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Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats
By Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD and Susan Hubble Pitcairn
Published by Rodale
September 2005; $18.95US/$25.95CAN; 1-57954-973-X

In the third, revised edition of this groundbreaking text on holistic dog and cat care, Dr. Richard Pitcairn once again outlines his program for helping pets obtain complete wellness, from their puppyhood and kittenhood throughout old age. In this updated edition, he:

  • Presents fully revised recipes to reflect products currently on the market
  • Reveals information on what consumers don't know about the pet food industry
  • Includes detailed information on homeopathic medicine and first aid procedures
  • Provides tips on traveling with pets
  • Uncovers ways to safeguard the home against toxins -- both inside and out
  • Has expanded the Quick Reference section to include today's more common ailments

For more than 20 years, this classic guide has been equally invaluable to both veterinarians and pet guardians alike. Make this your first choice in raising your pet in the most natural and healthy way possible.

Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, opened the Animal Natural Health Center, a clinic offering only holistic animal care, in 1985. Recently retired from practice, he teaches post-graduate courses in homeopathic medicine to veterinarians.

Susan Hubble Pitcairn was a major contributor to the first two editions of this book. As the third edition goes to press, she is splitting her time between artistic pursuits and the support of positive social change.

For more information, please visit

"The third edition of this 'landmark' text is welcome and will take up space on my bookshelf, as well as the bookshelves of many of my colleagues and clients." --Carvel G. Tiekert, DVM, founder, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association

"If you want your dog and cat to live a longer, healthier life, then this easy-to-use and well-researched book is a must for you."
--Christina Chambreau, DVM, holistic veterinarian

"Dr. Richard Pitcairn again demonstrates why he is so respected in his field. This book should be required reading for anyone seeking true, lasting health for their animals and will continue to be a must-read for my clients."
--Larry A. Bernstein, VMD

"For many of my clients, Dr. Pitcairn's book is their trusted holistic health guide for their canine and feline companions' needs -- a must-read for those embarking on the worthwhile journey towards restoration of their pets' health and happiness."
--David Evans, DVM, Natural Care Clinic for Pets

The following is an excerpt from the book Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats
by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn
Published by Rodale; September 2005;$18.95US/$25.95CAN; 1-57954-973-X
Copyright © 2005 Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

Handling Emergencies and Giving First Aid

Important. Read this first! The care you give an animal in the first few minutes of an emergency can make the difference between life and death. The first-aid remedies I suggest definitely work and will be tremendously helpful in that time between the beginning of the emergency and arrival at your veterinarian's office. But they are meant as temporary lifesaving procedures to use while you contact the doctor and ready transportation. Do not use these methods as a way of delaying needed professional help. Instructions for more prolonged treatment apply only if you cannot reach medical care.

For this information to serve you, plan ahead and have supplies on hand in a convenient place. An emergency is not the time to begin assembling these tools and remedies or to start reading "how to do it." The information that follows is provided in brief outline form, alphabetically, for ready reference when needed. But please study all the categories ahead of time so you can find the right heading in a hurry during a time of crisis.

Here is a list of supplies you should have on hand in order to make full use of my suggestions. See  for suppliers of the homeopathic remedies. Dr. Bach's stress-relieving rescue formula is available at natural foods stores, and the other supplies are found in drug stores.

Homeopathic Remedies

For each, order 2 drams of the remedy as #10 pellets (little tiny ones, like grains of sand, which are easiest to give), approximately 10 or so as a dose given from the cap of the vial.

  • Aconitum 30C
  • Arnica montana 30C
  • Arsenicum album 30C
  • Calendula 30C
  • Calendula tincture -- one-ounce dropper bottle
  • Calendula ointment -- can be purchased from homeopathic pharmacies
  • Carbo vegetabilis 30C
  • Glonoine 30C
  • Hypericum 30C
  • Ledum 30C
  • Nux vomica 30C
  • Phosphorus 30C
  • Symphytum 30C
  • Urtica urens tincture -- one-ounce dropper bottle

Other Remedies

  • Activated charcoal granules
  • Ammonia water
  • Fresh warm coffee (caffeinated)
  • Raw onion
  • Dr. Bach's stress-relieving rescue formula -- 10½-milliliter dropper bottle of the stock. Prepare a solution from purchased stock in this manner: Add four drops of stock to a one-ounce dropper bottle filled a third of the way with brandy, as a preservative. Add enough spring water to fill the bottle and shake well. Make this diluted solution in advance and use it as recommended for treatment. It will keep for at least a year if kept out of the sun and away from heat.


