The theory behind homeopathy is the belief that “like cures like.” In other words, homeopaths believe that the substance that produces certain signs of illness can also be used in extremely diluted form to treat those same signs of illness. A substance that in a normal dose would cause vomiting, then, would be the basis for a homeopathic remedy to treat vomiting.

Little research has been done to prove the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies. Most of homeopathy's successes are based only on anecdotal, not scientific, evidence. It can't hurt to try a homeopathic remedy, but don't ignore conventional therapies.

When they diagnose an illness, homeopathic veterinarians take into account not only a dog's physical symptoms but also the dog's personality or mental state. For instance, two dogs might have kidney disease, but one is thirsty all the time, has begun having accidents in the house, and seems withdrawn. The other has stopped drinking much water, urinates very little, and seems irritable. Although they have the same disease, each would receive a different homeopathic remedy based on their differing symptoms.

One well-known homeopathic remedy is arnica, which is useful for relieving pain from any kind of injury or surgery. It helps speed healing and reduces bruising. Look for arnica at health-food or pet-supply stores that carry natural products. Make sure you use the homeopathic version and not the herbal, which can be toxic. Use it as directed until you begin to see improvement.

Hypericum is another homeopathic remedy that can help with pain relief. It's usually prescribed for injuries that affect the nerves, such as contusions, lacerations, or punctures. As with arnica, use as directed and under the advice of a veterinarian. Also let your veterinarian know if you don't see any improvement after three doses.

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