


Basset Hound : Hound Group


Breed Description: The Basset Hound is a scenting hound with a majestic, domed-shaped head, long velvety ears and a body that is said to be half a dog in height, but twice a dog in length. The Basset Hound is a short-legged dog relative to its size and is heavier in bone than any other breed of dog. Second only to the Bloodhound, this breed has a keen scenting ability and makes a devoted companion.

Temperament: The Basset Hound is affectionate, gentle and extremely devoted. Known for their mild, sensitive nature, they can also be very stubborn and conveniently "hard of hearing." This breed gets along well with people and other pets, but possesses a pack mentality and does not prefer to be left home alone for longs periods of time.

Common Ailments: Prone to ear and skin infections and also to obesity, which can lead to hip, spine and leg problems.

Homeopathic Constitutions: Calc carb, Morgan pure, Pulsatilla, Baryta carb



Poodle: Non-Sporting group. Toy Group


Breed Description: The Poodle is a squarely built and well-proportioned dog breed that comes in three distinct sizes, Standard (large), Miniature (medium) and Toy (small). First developed by Europeans as gun dogs for retrieving from water, they are one of the most intelligent and versatile breeds of dog and make wonderful family pets.

Temperament: This is one of the most intelligent and obedient of all of the dog breeds. Poodles are energetic, trainable, and although they are somewhat suspicious of strangers, they get along well with all manner of people and companion animals.

Common Ailments: Susceptible to hip dysplasia, PRA, Von Willebrand's Disease, thyroid problems. Patellar Luxation, Legg-Perthe's Disease, Addison's disease and skin problems.

Homeopathic Constitutions: Platina, Phosphorus, Mercurius, Tuberculinum, Argentum nit, Dysentery co, Sepia



Yorkshire terrier: Toy Group


Breed Description: The diminutive and glamorous Yorkshire Terrier is a very compact dog with a long, silky coat and an lively and ostentatious personality. Originally developed by the working class to control rats in mines and cotton mills, today the Yorkshire Terrier enjoys popularity as a beloved companion and show dog.

Temperament: The Yorkshire Terrier is an active, intelligent little dog that is affectionate toward its owners and game for every family activity. Blessed with a dynamic personality, this breed sees itself as a "big dog in a little body." Yorkies are suitable dogs for the elderly and for homes with older children, as they dislike rough play. Loving and faithful, the dainty Yorkshire Terrier makes an ideal travel companion and playful family pet.

Common Ailments: Susceptible to eye irritations, tracheal collapse, premature dental disease and patellar luxation .

Homeopathic Constitutions : Palladium, Arg nit, Gaertner, Kali phos, Calc phos, Mercury, Pulsatilla



West Highland Terrier : Group: Terrier Group



Breed Description: The West Highland White Terrier is an elegant looking dog breed with a compact, sturdy body, small enough and with short enough legs to go where its quarry would take it. Its tail must be long enough to enable its master to pull it from holes. This dog breed is very affectionate and loves human and animal companionship.


Temperament: The West Highland White Terrier is an active and assertive breed that is best suited to living with adults and older children. This breed can be very independent and strong-willed. It is alert and courageous and makes a wonderful watchdog. They make good obedience dogs with proper training and will get along with most other companion animals if introduced properly.

Common Ailments: Susceptible to patellar sub luxation, skin problems, hernias and liver disease.

Homeopathic Constitution: Gaertner, Calc carb, Pulsatilla, Carcinosin.


Case Example: Toby


Toby is a West Highland Terrier, his owner Alexa, has been under my care for many years. She’s a single Mum to a daughter and had lost her son as a child due to illness, to fill the void; she got a dog – Toby. He would come with her to her appointments with me and lie down on a blanket. Soon, another dog joined him and over the years, Alexa had acquired 5 dogs, 4 of which were ‘Westie’s’ and a poodle. Naturally, they all came to Alexa’s appointments and I got to know them fairly well. Sometimes, Alexa also brought other dogs that she was walking. Interestingly, these dogs behaved better than most humans, they were calm (despite their manic owner!), well behaved and did not moult, this seems to be characteristic of the breed. Amongst the dogs, their was a definite hierarchy, Toby was the undisputed leader, he was relaxed and calm as per the breed, but he took the responsibility and authority for the group, he had respect from the other dogs. He looked like a Calc carb, but was more like a dignified Aurum constitution.

As Toby grew older, he had various minor ailments over the years- Stomach upsets, minor injuries and sprains. Eye infections and dog flu’s.


He is now 17 years old, which by dog standards is a Senior Citizen. His owner, Alexa acquired 2 new dogs, these were young Jack Russell’s- a totally different breed and temperament. When Alexa came to see me for her visit, the dogs all attended the session. This session was quite different to before. The group usually settle and sleep, however, one of the new dogs would not relax, he disturbed the consultation many times, and the atmosphere was tense.

A few weeks later Alexa phoned me in a state – Toby had not been eating well, he now refused food and he had a lump on his belly, which was investigated and found to be cancerous; she was frantic with worry. Interestingly, the other dogs sensed that something was wrong and would watch over and comfort him.


My Conclusions: Toby is a senior dog, head of the group, the 2 new dogs disrupted the balance. Toby could not control them, he also didn’t have the energy, and also their owner gave a lot of attention to the newcomers. I believe that he felt aggrieved, old and he had lost control and given up.


Remedies over a period of time:


  • Arsenicum album: Great for senior animals, improves the appetite and gives their coat lustre. ( Works well on horses).

  • Gaertner: Intestinal bowel nosode, this remedy improves the appetite and the assimilation of food. Good for breeds that suffer from degenerative diseases.

  • Ignatia 10M : In Toby’s case, it helped him to deal with his grief and longing for ‘the good old days’.

  • Aurum met : The ‘no hope’ situation. Toby is an Aurum type of constitution- Responsible, duty, high standards; the Aurum situation arises when an individual has worked hard, put all his eggs in 1 basket and lost everything.

  • Carcinosin: The cancer situation, Toby was the ‘Top dog’, he is now behaving like the ‘Underdog’, powerless, lack of ego, no sense of self. This remedy gives back the identity and will to fight back and reclaim ownership of themselves.

  • 12 Tissue Salts: As a senior dog, I suggested these on a nutritional basis.



Over a period of a few weeks, Toby found his identity and strength to overcome his illness. The lump went by itself. (I gave Alexa Dysentery co, to calm her down) Toby reclaimed his position as the head dog, the newcomers had to toe the line!


Homeopathic Remedies for Animals


  • Sprains in dogs : Bellis perennis

  • Ear disorders : Colloidal silver, sprayed into the ear

  • Pets sent to the Caterie or Kennels whilst owners on holiday : Pulsatilla ( passive, clingy animals), Ignatia ( sensitive breeds), Aconite, Stramonium.

  • Very young kittens, puppies etc: Pulsatilla 10M,Ignatia 10M, for feelings of abandonment/ separation from Mother.

  • Rescue Pets: These pets have been rescued from a variety of situations, one can tell if the animal has been badly treated if it flinches when approached suddenly. These animals often have an aetiology of abandonment (Puls), Abuse ( Staph), Grief ( Ign, Nat mur). If there is mistrust of the new owner – Mercury.

  • Vaccination: This is compulsory for many domestic pets. Thuja 200C before and after .