  • (2) blankets -- thick and strong
  • Adhesive tape -- one-inch-wide roll
  • Elastic bandage -- three inches wide
  • Enema bag
  • Gauze pads -- one package
  • Natural soap -- like Dr. Bronner's natural soap
  • Plastic bowl -- for preparing dilutions
  • Sea salt--for making saline (¼ tsp. per cup of water)
  • Water -- for dilution (spring or distilled water is best; tap water is okay)
  • Empty plastic syringe -- for administering remedies
  • Empty dropper bottle(s) -- for preparing remedies


Breathing Stopped
Follow these steps to apply Artificial Respiration Technique.

1. Open the mouth, pull out the tongue, check back into the throat to make sure no obstructions are present. Clear away mucus and blood if necessary. Replace the tongue.
2. Give one dose of Carbo vegetabilis 30C. Place a few pellets on the tongue. Drip water on the tongue to dissolve the pellets.
3. Close the mouth and place your mouth over the nostrils. Exhale as you fill the animal's lungs, allowing it to exhale after. Do this 6 times a minute for dogs, 12 times a minute for cats. Inflate the chest until you can see it rise.
4. Administer Dr. Bach's rescue formula, starting after 5 minutes. Place two drops on the gums or tongue and continue every 5 minutes until breathing is restored. Then every 30 minutes (if you can't reach help) for four treatments.

Breathing and Heart Both Stopped
(Listen at chest.)
Follow these steps.

1. Use the Artificial Respiration Technique including use of one dose of Carbo vegetabilis 30C (see "Breathing Stopped") and the External Heart Massage Technique (see "Heart Stopped," page 434), step one, at the same time. This is easiest for two people.
2. Apply acupressure. Use the edge of your thumbnail or the pointed cap of a pen to put strong pressure over the center of the large pad of each rear foot. If there's no response at first, try reaching the same point by coming in from under the back edge of the pad. After a few seconds, release and apply pressure to the point on the nose shown in the diagram. Alternate between acupressure and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. If two people are working, have each one apply one of the techniques continuously.
3. After five minutes, give one dose of Arnica montana 30C. Place a few pellets on the tongue.
4. After 5 more minutes, administer Dr. Bach's rescue formula. Place two drops on the gums or tongue and continue every 5 minutes until breathing is restored. Repeat every 30 minutes (if you can't reach help) for four treatments.

("White" skin or scorched hair)
Use one technique.

1. Apply Urtica urens tincture. Add six drops of the tincture to one ounce (two full tablespoons) water. Saturate gauze with the solution and place over the burn. Do not remove the gauze, but keep it moistened by adding more of the solution. If necessary, hold in place with a bandage.
2. Give one dose of Arsenicum album 30C.
3. After 5 more minutes, administer Dr. Bach's rescue formula. Place two drops on the tongue every 30 minutes for a total of three treatments. Repeat every four hours until relief is evident.

Car Accidents
(Obvious injury; greasy or very dirty coat)
Follow these steps.

1. Move the animal to a safe place. If the animal is found on the road, without bending its spine or changing its position, slide it onto a board or taut blanket and transport it to a safer location. You may need to tie a strip of cloth or wrap a pressure bandage around the mouth temporarily (as a muzzle) or put a blanket over the animal's head, to keep it from biting someone.
2. Give a dose of Arnica montana 30C. Place a few pellets on the tongue every 15 minutes, for a total of three doses. Do this only if it is safe to do so. An injured animal will bite without restraint and can cause very serious injury. If it seems unsafe to administer a medicine, dissolve two pellets in some water or milk and drip it onto the lips from a safe distance above. If you happen to have a syringe with a needle on it, you can squirt the diluted medicine fairly accurately between the lips and into the mouth.
3. Keep the animal warm and watch for shock (see "Shock," page 437).

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
(See "Breathing and Heart Both Stopped," page 431.)

(Stiffening or alternate rapid contraction/relaxation of muscles; thrashing about; frothing at the mouth)

1. Do not interfere with or try to restrain the animal during the convulsion. It is too dangerous to you and does not help the animal.
2. If breathing stops after the convulsion, use artificial respiration (see "Breathing Stopped," page 430). If the heart stops too, use cardiopulmonary resuscitation (see "Breathing and Heart Both Stopped," page 431).
3. Give Aconitum 30C. If possible, put a few pellets on the tongue (see warning about being bitten in "Car Accidents," opposite).
4. If convulsions continue, after 5 minutes give Belladonna 30C.
5. After 5 more minutes, administer Dr. Bach's rescue formula, two drops every 15 minutes, if the animal is frightened or disoriented, up to three doses or until relief is evident.
6. Consider poisoning as a possible cause (see "Poisoning," page 435).

(Lacerations, tears)
Follow these steps.

