As an herbalist with a special interest in the natural health care of dogs and cats, I see many different relationships between owners and their pets. Over the years, I have seen a small number of pet owners exhibit some strange psychological behavior. This behavior follows the classic symptoms of Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome (MBPS). The only difference is that the syndrome I see uses the family dog or cat as a proxy and becomes a rare but devastating form of animal cruelty.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy involves a primary or guardian caregiver exaggerating or fabricating the symptoms of an illness, the illness itself, or multiple illnesses in the person (or pet) they care for. MBPS is a fictional (artificially produced) form of mental illness associated with severe mental difficulties. A caregiver will intentionally harm a child or pet, or describe nonexistent symptoms of illness, in order to elicit sympathy for bearing the burden, praise for such devotion, or a deeper relationship with a physician, veterinarian, or other health care provider.
Some time ago I received an email from a prospective client saying: My dog has kidney disease, high blood pressure, Cushing’s disease, pulmonary hypertension, bladder stones, diabetes, and now a skin condition caused by Cushing’s syndrome where you get blisters and he peels like a sunburn. His antibiotic shampoo removes the flea and tick medication he was using. Can TripleSure Natural Flea & Tick Spray be used on his skin? Can I also use your DentaSure All-Natural Oral Care Spray with all the medications she is taking for her medical problems? I will be waiting for her answer.
Instead of a responsible dog lover, she sounds more like the proud owner of a pity party with four legs and a tail. But a common trait among MBPS patients is the categorical denial that have this dysfunction. Still, I might be wrong in my assumption, and if so, I wouldn’t want to add to his unhappy situation.
I replied, “While our natural products would work great for your dog, it seems like the last thing you need is more medication. Too often we find that the interaction of multiple medications, especially prescription medications, leads to more side effects.” and other conditions from which they heal. My best advice to you is to find a responsible holistic vet in your area who will treat your dog as a whole physiological system rather than a collection of symptoms to cover up. Visit the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. at http://www.holisticvetlist.com and find a practitioner who is experienced in the use of healing herbs and whose real interest is in saving your dog’s life. Wish you all the best”.
I am still waiting for your reply.
Further complicating the victim representative’s health issues are Big Pharma’s prescription drugs that target only the symptoms and not the root cause of the disease. Furthermore, by focusing on the specific symptom that a single ingredient will relieve, drug designers ignore the remaining spectrum of plant components that nature so richly (and wisely) intends for our complete healing. The consequence of such precise symptom targeting is a list of TV commercial-like side effects that the friendly voice-over casts as virtually harmless.
Even well-meaning doctors and veterinarians make debilitating mistakes with prescription drugs. Imagine the devastation that can be wrought on a person affected by Munchausen syndrome by proxy when her goal is to win the sympathy of her “sick little dog.”
The answer is to become more aware of MBPS and speak up when something doesn’t feel right. Animal cruelty is a crime no matter how little or how much a person is aware of their actions. In the case of a defenseless dog or cat, it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Call your local SPCA, Humane Society or Animal Rescue. Put yourself in your best friend’s shoes. If the person you depend on is also the person who hurts you the most, wouldn’t you want someone to speak up for you?