Dr. Sara Fox Chapman’s Story

Dr. Sara Fox Chapman’s Story

Animal Mad

Like so many of you, I was animal mad when I was growing up. Unfortunately, my mum and older brother had bad allergies, so until an outside cat adopted me, I relied on a kind neighbor’s dogs – walking and training them. My own first dog arrived when I was 15. My dad brought home a white boxer puppy that was going to be euthanized by its breeder and my mum couldn’t say no. This was the mid 70s, and since then I have had dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, geese, and horses.

I met my husband John at Ohio State, when we were both living in the same undergraduate scholarship dorm, located under the stands (really) of Ohio Stadium. We married in 1982, during vet school. I earned my Masters during vet school; combining Immunology and Poultry Science made the vet school coursework more relevant, and it ensured that my husband and I had plenty of eggs to eat. My studies also caused me to doubt the wisdom of the current vaccination paradigm. After graduating from Ohio State in 1985, my first year at a small animal practice in Maryland was abysmal. I went back to Graduate School to study Ethology (Animal Behaviour), while working part time at a different practice with supportive colleagues.. By the time I had finished the coursework for my PhD, I decided that I did like private practice after all, so I opted to forego competing that degree. I continued part time work while raising our two sons.

Fast forward ten years into practice, and I was frustrated. Not with the patients or clients, but with the tools at my disposal. I felt like I was putting out fires temporarily; patients kept coming back for the same problem, and their health slowly declined. About this time, one of my horses developed a chronic lameness, and in desperation, I sought help from an integrative practitioner. Homeopathy, which I had previously dismissed as ‘impossible’, solved the problem, and I was determined to know more.

Hooked on Homeopathy

In 1996 I took a short course in homeopathy through NCH from Dr. Christina Chambreau, and her suggestions regarding diet sorted out my beloved Newf’s allergies. I then was emboldened to struggle through a prolonged case taking and analysis with my first chronic case, an asthmatic kitty. Puddy’s people were nearing the end of their resources with his frequent severe attacks. The first prescription helped a bit, and after more study and analysis, the second prescription cured the cat. Puddy remained in good health for 8 years, to the ripe age of 18.

Now I was hooked on this homeopathy, but where to study it? My personality did not mesh well with the course taught in the US at that time. The opportunity arose for my family to relocate to the UK for three years, and I attended the three year course of the Homeopathic Practitioners Teaching Group in Oxford, culminating in successful qualification for my VetMFHom in 2002, via examination by the Faculty of Homeopathy. This education was integral to my development as a homeopath. I had six primary instructors (both MDs and vets), numerous masterclasses, and guest homeopaths. This exposed me to the breadth of homeopathic practice, and opened my mind to the wealth of experience of my international colleagues.

I returned to the US, and found an open minded conventional practitioner with whom I work, seeing patients on her premises. We have an agreeable arrangement: I have conventional diagnostics available, and the practice has a holistic practitioner for clients that prefer that approach. The practice owner is respectful of how my practice differs from hers, and I respect that she is doing the best for her patients with the tools at her disposal. I treat patients with homeopathy, nutrition, and acupuncture, tailoring the approach to the individual.

My Passions

My passion in practice is educating clients to make the best decisions for themselves and their animal companions. I have been on the receiving end of the medical system, through my experiences with our children and my parents’ cancer diagnoses. I understand the way the medical establishment can, intentionally or not, make us feel guilty when our decisions do not agree with what the doctor recommends. I have been pressured to make decisions that do not align with my beliefs. I have experienced the frustration of being unable to get a clear and meaningful discussion of the options available. I want, as do most people, a recognition that my thoughts are important, and a sense that my doctor is interested in what is best for me as an individual. My basic premise in practice is that each person has the same commitment to their family as I do, and deserves the same consideration that I would like to receive.

I enjoy speaking about homeopathy, and I am involved with the AVH (Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy) the BAHVS (British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons) and the IAVH (International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy). Through these organizations I promote quality homeopathic practice worldwide. We work to defend homeopathy from attacks in various countries (including the US), establish standards for homeopathic practice and education, and support efforts of national veterinary homeopathy groups.

I do have interests aside from homeopathy! My husband and I cherish the time we spend with friends and family, and our sons and their partners are delightful. We love to travel, and explore different cultures and cuisines. We enjoy music; I play piano several hours a week, and we attend concerts ranging from Baroque pop, to classical, to jazz, to classic and indie rock. My organic garden leans heavily toward native plants and fruits, and my greenhouse has tropical fruit trees and plants. We have bred three litters (four in 2019) of naturally reared (NR = minimally vaccinated, weaned to raw) Bernese Mountain Dogs; this will be the sixth generation of NR dogs on the maternal side. I enjoy cooking, and baking, and we both delight in good food from DC – Baltimore restaurants.

I was pleased to be asked to join the Holistic Actions! faculty by Dr. Jeff. I have known Dr. Jeff since 2002, when I became a member of the AVH, and I first met Dr. Christina at that introductory homeopathy course in 1996. The remit of HA! aligns closely with my personal goal of educating people to provide the best possible care for their animals.

Discovery of Vitality, Balance and Homeopathy

Discovery of Vitality, Balance and Homeopathy

Graduating from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 at age 30, I was not thinking at all holistically. I had done a two-day animal acupuncture class with the original U.S. founders of IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society), Dr. Grady Young and Dr. Marvin Cain. I then did a little research my senior year using acupuncture points for glaucoma that didn’t work so I was not interested in anything holistic.

Introduction to homeopathy

A year or so after I graduated from veterinary school, I was working at a small satellite clinic in southern Maryland, when a client came in and asked me to draw blood and send the results to her homeopathic veterinarian. I said, “Sure,” and did it—drew the blood—then said, “Hey, what is homeopathy?” She introduced me to it, and I called the local veterinarian, who had taken the very first class offered by British homeopathic veterinarian George McLeod for the National Center for Homeopathy. He sent me two bottles of these little white globules, saying that these homeopathic medicines were good for cats with bladder problems. I put them away on a shelf in the main clinic. 

At that time, I didn’t know that homeopathic prescriptions are not made for specific diseases like UTI. Homeopathy is based on the principle that “like cures like” and the selection of the medicine needs to match all the symptoms of the entire animal, current and past.

A few months later, my boss was seeing a cat who had been on antibiotics continuously for three years for a bladder problem. Any time they tried to stop the antibiotics, the straining and blood immediately returned, and they were now starting to look at euthanasia because of some side effects from the drugs. I said, “Hey boss, I’ve got this homeopathic stuff Dr. Tayman sent. You want to try it?”

He said, “Sure. You ask the cat’s owner.” Well, I was fairly timid, and I went in and I said, “Hi. I heard that your cat is not responding to these drugs for the cystitis. There’s this homeopathic medicine that can help.” She said, “Well, I’ll try anything. Tell me more about it.” “Well, I don’t know anything more about it,” but I did explain that a veterinarian in another city had sent it to me and the upshot was that one week of giving the homeopathic medicine probably twice a day—because I was very conventional back then—and the cat was off the antibiotics completely for the next nine months that I was at the practice and had no urinary tract problems.

Homeopathy works

I was very intrigued by this result and the information my client had shared about her success in her psychotherapy practice using homeopathic medicine. The next two summers I took the NCH summer school weekends with Dr. McLeod, bought some books and began using homeopathic medicines at my next clinic. Owner Ann Lehman was open to anything that would help animals.  A few memorable early cases included the following.

