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An evaluation of owner expectation on apparent treatment effect in a blinded comparison of 2 homeopathic remedies for firework noise sensitivity in dogs.

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  • D300 Animal Science
  • D328 Animal Welfare


A blinded and randomized study was carried out to investigate whether dog owners would report different treatment effects depending on whether they knew they might be administering a placebo, versus if they knew they were definitely administering a homeopathic remedy. A secondary aim was to determine the consistency of owner reports of treatment effect across multiple trial periods. A total of 73 dogs with a stable, predictable, and easily assessable response to firework noises were enrolled and randomly allocated to receive 1 of the 2 homeopathic preparations along with a basic behavior modification program. Treatment A was a homeopathic treatment formulated for firework noise sensitivity that had previously been tested in a placebo-controlled study by the authors, and Treatment B was a different formulation for the same condition. The same allocated treatment was trialed on 2 occasions by all participants to allow assessment of owner-report reliability. It was found that knowledge of participating in a placebo-controlled trial had no effect on the owners’ perception of treatment effect, and that their reports of effect were consistent across both trial periods. No specific effect of homeopathic treatment was found in this study; however, it was observed that the reported behavioral effects that followed each treatment were similar across the 2 firework periods, but that there was a consistently different pattern of behavioral effects reported between Treatment groups A and B. These results might be ascribed to either a treatment or population effect. We suggest that examination of the consistency of owner-reported effects within and between treatments may be used as part of the suite of methodologies available to investigate whether any specific effect can be ascribed to homeopathic interventions

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