When Bob, the dog, Gets a Snakebite, Homeopathy Saves the Day
The miracles and power of homeopathy never cease to amaze me. As an Emergency Medicine physician turned homeopath, with many years experience in a Level I Trauma Center, I have always been acutely aware of the life-saving capabilities of conventional western medicine. Emergency Physicians confront and successfully manage life-threatening problems on a daily basis. Most homeopaths, at least in the US, rarely have an opportunity to test the efficacy of homeopathy when accident, injury or illness brings one toward the brink of death. In fact, on most of these occasions, an individual will elect to go to the hospital to be treated.
So as a longstanding homeopath and teacher of homeopathy, providence delivered an unusual opportunity to test my mettle and that of homeopathic medicine on a recent wilderness vacation in Oregon’s Steens Mountain Wilderness area. In August I took a trip with my family to this high desert region, one filled not only with majestic beauty, abundant wildlife, and the tranquility of a remote area far from the hustle and bustle of urban life, but also populated with a number of desert predators, including rattlesnakes.
One afternoon on our return from a refreshing swim in the river that ran near our campsite, one of our neighbors, Don, called over to us to warn us about snakes. Just 30 minutes prior, Don’s Border Collie/Lab, affectionately named Bob, went charging after an “intruder” on their turf, broke his tether in pursuit, and wound up with a snake bite on the right side of his forehead. Don quickly responded, and killed the attacking snake with his shovel, allowing clear identification: definitely a rattler.
Don didn’t know I was a physician and homeopath, but when I discovered just what had occurred, I came right over with my field Emergency Remedy Kit and told Don about my experience as a homeopath. I emphasized my sincere belief that homeopathy could very well offer effective service.
As an Emergency Medicine doc, I was used to handling dire emergencies. It was quite natural for me to adopt a posture of assurance and confidence. Any feelings of doubt or worry were simply brushed aside as I focused intently on the matter at hand. That is just what emergency docs are trained to do. In addition, I knew from my homeopathic experience that, if I found and possessed the correct remedy, all would very likely turn out well. (I didn’t let Don know that I never had the opportunity to treat a snakebite with homeopathy, nor did I tell him how exciting it was to have the chance to do so.)
Don had little familiarity with homeopathy, but he did have past experience with snakebites and dogs, because he worked in the desert as a field archeologist for the BLM for over 30 years. One of his other dogs had been bitten before, and had gotten so sick he nearly died. Don recalled that it took several days of anxious observation and attentive nursing at its side, before things eased up. It had been touch and go for days, but fortunately his dog recovered.
Now, his other dog, Bob, was clearly not doing well. He was lying at Don’s side, very quiet and subdued, the right side of his face swollen dramatically, his right eye completely shut, his swollen jowl sagging with the force of gravity, heavy drool hanging from the side of his mouth. When I stroked Bob’s head in reassurance he yelped in pain, the bitten area being exquisitely tender. Don, having seen this all before, was most concerned, and was resigned to begin his several day vigil at Bob’s side. After all, in this remote setting, there was nothing else to do.
Since it was near day’s end, the likelihood of finding an emergency vet equipped to handle such a situation was small. In Don’s mind, the nearest town that may have had conventional emergency veterinary services was probably too far away to warrant transport. Granted, in a human patient with a similar presentation after a rattlesnake bite, the prognosis would have been guarded at best. This bite location in a human– at the base of the skull and on the neck– could have proved disastrous, threatening both airway and circulation. Anti-venom would have most likely been immediately indicated.
With my “patient” quietly and plaintively awaiting my assistance, I perused my set of available remedies and selected two that would most likely be of benefit in this situation, namely Lachesis (potentized Suruku snake venom) and Cedron (a potentized plant otherwise known as “Rattle Snake Bean”), both in a 30C potency, which was all that I had available in my kit.
Since homeopathy works on the principle of _”like cures like,” it made good sense that one remedy made from snake venom, and another extracted from a plant whose reputation in herbal folk medicine emphasized a strong effect in the treatment snake envenomations might very well show promise in treating Bob’s unfortunate encounter with a rattler.
In the best of circumstances, when working on a fresh case, one would have at his disposal a library of resources to aid in the search and identification of the best remedy for the problem at hand. Not to mention the fact that I was dealing with a non-verbal canine friend, rather than a human who could express their symptoms in words.