A middle-aged Dachshund had severe spondylosis – on the radiograph it looked as if there was a second row of vertebrae below the real vertebral column, extending for 8 vertebrae. The dog could not bend sideways. He had been started on several homeopathic medicines by Dr. Khalsa in Pennsylvania which I continued. After 3 months of treatment, his radiographs showed 100% resolution of the spondylosis and he was as limber as a puppy.

A cat with megacolon had to have enemas every few weeks and no drugs were helping. Four doses of a homeopathic medicine and she was defecating on her own.

A wonderful woman rescued a schnauzer tied in the back yard in a Las Vegas home 8 years before I saw him. At age 5 he developed an odd behavior that began to increase in frequency, now happening weekly or more. Classmates of mine I respected had done every possible test and had no diagnosis and nothing that could help Muffin. He would waken between 11 PM and 4 AM, going under the bed and howling. Sometimes they could pull him out and cuddle him back to sleep. Other times he urinated all over them. Other times they put him outside and he would bark and howl and run around the yard. The entire episode could last 5 – 30 minutes. With homeopathic treatment and general holistic changes like a fresh food diet, the episodes completely resolved for the rest of his life (he lived to 19).

Self healing journey

That was the beginning. A local pediatrician was in my second weekend, knowing she would learn how to treat infants better by how animals, who also cannot tell you their symptoms, are treated. Because she did not require her patients to avoid coffee during homeopathic treatment as many homeopaths did, I decided to try homeopathic treatment for a year-long fungal infection that had not responded to my medical self-treatment. A famous Belgian homeopath was visiting her and they both took my case and prescribed one dose of a homeopathic medicine – and the Belgian told me no caffeine for three months!! My fungal infection cleared, and more dramatically, I had a profound shift in my psyche, leading to being married in June the next year to Morton Orman. We are still happily married over 30 years.

One dose of a homeopathic medicine certainly dramatically improved my life.

After taking the two weekend classes, I enrolled in the year-long New England School of Homeopathy’s year-long training program taught by Paul Herscu. By then, Dr. Pitcairn was offering annual weekend classes on homeopathy for animals and I went to every one, offering homeopathy more and more often for my patients. In 1986 I made an arrangement with the conventional veterinary clinic to see only homeopathic patients there and not see their regular patients. I also began working for the founder of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association in his clinic, learning even more about the holistic paradigm. I began teaching classes on holistic health and homeopathy. By 1988 I was doing mostly telephone consulting for people who wanted homeopathy and had no trained veterinarian near them. Speaking, teaching and writing filled the next two decades. And I continued to see the effect of homeopathic medicines on myself.

A homeopathic medicine began a process of healing a liver damage from anesthetics after an accident. Experiencing the deep healing process helped me empathize with my patient’s journey to health.

Then I broke my ankle when I was in Costa Rica, and homeopathic internal and topical medicines kept me relatively mobile. My husband did have to do all the driving! The radiograph I took at my local veterinary clinic when I got home showed a severe spiral fracture. The Orthopedic surgeon said “Since you have been walking on the ankle for 10 days you only need a removable boot and not the surgery I normally would recommend.” I could even take showers! Once the ankle was stabilized, all the pain and bruising resolved in 24 hours. I had none of the problems he predicted and in the 20 some years since then have had no problems with that ankle. Thanks again to homeopathy.

In my sixties now, homeopathy and holistic approaches have kept me healthy enough to be on no conventional drugs at all.

Spreading the word

I started speaking in 1991, first for 150 people for a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) seminar about homeopathy. Over the next two decades I spoke at hundreds of venues. I was speaking everywhere I could about homeopathy and holistic medicine in general. From 1990 through 2003 I was on the faculty of the National Center for Homeopathy’s Summer School until it was discontinued. The wonderful head of the Maryland Veterinary Technician Program, Jack Stewart, hired me as a holistic modality adjunct faculty liaison and instructor beginning in 2004, lasting 10 years. Also starting in 2004 I taught as part of the Prince George’s Feral Friends summer school, teaching Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced homeopathy classes over the next 8 years. In 1995 I was able to speak at my 15th reunion at the University of Georgia.

I was blessed to teach a weekend Introduction to Veterinary Homeopathy as part of a series offered by Dr. Richard Pitcairn, then helped run and teach the first several year-long Professional Homeopathy Courses. Dr. Pitcairn, myself and Dr. Jana Rygas worked together to found the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy in 1995.  

I continue to teach courses around the country to lay and veterinary students. My commitment is to de-mystify homeopathy, to show how healing of all types follows the principles of the Organon and to have people realize the power (for good and bad) of remedies. I continue to write for any media, be on radio, TV, the internet and speak anywhere – from veterinary conferences to the neighborhood pet store. Empowering animal guardians to be their pet’s best advocate is now much more possible since joining the faculty of the Holistic Actions Academy in 2016. I am also the author of Healthy Animal’s Journal, Fleas Be Gone, and more.

Questions – the secret to cure

Over the decades of teaching and using homeopathy, what’s most important to me is that people ask questions. A major problem is that people aren’t asking their own veterinarians questions. This is one of the ways the Holistic Actions Academy empowers people in weekly webinars where they can ask questions and be reminded to pause and think about what treatments are being suggested by anyone.

For example, if a conventional vet tells a pet owner to give heartworm prevention once a month, the pet owner agrees to do so, then asks her in a class or appointment if they should really do it. I often respond, “Well, do you know how your dog gets heartworms? Do you know how the “preventative” works?”  Many people have no idea and so cannot make a good decision for themselves.

Clients aren’t asking their veterinarians “What if” questions. When a veterinarian recommends an MRI because a pet isn’t walking very well, there are many possible questions before doing this expensive test, or treatments that may have a risk. How would the MRI results (or any other test) change the treatment protocol? Are there are any alternatives to the MRI? Can we try some other treatments first and do the MRI later?

I want to say how blessed I am to be in a profession that helps people and animals be healthy and happy. You, my clients and students, are so passionate about the health of your companions that I am constantly inspired. I am passionate about living and supporting people and their animals. I want to let everyone know now about the holistic paradigm and all the healing options that are available.

How To Improve Your Dog’s Performance in Agility

How To Improve Your Dog’s Performance in Agility


agility dogs,vitality,hmdm,balanceAny pet may suffer an injury or develop a problematic symptom. Especially those canine athletes who do activities like agility, flyball, herding, etc.

This article applies the Holistic Medical Decision Making (HMDM) protocol to two common scenarios in agility. In both, HMDM was used.

HMDM is a proven method for making sound, scientific and safe decisions for your health-challenged pets. And it works no matter what method you use to treat your pet. Even if you decide to use medications or surgery which can quickly stop symptoms.

However, the goal of your treatment is probably enhancing your pet’s happiness, quality of life and athletic performance. Not just quickly stopping symptoms like lameness or anxiety with drugs.

Clinical experience and hundreds of cases prove that individualizing your pet’s treatment with HMDM is a highly effective method. Rather than just doing the same thing for all pets with similar symptoms.

In brief, the protocol has these 3 simple steps:

  1. Your Goal: such as a faster time through the weave poles
  2. Your Research: investigating available treatments, their effectiveness and risks : benefits
  3. Your Implementation: consult a vet homeopath, chiropractor, do massage, etc. Then evaluate the response to the treatment.

