Natural Remedies for Pets: Seven Non-Toxic Treatments for Common AilmentsFeb 27, 2023 ● By Karen Shaw Becker, DVM
Natural remedies and healing therapies are not just for humans, they also help pets overcome illness and maintain optimal health. Used properly, plants, herbs, essential oils and other natural, non-toxic substances can complement and often replace drugs and other chemical agents. Here are seven healthful solutions.
Coconut oil is a source of medium-chain triglycerides which benefit cognitive function. It is also rich in lauric acid, a powerful antimicrobial agent for yeast infections, allergies and skin conditions (when used topically). Feed dogs and cats one-quarter teaspoon of 100 percent organic, cold-pressed, human-grade coconut oil for every 10 pounds of the pet’s body weight twice daily.
Manuka honey is an all-natural, effective remedy. Clinical trials have shown that it can eradicate hundreds of strains of bacteria, including certain antibiotic-resistant varieties. A Unique Manuka Factor rating of 10 or higher is recommended for medicinal use. Manuka honey can be used to manage resistant ear and skin infections, as well as large, superficial wounds that cannot be closed surgically. Given orally, manuka honey is effective at addressing H. pylori, the bacteria that contributes to gastrointestinal irritation, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and excessive E. coli blooms in animals with dysbiosis.
Aloe vera has multiple applications. To reduce a pet's discomfort from skin irritations, cuts or wounds, clean the affected area and apply the raw, inner gel of the plant to provide a soothing effect. For constipation, a small amount of whole leaf aloe vera juice, a natural laxative, can be added to a pet’s food. Inner leaf aloe juice, which doesn’t contain the skin, helps heal gastric ulcers, colitis and leaky gut.
Lavender oil is used in aromatherapy to help calm nervous or anxious animals. For a dog with noise phobia, place a few drops on their collar or bedding before a stressor occurs, if possible, or diffuse the oil around the house for a calming effect. Lavender oil can also be beneficial for treating hot spots. Add a few drops to manuka honey or coconut oil and apply after disinfecting the wound twice daily.
Oregano oil contains potent antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties. It can be used to calm itchy skin, soothe irritated gums and assist in balancing a dog’s gut flora. It is also a beneficial herb for dogs with kennel cough or recurrent infections. Oregano oil should always be diluted before using it in or on pets.
Ginger is a widely used, non-toxic, non-irritating remedy for soothing tummy troubles. It can be given orally or used in oil form by adding a few drops to a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and massaging the mixture into the skin on the pet’s belly. Alternatively, add small amounts of freshly grated ginger or the dry herb to a tasty meatball or other yummy treat. Use no more than one-sixteenth teaspoon for kitties, one-eighth teaspoon for small dogs under 10 pounds, one-quarter teaspoon for medium-sized dogs, one-half teaspoon for large dogs and three-quarter to one teaspoon for giant breeds. Give the ginger one to three times a day, as needed.
Chamomile is an effective calming agent that has analgesic and anti-spasmodic properties and is beneficial in soothing the central nervous system. Use a cool chamomile tea bag against a wound, irritation or bug bite on the dog’s or cat’s skin to provide a soothing effect. Something else to consider is a soothing chamomile after-bath rinse. Add five chamomile tea bags to two quarts of very hot water and steep until the water is cool for up to three hours to allow the maximum amount of polyphenols to release into the water. Remove the tea bags and pour the rinse over a freshly bathed pet from the neck down. Massage into the skin and do not rinse.
Veterinarian Karen Shaw Becker has spent her career empowering animal guardians to make knowledgeable decisions to extend the life and well-being of their pets. To learn more, visit DrKarenBecker.com.