Veterinary Homeopathy

Recurrent Gastro-Enteritis in an American Cocker Spaniel

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Written by Joan Goddard

: Homeopath Joan Goddard presents an interesting case of Gastro-Enteritis in an American Cocker Spaniel

Presenting symptoms


American Cocker Spaniel Aged 2yrs with recurrent gastro-enteritis – one bout every 10 days requiring veterinary visits, and antibiotics.


He gets like this all the time – all of a sudden he just blows up (gets a distended belly) and then is in a lot of pain.  He is better for having his stomach rubbed (3) this helps him pass a lot of liquid foul smelling diarrhoea.  He does this a number of times over one day and then is his old self again.  He gets in so much pain, all he can do is curl up in a ball and whimper.(3)


He’s normally active and ballistic when let out of  his kennel every morning, until he gets an upset stomach, and he’s last to come out and he’s really down to it.

There is no reason why it happens, it just occurs out of the blue. The owners had taken time to check back and see if there were any “incidents’ or dietary problems 24 – 36 hrs prior to the upset and could find no established pattern. They were considering euthanasia if homeopathy didn’t work as they didn’t want to see him suffer.


Emotionally, he is pretty even, and easy to get on with. This is typical of the breed. He gets upset about little things, like the owners arguing; he’s a dad’s boy and can’t stand raised voices.  He gets grumpy if puppies hassle him, but is not vicious to them.


Lives with four other dogs, is third out of fourth in the pack and makes no attempt to advance himself to either second or first position.


Practitioner observation:   He is a friendly rather timid dog, who sat either on or by his owner.


I also had the opportunity to see him before the consult. He was caged at a show.  When any person or animal walked past his crate, he snarled, barked, and lunged at the front of the crate; he was quite beside himself, and wanted to keep everyone away.  This is out of character for this breed of dog.  He also looked afraid; he was barking and snapping and backing away from the front of the crate, which is fear based aggression.


At the consult I asked the owner about his behavior when he was crated and he said that it happened a lot. At this time the dog was being shown, and was winning a lot, so he didn’t want to take him away from showing unless necessary, or if the dog was ill.


I asked about him being in a fight, or being attacked by another dog.   The owner said his older dog had roughed him up when he was young, but had done no harm to him physically, it was all over In a minute, more of a shouting match than a fight.


Food.  Because of his condition the owners had changed diet a lot, and each time he was< for changes. They had him on Hill’s Science diet, and he was tolerating that well. They felt that the condition was allergy based.


PERSONAL history:  He had had this condition since young, (3 months of age) and had no other health problems.  He had been used for stud but not overly. He coped well with the bitches when they were in season, being around him. Neither event upset his stomach. There was no Family history of gastric disturbances in either of his parents or siblings.


Rx Colocynthus- 30c, three tablets over the first day then one daily for five days.


One week later – I observed him at a show, he was sitting in his crate, not barking, or upset, not happy either, but calmer in himself.


Follow up 1 month later


He had had no more attacks since commencing the remedy. He was quite well and happy in himself.


Rx Nil

(gave Colocynthus 30c to hold) with instructions how to use less tablets than before. Using 1 tab stat then repeats at 10 minute intervals till a result was gained.  Result = bowel moving and bloating going, along with mental/emotional improvement.  Also a reminder that if the Colocynthus didn’t hold, that he may need Staphysagria.


No further contact until 3 ½ years later –phone call


Had one attack 6 months after the initial remedy and they gave him one Coloccynthus 30c and he was fine. The attack was not as bad as before and hardly upset him at all. They noticed this attack was preceded by abdominal swelling and him walking with his right rear leg sticking out.


They phoned this time because he had had just had an attack. They had changed his diet carefully, but he had the problem again, in a minor way. They had shifted house and lost the tablets given to them.  It had been 31/2 yrs. since the last consult and he had only had the two attacks in that time.


Rx Colocynthus 30c single dose, with more tablets to hold.






Although the owner said that being roughed up by the other dog caused no lasting problems, I took this to be the cause of his problems.


Center of the Case


It is in the GI tract, and the emotions.  The most prevalent symptoms being those of the distension and pain in the abdomen, resulting in diarrhea.    His mental state was attributed to this insofar as he was very sensitive, and easily upset.  The beating by the other dog, although not physically harmful, had left him oversensitised to danger and imagined threats, which showed in his behavior when caged at shows. In turn it lead to his developing colic and diahrrhoea.


Rubrics used


This case was not originally repertorised.


The rubric “beside oneself” I added to reflect his attitude while caged at shows.


(see repertorization below…)



Other Rx’s considered


Staphysagria – ailments from abuse, diarrhea

Arsenicum – diarrhoea from emotional and dietary upsets

Colchicum – bloating, distension, diarrhea.


Why Rx chosen (remedy of choice)


Colocynthus has most of its symptoms in the abdomen and the head.

It is suited to persons (animals) easily angered and the ill effects of that.

There was very little in the way of mental symptoms to go on.  Dogs needing Staphysagria tend to “take offence” more outwardly than this dog.  They tend to display more aggression than fear.  The dog, seemed to me to express more fear than aggression when lunging at the crate.  The colic and distension of the abdomen coupled by him curling in a ball (bending double), for which he was better, plus the symptom of being better for having his abdomen rubbed and the fact that he curled up in a ball (> bending double) leads to the remedy.  The agonizing pain in the abdomen causing the dog to bend double is almost characteristic of Colocynthus (Boericke).  Dogs needing Colocynthus are sensitive to little things such as owners arguing. It is sometimes used in babies with colic caused by parents arguing.  The remedy has Dysenteric stools which are renewed by food and drink.

About the author

Joan Goddard

Joan Goddard is a Registered Classical Homeopath with the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths. She has a Diploma in Homeopathy from the Australasian College of Homeopathy, a Diploma in Homeopathy from the Wellington College of Homeopathy, a Post Graduate Diploma in Homeopathic Drug Transmission (India) and an Advanced Diploma in Homeopathy from the Bay of Plenty College of Homeopathy. She has been a life member of the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths since 2007 and served as its president for 6 years. Her publications include Kidz Bugs, Coughs, and Homeopathy the Family and You. Her practice is a happy mix of animals and people, with clients all over the country, who stay in touch with her by phone.

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