Vitality and Balance Using HMDM in Agility

Two common challenges for dogs that run agility are:

  1. Subtle gait abnormalities and weakness,
  2. Behaviors like timidity affecting performance.

These can both be reversed by individualizing with the tools of HMDM: by putting symptoms into context and interpreting them holistically.

CASE STUDY: Hitch In The Gait

CASE STUDY: Let’s say that your pup has a slight hitch in her gait and is running the agility course much slower than usual.

  • Your HMDM Step 1 – Goal: To improve her speed by resolving the subtle lameness or weakness.
  • Your HMDM Step 2 – Research: You remember that many of your friends in your classes use a great chiropractor and have seen how much chiropractic adjustments can help.
  • Your Step 3 – Implementation: Start seeing the chiropractor.

Your pup seems much better after each appointment. But even frequent adjustments don’t hold and your pup’s hitch comes back.

Now you repeat the HMDM process.

  • Step 1 – Goal: To permanently resolve the lameness.
  • Step 2 – Research: You ask for tips from friends or instructors in agility and you learn about potentially useful exercises.
  • Step 3 – Implementation: You buy a TotoFit Orbit to start core conditioning or you book an appointment with a physical therapistcore conditioning, agility, homeopathy

Even after strengthening your dog’s core for a few weeks, the lameness keeps returning. Your HMDM goal is still full recovery and you remember that during your research, you learned that homeopathy is another way to help even more.

The energetic imbalance that caused the lameness, to begin with, can be resolved with homeopathy. Homeopathic “fine-tuning” is the ultimate way of individualizing and working with your pet’s body.

You schedule an appointment with a professional homeopath. Your pup runs better on some days, not as great on others, but her BEAM (Behavior, Energy, Appetite and Mood) continues to improve.

Now comes the hardest part of working with your pet’s body. That is using patience and perseverance while your pup heals. It may be a few months before your pup is ready to race through an agility course. But the wait and work are worth it because then your pup wins races like never before and just keeps getting better and better.

CASE STUDY: Confidence Building and Ending Fears

CASE STUDY: One day in class, your friend’s 7-month-old puppy refuses to do the teeter. Every time it bangs down, she jumps, starts shaking and tries to hide. On top of that, she has started peeing submissively when she sees some people and is barking aggressively (fearfully?) at other dogs. Turns out that she had a rabies shot a few weeks earlier. Your friend knows that these are signs of the rabies miasm and asks what you would do. You recommend that she use the HMDM protocol.

HMDM Step 1 – Goal: Resolve the imbalance from the rabies vaccine.

HMDM Step 2 – Research: Your friend is already increasing vitality and healing ability by raw feeding, avoiding toxins and most vaccines and providing lots of physical and mental stimulation in agility.

But that has not been enough. Her pup’s vitality is high, but it is imbalanced. Fortunately, she just saw the great results you had with homeopathy. You tell your friend that homeopathic treatment is a great way to reverse these symptoms. You describe how homeopathy will work with her pup’s natural vitality to help optimize her balance.

HMDM Step 3 – Implementation: She starts working with a veterinary homeopath.

Symptom clues lead to an individualized homeopathic medicine.  After just one dose, your friend’s dog is no longer jumping when she hears the teeter hit the ground!

She still doesn’t want to get on the teeter, but it’s a step in the right direction. Over time and continued treatment, your friend’s dog is finally willing to get on it. The instructor advises your friend to keep the teeter height low at first, but in a few months, it’s back up to the full height.

And the happiness in your friend’s dog’s face when she runs the full course (including the teeter) is wonderful to see! Oh, and the submissive peeing and “greeting dis-order” (barking aggressively at other dogs she sees) also improve.

These are other great effects from optimizing her balance with homeopathy to stop the rabies miasm symptoms. In six months her confidence is restored and she is back to living her life to its fullest.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Quality of life and happiness for our beloved companion animals.

Using Internal Symptoms to Define Your Pet’s Dis-ease

Using Internal Symptoms to Define Your Pet’s Dis-ease

Take Homes in This Article:

1. Measurable internal changes, like blood test results, are sensitive reflections of health.

2. Test changes can be the earliest warning signs of internal imbalance (dis-ease).

3. Holistic interpretation of test results can help early treatment and natural restoration of health.

Sam’s Increased Drinking


Sam is a happy seven year young Golden Retriever. She loves to cuddle and is everyone’s best friend.

Sam’s guardians cared for her holistically. She was fed fresh food and minimally vaccinated. Sam only had a few problems throughout her life. Seemingly minor issues like ear discharges and eye redness that were treated by their local veterinarian.

Over the past few weeks, her water bowl had to be refilled a little more often than usual. She seemed fine in all other ways.

Sam’s proactive pet parents brought her right to the family’s veterinarian.


Define Your Goal and the Problem


Sam’s family was worried and wanted to do something.

But they also wanted to do the best for Sam. They would do anything possible to keep her well for as long as possible.

Nothing was found during her examination, so the veterinarian drew some blood and collected some urine to be sent out to the lab for testing.

Sam was sent home with an anti-biotic. The directions were to give both pills twice/day starting tonight.

Intuitively, this didn’t feel right to her guardians, so they chose to hold off on the medication until the test results came back.


How Internal Symptoms Can Help


Two days later, the vet called with the test results. Everything looked fine except for one elevated enzyme called the serum alkaline phosphatase (SAP).

The vet said that Sam’s increased drinking and SAP could be early signs of Cushing’s dis-ease. And that the test result was just a clue to what is happening in her body. And it is nothing to worry about. He advised a 6 month recheck.

He still recommended the medications because they “couldn’t hurt” and might help. Just in case of a hidden infection.

But they really didn’t want to give the drugs and had been reading about similar symptoms. And how they could be interpreted differently. In a way that promoted proactive prevention rather than reactive treatment.

Sam’s guardians asked their vet about this closer evaluation of symptoms. He again said to not worry about it, but that they could consult with an internal medicine specialist if they really wanted. An appointment was set up for the following week.

After the consultation, the internist agreed that a better understanding of Sam’s problems was indicated.

Since there were no clues on the examination, further diagnostic testing was needed. He couldn’t advise much more without it. Oh, and they would cost $650. Hopefully, they would be useful.


Interpreting Symptoms


Sam’s family understood that this was the current conventional method. Doing many expensive tests hoping to get a diagnosis. Which then may lead to a treatment to help.

But they also knew that these treatments were often harsh and aggressive and could sometimes cause other problems. Which are then managed with other drugs.

They didn’t want to get on this merry-go-round.

One of Sam’s friends had just consulted with a conventionally trained but holistically and homeopathically-oriented vet in another state. This had seemed odd at the time but now made more sense to Sam’s family.

He taught them that using both externally visible and internally measurable symptoms would help them know what to do. That they could then use all of the clues to work with their pet’s body.

This approach to maintaining Sam’s wellness and treating her dis-ease symptoms made sense to them. But would it help Sam?


Paws Before Acting


Sam’s family knew to paws and ponder before deciding how to help her. This is a critical step before deciding what to do for any non-life threatening problem. It may involve reading reliable resources, speaking with other pet professionals, getting a second (or third) opinion, etc.

As part of their mindful decision-making process, they had spoken with their veterinarian about potential causes for Sam’s elevated SAP and increased drinking. He had spoken with them about the possibility of Cushing’s dis-ease.

When Sam’s guardians learned more about Cushing’s treatment options they decided to seek a different opinion. Not just a second opinion. They knew that a different point of view would be needed to avoid toxic drug treatments and surgery.

