Responsible pet ownership includes monitoring your pooch’s health and treating any ailments as they arise. But when it comes to minor ailments, natural remedies found in your garden, kitchen or bathroom cabinets, or sourced from your local health store, may offer a cost effective solution.
Vets, myself included, tend to be pretty skeptical when it comes alternative remedies – and for good reason. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, as well as many fly-by-nights trying to make a quick buck by promoting some ‘miracle’ cure. But here are a couple of remedies I’ve tried and have found to be effective, and can therefore recommend for treating minor ailments in dogs.
Minor Bumps and Bruises
Arnica is your go-to remedy for any physical injury! If your dog has twisted or sprained himself, give him Arnica. Arnica is also great for treating bruised tissue and promotes faster healing. Arnica can be given orally in tablet form, or Arnica gel (for example Arnica Ice) can be rubbed onto bumps and bruises to offer relief from pain and to bring down the swelling.
Stress and Anxiety
If your pooch becomes a neurotic mess whenever there is passing thunderstorm, or if he stresses out when he has to visit the vet, you can try natural remedies such as Rescue Remedy, which is made from a blend of natural flower extracts that has a calming affect and helps relieve stress and anxiety. Other natural stress relievers include dog-appeasing pheromone diffusers, lavender diffusers or a lavender-infused collar.
Dry or Cracked Paws
Humans are not the only animals that suffer from dry, cracked feet. Our pooches don’t wear shoes, and so may also be prone to cracked paw pads from time to time, which may be sensitive for them to walk on. Try dabbing the pads on your pooch’s paws with vitamin E oil or coconut oil, which are both natural moisturizers that will help improve their condition.
If your dog’s skin has been exposed to the sun and is showing signs of reddening or irritation, dab on a little sticky gel from the broken leaf of an aloe vera plant. Aloe vera has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe irritated skin. It is great for treating hot spots before they erupt into painful welts. But be warned that white sap from an aloe vera plant is toxic to dogs, so ensure you apply the clear gel, which is safe, rather than the toxic white latex, which your dog may lick off and ingest.
Dry, Flaky Skin
If your pooch suffers from dry skin, try adding some Omega-3 fatty acids to his or her diet. This will restore the coat’s natural oils and help improve its overall condition. Choose food-grade liquid Omega-3 that is certified to be free from mercury and other potentially toxic contaminants. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best dosage for your pooch.
If your pooch scratches all day and all night long, to the point that it drives you crazy, you can be sure that it is also excruciatingly irritating for your pet. To offer some much needed relief to both you and your pet, rub a homemade paste consisting of finely ground oatmeal mixed with a little water onto the itchy spots and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water. If the idea of grinding oatmeal doesn’t appeal, you can use baby oatmeal instead. This is a cheap, easy and often effective natural remedy to help relieve mild cases of pruritis.
Minor Tummy Upsets
If your dog has a minor bout of the runs and is looking a bit hang-doggish, the best thing to offer him is boiled chicken and rice, which is bland and highly digestible. Make sure to remove the oily skin as well as any bones before serving to your dog. This is not appropriate for puppies as they need to go straight to the vet.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges to human-canine friendships is the small matter of doggy farts. But rather than booting your pooch from the couch when he lets off a gassy outburst, rather attend to the matter at hand by addressing the cause. Live probiotics that consist of several species of good bacteria can help rebalance your pooch’s gut flora, putting an end to his flatulent tendencies. Pleasant tasting probiotic powders that can be fed orally or sprinkled on top of your dog’s meal are available from your vet, who can also advise the best dosage for your pet. Flatulence in dogs is often caused by food allergies, so if you have recently changed your pet’s diet, you may need to revert back to the original. However, flatulence can also indicate a more serious medical issue, such as malabsorption, that may require veterinary attention if it persists.
Like humans, some dogs suffer from motion sickness and get queasy when traveling by trains, planes or automobiles. If you own a dog that suffers from travel sickness every time you take it for a drive in your car, you can try offering ginger root extract which is good at relieving nausea.
Gunky eyes are common in dogs, particularly dogs that have lots of long wiry facial hair. Those unsightly eye boogers can be swabbed away with a weak solution of soothing chamomile tea. Simply place a chamomile teabag in a cup of hot water, leave it to brew until cool, then apply the teabag to the eye or dunk a cotton ball in the tea and dab the eyes to wipe away the gunk. If the eye discharge is more serious than normal, it would be best to seek veterinary advice, as it may be an eye infection.
A Word of Caution
The above natural home remedies for dogs are tried and tested methods that are proven to be both safe and effective for healing minor ailments. But one word of advice when using natural remedies for dogs is to always ensure that your veterinarian is kept in the loop. Some natural supplements and over-the-counter medication may be safe to use, but others may not, and even the normally safe remedies may interfere with medications prescribed by your vet. So to be on the safe side, rather check with your vet first. If the minor ailment does not show any sign of improvement within 24 hours it would be best to seek further veterinary attention.