I just read an article by a popular pet health magazine that stated that dogs that vomit bile in the early morning can be normal. She states that she just gives her dog a late evening snack to prevent it from happening. What? If it were normal, then all dogs would be vomiting bile in the early mornings and she wouldn’t have to give a late evening snack to prevent it from happening.
If we look at vomiting, not literally for goodness sakes, we first have to understand that it is a symptom and not a disease. If we think of vomiting bile as a disease without a treatment, or giving a late evening snack will prevent it from happening, then we can allow our mind to tell us that it is probably a normal situation. NOT.
Vomiting, as a symptom, is nothing more than the body telling us that it is ill and that something needs to be fixed. It might be as simple as a dog eating a piece of something nasty, the body recognizes that it does not want it, and it vomits it back up. Self elimination. The vomiting, was doing its reactive thing to eliminate the problem. It does not vomit unless there is a problem.
I was taught in vet school that cats vomiting hairballs was normal. And, for a long time, I believed it. A client would say, “My cat vomits hairballs almost every day. Is that a problem?” I would politely say, “No, it is a normal function. Cats groom themselves and the hair will often come back up as a hairball. The best way to prevent it is to brush the cat regularly.” What? Can I not actually think for myself?
Do cats in the wild need to have the other cats brush them to prevent hairballs? How many times on National Geographic do we see the lions, tigers and cheetahs retching up hairballs?
Why is it then, that we vets, and the armchair vets, still say that vomiting can be normal? Because they don’t have a way to explain it that makes sense and if they did, they accept that it is not making the pet sick so why do anything about it if there is something that can be done about it. What difference does it make? It makes a difference because the body is giving us a signal that there is a problem and by ignoring it, things will continue to get worse until it is a clinical problem.
The underlying problem is that conventional veterinary medicine does not identify these things as a problem because there is nothing that can be prescribed to stop it from happening. I am not saying that it can’t be controlled, but that is different from resolving the problem. Giving some hairball supplement on occasion or feeding a late night snack seems simple enough. But, these are treatments for controlling the symptoms and not resolving the problems.
Imagine that your engine warning light comes on in your car. You take it to the auto mechanic and tell him that the warning light is flashing on your dashboard. He tells you that it is not anything to worry about and reaches down, pulls a wire out and the flashing warning light goes off. Unfortunately, a few days later, the car breaks down on the highway because of the underlying problem.
If conventional medicine doesn’t or can’t address these problems, and there are many, then we have to change pathways and look at the problem from that perspective if we want to resolve it. If I want to find directions for driving to Seattle, I don’t use a text about plant biology. Finding an alternative modality for health, we can often explain what is causing the recurring symptoms and address the underlying cause.
I once had a beautiful two-year old yellow lab that was referred to my office. This young dog could barely walk due to persistent pain. The vet had done a wonderful job trying to find out the source of the pain and had used many drugs in hopes of stopping it but he could not find an answer or find a drug that would help. The poor fellow could barely walk across the lawn without giving up and lying down.
I reviewed the work that the vet had done. The Xrays, lab work and everything that was done and it was all normal. From a conventional vet medicine perspective, there was no explanation as to what was going on. So, I changed pathways and started looking at him through the eyes of a Chinese medicine practitioner. My exam revealed a couple of long-standing imbalances that would explain the source of the pain. I did some acupuncture and used Chinese herbs, and in a few weeks, he was back to his old self, running and playing normally. In a month or so, all treatment was stopped and he was back to normal. The vet called me and was curious as to what I had found and how I was able to restore normal health and well being for the dog. I told him that the dog had a liver xu imbalance causing a secondary blood stagnation. He didn’t ask for an explanation.
If a dog is vomiting bile in the early mornings, we can feed it something late in the evening and it will perhaps stop the symptoms. Or, we can look at it from a different perspective and find out that it is an imbalanced liver causing stomach qi rebellion, address the imbalances and resolve the problems for good. Yes, it is a problem that is resolvable. The same goes for the cat that is vomiting hairballs regularly. We can give it hairball supplements to reduce the hardballs or we can change perspectives, realize that it is a spleen qi imbalance and resolve it using the right herbs and diet modifications.