February 2016

Prancing like a pony: a case of Lac equinum

by Geoff Johnson

Talley was a nine-year-old castrated collie cross. He had a history of seasonal dermatitis since he was three years old; consequently he was on steroids in the spring and summer. His skin, however, was still red and itchy in winter. He also had otitis externa with the left ear worse than the right.

In the consulting room, he explored everywhere, going round and round the room. He did not really associate with me. He seemed alert and on edge.

He had mild arthritis and was stiff as he moved about the room.

The owner got him at fourteen weeks old. He had very long legs and did the splits. He has always been clumsy and comical in the way he walks. “It's like he's doing dressage.” 


He came from the dog pound and has been re-homed already. If the owner smoked, he went wild and shook excessively. He had a rash around his neck and the owner realized it was from cigarette burns. 

When he arrived, he was the second dog and was happy to be bossed about by the dominant dog. Then, when he was five years old, the top dog moved away and a puppy arrived. Talley was put in the position of being the dominant dog and this caused a “breakdown”. When the top dog went “he fell apart – he just couldn't handle it.” 

If any other dogs came close, he would bark and shake: “Keep away. I'm scared but I have to protect the puppy.” If the puppy was nervous, Talley was nervous and became fear aggressive. He stopped eating and drinking, and become very fearful, submissive, and shaky. He felt he had to be dominant but this was alien to him and his skin flared, requiring daily steroids.

Now, his abdomen is red and sore, his teats are large, hot, and very itchy. I had not seen such big teats on a male dog and presumed it was because of the great irritation and scratching.

He loves swimming. 

He seeks the sun and the fire. 

He fears noise; he startles and comes to the owner, then he wants a stroke. 

Generally, he is “very sensitive to fear” and always climbs on the owner's lap if frightened. 

He looks after young animals, like kittens and puppies who sleep all over him. He licks them for hours even if he's exhausted. The owner thought that was very odd for a male dog. 

When he meets you, he “prances like pony”, sneezing and whooping with excitement.

He is averse being parted from the owner, even just going into the garden.

He is not demanding of fuss – he is not a lapdog.

He is very sympathetic: the owner is prone to anaphylaxis and when this happens, Talley “lies out long and presses his back” against the owner. He never does this at any other time and he will not move away even if he is told to. If the owner is crying, he comes and puts his paw on her lap.

He is very obedient and cowers even if you tell off another dog.

He hates arguing and creeps out of the room.

When a visitor comes to the house, he seeks acknowledgment but is nervous and averse being approached. 

He is very alert and trembling. 

He is much better mentally now that the top dog (who had been staying with a relative) has come back.

Prescription one: Baryta carbonica 200C

Talley's problems seem to be aggravated when he is asked to be top dog, when he is put in a position of power and feels inadequate to deal with it. This is the feeling of the left-hand side elements in the sixth series of the periodic table. There is a rubric "maternal instinct exaggerated" which contains Baryta carbonica. I have had similar cases where this remedy worked very well.

Second consultation five weeks later

Talley's appetite increased dramatically for two days.

He was much more assertive with the other two dogs. 

Then, his abdomen became very red and hot, and the owner found a large soft growth under a left-hand side teat. He became more affectionate, less hangdog, and he was possibly more clingy.

Third consultation four weeks later

He has slipped back mentally and has become stiff again. His skin, which had initially aggravated and then improved, had regressed again.

Further prescriptions of Baryta carbonica failed to help. Obviously, Baryta was similar but superficial to the case. 

Prescription two: Kalium phosphoricum 200C

Kali requires protection from others and is startled easily. All remedies from the fourth series feel as if they are “walking on eggs”. The phosphorus element is sympathetic and friendly.

This had no effect at all.

I reconsider the case. The main themes are:

- Needing a leader

- Sympathetic and caring

- Alert and fearful

- Mothering

I realize that the owner had been telling me the remedy all the time.

Prescription: Lac Equinum 200C

Within six weeks, Talley was symptom-free and has required one repetition of the remedy in six months.

The enlargement and great itching of the teats should have been a clue. Often, eruption on the nipples is seen in a Lac remedy.

The compassion and sympathy is typical of a Mammal remedy. The way of cuddling close and pressing against the upset person is also typical of the mammal. Natrum muriaticum and Bird remedies are more likely to quietly lay their head on your knee. The remedy whose expression of sympathy most approaches the Mammals is phosphorus.

Issues of hierarchy are very important but this does not mean that the mammal always wants to be dominant. Mammals may equally be very submissive. Basically, we should just expect an issue with hierarchy. Clinging to mother is obviously to be expected in a mammal.

A horse fits Talley well. His owner says: “He prances like a pony and he walks as if he's doing dressage.” A horse is very alert and fearful. The particular issue of needing a 'top dog', of needing a leader, is particularly applicable to the horse. All herd animals are happy to sacrifice their identity for security – this is particularly seen in Lac defloratum – cow’s milk. Here, the whole herd may take on the identity of the farmer. In my experience, horses do not necessarily require the same remedy as their owners. 

Shutterstock: Tired farm dog; janecat



Categories: Cases
Keywords: seasonal dermatitis, otitis externa, sympathetic, obedient, swollen teats, sensitive to noise, sensitive to fear, cowering


Write a comment

  • Required fields are marked with *.