I hope you are all well. I would like to thank you for your kind responses to my updates on the pet food problems. I am glad that so many of your animals responded to my suggestions. Note I am using the word epidemic here, in that the way we look at this situation is very similar to the discussions we had in Herscu Letters #32-38 involving epidemics.
The Pet Food Problem
Several weeks ago I began to hear from different people across the country that their animals were sick and could I try to help them or their veterinarian, try to help their animals. At first nothing seemed odd about it. The first case, a dog with vomiting, diarrhea, and a foamy vomit at the mouth, seemed very similar to another dog I had recently seen while teaching in Italy, who had the classic symptoms of liver/kidney failure or liver cancer. It turned out to be cancer that had affected the liver. I suggested for this new animal, based on the symptoms, Lycopodium, similar to the animal I had seen in Italy. I mentioned to the pet owner that the animal probably has liver damage of some sort and to check it out. In fact both liver enzymes and kidney readings were very high. Interestingly enough, this animal recovered quickly with the homeopathic treatment. There was nothing too unusual for me in this story yet. I often have vets that study with me call in special circumstances. What made it unusual was that this telephone call was followed by another and another, from different vets. I suspected something was afoot.
Soon after, the news broke about the possibility that rat poison, melamine, or maybe some other toxin, was in the food and it all began to make sense to me. I continue to have the opportunity to treat many of these animals, by assisting vets who have been bombarded with such cases. All the animals are doing well, except for one who is fighting for its life at the time of this writing. Its liver is fine now, though its kidneys are still damaged.
What follows is where I think we are, wholly based on my understanding primarily of my model of provings, and the way it intersects with the model of epidemics, and previous similar episodes where we treated during epidemics:
1. Pets are fed on either table scraps or pet food.
2. Most vets that are in the natural health field have shied away from the more common prepared foods/pet foods and have asked pet owners to feed wholesome foods, similar foods as they are eating. (To get a clear sense of what that might be, you might want to contact your vet or The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy: http://www.theavh.org or the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association: http://www.ahvma.org). As a plug, I would like to suggest that all vets join these organizations. You do not have to do everything they suggest. However, when unusual circumstances arise, you might have resources that you might not have otherwise.
3. The animals that are fed on table scraps or a raw food diet have not become ill, but some animals that are fed on prepared pet food have.
4. From our discussions of provings and epidemics in the past, I would like to say, for those who have or treat animals that have eaten tainted food, here is what I have seen and here is what I would recommend:
a. Most will not show many symptoms, will not experience a poisoning, i.e., will not have problems. This has to do with the fact that the level of toxin, versus the animal’s susceptibility, versus their original constitutional state is such that they just are not sensitive enough to the toxin, whatever it is, to make them sick. As a result of this, I predict that it will be found that even though many, many were exposed to the food/toxin; most in fact will be fine. As a result, after the level of concern drops, the numbers of injured will not be horrific, most likely in the couple of thousands. Mind you, one is too much.
b. There are the animals that either had more exposure to the toxin, had a susceptibility to the toxin, or had a weakened enough constitution to begin with, that when they ate this food; it was enough to make them sick.
(As in the dog that I mentioned above, that is fighting for its life, it had several chronic problems to begin with, even before this exposure.)
c. I am sure there will be a small but real group of pets that fit in the category of those becoming ill. The problem of identifying this group is significant as the symptoms are so similar to chronic disease, such as liver failure, kidney failure, cancers in the major organs, that I believe that for many of these animals who were quite ill, it will just be assumed they were old and sick and the tainted food might not be considered. No tests will be done, and they will be forgotten. However, that does not mean that they were not sick, or sicker from the food/toxins.
d. Of the animals that ate these foods and are exhibiting symptoms, what can we do for them? Well… based on our previous discussions, we know that patients that get sick from the same stressor, share similar susceptibilities. What I have understood and shared with you in our discussions on provings, is that, they share a small similar number of constitutional states. This makes sense if you think about it for a moment.
Not all dogs will be the same. Even littermates will have different symptoms and different temperaments. It is this difference that creates or allows for different susceptibilities, which then allows different stressors to effect some, but not all, exposed.
e. What I have found is that of the animals that have gotten sick, those that were in a Lycopodium state or even near a Lycopodium state were the ones most susceptible. As a result, they enter into a true Lycopodium state, and experience symptoms that fit this particular remedy.
f. If you can, please make sure the constitutional remedy is still working for your pet or for the pets of people you know. If it is, they are that much more protected. If not, but they look like they still need it, i.e., if they have renewed symptoms covreed well and previously helped by their costitutional remedy, give a dose of the constitutional remedy. However, if they do not seem to fit their remedy any longer, and have moved toward Lycopodium, then that pet is susceptible to this epidemic if they eat the tainted food.
g. Giving Lycopodium to these animals early enough, limits the damage and seems to help tremendously. This is true with both liver and/or kidney damage.
h. If the symptoms progress and the animal declines before you have a chance to give this remedy, you may find that as they collapse, they enter either a Nux vomica, Arsenicum album, Phosphorus, or Veratrum album state.
i. If after giving the Lycopodium, the liver symptoms, enzymes diminish, but the kidneys still are damaged and become the main source of the problem, think about Apocynum which has helped a number of the animals I have consulted on.
j. As they improve, they may certainly go back to their chronic state and may need a repetition of their constitutional remedy.
Hopefully, this short note has made sense thus far. To this I would add one more point. This is a one time piece of advice, used here, and should be used ONLY within the first weeks of exposure to the tainted pet food. If I had an animal living with me, and I knew for sure that it had eaten the food that seemed to be making other dogs sick, I would give my dog one dose of Lycopodium 30c, one time. Period. This is an animal whi is strictly not sick. I believe it will afford the animal a certain level of protection. It has no side effects, no lasting effect, and will not hurt the animal, but may keep it from developing problems in the future.
I hope this helps you make sense of what others may have been forwarding to you from me.
I am also wondering about the future difficulties and discussions that will ensue in a few months. Soon people will begin to discuss the point that if you test all foods for animals and people, there is a certain level of contaminants. The question is how much is too much, what should we settle for? This is one place where homeopathy could have major input, but probably will not due to a lack of consistent definitions.
In closing, I would like to mention my hope and aspiration that in the future, homeopathy will be better situated to prepare for future epidemics, so that we may help not just our pets and animals, but ourselves, our families, and our human patients as well.
Best of luck in all your endeavours,
Paul Herscu ND
P.S. Understanding this topic is not just important to dogs and cats, but will come back to haunt each of us in coming epidemics. There is a very clear method of understanding what is going on during an epidemic and it is not just about knowing which remedy or remedies might have effect. We are in the position to offer effective and widespread help, but certain philosophical factors and their applications must be understood; which will inform remedy selection and follow-up care and will make our work more predictably accurate and effective. This is not in place in our community at this time. If you would like to be on an email list in order to receive occasional epidemic updates, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have written on this topic extensively and will put a timeline of that work on the website www.nesh.com in the next few weeks.