One of their friends described a system that was “Beyond Flat Earth Medicine”. It uses holistic interpretation of both internal and external symptoms like Sam’s to work with her body. Doing so could then promote natural healing. Her family could then naturally normalize both her elevated SAP as well as decrease her excessive drinking.

After reading a few eye-opening books Sam’s guardians went back to their veterinarian. He didn’t know much more, so referred them to a veterinary homeopath who some of his other holistically-oriented clients had used. A trained veterinary resource where they could both learn more and treat Sam’s problems.

Four months later when Sam came in for her semi-annual wellness check, she was doing great. Her externally observable drinking symptom had returned to normal. And her blood test showed a dramatic decrease of the internal SAP elevation.


Just like Sam’s family, you can work with your pet’s body. You can often avoid manipulating individual symptoms with medications and surgery.

You can learn more about using Holistic Medical Decision Making (HMDM) to interpret internal and external symptoms in other blog articles. Even more information about this approach is available to members.

Click here to get unlimited access to videos and other resources. They will help you learn and start to use HMDM. 

How to Select an Integrative Holistic Veterinarian

How to Select an Integrative Holistic Veterinarian

Your pet is ill and you want to treat holistically.

You want to prevent illness, save money and have your companion live a long life.

Who is an integrative veterinarian?

  • She/he is a veterinarian, trained in using conventional drugs and diagnostics.
  • She/he has been trained in one or many different holistic approaches.

There are good ones and great ones, and you will have to discern the difference.

Some homeopathic veterinarians will consult by phone, skype or email.

Different Trainings Include:

  • Homeopathy,
  • Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (acupuncture, herbs and foods, moxa, Tui Na)
  • Herbal Medicines,
  • Flower essences,
  • Osteopathy,
  • Chiropractic,
  • Nutrition,
  • Glandulars,
  • Reiki,
  • Tellington Touch,
  • Healing Touch for Animals

Some of these have certification programs with a year or more of courses, exams and evaluation of clinical ability. Others are either self-taught or not regulated.


The best is to have a partnership where your integrative veterinarian encourages you to do all the healing modalities you want to learn. You and she may differ about the number of vaccines, raw versus cooked meat, flea control and more, yet you should both accept the other person’s point of view.

Some veterinarians and their staff are wonderful with your animal — others great at explaining to you what is happening with your animals. A few are good in both areas. Few veterinarians are perfect, and we all have bad days. Your animal should at least be comfortable with your choice and you should be able to get your questions and concerns addressed.

Perspective of a Holistic Veterinarian

Treat the whole animal, not merely the current problem.

If there is a current problem, for example diarrhea or itching, a good holistic veterinarian will ask questions about what problems there have been in the past, what has changed in the household or the environment that may have triggered the current complaint and if there is anything that makes the current complaints better or worse.

They will always evaluate the overall energy level of the animal. Their goal is to make the animal healthier for life, not just to get rid of the current symptom.

They will educate you and explain what they see when physically examining your animal.

A good holistic veterinarian will be thrilled at what you are learning at the Holistic Actions Academy – HMDM setting of a goal of deep healing and not merely symptom relief; basic health care of feeding fresh diet, few toxins, etc; 6 P’s, especially the one on Patience; that you are keeping a journal; that you want to be a partner with them rather than merely asking for treatments.

Finding a Holistic Veterinarian

  • STEP 1: Go to the web sites for each holistic veterinary organization and read about that modality. Go to their referral list to find one near to you.
  • STEP 2: visit the web site of any practitioners you are interested in.

Warning – put on your critical decision making hat. It may be a very conventional looking clinic yet the bio of the holistic vet seems excellent. It may seem very holistic, yet they are pushing a lot of treatments. (Some are on the web sites because they took one class, joined the organization, then quit completely. Some are no longer in practice, etc.)

Some practitioners are members of only one or two of the organizations. It’s usually best to work with a veterinarian who is an expert in just one method. You do need to go to every site.

  • STEP 3: do an internet search to find more possibilities – “holistic veterinarian Baltimore” or “herbal veterinarian Baltimore”.
  • STEP 4: Call any local holistic practitioners for people, local health food stores and even pet stores to inquire who they know.
  • STEP 5: if no one near seems like a good match, look for a homeopathic veterinarian who does phone consults.
  • STEP 6: personally evaluate the veterinarian (see below).



(While veterinarians at other organization’s web sites may say they are trained in homeopathy, if you want a homeopathic veterinarian, it is best to select from one of these sites. Even here, there may be one who only studied a little, so you will still to carefully interview them.)



Chiropractic is good for many health conditions, not merely lameness.


Good for many problems, not merely musculo-skeletal




Once you have done the internet work suggested above, how do you

  • select one to start with
  • know if you are getting good service
  • what can you do to help them help your animals?

Schedule time with the veterinarian you are interested in – pay for an appointment, offer lunch, do a phone call and ask:

  • What modalities are used?
  • What is their training?
  • Is their goal overall health or to merely treat the current complaint? This may be the most important question.
  • What organizations they belong to & how recently have they gone to conferences or taught?  

You Are in Charge – Make Sure She/he Is Following Good Holistic Principles

  • She/he will always ask about the history, overall energy, what might have caused the current problem, the environment and what makes the symptoms better or worse.
  • Their physical exam will be gentle, complete and they will show you (you may need to ask) what they mean by “gingivitis, big lymph nodes, heart murmur”, etc.
  • They will be willing to answer your questions and explain why they are recommending a particular treatment.  
  • If they recommend conventional treatments (antibiotics, prednisone, etc.) they will explain to you why they choose this over holistic, and give you a chance to request the more holistic treatment.
  • They will not do anything (vaccinate, treat) without asking you first.
  • They will recommend fewer or no vaccinations and a raw meat or at least more holistic diet. They will be open to you having a different opinion.
  • They will schedule follow up appointments until your animal is really healthy, with great BEAM (behavior, energy, appetite and mood) and none of the Early Warning Signs of Internal Imbalance.

What You Can Do to Help Your Holistic Veterinarian

  • Keep a dated journal of any problems, even little ones.
  • Write down any treatments given. Using the Healthy Animal’s Journal will help you know if your animal is merely getting temporary help or is really progressing to a deep cure.
  • Contact them if you are unable to give the treatments or your pet does not want them.
  • Call if symptoms worsen, or they are less energetic and less happy, or you have concerns.
  • Keep working on a regular basis until your animal is in GREAT HEALTH.
  • Thank them.

HA! Academy can help you find the right vet. While you learn how to best help your pet.

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Practicing Proactive Prevention and Treatment to Best Help Our Pets (Brain Tumor Case)

Practicing Proactive Prevention and Treatment to Best Help Our Pets (Brain Tumor Case)

Seemingly without warning, your beloved companion animal develops a life-threatening illness.

Sue and Bear’s story can help you decide what to do.

Bear is a playful eight year young Bulldog. All of a sudden he started having seizures.

His worried guardian brought him to a neurologist who ran diagnostic tests that showed a large brain tumor.

Why did this happen?

Sue had tried to do everything right. She fed local raw meats in variety, minimized vaccines and drugs, didn’t use any flea or tick poisons, etc.

Important Questions – HMDM Method

What happened and what can Sue do now?

Her HMDM (Holistic Medical Decision Making) STEP 1 goal is to get Bear as healthy, in any way, for him to have the best quality of life for as long as possible.