While from a homeopathic perspective, my choices may not have been studied or particularly precise, they were all I had. I simply hoped that the symptom profile of either of the two remedies was close enough to match Bob’s, so as to stimulate a strong healing response.
Ideally, one single remedy would be administered and progress would be evaluated over short increments of time.
However, Bob had no way to tell me what his responses would be to any remedy. I had observation alone to serve as my guide. For this reason, I decided to hedge my bets and alternate the two most reasonable choices of remedy I had available, and hope that one of them would work its magic. By alternating them, I thought perhaps one would prove its mettle more clearly and I could then eliminate the other remedy from the mix.
I prepared two cups of water and diluted each one of the two remedies in each cup, carefully labeling them to avoid confusion later, and instructed Don to alternate doses of the two remedies, administering a spoonful of one or the other remedy every 5 minutes for 4 doses. Then I left them to get a bite (no pun intended) to eat.
I returned after 30 minutes. Already Bob was moving more. He was starting to wag his tail and look up. His right eye, previously swollen shut, was beginning to open. I instructed Don to continue alternating doses now every 15 minutes and I would check back in an hour.
When I returned for the second time about an hour later, Bob stood up to greet me. Face still swollen and mouth drooling, Bob was nevertheless becoming more animated. He was acting more dog-like and less ill. His eye was now ½ visible. When I pet him, he didn’t yelp like before. The pain seemed significantly diminished.
Night was already falling, so I told Don to keep up with the alternating doses through the late evening every ½ hour now, and then during the night one or two doses of each. I saw Bob energetically jump up into Don’s camper and lay himself on his doggie bed. At that point, I knew that he was out of the woods and recovering beautifully.
I awoke early the next morning, eager to know how Bob weathered the night. Bob came running over to greet me, tail wagging, both eyes wide open, showing no signs whatsoever of being sick. There was still some boggy edema under his jowls, but it seemed to have no negative impact. Bob’s immune system was processing the effects of the snake venom, but it seemed that the toxicity had been more or less entirely neutralized. Bob was clearly well and thriving!
In fact, he had eaten breakfast, drank copious amounts of water and had “done his duty” per his normal schedule. Don was perplexed and elated. When we had first met after Bob’s unfortunate encounter with the snake, Don was nearly grief- stricken, as he explained that this dog was his “family”, for he had no wife or children. Now all that worry was behind him. He knew the remedy had worked, but wasn’t quite sure how to explain it to himself. After explaining to him the general idea behind homeopathic healing, I joked with him that Bob’s miraculous recovery was basic homeopathic magic.
I instructed Don to wean Bob off the remedies by decreasing their frequency from every few hours to three times a day the current day, then to twice daily, and then once daily on the two days following. Should there be any signs of worsening, he should up the frequency until symptoms again stabilized, then wean again, slowly.
After explaining the weaning off process and Bob’s recovery well under way, I reflected and mused upon my experience. Seeing how homeopathy performed—as I knew it should—in this true life emergency was both gratifying and awe-inspiring. Not only did the remedies perform as well or better than the standard of care in western medicine (namely, anti-venom), they did so without any of the attendant risks, such as anaphylaxis and death.
Homeopathic remedies have no material substance and so are said to act energetically rather than physically, on living beings. By stimulating and empowering the life force, homeopathic remedies accelerate and reinforce the body’s innate wisdom and capacity to heal. This experience with Bob served as a real testimony to the validity of homeopathy and its underlying principles.
Hahnemann demonstrated long ago that our material organism was governed by a kind of spiritual “vital force”, which controls or mediates all of our sensations and functions, keeping them in perfect balance and harmony. The vital force (the medium through which homeopathy works its wonders) certainly does reign supreme—as this experience proves—in its governance over the health and well-being of living beings, just as Hahnemann demonstrated over 200 years ago. As living beings, we sense this in ourselves and thus we inherently know this to be true.
From years and years of clinical application, I know that I can rely on the medicinal powers of homeopathic remedies, when properly applied, to serve our patients across the entire spectrum of dis-ease, from minor to life threatening. I am thankful to Don who offered this opportunity to reinforce and deepen this knowing, and to Bob for being such a cooperative and willing patient.
Maybe you are wondering why a story about a snakebite and a dog would be of interest to people using or considering homeopathy for the health care of one’s children and family. If homeopathy works so well to cure a potentially lethal venomous injury to one’s beloved pet, just think what benefits it will bring to the routine care of your family’s ills!