Understanding Your Pet’s Signs and Symptoms

Duffy scratching

Duffy scratching

The message.

“It’s a medical emergency”. This is what I hear from the bedroom while taking a shower this morning.

Amy (my wife) awakened with a fat lip. Her lower lip was twice its usual size.

The lip looked as if it just had fat injections. This sudden odd symptom was doubly strange because only half of it was swollen.

How could that be? She was fine when she went to sleep. She had no weird food or environmental toxin exposure. Maybe something bit her overnight.

Who knows. So what was up with this weirdness that started my day? What did it mean, and more importantly, what should be done?

Amy’s swollen lip was a fabulous observable sign. Her body was saying something. But what? Why did this happen?

As with many problems, the trigger for the swelling was not as important as the simple message that it was conveying.  It’s almost always the same.

Enter the messenger

How could that be? Isn’t the body (of all species) complex and difficult to understand? Don’t you need a doctorate to do so? Yes and no.

Physiologic changes can indeed be complex. However fully understanding them is not critical. These changes are secondary. The primary abnormality is simple and can be understood by all.

The underlying cause for all symptoms is energetic.

The healthy living being is in an energetic balance. The dis-eased one is not.

Physiologic changes like Amy’s fat lip are what homeopaths would call a symptom. In non-verbal species though, it is called a sign (so your vet might look at you funny if you tell her about your pet’s symptoms).

The body’s symptomatic response to its’ environment is usually more important than the trigger.

Let’s say that the cause of Amy’s swelling was a bug bite. Some individuals would react one way whereas others react another.

The expression of the symptom is determined by the individual’s tendencies.

This is an extremely important concept to understand.

Understanding The Message

Correctly interpreting signs and symptoms helps homeopaths treat the underlying problem manifestation.  Long-term health can be improved by treating this underlying tendency to particular symptoms.

Treating this tendency helps reduce recurrence of the problem. Drug treatment can not help in this way.

Sophia was a winsome rescue pup who was very itchy and had multiple skin “infections”. She had been diagnosed with atopy and allergic skin disease. Many potential allergens were found through extensive (and expensive) testing.

Special diets, fatty acids, anti-histamines and eventually steroids were used to control her itch. She  didn’t itch while she took the steroids. As soon as she stopped them however, the itching returned.

When taking the steroids she drank so much that she urinated all over the house. Her liver and other organs were also effected. Finally, her guardian sought homeopathic treatment. It was a last resort (as it often is though should not be).

The underlying allergic over reactivity of Sophia’s immune system was treated with homeopathy instead of the external triggers. Energetic balance was the goal. Not symptomatic relief.

Frequent follow-up rechecks were needed for the first few months of her homeopathic treatment. In her (and many) case the drug treatments had complicated the true picture.

Eventually the drugs and supplements were stopped and the itching didn’t return. Thanks to her new found energetic balance from the homeopathic medicines.

She was now fine when exposed to triggers that used to cause extreme itching. Her diet no longer had to be restricted. She ate a varied fresh food diet and remains itch free years later.

Lyme dis-ease and other infections provide another great example. Anti-biotics absolutely help the body eliminate the organisms. However, antibiotics don’t treat the underlying predisposition to the infection.

The immune system should be strong enough to win its battle with Lyme, parvovirus, distemper, feline leukemia, etc. Unfortunately nowadays it is not.

Helping or Hurting?

In many cases, the immune system needs help. Anti-biotics may oppose the body (“antibiotic”=”against life”) but they work. However, the immune system is not strengthened by their use.

In fact, often just the opposite. The tendency to get re-infected is not reduced. In fact, the evidence is just the opposite!

ANTI-biotic reatment for Lyme (or other infectious diseases) may increase the propensity to re-infection. They are not a panacea.

Patients can die from simple bacterial infections if their immune systems are weak. Despite antibiotics.

To make matter worse, not only is the underlying immune imbalance that prevented resolution of the problem not treated, but the drugs (which in homeopathic parlance are “dis-similar” to the disease process) can lower vitality.

In my (and other vet homeopath) experience, the more drug use (and the higher the dose), the lower the vitality and healing ability. Vaccinations, poor diet, insufficient exercise and mental stimulation, etc. also weaken the immune system and slow healing.

Reviewing your pet’s history is a great way to predict how well s/he will respond to treatments that work with the body.

So What Should I Do?

Back to Amy’s fat lip and why neither of us were too alarmed by it. We both knew that like most other symptoms, her body would return to normal after a homeopathically-chosen medicines.

She received a single dose of a homeopathic medicine. The symptoms were pretty clear making the choice of medicine easier.

After one dose her lip was improved and the swelling was gone altogether immediately after the second dose. Cool!


A few hours later when I went upstairs for lunch, Amy said something to me. Her speech was badly slurred. When she opened her mouth I could see her greatly swollen tongue.  A new symptom.

Surprisingly, she found it amusing and was not upset by the swelling. Distressing as it could be interpreted (OMG “I’m having anaphylactic shock!!”). One sip of the homeopathic medicine from the morning and her tongue swelling resolved. She’s been fine ever since.

One last personal example. My 13 year young Rex cat named Chi is in the midst of a potentially distressing symptom manifestation. For the past few weeks he gets severely congested at times.  When company came over yesterday he repeatedly sneezed out thick yellow mucus at the table when we were eating (our friends were not amused!).

On first glance, this symptom indicates anti-biotics. I did not give him any. Some might call this neglectful and cruel. However, in the bigger picture this is not the case. Quite the contrary. I view this as another way that his body is healing itself during homeopathic treatment.

You see, Chi has feline asthma. One of the associated physiologic changes in some asthmatics can be mucous plugs in the lungs. These reduce lung function and result in difficult and rapid breathing, wheezing, coughing, etc. In short, common signs of asthma.

Chi seems absolutely fine in every other way. In fact, he is even better than usual. His appetite, energy and mood are better than ever. Even his heart murmur and rapid heart rate are improving (he also has cardiomyopathy).

I consider the copious mucus production and congestion to be an improvement. Chi is walking the path toward a higher level of health.

Signs and symptoms should not inspire fear. Instead, they should be understood. Your vet homeopath can help you understand them in the bigger picture of helping your pets have happier and longer lives.

Be well. Keep your pets balanced.

Dr. Jeff

  1. Great Blog today. I am glad Amy and Chi are okay and were able to be your “demos.”

  2. It is so wonderful to be reinforced by your words. You probably don’t remember me but about 20 years ago, I was living in Simsbury and managed to find you to help with my Labs. That was before you totally embraced homeopathy. You actually saved my Andy’s life by getting us up to Angel with an undiagnosed bleeding situation. They discovered a tumor behind his spleen. He recovered and lived to the ripe old age of 15. We also worked together using homeopathy with Pete who had FCP and he also thrived to almost 15.
    We now live in TN and have fortunately found a holistic vet who does energy balancing. She’s been very helpful with my animals. I’d love to be able to pop in to see you with a very odd cat. We’re working on detoxing him and it’s really interesting to see the new and old symptoms that come and go. I always wish it would work faster, so I’m so happy to see your words reminding me to have faith and be patient.

  3. Wow Claire! I absolutely remember our journey together. It’s fantastic to see you here. Thanks so much for your comments.

    Have a great day!

    Dr. Jeff

  4. Claire – Do you remember me, too? You were the one who connected me to Dr. Jeff also, about 20 years ago. Bette gave me your name and I am a friend of Jo-Ann. Referring me to Dr. Jeff has been life changing for my dogs and me. Thank you!

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