Does Homeopathy Work in Animals?

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

The myth that homeopathy works in animals is not based on the findings of quality research. It is based on claims of veterinarians and pet owners who report seeing animals improve after receiving a homeopathic product. Proponents also assert that because animals are not subject to placebo effects, the improvement can't be due to a placebo effect.

There are two reasons that these assertions are false. Assuming that improvement actually occurs, they do not prove that the method is effective. In animals—as well as in humans—improvement may be the natural course of the ailment. To prove effectiveness, it is necessary to see recipients of a treatment with non-recipients. It is true that animals do not experience placebo effects. But something similar can take because the vet or owner perceives and/or reports improvement where none has takes place. I have seen this described as  placebo effect by proxy, where the animal's owner may be that the animal is responding to treatment even though no real treatment has been administered.

This article was posted on January 5, 2018.

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