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Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals by Donald Hamilton, DVM

North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, CA, 1999, 482 pages, paperback, $25. ISBN 1-55643-295-X.

Book ReviewWe have both been involved in homeopathic education for many years. In the last few years we have seen a rapid increase in the demand for veterinary-specific educational opportunities and resources from farmers, veterinarians, equine enthusiasts, small animal guardians, and "human" homeopaths. We have happily recommended the modern classics in veterinary homeopathy—mainly George Macleod's books and Christopher Day's The Homoeopathic Treatment of Small Animals: Principles and Practice. But we felt there was a need for a more comprehensive textbook for small animal care. When Don Hamilton's Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals was published we found the answer to our prayers. Not only does Hamilton give sound therapeutic and materia medica indications, but he also tackles the central principles of homeopathy and clinical practice with erudition from a veterinary perspective. We loved this book and so do our students; we've made it required reading for our program.

Hamilton begins with an overview of homeopathic principles and history in the opening chapters. Although these central principles are well summarized by many other authors, Don gives us a fresh and concise coverage of this vital background information—all from the perspective of an experienced homeopathic veterinarian. (This is an excellent review and orientation for "human" homeopaths who want to hone their skills in prescribing for animals.)

Chapter 3 covers the range of responses to remedies seen in practice: cure, partial cure, palliation, suppression, noncurative aggravation, and no effect. Hamilton gives a clear and succinct discussion of the various responses—without oversimplifying. In 11 pages he covers well what others have done with less clarity in longer chapters. Once again, we think it would serve as a great reference for the students of "human" homeopathy.

This is followed by two more chapters with clear and succinct discussions of practical and philosophical issues. For example, "How to Handle and Administer Remedies" gives excellent practical advice which is nicely complemented by photos of Don and a feline patient. (Wonderful photos by Kathleen Dudley enhance the cover and the text and give an overall warmth of presentation that is often lacking in homeopathy books!) On a philosophical note, Hamilton gives an excellent précis of an often confusing concept in: "Constitutional Prescribing versus Acute Prescribing" (with further erudition and differentiation in his chapter on vaccines).

Chapters 6--14 will be the most "dog eared" of the book for us. This is the part where Hamilton deals with specific body systems. He gives an overview of the system, its structure and function, followed by general and homeopathic recommendations for common conditions seen in cats and dogs. The leading remedies for a given condition are well differentiated. For example, Chapter 9 deals with the Respiratory System, Nose, and Sinuses. Hamilton starts the chapter with a section on "the air we breathe" followed by a discussion of respiratory function; sneezing and nasal discharge; general care for sneezing and nasal discharge; the differences between acute and chronic sneezing and nasal discharge; and treatment plans. Finally, he gives mini-differentials for the following remedies for sneezing and nasal discharge: Allium cepa, Ars alb, Calc sulph, Hepar sulph, Hydr, Kali bich, Kali sulph, Merc, Puls, Sepia, Silica, and Sulphur.

Chapter 15 gives a further alphabetical listing of specific conditions that did not fit into the large systems discussed in Chapters 6--14. For instance, there is a section on Abscesses (pages 300--306) which includes: a description of how abscesses occur and present clinically; general care for abscesses; and differentials for the leading homeopathic medicines for abscesses including Arnica, Calc sulph, Calendula, Hepar sulph, Lach, Merc, Myristica, Nit ac, Phos, Pyrogen, Silica, and Sulphur.

The therapeutic chapters are complemented by a mini-veterinary materia medica which is included in the last 60 pages of the book and covers 150 remedies. It includes useful indications for polychrests such as Pulsatilla and Sulphur as well as smaller remedies such as Cedron and Serum anguillae. Hamilton's materia medica complements Macleod's, A Veterinary Materia Medica, and adds clinical features which we find very useful.

In Chapter 16, Hamilton gives a thought provoking discussion of vaccination. His chapter title queries "Vaccination, Helpful or Harmful?" We would encourage all homeopaths to read this chapter as Don presents some disturbing observations from his clinical work with cats and dogs which have serious implications for human health. Don discusses the worrying trend towards degenerative chronic illnesses in animals which may be attributable to vaccinosis. Then he offers some hope by presenting anecdotes from his practice in which vaccinosis appears to have been addressed with good homeopathic prescribing.

More good features of Hamilton's book are the summaries at the end of most chapters and the extensive index. Also useful is the appendix of footnotes for each chapter giving ideas for further reading.

We recommend this book to all serious students of veterinary homeopathy. It is a great reference book. The personal observations of Don Hamilton that are woven into the text provide a clinical "icing" on a very finely researched "cake." His writing exhibits a deep understanding of homeopathic principles and his discussion of treatment plans is truly "homeopathic" rather than an allopathically styled recipe book for common illnesses. Hamilton is not merely an animal allopath using potentized remedies instead of conventional drugs; he is a homeopath applying the Law of Similars, Single Remedy, the Minimum Dose and the Totality of Symptoms in a considered and thoughtful way. Our beloved companion animals will surely benefit from this timely and wonderful contribution to our literature. Hamilton has given pet owners, "human" homeopaths, veterinarians interested in exploring homeopathy, and his homeopathic veterinarian colleagues a great resource.

About the authors:

Susanna Shelton is an American who trained at The College of Homœopathy in London and the National Center for Homeopathy. She has been living in New Zealand since 1991. She is Principal of the Bay of Plenty College of Homœopathy and teaches homeopathy at several leading polytechnics and homeopathic colleges. With Tineke Verkade, she established the first Diploma of Homœopathy (Animal Health) training course in Australasia.

Tineke Verkade is a native of Holland who has been living in New Zealand since 1977. She is registered as a nurse, naturopath, herbalist and homeopath. Tineke has been using homœopathy with animals and people for over 20 years and in 1997 authored the Homœopathic Handbook for Dairy Farming. She is also the course coordinator for the Diploma of Homoeopathy (Animal Health) training course at the Bay of Plenty College.