Pet owners everywhere love their fur babies, but they also understand when they welcome an adorable cat or dog into their home it is going to cost them money. Feeding our pets, providing everyday necessities, and making sure they are up-to-date with vaccinations are just some of the expenses you’ll incur. Yet, when it comes to our pet’s health and happiness, we are willing to spare no expense to ensure their well-being.
The truth is …even though we are willing to spend the money to keep our pets healthy, vet visits for ‘everyday’ minor issues can become quite costly. Using natural remedies for common ailments will not only help curb the cost of your vet bills and medications, many treatments you can prepare at home can actually be healthier for your pet.
Why Use Home Remedies for Your Pets?
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet owners spent over 123 billion dollars taking care of their pets in 2021; with approximately 50 billion of the total going to vet care, over-the-counter-medicines, and treatments.
For many pet owners, those numbers probably aren’t too shocking. Still, when all you want to do is take care of your pet, it can be truly disheartening to realize how much money is actually spent on maintaining a pet’s health and overall well-being. Not surprising, that is one of the primary reasons many people seek out alternative options and home remedies that are more affordable.
Generally speaking, many of our pets will be susceptible to a wide range of everyday health issues during their life span. From coughing up hairballs and flea infestations to dry, itchy skin and hot spots, many of these common ailments can be treated at home- which will eliminate a costly visit to the vet’s office.
The good news is ...you probably won’t have to go much further than your own medicine cabinet or pantry to whip up a home remedy for a number of ailments that can affect your precious pet. Let’s first take a look at some common dog and cat health issues; and, then the home remedies that can help them get better.
Common Pet Ailments
- Dry Itchy Skin
- Hot spots
- Minor cuts and scrapes
- Indigestion/upset stomach
- Digestive issues-Constipation/Diarrhea
- Arthritis/muscle pain
- Yeast Infections
- Itchy ears
- Soar/runny eyes
Natural Home Treatments for Common Pet Aliments
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is terrific for treating dry skin. It can be either massaged directly on to the skin (dry area), added it to your pet’s bath or given orally with vitamin E capsule.
Oatmeal - Oatmeal works really well when your pet is suffering from dry, itchy skin or minor skin infections from scratching so much. Mixing ground or baby oatmeal with warm water will create a soothing bath that can provide immediate relief.
Cortisone cream – If your dog is prone to hot spots, cortisone cream can work wonders. Clip about ½ of an inch around the sore and clean with warm water; then, apply cortisone cream to the area twice a day until the spot/sore begins to dry out or a scab starts forming.
Chamomile tea - Chamomile tea is an amazing home remedy that works well for settling an upset stomach, as well as alleviating minor skin irritations. For an upset stomach, the tea can be added to a water bowl (chill after brewing) or you can brew a strong batch, pour the chilled tea into a spray bottle and apply on red/irritated skin for an immediate soothing effect. Warm chamomile teabags can also be directly applied to the eyes to soothe an irritation or infection.
Yogurt - Yogurt is a natural home remedy with live active cultures that can help your pet’s intestines ward off any bad bacteria. Yogurt is also a natural protectant against yeast infections- which is especially helpful if your pet is being treated with antibiotics. Simply add a tablespoon to their food every day for extra protection against bacteria. Be sure to use all natural plain yogurt and avoid ones that contain artificial sugars or Xylitol- which can be toxic for your pet.
Epsom salt - If your pet suffers from muscle pain or has a sprain, the anti-inflammatory properties of a magnesium-rich Epsom salt bath can do wonders for sore muscles. Epsom salt also works well for cleaning open wounds.
Butter - Although butter won’t stop your cat from coughing up hairballs, feeding them a half teaspoon of butter once a day for a few days can make passing hairballs less intense.
Electrolytes - Giving your dog electrolyte drinks (sports water or pediatric drinks that are flavorless) can replenish the fluids in your pet after they have a bout of vomiting or diarrhea.
Cranberry juice - Cats, more than dogs, are prone to bladder issues. Unsweetened cranberry juice works really well to maintain bladder functionality. If your cat is having difficulty doing their ‘business’, cranberry juice can increase urine acidity- which can reduce the chance of infection or blockage in the urethra. Try adding a bit of juice to your kitty’s water or use cranberry powder to mix in with their food.