1. Flush out the cut with clean water. Remove obvious debris like sticks, hair, and gravel.
2. Apply calendula lotion. Add six drops calendula tincture to one ounce (two full tablespoons) water; saturate gauze pads, and tape them in place. If this is irritating, flush with saline and bandage with dry pads.
3. Wash minor wounds that do not need professional care with soap and water and dry carefully. Clip hair from the edges of the wound. Apply calendula ointment twice a day until healed. Leave unbandaged if possible.

Also give one dose of Calendula 30C.

(Leg "bends" at sharp angle; animal won't use leg)

  • If the lower leg is obviously broken, very carefully wrap a roll of clean newspaper or magazine around it and tape it to prevent unrolling. Do not try to set the leg yourself; just keep the lower end from swinging back and forth.
  • If a wound is present at the fracture site, cover it with clean gauze before applying a temporary splint, as above.
  • If the fracture is not apparent or is high up, do not attempt to splint. Let the animal assume the most comfortable posture. A padded box may be best for transporting small animals to the veterinarian.
Walking on three legs may be best for a larger dog.

1. Give Arnica 30C. One dose is usually enough, but repeat again in 4 hours if there is still much pain.
2. Next day give Ruta 30C, which will remove residual pain from having torn the membrane that covers the bones (or give after surgery to reduce pain). 3. Wait another 3 days and give Symphytum 30C to accelerate healing of the bones.

Gunshot Wounds
(Look for two holes opposite each other on the body, great pain and anxiety.)

1. Give Arnica 30C, a few pellets every 15 minutes, for a total of three doses.
2. Apply hand pressure with dry gauze over the wound, if necessary, until bleeding stops. Or temporarily use the Pressure Bandage Technique (see "Pressure Bandage Technique," page 436).
3. Give Hypericum 30C if there is no relief from the three doses of Arnica. Give a few pellets every 15 minutes for a total of three doses.
4. Continue treatment with Arnica 30C or Hypericum 30C, whichever was most useful. Give a dose every 4 hours, as long as it seems needed to control pain. Typically, 3 doses will do all the good that can be accomplished with this medicine.
5. If there is still apparent pain, give Calendula 30C, one dose.

Heart Stopped
(No heartbeat felt or heard at chest)
Follow these steps.

1. Apply External Heart Massage Technique. Place the animal with its right side down on a firm surface. Place one or both hands (depending on animal's size) over the lower chest directly behind the elbow. Press firmly and release at the rate of once every second (see the illustration, left). Caution: Excessive pressure can fracture ribs.
2. Give one dose of Carbo vegetabilis 30C. As soon as you can, place a few pellets on the tongue, then drop some water on the pellets to dissolve them in the mouth.
3. Administer Dr. Bach's rescue formula. Put two drops in the side of the mouth, repeating every 5 minutes until there is a response. Then every 30 minutes (if no help is available) for four doses.
4. Apply artificial respiration if the heart does not start within a minute (see "Breathing Stopped," page 430).
5. Successful heart massage (and respiration) can be recognized by the return of normal "pink" color to the gums.

Heat Stroke
(Animal found unconscious in hot car)
Follow these steps.

1. Remove the animal immediately to a cool, shady area. Use the car's shadow if necessary.
2. Wet the animal with water. Apply continuously to cool the body as much as possible. Place ice packs or cold, wet towels around the body and head during transport to the veterinarian.
3. Give one dose of Belladonna 30C.
4. If no improvement within 30 minutes, give one dose of Glonoine 30C.
5. Administer Dr. Bach's rescue formula. Put two drops in the mouth every ten minutes until you arrive at the veterinarian's.
6. If breathing has stopped, follow instructions for "Breathing Stopped," page 430.

(Bleeding from a wound or body opening)
For skin wounds, use these treatments.

1. Give one dose Arnica 30C. Wait for 30 minutes. If bleeding has not stopped, give the next remedy.
2. Give one dose Phosphorus 30C.
3. Locally apply a calendula "lotion" (six drops tincture in one ounce of water).
4. If necessary, use the Pressure Bandage (as described on page 436).

For internal bleeding, (pale tongue, gums, and inside of eyelids, with weakness) use these treatments.

1. Give one dose Arnica 30C and repeat it every 30 minutes for three treatments.
2. Give Phosphorus 30C in three 3 doses (as above), if Arnica 30C is not sufficient.
3. Keep the animal calm. If hysteria is a problem, begin treatment by placing two drops of Dr. Bach's rescue formula in the mouth every five minutes for three treatments. Then follow with Arnica.