That brought Sue to HMDM STEP 2. Investigate the problem and learn all of the possible treatments.

Her neurologist laid out the current conventional options. These were steroids and other chemotherapy, surgery and Cyberknife (radiation). None of them would save Bear’s life, but they might buy him a few months.

This didn’t seem like much time. Especially considering all of the side-effects and quality of life lowering limitations of each.

So Sue quickly (she didn’t have much time to help Bear) moved on in her research. And learned more about everything from special diets, nutritional supplements, acupuncture, etc. that were claimed to help seriously ill dogs.

Bear had already tried some of these holistic treatments prior to skin tumors had been removed. None of them seemed suited to this dire situation.

A week went by and Bear was getting worse. It was time to move on to HMDM STEP 3.

The Answer and Holistic Action!

During Sue’s research, Bear’s guardian learned more about the holistic and homeopathic perspective. One that was not currently accepted conventionally, but which could help.

The brain tumor might have resulted from a subtle internal energetic imbalance.

The idea being that the imbalance first resulted in seemingly minor problems like his skin tumors. Even though they were removed, the underlying cause persisted.

It therefore made sense to address this underlying problem directly. Even if most US veterinarians said that it was not “real”. As Bear’s guardian learned, this was not the case elsewhere.

She therefore chose to find a veterinarian who could treat this way and work alongside her neurologist. Her veterinary team was complemented by holistic practitioners of massage, Reiki, flower essences and other gently supportive methods. Everything possible to give Bear the best possible life.

Fine-tuning the Vital Force

Sue was then introduced to the homeopathic concept of regaining health by listening very closely to Bear’s body. Apparently it had been “talking” to her all along. Through the externally visible and internally measurable symptoms.

They could then be used to treat him. Veterinary and MD homeopaths had hundreds of years of successful clinical outcomes. Even in critical cases and during otherwise fatal epidemics.

Treating and monitoring Bear using this approach required commitment on Sue’s part. She started keeping a daily journal of symptoms and responses to treatment.

In order to best use this seemingly unrelated information she touched base with her veterinary homeopath every few days.frequent short checkins with your homeopath will help your pets

That way, she was best able to help. By frequently evaluating symptom changes, both the underlying energetic balance and any side-effects from conventional treatments could be reduced.

At this time, Bear’s story is not finished, but he continues to be a happy boy.

You can also learn to help your pets as Sue did. The free resources on this site will get you started. If you’d like to go even further, Holistic Actions! Academy is here to help.

Size of the Medication Dose Matters. A lot!

Size of the Medication Dose Matters. A lot!

unhappy wolfhound with lyme disease unable to standIn the mid-1990s, I was called out to see Justin, an Irish Wolfhound who was unable to get up.

This was a big problem because he weighed 180 pounds.

Examination and history strongly suggested Lyme Disease.

At that time, anti-biotics were the only Lyme treatment that I knew. When Eva saw the recommended whopping dose for Justin’s size, her face flushed and she gasped.

She said the there was no way that he could tolerate such a “high” dose of medication. She thought that they definitely would make him sicker than he already was.

I prescribed the low end of the (supposedly) effective dose and left.

Eva called a few days later with an update. Justin was almost back to normal. But as she predicted, he had also developed abdominal pain, violent diarrhea and vomiting after the first high doses of drug.

She had then taken matters into her own hands and only given a fraction of the dose from then on.

After the dosage reduction Justin started walking around more normally, eating and holding it down, and his stools firmed up.

I hung up the phone and tried to understand why this happen. Weren’t anti-biotics safe? After all, they were often prescribed “just in case”.

Drug doses were supposed to be used to maintain therapeutic levels of the medications. Yet Justin responded dramatically to a much lower dose. This didn’t make sense.happy pup after successful lower of his antibiotic dose

The Science of Hormesis and Dose

A few years later I came across publications referring to the Arndt Schutz rule. It explains what happened with Justin and other patients who had responded to very low doses of medications.

In a nutshell, it says that low doses can stimulate the body to do its’ job, but higher therapeutic doses can be toxic.

Low doses lead to healing. High doses lead to toxicity.

I thought that this was interesting research, but not applicable to most patients. Boy was I wrong!

Homeopathic Doses

Other problems with conventional drug doses and the scientific literature on hormesis led me to researching homeopathy.

I had never heard about this area of medical science. Even after decades of scientific inquiry including working with researchers in biochemistry and molecular biology labs.

What an eye opener! I learned that the very, very low doses of homeopathic medicines were highly effective at stimulating the immune system. In fact, before anti-biotics were discovered, most of the homeopathic MDs were able to save their patients in the midst of otherwise fatal epidemics.

The survival statistics were compelling!

Many of the top, conventionally (“scientifically”)-trained, MDs flocked to homeopathy because of these successes. These men, and back then most were men, were open-minded. They saw these amazing treatment outcomes and wanted their patients to have the best.

The AMA was started soon thereafter partially to stop this migration .

Size Matters

Fast forward to present day. Modern medicine has made amazing strides in understanding how the physiologic process of the body function. Sometimes even at the genetic and molecular levels.

Nowadays the best medicine, both for people and pets, is always individualized. We’re learning that one size does not fit all.

Some pets can not tolerate higher doses of specific drugs like Ivermectin.

Most pets react to high doses of most drugs.

All pets die from treatment with poisons like arsenic and strychnine.

Yet these same poisons are commonly used at very low doses in homeopathy to save many lives. The tiny doses of nanotechnology are being actively researched and adopted into modern medicine

The size of the dose matters.

Join our community to learn more about how use low doses to help you to help your pets (sign up below). Or become Holistic Actions! Academy member and study homeopathy more indepth.

Why Routine Diagnostic Tests are so Important

Why Routine Diagnostic Tests are so Important

Your nine year young pup or kitty seems fine. But she’s not.

The veterinarian just called with the blood test results from her wellness check up: thyroid, liver and kidney markers were abnormal. On top of that, the vet said she has an infection because her white count is very high.

Uh oh! What should you do?

Don’t panic!

Diagnostic test results like these are internal and otherwise hidden symptoms. Not much different than the external and readily apparent symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea. Just not as obvious.

You wouldn’t have even known that there was a problem were it not for the “routine” testing that was done.

All symptoms are only indicators of an internal imbalance. Both internal symptoms like liver test abnormalities and external symptoms like vomiting are clues to the physiologic functioning of the body. Invaluable clues. Clues to be cherished and embraced.

The abnormalities can often be fully corrected. The amount of improvement depends on the progression of the underlying dis-ease. This can be measured.

Adding together all symptoms tells you what to do next

For example, if everything seems fine but one of the results is still abnormal, you know that continued care and monitoring is needed.

Non-invasive diagnostic testing is therefore very, very helpful.

However, how these tests are interpreted and acted upon can make the difference between life and death.

Join Holistic Actions! community today and learn all you need to know to feel empowered making medical decisions for your beloved pets. 

Holistic Actions When You Have an Emergency with Your Pet

Holistic Actions When You Have an Emergency with Your Pet

Here’s what you can do if you see emergency symptoms in your animal:

Safety first. If an animal is in pain, she may bite you. Even if she loves you dearly and is a super sweet dog or cat. Covering her head with a towel or wrapping a leash or soft cord around her mouth is helpful .

