Is homeopathy the purrfect antidote?
Dr Akshay Shah, who claims to be the city's first veterinary homeopath, is helping alleviate the pain of ailing animals using floral extracts and alternative medicine
In 2015, when the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University approved the proposal to launch a post-graduate certificate course in veterinary homeopathy, Dr Akshay Shah was one happy man. While homeopathy's place in veterinary medicine has been a source for contention in the fraternity, Dr Shah is a vociferous advocate. "I've found it [homeopathy] to be safe and a holistic form of treatment for humans. The same logic extends to animals as well," he argues.
Homeopathy is a 200-year-old branch of medicine which rests on the principle that diseases can be cured by strengthening the body's natural defense mechanism. But to be able to practice it on animals, meant he required a degree. In 2018, he acquired a diploma, and says that makes him the city's first certified veterinary homeopath.
Shah's Wadala clinic gets pet parents seeking alternative medicine. "While antibiotics, steroids and painkillers give quick results, they can be dreadful for animals in the long run, causing kidney and liver damage too. When my dog was diagnosed with cancer, homeopathy helped address pain and slowed the tumour growth. He was also very aggressive, and the treatment helped him mellow down." Last year, he treated actor Arjun Rampal's late boxer when he was battling a terminal illness, and is currently treating Dr Watson, Vir Das's dog, for arthritis. Just as in the case with humans, homeopathy uses an individualistic approach, where the treatment is administered only after collecting data about the patient, including history from the pet owner, the nature and frequency of symptoms, among other factors. He says no two animals are treated in the same way for the same disease.
Dr Shah uses acupuncture to treat a pet cat. It's particularly helpful in cases of arthritis, digestive issues, hip dysplasia, or certain neurological disorders
Along with homeopathy, Dr Shah holds a degree in veterinary acupuncture from Madrid's Chi Institute of Europe and a certification in Bach Flower therapy from Bach Foundation in the UK. In the 1930s, English doctor Edward Bach created flower essences to treat his patients, but he believed they could be effective in treating animals, too. The 38 flower remedies are said to cover 38 states of mind. "Flower essences are essentially watery dilutions of plants or flowers, produced
with water and conserved with alcohol," he explains. The drops are added to drinking water or applied on the paws, ears or nose. The dosage in domestic animals is two drops, around two to four times a day. "It gets absorbed through the skin," he says. According to Dr Shah, Bach Flower therapy works best for psychosomatic and behavioural problems, especially fearful or hyperactive animals, spraying cats, and dogs with separation anxiety. "It helps them calm down during stressful situations like festivals when loud fireworks go off, or during thunderstorms." He often treats the city's stray animals by combining two or more floral remedies into a blend. It came particularly handy during the lockdown, he says, when the cases of abandoned pets were high owing to rumours that Coronavirus could be transmitted through dogs and cats. "It helped treat trauma and grief. The remedies are so gentle, they can do no harm," he says, adding that there is a bright side to the lockdown, too. Because most professionals are working from home, they are considering adoption. "I do hope they continue to be as committed even when they have to return to their offices."
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