Insect Bites
(Bee, hornet, and wasp stings; centipede, scorpion, and spider bites; red, painful swellings)

For local use: For bee, hornet, or wasp stings, apply a freshly sliced onion. Alternatively, rub in one drop of ammonia water (can be purchased for cleaning floors and windows -- in a pinch, you can use ammonia detergent or an ammonia-based window cleaner).

An effective herbal treatment is to rub in a drop of nettle extract (Urtica urens tincture or glycerine extract) directly on the sting.

Hold a dull knife perpendicular to the skin and scrape across the area of the sting a few times. This will grab the stinger and pull it out without pain. Do not try to grab a stinger with your fingers or with tweezers, as it will squeeze more poison into the wound.

Internally, for all insect bites give Ledum 30C, a few pellets every 15 minutes for a total of 3 treatments.

(Symptoms appear in three major forms: excess salivation, tears, and frequent urination and defecation; muscle twitching, trembling, and convulsions; severe vomiting.)
Follow these steps.

1. Give granular activated charcoal. Mix five heaping teaspoons of granules in 1 cup of water. Depending on the animal's size, give about ¼ to 1 cup by spoonfuls in the cheek pouch. If this causes excess struggle or worsens symptoms, discontinue. Your veterinarian will be able to apply treatment under sedation or anesthesia.
2. Give Nux vomica 30C, a few pellets on the tongue every 15 minutes for a total of 3 doses. Do not continue treatment if the symptoms worsen.
3. Keep the animal warm and as quiet as possible. Stress has a very negative influence.
4. Call the National Animal Poison Control Center if you know where the poison came from. Call 800-548-2423 ($30 credit card charge per case) for specific advice on treatment or antidotes.

Otherwise, bring the suspected poisons and container (if known), as well as any vomited material, to the doctor for possible identification of the poison.

Pressure Bandage Technique
(To control hemorrhage, excessive bleeding; to keep gauze and medication in place)
Follow these steps.

1. Place dry or medicated gauze (calendula ointment is a good choice) over the wound and wrap an overlapping elastic bandage around it. Apply only slight tension to the wrap because excessive pressure (especially on a leg) can cut off blood flow like a tourniquet. If the wound is on the lower half of the leg, wrap all the way to and including the foot (to prevent swelling).
2. Secure the end of the bandage with adhesive tape to prevent unwinding.
3. Remove the bandage at once if swelling occurs below the wrap (as on a leg). If you can reach the foot pads, periodically check that they remain warm; if they're cold, then the bandage is too tight. Remember, bandaging is a temporary measure; use it until bleeding stops or you can reach the veterinarian.

(From teeth, claws, sharp objects)
Follow these steps.

1. Wash wound with soap and water. Use a natural soap, not a strong detergent.
2. Extract any embedded hair you see in the hole.
3. Apply direct pressure over the wound with gauze only if bleeding is excessive (see "Pressure Bandage Technique," above). Moderate bleeding is appropriate to flush out the wound.
4. Give Ledum 30C, a few pellets every two hours, for 3 doses.

(Accompanies serious injuries. Symptoms are white gums, rapid breathing, unconsciousness.)

  • If much bruising or trauma is evident or internal hemorrhage is suspected, use Arnica 30C, one dose every ten minutes until a response is seen. Then treat every two hours until the gums are once again pink and your pet seems to be normally alert.
  • If the animal is unconscious, give Aconitum 30C, one dose every ten minutes until consciousness returns. If there is no response within four doses, switch over to Arnica 30C and use the same schedule as you would for Aconitum.
  • If the animal appears to be dying (cold, blue, lifeless), give Carbo vegetabilis 30C, one dose every five minutes for three treatments. If he rallies, follow with Arnica 30C as described in the first step of this section.
Note: Keep the animal warm with a blanket in a horizontal position.

Sudden Collapse
(Sudden unconsciousness without warning; fainting)
Follow these steps.

1. First check to see if breathing or the heart has stopped. If so, use the treatment described under "Breathing Stopped" (page 430) or "Breathing and Heart Both Stopped" (page 431).
2. Use Dr. Bach's rescue formula, two drops every 5 minutes until a response, and then every 30 minutes.
3. Give a warm coffee enema (for caffeine). Use ¼ cup for small dogs, ½ cup for medium dogs, and 1 cup for large dogs. Press gauze against the anus for 15 minutes to prevent the fluid from coming out.
4. Count out the heart rate for a minute, if possible, by listening to the lower left chest (near where left elbow touches the chest). This will be useful information for your veterinarian, as an abnormal heart rate (too fast or too slow) is a frequent cause of fainting.
5. If none of this has helped then, give one dose of Arsenicum album 30C.

Copyright © 2005 Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

Reprinted from: Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn  © 2005 Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit their website at

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