Another dog with bad skin

by a veterinary surgeon from East Sussex.

This incident happened a few years ago.  A client brought a dog to me - a medium-sized crossbreed with a bit of retriever in it I think.  Its skin was a pretty awful mess.  It wasn't particularly pruritic, but there was a lot of hair loss, pigmentation, and areas of thickening.  The client was reluctant to spend any money on lab tests, so although I did look at a couple of scrapings (nothing to see), I wasn't able to go as far as I'd have liked and biopsy and so on.

I did the best I could, and tried just about everything I could think of based on the likeliest causes, but nothing seemed to have any effect at all.  And the owner still wouldn't let me do any more work-up on it.  Stalemate.  Finally, not best pleased with my lack of success, the client announced that he was off to see the local homoeopath.  Frankly, by this time I was almost relieved - at least it got the case off my back.

I didn't hear any more for a couple of months, then the owner brought the dog in to me again.  "Well," he announced, "I just wanted to let you see what a brilliant job homoeopathy did when you were completely useless."

What could I say?  The dog stood there, to my eyes actually slightly worse than it had been on the day I'd last seen it.  Frankly, it looked just awful.  But in the owner's eyes there had been a massive improvement.

I think this is how homoeopathy "works" in quite a lot of cases.  Somebody wants to believe the animal is better, so it is better.  But why didn't this happen with any of the treatment I'd given?  Sure, the dog still wasn't any better, but the owner didn't think it was, either.  Was it something I didn't say?

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