In today’s enlightened culture, home remedies have gone mainstream. And that means our four-footed friends can enjoy holistic solutions to everyday aches, ailments, and maladies, from fleas to arthritis. So when your furry friend is feeling under the weather, take care of him the natural way.
Please note that before treating any doggy ailment, the oh-so-important, do-not-skip first step is to visit the vet. Yes, the vet. Because even if you don’t want to treat your dog’s itchy skin with steroids, or a flea problem with strong insecticides, you still need to understand the root problem and/or underlying cause. If you don’t have pet health insurance for your dog, you can also ask a vet questions online for free.
Additionally, always check with your vet before administering any natural remedy, especially an internal/ingested remedy.
Problem #1: Itchy Skin
Oh, itchy skin – it’s a pet parent’s archenemy. But chances are, if you’ve ever had a dog, you’ve also dealt with itchy skin. Dandruff, red patches, incessant scratching – the list goes on. The good news: the list of natural remedies is also long.
A few of our favorites include a warm bath with finely ground oatmeal (note: do not use oatmeal to treat yeast-based itchies, as the oatmeal will simply feed the yeast), followed up with a Vitamin E and/or coconut oil massage when your pup is dry. To soothe irritations, you may also want to try herbal rinses made with infusions of yellow dock, chamomile, plantain, or green tea. Evening primrose oil, applied directly to the skin, can also calm itching. If all else fails, try to determine the cause of your dog’s itchy skin and consider other treatments.
Problem #2: Digestive Upset
Sooner or later, every dog comes down with vomiting and diarrhea. Chamomile tea can help settle nausea and an upset stomach, and the bland diet (75% boiled rice + 25% white meat chicken or extra-lean ground beef) will help slow diarrhea. Canned pumpkin can also help firm up stool.
Of course, the best defense is a good offense: Keep your pup’s digestive system in fine form with plain yogurt. (It must be plain!) The live probiotics will keep her good digestive bacteria well balanced and will wipe out any bad bacteria that comes calling. Yogurt can also help fight off yeast infections, which are particularly common in puppies.
Warning! If your dog’s stomach looks swollen or distended, or if he’s drooling, pacing, or retching without vomiting, see your vet immediately. Bloat is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate veterinary treatment.
Problem #3: Cuts and Scrapes
Face it: playful pups are going to suffer a few scrapes, strains, and other minor pains. If there are no open wounds, start with a twice-daily, 5-minute Epsom salt soak in warm water to reduce swelling. (Note: Be careful that your pet does not ingest Epsom salt, as it is very harmful.) Follow-up with a heat pack.
If your pet is suffering from an open wound, try a round of hydrotherapy and calendula oil or gel. This one-two punch not only cleans the cut but is antimicrobial and helps promote healing.
Problem #4: Fleas
It may come fourth on this list, but flea problems are often the #1 concern for dog families. Oh, the itching. Oh, the pest proliferation. Oh, the ew factor. (Are you itching yet?)
The first step is to treat your pup with a simple lemon water solution: boil water, then steep lemons overnight. Apply to skin. Don’t forget to use a flea comb! Then, refer to our itchy skin remedies, above, to deal with your pet’s flea allergy. Finally, make your own flea powder from powdered flea-deterring herbs, including eucalyptus, fennel, lemongrass, marigold, rosemary, rue, yellow dock, and wormwood.
Next up: You have to exterminate the tiny pests. Borax powder – just sprinkle it on floors and furniture, then vacuum it up – is great for killing fleas, but beware that it’s toxic to dogs (if ingested). Be sure to vacuum it all up!
Alternately, food-grade diatomaceous earth may be used instead of borax. Sprinkle it throughout your home, including on your pet’s bed. Spread it throughout your yard. It won’t hurt anything or anyone, even if your pet eats it, but it will kill fleas.
Problem #5: Joint Pain & Arthritis
As your pup ages, he’s likely to get some aches and pains common to senior pets.
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), a.k.a. frankincense (yes, that frankincense), is a tree bark extract that contains phytochemicals, which help reduce inflammation. Often combined with turmeric, another powerful anti-inflammatory, boswellia is a popular (not to mention, clinically proven) natural pain treatment for arthritis in pets.
Several other plant-based remedies may help your dog with arthritis, joint pain, inflammation, and muscle pain: devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory; ginger (Zhinger officinalis) can reduce inflammation; and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is great for arthritis, with the bonus of being quite safe, even over long-term use.
Problem #6: Stress & Anxiety
Undoubtedly, dogs suffer from anxiety and stress. From mild cases (like simply missing you while you’re at work, known as separation anxiety) to more serious issues, it’s within your power to relieve your dog’s stress and/or anxiety.
Start simple: Try to reduce stress- and anxiety-causing situations. Also work to reduce her anxiety naturally, for example with ample exercise and play. Turn on music or doggy TV to create soothing background noises for when you’re away. Fortify her bed with something that smells like you. If your pup cowers in fear of thunder, create a safe room (with as much soundproofing as possible), or invest in a dog anxiety jacket or a weighted vest.
If your canine friend still suffers, several herbal and homeopathic remedies can help. These include oatstraw (Avena Sativa), passion flower (Passiflora), skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia), valerian root, and yellow jasmine (Gelsemium). But if you don’t have time to search for all these ingredients at the store, HomeoPet Anxiety Relief is a great alternative.
Natural remedies, herbs, and homeopathic solutions offer not only proven therapies for common pet problems, but they do so without flooding your pup’s body with unwanted poisons and toxins. Next time, skip the side effects and jump straight to the natural solution. Your dog will thank you!