PetPlate’s Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs
If you’ve ever sipped a steaming cup of chamomile tea to wind down at the end of the day or chewed on ginger to fight nausea, then you appreciate the power of natural remedies to help soothe common ailments. You can also harness Mother Nature’s power for your furry friends. Read on to learn how ingredients you can find in your kitchen or garden might help your pup feel better.
When to Use Natural Remedies for Dogs
If you’re like us, you probably feel your pup’s pain more than they do (especially when it comes to toenail clipping accidents!). So we probably don’t need to tell you that if your best friend isn’t acting like him or herself, call your vet. They can help you determine how serious the issue may be and whether or not you need to bring your dog to the clinic. Instead of immediately scheduling an appointment, they may suggest trying natural remedies first. Symptoms like itchy skin or mushy poop can be mild ailments that may respond to treatment with a drug-free, natural strategy.
Remember, just because a remedy is drug-free, doesn’t mean it’s not potent. Many of the most common—and powerful—veterinary and human drugs come from the natural world. Aspirin, one of the most widely used drugs on the planet, can be traced back to willow tree bark used to alleviate pain for over 3,000 years. Natural remedies can have negative effects, and they can interact with drugs your dog is already taking. Consult your vet for advice about specific natural remedies to try, and start slowly with small amounts to see how your dog reacts.
When to Call the Vet
Blood. Difficulty breathing. An empty 12-ounce bag of Hershey’s Semisweet Chocolate Baking Chips. This is the stuff of pet parent nightmares—and reasons to dial up your favorite DVM. In emergency situations, call your vet, or simply head to the clinic, immediately. Symptoms of dire or severe situations include:
Pale gums (Your dog’s gums should normally be pink and, when pressed gently with your finger, should flash white and turn back to pink within a second or two. Pale, blue, grey, or red gums signal trouble. Check your dog’s gums regularly so that you can know what they look like when your pup is healthy.)
10 Best Natural Remedies for Dogs
For milder ailments like dry skin or joint soreness after a long romp, natural remedies can be just what your dog needs to feel better. Here’s an overview of ten top home remedies to help you—and Mother Nature—heal your pup.
1. Dog itchy skin home remedy
Dry skin can make your dog itchy and miserable, even though unlike (most of) us, they can scratch behind their ears with their feet. Persistent itching can disrupt sleep patterns (theirs and yours!) and lead to hot spots, hair loss and even sores. Fortunately, there are several home remedies for dog itching and dandruff.
If your dog loves baths, treat them to a warm soak in oatmeal water—but leave the Quaker out of it. Use colloidal (finely ground and boiled) oatmeal instead. You can buy it pre-made or grind and boil regular (not flavored!) oatmeal yourself. Oatmeal has compounds called avenanthramides and phenols which work immediately to ease inflammation and itchiness.
Draw up a warm bath, stir in the oatmeal, and try to get your dog to hang out for five to 10 minutes. If your dog is about as likely to sit quietly in an oatmeal bath as they are to do your taxes, mix the oatmeal with just a bit of water and apply it to the itchiest areas as a poultice. Let it sit for 10 minutes before washing it off. The same can be done with baking soda as a home remedy for dry skin or rash on dogs. Combine 50% baking soda with 50% water and apply the paste to the itchiest areas of your dog’s skin. Try to leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing.
Adding a fish oil supplement in capsule or liquid form to your dog’s diet can deliver a natural dog remedy for itchy skin via omega-3 fatty acids. Your vet can recommend a brand and dosage that’s best for your pup.
2. Dog ear infection treatment at home
Symptoms of dog ear issues can include head shaking, ear scratching, head tilting, waxy discharge and stinky ears. Dog ear infection symptoms may be caused by ear mites, bacterial or yeast overgrowth, and foreign bodies (like grass seeds or bugs). The interwebs will cough up plenty of articles recommending squirts of apple cider vinegar at the first signs of dog ear infection. That advice makes most vets cringe—and can cause your dog to do even worse.
By the time an ear issue is painful enough for your pup to show symptoms it may be pretty serious, and deep down in the ear canal. Unlike with human ear infections, it’s not uncommon for an infection to cause a tear or hole in a dog’s ear drum. Anything you put in the ear can enter the middle ear, and risk causing permanent damage, even deafness.
Apple cider vinegar can irritate the inner ear and, being mostly water, will leave the ear canal moist—the perfect environment for yeast or bacterial growth. Instead, save the vinegar for your salad dressing and call your vet.