White vinegar - White vinegar is an effective remedy if your pet has a yeast infection in the ear. A foul odor, pink inner ear, and wax build-up are all symptoms of a yeast infection. To clean and kill the yeast in your pet’s ear, simply mix equal parts of warm water and vinegar then apply twice a day to the inner ear using a syringe or eye dropper.
Apple cider vinegar - If you want to rid your pet of a flea infestation, the acidity in apple cider vinegar is effective in preventing fleas from finding a home in your pet’s fur. Simply use a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar and spray the mixture on to your pet.
Citrus - (lemon/orange) Fleas hate citrus! So, if your pet is bothered by these pesky parasites mix a concoction of homemade lemon spray by squeezing about 3 lemons with one cup water; pour into a spray bottle and apply to your pet’s fur.
Canned pumpkin – Adding one to four tablespoons of canned pumpkin (without spices) to your pet’s diet is highly recommended if your pet is having digestive issues and/or trouble with constipation. Eating foods high in fiber will soften their stool and make it easier to pass.
Ginger root - Ginger is a powerful home remedy that is good for all kinds of digestive issues. Simply add a sliver to your dog’s food to alleviate diarrhea, vomiting, excessive belching or burping. Or dip a sliver of ginger root in honey and hand feed it to your dog.
Saline solution - If your cat or dog has sore or runny eyes, you can apply drops of saline solution every four hours to relieve your pet’s minor eye irritation.
Humidifier - Although not necessarily a ‘home remedy’, if your pet suffers from dry skin because of low humidity levels in your house or apartment, a humidifier is an easy way to provide extra moisture in the air. If you don’t have a humidifier, placing a pan of water near a radiator will work just as well.
Natural oils - As humans, we know how effective aromatherapy can be -providing both psychological and physical benefits. Natural oils can either be applied, taken orally or diffused. Be sure to do your research or consult with your vet prior to using any natural oils. Many of these oils must be diluted appropriately and administered properly in order for them to have a positive effect.
The following natural oils are safe to use. They contain powerful active compounds that can help your pet with a variety of ailments:
Cedar-wood oil (dog) – Known for its effective properties in killing and repelling pesky fleas and ticks, cedar- wood oil also provides a number of other health benefits.
- Calms aggressiveness and anxiety in dogs
- Improves blood circulation
- Increases kidney function
- Reduces the stiffness and pain of arthritis
Lavender oil (dog) - Lavender oil is one of the most versatile oils you can use for a number of health benefits.
- Has a calming effect- helps curb nervousness, aggression, and anxiety in dogs
- Soothes the nervous system- leaves a dog feeling peaceful and happy
- Effective in combating insomnia
- Helps alleviate allergy symptoms
Cardamom oil (dog) - Can have a positive effect on both the respiratory and digestive systems.
- Improves breathing and overall respiratory health
- Has a calming effect- reduces feelings of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed
- Maintains gastrointestinal system
- Helps settle an upset stomach
Frankincense oil (dog/cat) - This woody, spicy smelling oil with strong anti-bacterial properties is a terrific home remedy that provides a variety of benefits to both cats and dogs.
- Strengthens the immune system
- Reduces inflammation and helps relieve pain
- Can help to reduce certain tumors and kills cancer
- Reduces skin imperfections
- Can ease gastrointestinal discomfort
- Maintains intestinal health and function
- Has a calming effect; uplifts mood
Helichrysum oil (cat) – Helichrysum oil is known for its antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties with a strong antioxidant content. This fragrant oil can provide cats with a number of health benefits.
- Reduces inflammation
- Promotes heart health
- Stimulates liver function
- Improves energy and vitality
- Supports restorative and healthy skin
- Has the ability to slow down bleeding
Many home remedies can provide a safe, fast, and effective way to ease the discomfort your pet is experiencing as result of a common ailment. However, home treatments should never replace regular vet check-ups or if your dog/cat is experiencing an emergency.
Although many natural remedies have become a popular and affordable option for pet owners, if any of the issues you are treating don’t improve or worsen, you should contact your vet as soon as possible. A quick call with your vet is also recommended prior to using a home remedy- for advice, any questions you may have, and to help you determine the right amount/dosage to give your cat or dog.