There are lots of home remedies you can try to keep your pet comfortable when an illness strikes. Give some of these solutions a try the next time your dog or cat is under the weather.
If your pet has itchy ears, the problem could be ear mites, which are ugly little critters that invade the ear canal, sometimes by the thousands. Ear mites will pass from Fluffy to Fido, and the resulting scratching can cause an infection. Several solutions are available from your pet store or vet, but there's a simple home remedy in your kitchen cabinet, too. And it will both kill the mites and relieve the itch.
Home Remedies from the Cupboard
Garlic clove. Crush 1 garlic clove, and steep it in 1/4 cup olive oil for 8 hours. Remove the garlic, then heat the oil until it's barely warm. Using an eyedropper, put a few drops in each ear. Rub the ear for a minute until the drops have penetrated the ear canal. Leftover oil can be reused, but make sure it's barely warm. Repeat every other day until the mites are gone. If the mite infestation isn't severe, you can treat as infrequently as once a week.
It always happens at the worst time. Fluffy decides to curl up on your lap or Fido crawls under the covers with you, and then boom! Your eyes are watering, you're gasping for breath, and your pet has that innocent look on his face, as if to say, "I didn't do it." You know better, though. But what you didn't know is that there is a gas-be-gone right in your kitchen.
Home Remedies from the Refrigerator
Yogurt. Yogurt has an enzyme that aids digestion and therefore helps a gas problem. So add a little yogurt to your pet's food. Use 11/4 teaspoons for small pets and 1 tablespoon for pets over 20 pounds. And skip the flavors. Go for the plain; it will blend better with pet food flavors.
Gas Do's and Don'ts
- DON'T give a vitamin supplement unless there's a specific need. These can cause gas.
- DO try switching pet-food brands if the one you use contains a lot of soy. Soy-based products are great gas producers.
- DO add a small amount of powdered charcoal to food to absorb bad odors.
Cranberry juice. If they'll drink it, cranberry juice can keep bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder and urethra, thereby preventing infection. If they won't drink cranberry juice, try a citrus fruit juice.
Do's and Don'ts for Urinary Problems
- DON'T keep Fido penned up all day without a potty break. Let him out midday.
- DO pay attention to the amount of urine your pet passes. Dribbles, a slow stream, or passing just a tiny amount could indicate a problem.
Baking soda. For inflammation: A paste of baking soda and water can soothe inflammation caused by irritation and insect bites or stings.
Tea. For inflammation: Make a strong brew of black or green tea, cool it thoroughly, and apply to inflamed areas. The tannic acid in tea can heal.
Cider vinegar. For skin infection: After a therapeutic shampoo to treat a skin infection, rinse the dog with a solution of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts water.
Garlic. For a healthy appetite: If your pet's losing weight, crushed garlic can help get his digestive tract back on track. Add 1/4 to 1/2 crushed clove to the food of small animals each day or 1 to 2 crushed cloves a day for larger animals.
Rice. For treating diarrhea: Make a bland food of 2 parts rice to 1 part skinless chicken breast. Feed small amounts every four hours. If the rice doesn't work, try using pasta or mashed potatoes. Throughout the week, gradually change the ratio of rice to chicken until you're feeding him only chicken.
Vinegar. For a healthy coat: A vinegar and water rinse after a shampoo keeps your pet's coat healthy and shiny. Mix 1/2 cup vinegar into 1 gallon water, and coat the dog's hair with the solution. Leave it on for ten minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Keep the rinse out of the dog's eyes during this treatment.
Home Remedies from the Refrigerator
Butter. If kitty has a hairball, give her 1/2 to 1 teaspoon butter every day for up to a week. Butter lubricates the digestive tract, easing the hairball out of his system.
Home Remedies from the Spice Rack
Garlic. For fleas: Add a little garlic powder and brewer's yeast to your pet's food. It will make him taste bad to fleas.
Meat tenderizer. For insect bites: Apply a paste of meat tenderizer and water to soothe insect stings and bites.
Home remedies can help make your pet more comfortable during an illness, and they can help maintain Fido or Fluffy's overall health. But if you suspect a serious health problem, be sure to call the veterinarian.
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.
Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.
David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.
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.