Modern veterinary medicine has obviously done a great deal to make dogs’ lives longer and more comfortable. However, it can’t be denied that some medications are harsh and can have serious side effects. Natural remedies can help to deal with some of the side effects of prescription medicines as well as helping to keep your pet healthier and happier to begin with, but treating minor health problems that can arise.
Natural remedies can provide relief for everything from fleas, itching, and digestive upsets, and have the added benefit of being little likely to cause your dog any harm. Keeping your best friend healthy is easier when you turn to natural remedies for some assistance.
1. Your Natural Medicine Chest
You will probably be surprised as how many of these natural remedies for your dog are already in your home. While obviously no substitute for acute illness or traumatic injury, these remedies can help to clear up or prevent some of the irritations and problems that your dog may experience.
Every dog owner is familiar with the intestinal problems that can arise after your pet has had a round of antibiotics. While often very necessary, antibiotics have a ‘take-no-prisoners’ approach to their job of getting rid of bacteria. Rather than just eliminating the ones causing illness, antibiotics will usually wipe out the beneficial bacteria present in the dog’s intestines, often resulting in diarrhea. A great way to remedy this is to give your dog plain yoghurt during the course of treatment and afterwards. Yoghurt will help to restore the normal flora found your pooch’s colon and get his system back to normal.
Fleas are the bane not only of dogs, but of dog owners. You can tell your dog is infested not only because he or she is scratching frantically, but because of the flea feces in the dog’s fur. Fleas will not only hop from your dog to you and your family, but will also drop eggs on your carpets to continue the life cycle. Feeding your dog some brewer’s yeast and garlic every day can help the dog more ‘unappetizing’ to fleas. A solution of lemon-water can be spritzed onto your dog, too. Fleas don’t like the smell of citrus and this will help to repel these parasites. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on your carpets (vacuum up the excess) to kill flea larvae and hatching adult fleas – the diatomaceous earth scratches through the insects’ exoskeleton, killing them.
3. Itchy Skin
All of us with dogs have watched and heard our pets scratch and scratch and scratch. Itchy skin can drive both dogs and their humans to desperation. Vitamin E applied directly to the problem area can help as can a paste made of finely ground oatmeal (this can be washed off with warm water in about 10 minutes).
Older dogs often suffer from arthritis, but you can help make your friend be more comfortable by giving him or her a gentle massage on the affected joint. A warm compress twice a day provides relief (don’t use a heating pad, it can burn the dog’s skin), and be sure that your dog has a comfortable bed to sleep on. Even if your dog sleeps on your bed at night, comfortable dog bedding should be provided in the home’s main activity rooms.
Vomiting and diarrhea can leave your dog dehydrated, which can be a very serious condition, leading to collapse, convulsions, and even death. To restore the necessary fluid balance, you can use infant electrolyte solutions. It can be impossible after a certain point for your dog’s body to absorb plain water, which is why an electrolyte drink is needed. Check with your vet about the proper amount to give your dog.
If your dog’s problem tends to the opposite direction, a way to restore and maintain regularity is by adding some pumpkin puree to the pet’s food. Pumpkin is mild tasting (some dogs actually like it) and has plenty of fiber. If you have any difficulty feeding this to your dog, just mix in a little brown sugar and butter and you dog will probably eat it right up. You can also give your constipated dog some chopped prunes, but be sure that the pits have been removed as they are toxic.
7. Sprains and Strains
A very active dog can sometimes experience sprains or strains, just like we can. While it might be very hard to get your dog to rest, even with a hurt paw or leg, you can help to relieve the problem by soaking the injured part in a warm bath containing Epsom salt. A cloth soaked in the solution can be used if the injury is in awkward spot. Rinse the area off with clean water afterwards as Epsom salt is a laxative and you may not want your dog to get loose bowels.
8. Upset Stomach
An upset stomach can be settled by giving your dog a drink of chamomile tea. Not only will this help to relieve nausea, but will also calm your dog down. A solution of chamomile tea is likewise helpful in treating ‘hot spots’ that can result in obsessive licking to try to relieve the itching. Hot spots occur mostly on the paws, but can be relieved anywhere by a compress containing chamomile tea. Dogs will often become so irritated by hot spots that they will chew their paws raw.
9. Ear Infections
Ear infections can occur when water gets into the dog’s ears, and the moist conditions foster the growth of bacteria. This can happen not only when your dog has been in the water outside – a real problem for water retrieving dogs – but even from giving your dog a bath. Dogs with floppy ears are much more prone to ear infections than dogs with upright ears. In order to help prevent ear infections in the first place, a cotton ball that has been moistened with baby oil should be put into the ear to keep water out. Remember to take the ball out after the dog leaves the water, however. Dry the ear thoroughly afterwards.
In many cases, a simple and effective natural remedy can provide a cure for your dog’s problems. Always keep in mind, however, that serious injury and illness that continue regardless of the remedy you have tried will need the attention of a veterinarian. A dog’s normal body temperature is about 101 F, and if it rises to 103 F or higher, you should call your veterinarian as a serious condition (Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) could be present. Likewise, diarrhea or vomiting that doesn’t respond to home treatment will need a vet’s attention.