Kira, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, was 6 when I saw her for the first time. From a young age she has been suffering with atopy (skin allergy). At first it was seasonal; in the spring and the summer but after a few years there were dry, red, itchy eruptions the whole year through.
Her conventional case record displayed regular steroid injections and prednisolone treatments. Luckily, for the last year her owner managed to keep the problem under control through once or twice weekly shampooing with Malaserb® (miconazole and chlorhexidine).
The skin inflames around the ears, top of her head, on her abdomen and especially in the inguinal region. There is also an interdigital dermatitis causing continuous licking of the paws.
The case is a typical one of Atopic dermatitis: the skin problems are common and will not point to the appropriate remedy.
There are many dogs that suffer from this condition which usually starts at a young age.
These cases are challenges for successful homeopathic prescription. Individuality based on good classical case taking is very important.
Lets hear what her owner told me during the consultation:
“She doesn’t like to sit on the floor. She is worse in the spring. She hates being bathed. (That is annoying as regular shampoos seem to control the problem).
She is a loner, she would be happy to be our one dog. On the walks she stays with us, as if she is afraid to loose us. She does not walk up to other dogs. (Some of this behaviour is usual for Ridgebacks but Kira is a rather extreme case because, during walks, she follows her owners close behind and takes hardly any interest in her surroundings.)
She is aloof.
She licks the fur on her belly, she will suddenly lick as if something pinches.
She is quiet stressed when bathing. (the owner repeats; this usually means it is an important feature.)
She wants to know where we are all the time, she does not let us out of sight. She only interacts with other dogs on her terms. We have two young Ridgebacks. She is not the pack leader but she will only play when she decides to.
She loves the sun, she would be happy tom lie all day by herself in the sun.
When she sleeps she curls herself in a very tight ball. (unusual comment = important for the selection of the remedy)
She will happily stay by herself in the kitchen. When her skin is bad she becomes hot and sweaty but even then she will still curl up in a tight ball.
She was spayed after her second season. She had had a very marked phantom pregnancy; she produced lots of milk but stayed quiet in herself. There was no nesting etc.
She has always been a well behaving dog. We never had any behaviour worries with her.
But when the two younger dogs arrived she was very aggressive to them, she nearly killed them. It took two weeks before she allowed them to come closer. She growled and snarled at them: ‘I don’t want you here’.
One of her hind leg regularly trembles.
Although the cold wet weather improves her skin she does not like it at all.
She has a weak bladder, already before spaying she wet her bed occasionally. We have to make sure she goes out regularly; she doesn’t ask to go out.
When the puppies came she was anxious, she wasn’t inquisitive to them. She didn’t want them to be there.
She gets frisky after food, she gets playful then. She is very vocal during play. She will try and join in the play of the other dogs if I tell her to do so.
She would eat all day.
She is quiet amenable for a Ridgeback.
She doesn’t have great bouts of energy.”
I have left the text more or less as counted by the owner, including some of the repetitions and what may be seen as contradictions. It is important not to worry about making so called ‘mistakes’ when talking about your animal to a homeopathy. Such ‘mistakes’, which are not really mistakes, bring important colouring to the case to assess the precise nature and importance of various symptoms. People who want to restrict the description of their animal and his/her problems to what seems ‘scientific’ and for that matter ‘homeopathic’ often prevent the case to come to life, making it even more difficult to find what is really individual in the case. What is said without thinking is regularly of high value.
Lets go back to the case:
Three symptoms stand out straight away:
-better after eating. She is a rather placid and reserved person but after she has eaten she will engage in play. It is more common for dogs (like humans) to have a rest after a meal.
-she hates being washed. This contrasts with the observation made that she was easy to train and that she will engage in play when told to do so.
– incontinence in the night. I don’t know whether it is because she does not ask to go out but the symptom is already present at a young age and persisted for a long time (now under ‘control’ with Phenylpropanolamine drops).
In repertorisation language:
Gen, bathing, aversion to
Bladder, urination, Involuntary, night
Mind, eating, after, amel; combined with dullness and sadness eating after amel.(the modality usually primes
over the exact nature of the symptom unless the symptom itself comes out as of most important during the case taking)
6 remedies cover the three symptoms: Am.c, Causticum, nat-c, Phos, Sep and Sil.
Ammonium Carb. seems the one that can ‘explain’ the original observation made that she sleeps in a tight ball; repeated twice and thought to be strange by the owner because she would even sleep like this when she was ‘hot and sweaty due to the skin problems. (I did not found a translation towards the repertory but I suppose we could use Generals: clothing, pressure of clothing amel; am-c is not present)
Dr. Marc Brunson (Belgian Homeopath/Vet) suggested that the remedy has to do with: shall I open or not? Am-c is a salt that evaporates and therefore kept in a closed container (in the old times it was used to revive the ladies who fainted in closed rooms because of their tight corsets). The remedy wants to know the end, the point of arrival otherwise it may be dangerous to engage. He is afraid to loose his substance when you open the flask/ when he
goes to uncertain destiny, when he is uncertain about what may happen, is withdrawn.
She received a split 30K dose.
Two months later the owner rings me to say she is fine.(it is summer, normally the period she is suffering more) No more need for washing and she also engages much more with the two other dogs. She still stays close to them during the walks but occasionally will walk in front.
There is a relapse 6 months later, a further dose in 30k improves again but she needs a extra dose (in MK) one month later for it to settle completely.
Two years and a half after the first consultation, the problem has receded 90%. She did not take any further remedy. There are occasionally times where she licks herself more then she should and there are still occasional spots on the skin but Kira is certainly more open to the world. As an extra: the owner managed to stop the drops she took for years to control the incontinence.
An occasional bath is less of a worry and her owners are very satisfied to have discovered homeopathy.