  1. Assess her visually – is she breathing, is there bleeding, is she moving?
  2. Carefully examine. Gently feel for swellings, pain on moving joints, gum color and capillary refill time (which is explained below).
  3. If time allows, a complete TPR (temperature, pulse and respiration) is useful to help the assessment.

Rush right to ER if:

There is any major trauma such as being hit by a car or falling from a height. Bring her for professional evaluation even if she seems OK after these injuries.

Do not wait if you see:

  • Abdominal bloating, multiple episodes in an hour of retching or vomiting.
  • Continued or large amounts of bright red bleeding.
  • Inability to urinate in any animal but especially male cats.
  • Collapse, difficulty breathing or blue tongue or gums.

Call and email your veterinarian if there is time.

  • If you go to the ER or your local conventional veterinarian and they determine that the problem is life-threatening, you should just let the emergency vet and critical care specialist start any indicated life-saving treatment (including hospitalization, IV fluids,  testing, further supportive medications, etc.).
  • If the veterinarian says that your pet’s problem is not life-threatening, now’s a great time to breathe and reassess. Take a moment to think before you act.  Does the ER or referral hospital vet now want to pursue further diagnostic testing to reach a diagnosis? If so, and if cost is not a concern, or if you have a pet insurance policy, then now might indeed be a great time to do these tests.

However, if you don’t have pet insurance or are watching your budget, ask the ER vet if there is a problem with having your regular doctor do the work up tomorrow (or after the weekend). The same tests may cost a lot less when run by your regular vet.

If you do have pet insurance, the expense of the ER tests should be partially (up to 80-90%) covered. This is another big benefit of working with a quality insurance company like Nationwide (VPI), Embrace or Pet Plan.

Even if you go ahead with the tests, ask what they may show and whether the results would change the treatment approach?

  • Avoid non-essential drugs prescribed by the ER veterinarian. For example, if your pup suffers a trauma and is prescribed anti-biotics and anti-inflammatories “just in case”. Many drugs decrease the energy needed to heal.
  • Dose Arnica in water (use the highest potency you have) as soon possible after trauma. Add 1 large or 1-3 smaller pellets into one cup of water and give 1 tsp. You can then easily succuss and redose whenever you would have otherwise have given pain medications like Rimadyl or Tramadol.

If the Arnica improves the B.E.A.M. symptoms (Behavior, Energy, Appetite or Mood) but then they worsen, this is the time to redose. Restlessness, panting, isolating (important BEAM symptoms) and overt pain symptoms like lifting up a leg when walking. licking the injured area, are also indications to repeat the Arnica.

If symptoms persist after three doses of the Arnica, it is the incorrect remedy, so do not repeat.

  • Hands on healing (massage, T-Touch,  etc.) Reiki and flower essences like Rescue Remedy can help in the face of any emergency. Research has shown that therapeutic touch stimulates bone formation, decreases wound healing and helps human patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • When you return home, BREATHE and just sit for a time with your companion. Time for a sacred paws. You can now take the time to start putting the symptoms into context. What really happened? For example, was this truly acute, or an acute flare-up of an already existing dis-ease state?
  • Now is also the time to assess and address lifestyle and contributing factors. For example, a therapeutic fast is indicated if she is vomiting from overeating or getting into the garbage. Another preventive Holistic Action! in this situation is to use a latch to prevent access to garbage, the kitty box, etc.S
  • If continued treatment is needed, educate yourself about both the conventional and the holistic options. Find out more about our A.S.C. (Avoid, Support, Cure) method treatment approach.
  • Schedule your appointment with your regular vet. Be sure that any ER notes or test results have been faxed or emailed to them. Your appointment with a trained medical professional is the perfect time to continue interpreting symptoms in context.

Remember, an emergency symptom is just another bump in the road to better health. So don’t despair.

Our faculty and community members will help support you.

Stay well.

Dr. Jeff

*Capillary refill time (CRT) is a great way to quickly evaluate for shock, heart and lung troubles. Press your finger firmly against the gums. This will blanch the pink color. When you stop pressing, the gum color should return within a second or two. If it takes much longer this is another indication to head right to the ER.

If however your animal is not acting sick and this test seems abnormal, ask your veterinarian or another educated animal guardian if you are doing it correctly.

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Heal Your Pet With a Hug

Heal Your Pet With a Hug

While researching the connection between wellness and vitality, I came across an article with the intriguing title of:

“Therapeutic Touch Affects DNA Synthesis and Mineralization of Human Osteoblasts in Culture”

This is not some woo-woo research. It’s from a conventional medical center published in a mainstream journal.

The article shows positive, statistically-significant, effects on living cells under laboratory conditions. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer cells) were influenced just by holding them.

Wow! More food for thought.

This is even more evidence of a life-giving energy (“vitality”). And it can be transferred through touch.

There’s already plenty of research showing the many positive effects from healing touch. Wound healing, behavior problems, carpal tunnel syndrome (in people) etc.

You can incorporate this in your pet’s wellness program today.

Hug, pet and “love up” your companion animal’s today.


Dr. Jeff

Early Warning Symptoms (Signs) of Internal Imbalance

Early Warning Symptoms (Signs) of Internal Imbalance

Use the signs and symptoms from your animal companions to “fine tune” their health.

In order to maintain our animal companions in optimal health, it is extremely important to understand the distinction between “common” and “normal”.

Why does it matter whether symptoms are considered common or normal in dogs and cats?

When the body is in a state of optimal health, all systems are in balance and no external manifestations (seen in the symptoms) of imbalance can be found.

Many of the subtle changes we observe in our pets are early warning signs that there is imbalance deep within the body. These are not “diseases” per se, but rather commonly observed deviations from this state of equilibrium.

Recognizing and treating these common, but abnormal, early warning signs is critical to preventing more serious problems in the future.

Some of these symptoms are:

  • runny or red eyes
  • intermittent loose stools
  • ”sensitive” stomach with vomiting, diarrhea and/or other gastrointestinal symptoms
  • straining to defecate
  • excess thirst
  • runny nose
  • red ears
  • excess ear wax
  • picky or excessive appetite
  • fearfulness
  • thin coat/excess shedding
  • intermittent vomiting
  • eating stool/dirt/plastic
  • gassiness
  • gum redness
  • frequent or difficult urination
  • loss of pigment
  • rough, dry nose or pads
  • stiffness
  • ear “infections”
  • anxiety
  • anal sac problems

In more detail we can see that:

Health is freedom. You can see it in a glowing hair coat, bright eyes and high energy. It is an absence of illness, or dependency on medications, or avoidance of “allergins”.  Offspring of a healthy animal will be even healthier, and not have as many “breed” problems.  Healthy animals live longer than we have come to expect.

There are many symptoms we consider normal that really represent an underlying energy imbalance, often made worse from poor diet and vaccination.  As we cure animals of “disease”, we find that these “normal” things go away, too.  Do not be satisfied with the health of your animals until most of the following symptoms are gone. Treat young animals as soon as these are observed.

