Introduction to Veterinary Practice

Many of the objections raised by allopaths against the principles of Homoeopathy fall entirely to the grounds when put to the test upon the animals. The amazing cures in veterinary practice cannot be ascribed to mere imagination or placebo effect….


Homoeopathy in Veterinary Practice *This Article is by Dr. J. Sutcliffe Harndall, M.R.C.V.S., of the Veterinary Infirmary. Sussex, Villas, Kensington, who has had an experience of more than ten years of homoeopathic practice amongst all kinds of domestic animals.*

“Do I understand you to say that during ten years you have been in active practice you have relied solely upon homoeopathic medicines among your patients?” ”

I am pleased to be able to reply in the affirmative, madam!”

“But do you mean that among the larger animals, such as horses and cows, it does any good at all?”

“Most certainty!”

“And do you give them those tiny little globules?”

“Well, no! I use the tinctures and trituration, because by this means a strictly defined strength is assured, and I can tell to the fraction of a grain what strength to administer!”

“I suppose then, that you always use the strong tinctures?”

“Not of necessity; it depends partly upon the class of animal I am prescribing for, and partly upon the nature of the disease of which it is a subject.”

“Well, I am surprised! I can understand babies and young children getting a little benefit; but animals, horses, too, of all others; you certainly do surprise me!!!”

“But, madam, I hope you will pardon me, if, I remind you that Homoeopathy does not mean small doses only; it is in reality a grand principle which enables those who practice it to select suitable medicines according to a certain fixed rule!”

“Oh, yes, I know; my doctor has tried to explain to me about it; but I cannot see how you can practice upon animals for they cannot answer any questions if you ask them!” for they cannot answer any questions if you ask them!”

“So far as your objection applies to an animal’s power of speech, you are quite right; but to an experienced veterinary surgeon, animals have the power of conveying by signs and movement, where they are suffering pain, and careful physical examination enables us to determine what is the matter although I am free to admit, that as compared with the human physician, we labour under difficulties in diagnosing; on the other hand, our patients never mislead us by detailing a long list of imaginary symptoms.”

The foregoing is only a portion of a long conversation I had with a lady a short while ago, preparatory to undertaking the treatment of a favourite dog; it serves to demonstrate, however, in a modified degree, a very common impression that prevails in the minds of a large number of people, who, fully believing in the advantages of Homoeopathy for children, and up to a certain point for adults, seem incapable of understanding what good it can do for animals.

Even among some of the staunchest adherents of the cause, who would under no consideration call in any practitioner other than an avowed homoeopathist, ladies and gentlemen of rank, title and social influence, there is a very larger percentage, who permit their animals to be subjected to the tender (?) mercies of allopathic practice, even though Homoeopathy is within reach.

Now, this is all the more remarkable when we consider than many of the objections raised by allopaths against the principles of Homoeopathy fall entirely to the grounds when put to the test upon the lower animals; such for instance, as the part which imagination plays in recovery from disease: it is of course perfectly futile for our medical opponents to say that a horse suffering from colic thinks that he is better after taking a dose or two of homoeopathically selected medicine nor is it at all logical for allopaths to aver that a horse, suffering from an acute attack of Pneumonia or Bronchitis which had recovered after being treated homoeopathically, would have got well even though he had not taken the medicines; because every practical man knows by this time that, in such fatal disease, the practice of EXPECTANCY is but a fraud and a delusion, and that not one case in a hundred, if left to unaided nature, ever does recover: therefore, those who are enthusiastically desirous for the spread of Homoeopathy and for unquestionable proof of the truth of the principle, cannot do better than submit their own animals to the treatment, when ill, and do all they can to induce their friends to follow their example; in this way much important evidence of its efficacy and value may be furnished.

There are many ladies and gentlemen or position and influence who subscribe most liberally to the reconstruction of such a useful institution as the Homoeopathic Hospital, presumably because they are deeply interested in spreading far and wide the blessings which Hahnemann was instrumental in discovering; but if one may judge by their actions in daily life, they are totally indifferent to the advantages which the system affords to the faithful animals which either draw them about through the busy streets of the West End or help to protect their property during the silent hours of the night when no one but the trusty dog is on the look out for the light-fingered gentry who perambulate our wealthy urban and suburban districts.

All this seems very short-sighted policy: it’s all very well to subscribe liberally to hospitals and such like public institutions, which in their turn do right royal service in spreading a practical acquaintance with this God-sent system; but if it is after all so good for the human subject, why should not the faithful animals who minister to man’s luxury and gratification share in the advantages which this most humane law of Nature affords?

The answer is not far to seek; plain unvarnished truth, though at times extremely unpalatable when brought straight home, is always the best in the long run; and as regards the matter considered, it is a follows: Ladies and gentlemen of high social position leave the management of their horses, and, in many instances their dogs also, to the tender mercies of their coachmen, grooms or other household servants; in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, persons among the employed classes of society have not enjoyed the advantages of a sufficiently liberal education to enable them to appreciate correctly what Homoeopathy means, and in the same numerical proportion they are very frequently more amendable to the influence of the almighty dollar than they are to the well-being of their employers’ property; consequently when “Jeams” has the power and authority delegated to himself, it is not often considered what medical system is the best in the interests of the animal, but who will pay the most liberal commission on the accounts.

If ladies and gentlemen will place themselves in the hands of their servants in this way, merely to evade the trouble of looking after their own affairs, there is no wonder that homoeopathic principles stand little or no chance of being properly tested among the lower animals; and in an equal degree the opportunity of testing the truth and value of the Homoeopathic Law on creatures quite unbiased by fancy and imagination is absolutely thrown away.

There is no manner of doubt that in veterinary practice opportunities frequently present themselves of putting this medical system on its trial in such a way that opponents who quibble over dosage and potency and make these the strong points of their objections against Hahnemann and all his work, would, if cases were carefully described, be nolens volens, compelled to admit that there must be something in it, unless as one is sometimes compelled to fear, they have willfully determined to close their eyes to the truth; so long however as, for reasons already assigned, cases for description are awaiting, for so long will unbelievers be able to plead that homoeopathists are not true to their faith, and Homoeopathy itself loses the advantage which so mighty a factor in its proof and in its dissemination would assuredly be.

It will probably surprise many staunch homoeopathists to learn that the number of qualified veterinary surgeons who have openly avowed their belief and faith in Hahnemann’s principle of drug selection can more than be counted on the fingers of one hand, leaving the thumb out of consideration, while the present total number of active graduates of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is nearly three thousand.

Personally, I look upon this as a most humiliating admission to have to make, and were it not that, as a whole, the veterinary profession is far and away more liberal towards heterodox practitioners than is the medical profession, my relations with my brother practitioners would be simply unbearable. And how is that paucity of veterinary homoeopaths to be accounted for? There must be a reason!

To reply to this question, one cannot do more than surmise; there is, however, very little doubt that the law of supply and demand has something to do with it but in what degree it is difficult to say. If nevertheless, homoeopathists would be true to the convictions which they apply to themselves and entrust some of their valuable carriage horses, race horses, hunters, neat and other stock to homoeopathic treatment, utilising the assistance of those professional men who are available, plenty of really important cures would be effected which would furnish interesting cases for report in the Journals, and in this manner spread abroad knowledge of the splendid system which has already done so much to assuage and alleviate the pains of poor suffering humanity; this done, thoughtful and intelligent young men would have their attention drawn to the subject, and it would almost certainly result, as it has in the medical profession, that some of the more serious and conscientious, of the number would determine to investigate, study and test for themselves this beneficient law of Nature, which Hahnemann was instrumental in discovering, and which he so ably presented to the world.

J S Harndall