©2007 Publications International, Ltd. When your pet is ill, sometimes a home remedy can be just what the doctor ordered.

We love our pets! They keep us company and protect us, and we treat them like members of the family. Pets mean a lot to us, and we mean the world to them.

Like all family members, pets suffer from occasional illnesses and also from ongoing physical and even emotional disorders. But pets can't tell you what's bothering them. It's a pet owner's responsibility to figure out what's wrong and take appropriate action. Sometimes all that's needed is a home remedy from the kitchen. But if you aren't sure, or if your pet seems very ill, be sure to call your veterinarian.

The following are some common problems that pets have and home remedies that may help.

Bad Breath

They love to get close to your face, but sometimes their breath is enough to knock you straight to your knees. Don't worry, though. Help for pet halitosis is no farther than your kitchen.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Brown rice. Digestion can play a part in breath odor, so pep up that pet digestion with whole grains. Add a little cooked brown rice to the diet.

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Carrot. Toss them a carrot after they eat. It's a mild abrasive, and it also helps remove smelly plaque. The chewing action on something crunchy will stimulate saliva, too, which washes away loose food particles in the mouth and around the teeth.

Parsley. Make your own pet breath spray by steeping several sprigs of parsley in hot water. Remove the parsley, and let the tea cool. If your pet will drink this, that's great. If not, put it in a spray bottle and spritz that dog or cat in the mouth.

DO NOT, however, use any human breath-odor product. These products are too harsh, and Fluffy or Fido will probably swallow it.

Constipation

They strain when they try to go, smell a little gassy, look a little bloated. Fluffy's litter box is clean. Fido just sits and looks at you when you take him out. Could be they're all clogged up and feeling miserable. Here are some constipation fixes for both cat and dog.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Oat bran. Keep them regular with oat bran. For small dogs and cats, mix 1/2 teaspoon with their food; for larger dogs use 2 teaspoons. Or try some high-fiber cereal, using the same proportions as above. It will work just as well.

Pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is a great source of fiber that can restore regularity. Add a tablespoon or two to your pet's food during those uncomfortable days.

Home Remedies from the Faucet

Water. Turn on the tap, often, then fill those water bowls. Constipation is caused by a lack of water, so give them all the water they can drink.

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Broth. Make some warm meat-based broth and add 1/2 teaspoon of a psyllium-based laxative for small dogs and cats, or 2 teaspoons for larger dogs. Make sure you're generous with the broth. They need the fluids.

Milk. Normally, milk causes diarrhea in pets and most vets don't advise its use. But if your pet is plugged up, a little of the moo juice might be the relief he needs. Small critters can tolerate up to 1/8 cup twice a day and large ones up to 1/2 cup in the morning and again in the evening. Stop the milk as soon as the problem resolves itself.

Constipation Do's and Don'ts
  • DON'T give harsh laxatives, suppositories, or enemas. They can cause rectal or bowel damage. If they're needed in the case of extreme constipation, only the vet should administer them.
  • DON'T limit potty time. These things take time, and interruptions can lead Fluffy or Fido to simply hold it in.
  • DO take Fido for a walk. Exercise helps get things moving.
  • DO keep the litter box clean. Fluffy's pretty fussy that way.
  • DO keep the rear end of long-haired pets well trimmed. If the hair is tangled at the exit, it can cause constipation.

Oxtail. Buy an oxtail, boil it for five or ten minutes, and give it to Fido or Fluffy to chew on after it's cooled. It's cartilage, which is a great tooth-cleaner, and it's tasty, too!

Home Remedies from the Spice Rack

Garlic powder. Mix a little garlic powder in lukewarm water, then brush your pet's teeth.

Dental Do's and Don'ts
  • DON'T use human toothpastes or baking soda, both of which can be harmful if swallowed (pets don't spit). Toothpaste has detergents, which can cause an upset stomach, and baking soda has too much sodium. Toothpastes formulated for pets, however, are good to use, as are toothbrushes designed for a particular type of animal's mouth.
  • DON'T chip away plaque. That can release bacteria into the bloodstream, causing serious illness or even death.
  • DO give your pet a hard rubber chew toy with grooves. It's a great gum-massager. Encourage him to chew by rubbing meat paste or catnip into the grooves.
For more information to help keep your furry friends happy and healthy, visit these links:
  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • For more home remedies specifically for Fido and Rex, check out Home Remedies for Dogs.
  • Learn all about our canine companions in How Dogs Work.
  • To keep your feline friends healthy and happy, read How to Care for a Cat.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.