BEHAVIOR: Fear of loud noises, thunder, wind; barks too much and too long; suspicious nature; timidity; indolence; licking things, people; irritability; indolence; eating dog stool (possibly cat stool) – it seems to be normal to eat horse, cow and rabbit manure; feet sensitive to handling; aggressiveness at play; destructiveness; biting when petted too long (cats, especially on rump); hysteria when restrained; not covering stool and not using litter box (cats); clumsy;

DIGESTIVE TRACT: obesity or thinness; loss of teeth; bad breath; pale gums; red gums; *a red line where the teeth go into the gum, above one or more teeth; tarter accumulation; bad breath; poor appetite; excessive appetite; finicky appetite; sensitivity to milk, meat, or any specific food; craving weird things, especially non-food items like paper, dirt and plastic; vomiting often, vomiting hairballs  (or the hairball gagging type of vomit even if hairballs do not come up) more than 1-2x/year; Mucous on stools, even occasional; tendency to diarrhea with least change of diet; constipation; hard, dry stools.  In Addition for cats: thirst – a super healthy cat on good food will drink at most once a week and many will never drink as they absorb enough from their diet unless on dry food.

LOCOMOTION:  Stiff when getting up; early hip dysplasia; inability to jump up on furniture or counters; loss in the bounce in their step.

SKIN: coat – doggy smell, dry, oily, dull lack luster, excessive shedding; attracts fleas & ticks a lot; chronic ear problems – wax, need frequent cleaning, itchy, red; eyes: discharge, tearing, or matter in corner of eyes. “Freckles” on the face (cats) that appear with age; loss of whiskers; claws  fragile, shedding, hard to trim, twisted; not grooming well.

TEMPERATURE: sensitive to heat or cold. Low grade fevers – The typical (“normal”) range is: 99.5-101.5

AGING: Energy, play, fun and activity level should maintain at the 2 year old level.

In Holistic Actions! Academy we show you how to use these early warning signs. Promote vitality, energy and long and happy lives for your animal family members. You can join us by clicking here.

Be well.

Dr. Jeff and Christina

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Exactly What to Record When “Talking To” Your Pet

Exactly What to Record When “Talking To” Your Pet

The preceding articles have discussed the significance of symptoms.

Appreciating and respecting the value of symptoms may be the most important thing you do for your companion animals.

This article was written to help you recognize very specific symptom details. One part might be useful today, whereas the rest doesn’t seem immediately relevant.

But knowing how to describe symptoms is always relevant. Symptom details (like individual words in a sentence) will help you put them into context.

Symptoms vs. Signs

One point of clarification that probably should have preceded these articles is that pre-verbal children, dogs, cats, horses and other animals do not have symptoms. They have signs.

Symptoms can be subjective. Quality of pains, sensations, dreams, etc. may need to be verbally expressed to be useful.

Animals can’t talk (a shocker, right?) By medical definition, they therefore only have clinical signs.

In Holistic Actions! objective signs + subjective symptoms are both classified as symptoms.

Understanding them will help you harness the natural healing power of your companion animal’s body.

6 Ps

6 simple Ps can transform the care you give to your companion animal. Four of them also give you a pretty good idea of what to pay attention. The more you know how to observe and describe, the more you can help.

These Ps are:

  1. Patience: Deep and permanent healing occurs slowly.
  2. Perseverance: You might need a new approach or different (not just a second) opinion. Don’t give up!
  3. Problematic Symptoms: Health challenges that may limit your pet’s life.
  4. Prominent Symptoms: Those that say “pay attention to me”. Acute dis-ease symptoms are often like this.
  5. Persistent Ones: How often do you see the symptom? Hourly symptoms are usually more significant than weekly.
  6. Peculiar Ones: Have you ever seen this before? In any animal? These are very characteristic of your pet.


This basic guide is designed to help you start learning the symptom language.

All you then have to do is write it down so you remember all of the symptom details. You can then mindfully interpret them and decide what to do.

To start, there’s only 4 symptoms that you need to know. As long as all of them are 100%, your pet is doing great. She’s on track for a long and happy life.

These are the B.E.A.M. (Behavior, Energy, Appetite, Mood) symptoms.

They will help shine the light on optimal long term health. They provide the context you need.

No matter what the other symptoms say, BEAM should be improving over time.

Another important general rule is that changes are very important. Especially if they are Prominent, Persistent, Problematic or Peculiar.

 Symptoms That Are Modified by the Environment

Pay especially close attention to these symptoms. They (“modalities”) are the clearest communication you will get from your pet. Like BEAM, these symptoms also reflect general internal health.

These are animals whose symptoms get better or worse:

  • from company, e.g. extra clingy and no longer want to be left alone or going off to be by herself at specific times of the day or night,
  • in weather conditions like rainy, humid, windy, etc.
  • suddenly wanting to be inside (or outside) more than usual,
  • during or after: eating, drinking, waking, defecating, urinating, etc.,
  • with certain foods (being able to see this is another reason to feed a variety)
  • preferring or avoiding pressure on a part or lying on or against hard surfaces,
    And more!

Other general indicators of health include:

  • preferring warm or cool spots,
  • wanting to be in (or stay out of) the sun,
  • frequency and quantity of drinking,
  • restlessness and not being able to settle down,
  • not wanting to move…

Very significant are also symptoms that occur at the same time. These are the concomitant symptoms. For example vomiting along with diarrhea, increased drinking along with sneezing, etc.

Specific tips to help understand your pet’s body

  1. Keep a daily log at home. Note especially if there is any change in a symptom.
  2. Are there symptoms that have arisen since any environmental or diet change? How about new symptoms associated with a medication (no matter how benign you were told that it is)?
  3. Changes of symptom pattern are especially significant. For example, if your pet starts seeking warm/cool areas, eating more/less, sleeping better/worse or in new spots, etc. These changes are very important even if they don’t seem to be related to the primary problem. Record anything that’s different from normal.
  4. Changes in overall demeanor/mood, energy, interactivity, playfulness, willingness to go for walks, etc. reflect both energy and mood..
  5. Behavior changes, fears and anxieties are very important.

Other clues:

  • When did the problem begin and what circumstances were associated with it or may have brought it on.
  • Previous illnesses such as ear and eye “infections”, allergies/skin diseases, colds, skin growth removals, urinary problems, etc.
  • Specifically, which treatments were used, for how long and and what doses were any drugs used? What were the results? For example, “Boris woke up one morning after being fine the night before with an ear “infection” with left ear redness and black thick smelly discharge and we used Panalog ointment and he was better in two days but then it came back in a few weeks”.
  • Mental and emotional conditions and changes such as: likes and dislikes, desires, fears, timidity, apathy, irritability, aggression, changeable mood, whether easily startled or starting from sleep, or from noise or being touched, whether better or worse from diversion (e.g. seems better from a ride in a car), reaction to contradiction (e.g. what happens when you try to stop an objectionable behavior), better or worse in company, especially quiet or “talkative”, interaction with others of the same species vs. interaction with people, etc.
  • Are there any conditions that started along with the main problem? For example are there loose bowels whenever the scratching gets worse? Is there seeking of quiet warm spots when the discharge worsens, etc.?
  • Does the problem come on at a specific time, season, phase of the moon, temperature/barometric pressure etc., e.g the stiffness is worse when it is humid.
  • How is the appetite? Excessive, picky, anything special that is desired or disliked, e.g. specific foods that are salty, sweet, fatty, sour, spicy, eggs, ice cubes. What about eating indigestibles like dirt, rocks, sand, stool, pencils, etc.
  • Is your pet drinking less or more than usual? Is there thirst for large quantities at one time, small frequent quantities, little thirst. Preference for cool fresh vs. room temperature or warm water? Preference for water out of the tap or hose or toilet?
  • Is she a “sloppy” drinker (does the water go all over the place after a drink?).
  • Do the symptoms remain the same or do they change character or shift from place to place?
  • Time of day, night, month or season that the symptoms are better or worse. Are symptoms better or worse before or after eating, sleeping, moving, resting, when occupied? Anything that makes the symptoms better or worse is very important.
  • How is your pet affected by different kinds of weather, by cold, heat, storms, thunder, snow, being at the seashore, etc.?
  • For external conditions of the skin, coat, nails, etc. describe the exact location, color of lesions, whether dry or moist, thick or thin, scaly, pimply, presence of warts or growths, appearance of skin overall,
  • Is the skin itchy and does your pet seem better from scratching or does that seem to make it itch more? Does heat, cold, exercise, wearing a collar, etc., make it better or worse?
  • Describe any discharges (nose, eyes, vaginal, penile, etc.). Is it scant or copious, thick or thin, sticky, what color, any odor, causing irritation to the tissues, color of the stain and what makes it better or worse.
  • Urine, color, how frequent is the need for urination and is it urgent, any accidents or incontinence in the house?
  • A detailed description of bowel habits, nature of the stool and discharges is very important. Just saying “diarrhea” or “eye discharge” does not tell you much about your pet. But the details are great clues!

