The Healing Crisis and Why That is a Good Thing

Posted By Dr. Kim on Jan 27, 2006 in Animal Naturopathy, Articles, Canine Naturopathy, Dog Health - Immune System |

Neo Mastiff in bed with blankets covering himIn natural healing, often your dog will appear or seem to be getting worse rather than better. The good news is this is normal and often referred to as the “healing crisis” or detoxification.

More and more caretakers are opting for more natural, holistic ways of caring for their dogs. The growing frustration with conventional care which often includes pharmaceuticals, pesticide-like prevention medicines, and vaccines, are driving dog caretakers to look for a more excellent way to bring not only a quality of life to their beloved dogs, but to bring it more abundantly the way God originally intended.

You’ve probably taken the following steps to start your dog on his or her path to optimal health

1. A natural raw or homemade diet
2. Eliminated overvaccinating
3. Are supporting your dog’s immune system with good nutritionals, enzymes, probiotics
4. Switched from conventional preventions for heartworm, fleas, and ticks to more natural methods using essential oils, herbs, etc.

These are all critical steps to take to ensure your dog’s overall good health. However, after a few weeks or even months, your dog may start to have worse symptoms or appear less healthy than on conventional care. Take heart because this is usually normal and part of the healing process. The best thing is for you to remain diligent and steadfast in your decision to continue the natural care your dog really does need to thrive and not just survive. This sudden onset of symptoms is commonly known as the healing crisis or a state of detoxification.

Symptoms to look for in a healing crisis

Just remember that our society has taught us that symptoms need to be attended to or suppressed immediately. We don’t like discomfort and neither do our dogs. Unlike us though, our dogs seem to understand the need to allow symptoms to manifest in order to get at the root of what is ailing them.

Natural healing doesn’t mask symptoms although they can be eased. Natural healing also isn’t always instantaneous or fast as we’ve falsely come to expect in conventional care. True healing can take time because the focus is on the cause to eliminate the “dis-ease” or illness altogether and permanently. Conventional care often only masks symptoms and drives them deeper into the body where they will eventually manifest with a much deeper root problem resulting often in nearly irreversible disease.

Your dog’s healing crisis and its duration will all depend on:

1. Your dog’s age
2. How long your dog was unhealthy before you decided you wanted to try a natural approach to health.
3. Your patience and not using a conventional/chemical means of eliminating the symptoms

It is far better to ease symptoms with natural support and then go after the cause or root of the problem in order to completely eliminate the disease altogether.

Some of the symptoms of a healing crisis will often appear to be nearly identical to the actual disease or illness you have been trying to heal in your dog. Depending on the symptoms and/or illness your dog was suffering prior to switching him/her to a natural protocol, the following are examples of symptoms:

1. Skin allergies; excessive scratching, licking, biting, itchy skin
2. Diarrhea
3. Vomiting
4. Ear infections
5. Eye discharge
6. Anal sac problems
7. General lethargy

And so on. The list is as varied as the diseases and illnesses. The key here is to remain vigilant in your care and keep in close contact with your holistic veterinarian to help guide you. This can be a long process as the body is ridding itself of all the toxins which are actually causing the symptoms to resurface.

The cleansing process which IS the healing crisis

By feeding your dog a more natural diet (especially raw), his/her body is now able to assimilate nutrients it can use and desperately needs. That means your dog’s immune system can finally get all the valuable and essential nutrients in order to have the fighting power needed to remove the toxins out of the body. Before you provided your dog the nutritional support through proper feeding, his or her body was barely in survive mode. Now your dog can really begin to thrive!

As the cleansing and purifying process begins, the stored wastes and toxins in your dog’s body start to be broken up, pushed through the blood stream and eliminated. This cleansing process starts to accelerate now that the immune system and eliminative organs are more efficient. As a result, the stored toxins are then being released at a faster pace than the eliminative organs – kidneys, liver, lungs, skin, etc. – can remove them from your dog’s body. Now your dog is in a healing crisis. This can actually appear to be more intense than the actual disease or illness your dog was suffering from prior to your transition into natural care. While it is temporary and necessary, the patience of you, the caregiver, is the deciding factor in seeing it all through.

Often times, the caregiver will be tempted to give into the symptoms and give the dog an antihistamine, antibiotics or, even steroids. Doing this will only prolong the natural and true healing process since these “medicines” actually work at suppressing the immune system. The immune system is the key to good health in your dog. Now that it is finally able to work properly, allow it to do its job of ridding the body of the toxins and “dis-ease” through its natural course.

Duration of the healing crisis

Each dog is as different and unique as we are so it stands to reason each will react differently to healing and detoxifying. Several things will determine the length and severity of a healing crisis:

1. Age
2. Health prior to starting on a natural regimen
3. How long your dog was fed a less than desirable diet
4. How many vaccinations he/she has received in their lifetime
5. What types of medications were given and for how long
6. What types of “prevention” medicines were given and for how long
7. How much damage has been done to the genes through vaccines, kibble, pesticides, etc., including what damage has been passed on through the DNA from these same things.

Some dogs will experience no symptoms and transition very easily into a natural health regimen while others will have severe symptoms. Everything is dependent on the individual. Remember these symptoms are just a reminder that the body is working diligently to remove the toxins from your dog’s body.

Most will show a healing response within a month or two. However, from what we have observed, the average length of a healing crisis, followed by the evident increase in health, is one month for every year of life. This isn’t set in stone but is a guideline for you. The length of treatment seems not only proportional to your cooperation and patience, but to your calmness and acceptance of what is going on in your dog’s body.

None of us wants or likes to see our best fur friends suffer, so the good news is there are some natural means of supporting your dog’s immune system and easing some of the symptoms of the healing crisis. These will not interfere with the cleansing process that is taking place. Ask your holistic veterinarian to help you in determining your best course of action to help see your dog through this process and to ease symptoms.

Exceptions to this rule are if your dog:

1. Goes off his/her food for more than 24 hours
2. And/or maintains a high temperature for more than a day or two

Immediately seek the advice of your holistic veterinarian.

This article is not long enough to cover all the factors involving a healing crisis, but we hope you’ve learned enough here to stay the course and finish the healing race your dog needs for his optimal health. Also we encourage you to continue your own research into natural care for your own health and the health of your dog.

About the authors:
Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author. This article is for educational purposes only. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.

Dr. Kim Bloomer is an animal naturopath consulting on canine nutrition and wellness. In addition, Dr. Kim is a proficient blogger, writer, podcaster and presenter on natural pet care as well as the author/co-author of three books including, Whole Healthy for Happy Dogs, Animals Taught Me That and Essential Oils in Animal Care: A Naturopathic Approach. Dr. Kim’s articles have been featured in various publications in both print and online. Dr. Kim is passionate about using and sharing Young Living Essential Oils. Visit her

DISCLAIMER: All information contained here on Aspenbloom Pet Care is intended for educational purposes only. It is not provided in order to diagnose, prevent or treat any disease, illness or injured condition of the body or pets and the author, publisher, and contributors accept no responsibility for such use. Anyone or their pets suffering from any disease, illness or injury should consult with their physician or veterinarian. The ONLY essential oils we use and refer to in ALL our posts, articles, and podcasts are Young Living Essential Oils. We DO NOT use any others and would not. The statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.