Michael Goldberg, DVM, CHom
What does natural, holistic first aid mean? To me, it means that whatever you do, don't do any harm. Give your pet whatever it takes to attain health in a meaningful way.
What does natural, holistic first aid mean? To me, it means that whatever you do, don’t do any harm. Give your pet whatever it takes to attain health in a meaningful way. Have as much knowledge as you can muster so that you can avert any lasting illness for your pet.
Hook up with someone you can trust. Trust your intuition. Read. Ask questions of your veterinarian and don’t be shy about it. Get second opinions. You pay for the time, so use it wisely and fully.
If you are unsure of a problem, don’t wait too long to seek the advice of a qualified practitioner. It may be worth your while to get an opinion, so that whatever you decide to do treatment wise, at least you will do no harm.
As a young vet, just after finishing school, I once gave a class on first aid to an adult continuing education program. When I reflect on this time, my ideas haven’t changed, but my means have definitely shifted away from prescription medications. Now I focus on substances that offer good results, without the potential dangers of drug side effects that are worse than the diseases we treat.
By far the most common problems I see in the clinic are those of cuts, bruises and abrasions (probably the most common reason for children to go to the doctor!). The interesting thing about it is that there are probably more parents who treat these things in their children than they do in their pets. The basics are much the same–in fact, probably identical.
Be sure nothing is actually broken. This can be a hard call sometimes, but pets generally will walk on all four limbs if there is no bone broken. With cuts and abrasions, you may need an opinion as to the depth in order to make a decision whether the injury needs stitches. Remember that cuts do heal. The larger the cut, the bigger the scar, but they do heal!
Pet Vet Kit
With a little bit of planning and a few supplies, you can create a very simple, yet effective first aid kit for your pet.
All kits should include non-stick, sterile bandage material, rolled gauze and tape. Alcohol is still a great choice for cleaning bites.
Homeopathic Arnica 200c is an excellent remedy for bruises, contusions, sprains and strains. It helps dissipate bruising and speeds the recovery time. This should be given immediately after the trauma.
Homeopathic Hypericum 200c (St John’s wort) has an affinity for nerves, especially in the fingers and toes as well as the tailbone. This should be given if there is any sharp trauma to the feet or the spine ( for example after a fall or if something sharp is stepped on).
Homeopathic Calendula 200c (marigold) is a good antiseptic and is excellent for the closure of wounds. This should be used in any situation where there is a cut on the body.
As a general rule of thumb, these homeopathic medications can be given orally every two to four hours for one to two days or until the symptoms begin to improve. When this happens, it means the body has begun the healing process and can stop relying on the medicinal assistance.
Calendula herbal tincture is a good antiseptic as well as a good wound contracting agent. The tinctures have an alcohol base, so I recommend mixing with warm water to clean and dress the wound.
Hypericum (St John’s wort) herbal tincture is a good cleansing antiseptic and as such, I recommend it to clean out any wound before bandaging it with a calendula-soaked bandage.
Either traumeel or arnica cream can be used on abrasions to minimize discomfort and promote healing.
Aloe vera gel is great for healing and soothing of the skin in the case of cuts.
If you are not sure how severe the injury is, it is a good idea to get a professional’s opinion. This takes us back to the beginning of this article–go to someone you can trust.
The products I’ve mentioned are easy to find at your local health store and are inexpensive. Having a "pet vet" kit may avert any potential disasters that come your way.