Get The Details!

Stool/ GI symptoms

  • Stool frequency and urgency (does your pet rush to the litter box or to the door at a certain time of the day?), shape, quantity, urgency, consistency, odor, color, mucus, blood, odor, frequency, associations with waking, eating, drinking, etc.
  • Does it shoot out like water from a hose with (or without) gas? Is there straining before, during or after passing stool? Does your pet continue to try and eliminate even after the stool? Do you hear (or smell) other gas before during or after passing a stool? How about noises from stomach?
  • Normal stools are well-formed and are easy to pick up (and don’t leave mush on the ground).
  • Soft-formed stools may look the same (or a bit wetter) but are harder to clean up
  • Pudding stools are the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
  • Watery stools are, well, water consistency.
  • Are the stools: very smelly (do they burn your eyes from 6 feet away?), are they hard, dry, large, pasty, bloody, frothy, slimy, thin, watery, slender, flat, what color, etc.
  • How often does she go to the bathroom? Is there a need to eliminate frequently or urgently? What about accidents in the house? Are there times when it is worse or better, or how is it affected by certain circumstances
  • Is defecating or urinating difficult, incomplete (passes a little then keeps trying), urging without results or stool slips back in?


frequency, urgency, odor, color, straining, licking before/during/after, blood, leaking/dripping while walking.


Specific spots they don’t want brushed/pet or prefer to be pet at, reaction to brushing or petting (spinning, whipping head around, trying to bite, moving head from side to side, licking air, “dancing” with back legs)


Does she enjoy or dislike it? What’s her reaction to the running water?


Shedding amount, hair loss (in bunches/tufts?) dandruff, dry or brittle fur, oily, coat shine/dullness, thickness, odor


Dry, flaky, powdery, red or inflamed, open sores, clogged pores or cysts, pimples, location of any skin symptoms, change in skin pigmentation


Frequency, speed, amount, stick nose in water when drinking, messy or clean drinker

Discharge details are very important – discharges from anywhere like the ears, eyes, and nose, color, consistency (watery, thick, sticky, etc.), amount, location, odor, etc.


Does she beg for food and always appear hungry? Is there an increase or decrease in appetite? Is she fed in a crate and if so, why? Will she eat out of a bowl or need to be hand-fed? How fast does she eat? And how does she eat? Does she take a few bites or eat all of the food right away?


Sound (rasping, wheezing, wet cough?), frequency, time of day, length of coughing episode, after waking up, when pulling on leash, after eating or drinking

Vomiting or regurgitation

To differentiate these you need to witness the act to see if it is active or passive. Does the act seem painful? Is there retching? What is the vomitus odor, amount, color, consistency, foamy/frothy, undigested food, triggers, blood, frequency, timing (time of the day, related to eating, drinking, going out or coming in, after defecating/straining) weakness after vomiting


Frequency, time of day, triggers, length of sneezing episode and how many sneezes in a row


More or less reactive to small animals, other dogs or people, length of distance before reactivity occurs, jumping, lunging, barking, growling


Size, open (discharge, bleeding, odor), color, soft or hard, painful, movable, attached (pedicle?), changes in shape or size, hair loss, appear suddenly or gradually, growth speed


Making eye contact more or less frequently, responding to name, actively looking for attention

Temp preference

Prefers to be in sun or shade more frequently, will only walk in the sun/shade, behavior changes with sun or shade, shivering, body feels cold or warm


Includes scratching, licking, rolling, rubbing. Occasional itch or frequent, itching to the point of opening skin, can’t sleep or eat due to itching, location of itching.


Reverse sneezing, wheezing, coughing, time of day, frequency, after sniffing ground, eating, or drinking.


Refusing to get up from persons side, protective behaviors, following, lying on feet/body part, behavior when away from person.


Increase or decrease in energy, seems to be more excited, running, jumping, wanting to go for longer walks, lying down more or less frequently.


Appears to be more/less affectionate, happy, excited to see people, fearful.


Body posturing (cowering, low to ground, stiff, tail between legs or straight out, head bent low), running away from source of fear/phobia or trying to attack/go after it (fight or flight), new fear or phobia? (water, thunder, lightning, wind, loud noises, fast movements, etc.), shaking, refusing to move, curling up.


Eating something new that they did not like before, not eating something that they used to eat, will eat something cooked, but not raw (or vice versa).


On specific foot, holding paw up, sore on spot of lameness, swelling (when touched does indent stay and for how long, or does it return to shape), does swelling feel soft or firm, hot to the touch, pain on rotation of joint.

Ease of lying down

Speed of lying down, lying down with front or back end first, yelping/crying out, spinning before lying down, back end goes down fast but front end is slow to go down.

Ease of getting up

Speed of getting up, using front end more than back to lift up, yelping/crying out, using wall or something else as support to get up, takes multiple tries?

Seeking solitude

Actively avoids interaction, goes to room/area with no one else.


Increase/decrease in focus, excitement level, using food, toys, praise (combination of the three), reluctance to sit, down, heel, etc., enjoys or dislikes training, eye contact.

Vocalizing/moving in sleep

Whining, barking, snoring, paws or legs twitching (all paws?), moving legs as if running.

Female cycle

If your pet is an intact female; how old was she when she first came into heat, how far apart are the cycles, are there any behavior changes or physical symptoms that accompany heat, what is the vaginal discharge before during and after the heat cycle look and smell like? Has she ever been pregnant? Did she breed and conceive easily? How did she carry, any problems delivering? Did she have plenty of milk, any problems associated with nursing?

Sexual issues

Any male or female sexual issues? Trouble breeding, masturbation, excessive mounting behavior, penile or vaginal discharges related or unrelated to heat?

In general what are the effects of heat, cold, bathing, lying down, walking around, first getting up? Unusually tired or excited by company or being left alone? Wanting to be held/clingy vs. wanting to be left alone, looking for dark, quiet spots. Any trait or habit that is different in this individual compared to others that you have known is especially significant.

All of these details are not meant to overwhelm you. Instead, we hope they will help you get started.

Any detail is helpful. The more that you describe and record, the more clues that allow you to help your pets.

Try and dissect one particular symptom that your pet has.

We will help you do this!  You will appreciate and be able to promote your pet’s wellness. You’ll then better understand any dis-ease processes. Join us at Holistic Actions! (Sign up below).

Be well.

Dr. Jeff 

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