Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is over 200 years old and whose healing abilities have withstood the test of time. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) discovered this system of healing and spent the last 50 years of his life developing the principles that still guide us today.

The basic principle of homeopathy is “like cures like.” Substances that can cause a set of symptoms in healthy individuals are given to sick individuals to cure them of those same symptoms.

For example, arsenicum album is a remedy derived from the poisonous mineral arsenic. This remedy is diluted and succussed (shaken), a process known as potentization, and given to healthy individuals (called provers) who record all of the symptoms that they experience. These symptoms include mental, emotional, and physical. When taking arsenicum, Hahnemann’s provers experienced symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, anxious restlessness, pacing with extreme fatigue, and thirst for small amounts of water. These symptoms were worse from midnight to 2am. When the homeopathic veterinarian is presented with a patient with similar symptoms, she gives arsenicum album in potentized form to cure the patient of its problems.

homeo2The Medicines

Homeopathic medicines are made from animal, vegetable, and mineral substances. Animal substances are made from such things as snake venoms, scabies pustules, honeybees, saliva from a rabid dog, and the Spanish fly. Vegetable medicines are made from the plant kingdom and include the club moss, the windflower, poison hemlock, and the toadstool mushroom. Mineral medicines are made from any of the elements in the periodic table and their salts. These include table salt, copper, phosphorus, sulfur, and calcium.

When given in the raw state, many substances are toxic, and others are inert. Hahnemann found that by diluting and succussing (shaking) these substances, a process known as potentization or dynamization, these substances actually became stronger in their healing effects while milder in their side-effects. Today we use substances that have been diluted 1:100 over 100,000 times! Yet the more a substance is diluted, the stronger it actually becomes.

Advances in science and technology are revealing nanoparticles (one-billionth of a meter) of the original substance in the homeopathic medicines. Nanoparticles are able to penetrate the body’s usual barriers, like skin, the blood-brain barrier, and the linings of the gut and airways. The cells in the body perceive these particles as “poisons,” but because they are at such low levels, the cells’ repair mechanisms are able to overcome their effect. This “healing” in the cells actually works via a coordinated response in the whole body, with the net effect being a healed body that is even more resistant to future similar illnesses.

General Principles of Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a holistic medicine. It considers all of the symptoms that the patient expresses, including mental, emotional, and physical. For example, a dog that gets lost in the house is expressing a mental symptom. A cat that urine marks every time the owner goes on a business trip is expressing an emotional symptom. And a dog or cat that has a yellow left-sided nasal discharge that is rubber glue consistency is expressing a physical symptom.

Homeopathy also looks at the possible environmental causes of an animal’s problems. For example, certain homeopathic medicines might be considered for a cat that has never been the same since his housemate cat died. Other medicines might be considered for a dog whose problems arose after experiencing a vaccine reaction as a puppy. The relation of the pet to its environment—its housemate animals, its guardian, and its living conditions including diet, medicines, vaccines and pesticides—is very important.

Characteristic symptoms are very important in narrowing down the search for the simillimum, or the one homeopathic medicine that will cure the patient. Most illnesses cause “common” symptoms in each patient. For example, a dog with kennel cough will have bouts of a hacking cough that ends in a gag. The dog usually has good energy levels and appetite. Certain “characteristic” symptoms of kennel cough include low energy levels, a cough that comes on every day at midnight, a cough that is only worse going into cold air, and a cough that causes the patient to vomit.

In evaluating the patient’s symptoms, the homeopath pays special attention to the modalities, or what makes a symptom better or worse. For example, a cat might experience a recurrence of an upper respiratory infection every time the weather changes to cold and rainy. An arthritic dog might be most sore on hot humid days, and feel better bathing in a cold pool. A cat might experience asthma attacks only at 3am. And a dog might have an epileptic attack only on a full moon.

homeo3Homeopathy Appointments at Wilmington Animal Hospital

All of our homeopathy appointments are seen by Dr. Shelley Epstein, who has been certified in veterinary homeopathy since 1997 by the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.

As you can see, the nature of the homeopathy consultation is very different from a regular office visit! The first consultation is very comprehensive, and usually takes about one hour and fifteen minutes. During this time, if Dr. Epstein feels that your pet would be more likely to benefit from another modality, including conventional medicine, she will discuss this with you.

It is very important to bring ALL previous medical records with you to the first office visit. This includes any lab work, X-rays, and handwritten or computerized medical records from previous veterinarians. It is also helpful to compose a brief timeline of all of your pet’s problems, starting as early as possible in the pet’s life. Include in this timeline any vaccination, medications, and other treatments that your pet received for any conditions. Most important, bring your observations of characteristic symptoms and modalities, as discussed above!

To schedule an appointment, contact Wilmington Animal Hospital: (302) 762-2694. Due to the amount of time that will be reserved for your appointment, a $75 non-refundable deposit is required at the time your appointment is scheduled. This deposit is refundable ONLY if your appointment is cancelled with more than 24 hours’ notice.

To learn more about homeopathy, you can read this book, now available as a free e-book:

To learn more about homeopathy, visit:

To read more about how minute doses of substances have powerful effects, visit:

For a research database on homeopathy, visit: