An online petition is calling for Petco to remove Good Dog, an allegedly homeopathic supplement intended to calm hyperactive dogs, from its shelves. Unlike most homeopathic remedies, Good Dog actually does work; give it to your dog, and he or she will likely mellow out very nicely. So why the campaign? Apparently, the reason that Good Dog is so effective is that it’s 13 percent alcohol — about the same as a fairly strong table wine.
The petition was launched by Yvette d’Entremont, a forensic chemist who video-blogs under the alias of “Science Babe.” D’Entremont first demonstrated the effects of Good Dog in one of her videos (which you can see below), in which she mixed a bottle with some Red Bull and drank it, getting visibly schnockered in the process.
Alcohol or no, the word “homeopathic” should immediately set off alarm bells loud enough to give you a splitting headache. While many people translate “homeopathic” as nothing more than a synonym for “natural and organic,” it actually has a very specific history with its own philosophy and techniques. Anything that’s truly homeopathic should be so chemically inert as to be nothing more than water or sugar pills, depending on what form you take it in. In an ideal world, consumers would immediately recognize it as a synonym for “fraudulent quackery.”
Homeopathy was invented in the late 18th century by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician. Its basic principle is the “Law of Similars,” often summed up as “like cures like.” In practical terms, what that means is that if something causes a symptom in healthy people, then a smaller amount will heal those symptoms in an afflicted patient. Medorrhinum, a solution based on gonnorheal discharge from a male patient, is recommended by homeopaths for conditions as diverse as persistent urinary tract infections, menstrual cramps, and even autism.
Homeopathic solutions are often so highly diluted that they don’t include so much as a single molecule of the primary ingredient. Advocates of homeopathy claim that the solutions are not only still effective at these low doses, but actually become more potent with each successive dilution. Modern homeopaths claim that water holds a “memory” of the substances that have passed through it, even when no chemical trace can be detected. The idea of water memory has no basis in modern chemistry or physics.
If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry: It is. Homeopathy is a tangle of beliefs so strange that it’s hard to make sense of the internal logic.
Water memory or no, one look at Yvette d’Entremont’s video shows that there’s something more potent in Good Dog than just a water solution. As amusing as it is to watch her get sloppy drunk off the rather disgusting-sounding mix of dog supplement and Red Bull (she calls the combo a “Bulldog”), it’s pretty serious business. It’s easy to sympathize with owners who are confronted with a hyperactive dog, but the solution isn’t to get your pooch drunk.
According to KMGH in Denver, Colorado, a spokesman from Petco responded to their inquiries with a statement that they consider Good Dog to be safe: “When used as directed, this product has no negative effect on pets, and no known pet deaths or illnesses have been associated with this product in the 10 years it has been sold at Petco.”
KMGH also quotes Tina Wismer, from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, who says that although many herbal medicines have alcohol bases, they need to be kept at very low doses to remain safe: “They are supposed to be dosed at a couple of drops per animal,” Wismer said. “Certainly if they ingested the entire bottle and it was a small animal, they may become intoxicated.”
The petition calls for Petco to not only remove Good Dog from its shelves, but all remedies containing “an amount of alcohol in them that could get a grown adult inebriated.” As d’Entremont points out, “Beyond the fact that it’s not generally indicated for dogs, a teenager could easily purchase it as Petco does not ask for ID.” (To be fair, drinking dog supplement seems like a pretty wretched way to get drunk, no matter how desperate you are. One might be better off with a can of Sterno.)
What do you think? Is it improper for Petco to sell Good Dog as a remedy, or is d’Entremont making a fuss out of nothing? Let us know in the comments below.
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