3. Natural remedy for dog stomachache
Remember that persistent vomiting, swollen or distended abdomen, trying unsuccessfully to vomit, and panting can all be signs of bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). This is when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food or fluid and twists. It is always an emergency—and can be fatal if untreated. If you suspect bloat, don’t wait, head to the vet immediately.
For mild tummy aches—which can be caused by anything from a “dietary indiscretion” (i.e., snarfing up goose poop) to a temporary bacterial imbalance—natural remedies can help. Symptoms of stomachache in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, lip licking and air licking (signs of nausea), loss of appetite and lethargy.
Canned pumpkin can help ease upset stomachs. Pumpkin has a low glycemic index, which means the body absorbs it slowly in a way that can help soothe an irritated GI track. Make sure you use 100% pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling with added sugar and spices. Check with your vet about how much pumpkin you to give your dog.
A daily dose of probiotics—“good” bacteria that help balance your dog’s microbiome—can keep your pup’s belly happy. Probiotics can promote efficient digestion and also help your dog’s body better absorb the nutrients in his or her food. They may also help boost the immune system. Probiotics are available in powders to sprinkle over food or in chews. There are lots to choose from, so let your vet guide you to the right bacteria for your best bud. Or, simply dollop a spoonful of yogurt onto your dog’s meal for a less concentrated, but creamier, serving of probiotics.
5. Home remedy dog diarrhea
Milkshake poop is no fun—for your dog or for you. Diarrhea can be a symptom of stress, a change in diet, a bacterial infection or more serious issues. If diarrhea continues for more than a couple days, blood appears, or your dog appears to be in pain, call your vet. Otherwise, you can try to help them with natural remedies.
One of the best things to feed your dog if they have diarrhea is nothing. (And the price is right!) Give your pup’s digestive system a break from the hard work of digesting food. Skip a meal or two and let your dog’s stomach rest and recover.
Drinking too much water too quickly can make your dog’s stomach feel worse, and lead to diarrhea. Instead, try giving them smaller amounts throughout the day. Or hydrate them with a couple of ice cubes every few minutes.
5. Dog joint pain home remedy
Just as in humans, joint pain in dogs may have a variety of causes—trauma, obesity, age or anatomical confirmation, the structure of the body, and arthritis, among other things. Arthritis is inflammation within a joint. The most common type, osteoarthritis, is a thinning and deterioration of the protective tissues between the joints—the shock absorbers that help with movement and flexibility. Symptoms of joint pain range from more obvious signs like limping, difficulty lying down or getting up, and negative reactions to being touched in a specific area, to more subtle signs like decreased energy levels, more naps, and general irritability. Your vet can help diagnose the issue with a physical exam, gait evaluation, radiographs and joint-fluid analysis.
Making sure your dog stays at a healthy weight to reduce stress on all those joints is critical. If your pup is carrying extra pounds, slimming down can help ease joint pain.
Your vet may recommend dog joint pain supplements. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, omega-3 fatty acids, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) can help ease joint pain. There are even more dog arthritis supplements on the market than there are letters in “methylsulfonylmethane,” so ask your vet for guidance on the best product to help keep your dog comfy and active.
6. Home remedy dog anxiety
Lots of things, from thunder to a change in routine, can stress out your dog. More than 70% of dogs display some form of anxiety according to a 2020 study. Symptoms include drooling, panting, pacing, barking and pacing. Here’s more info about identifying these signs. There are many things you can do to help reduce and even prevent anxiety.
Just like a good sweat session at the gym takes the edge off our own anxiety, exercise can help reduce dogs’ stress levels. If you know your dog will face something unavoidable and stressful later in the day—like someone mowing the lawn, or your extended absence—try going for an extra-long romp in the morning or put in a solid fetch session.
Mental stimulation can also help ease anxiety, and is a natural pet calming remedy that helps keep dogs’ minds sharp as it soothes their mood. Treat-dispensing puzzle toys are great for this. So is playing mentally and sensory-stimulating games like “find it” with your pup. Thunder shirts, safe spaces and massages can help, too. Learn more here!
Natural supplements can help ease anxiety as well. Veterinarians often recommend supplements with melatonin, L-theanine and L-tryptophan supplements to ease anxiety. Derived from milk protein, zylkene is another ingredient that can help.
In recent years, stress-busting chews and tinctures with cannabidiol (CBD) have exploded on the market. While it’s derived from cannabis, CBD does not contain tertahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in cannabis that creates the “high.” While you can buy CBD—and other supplements for anxiety—over the counter, be sure to check with your vet first about safe brands and the best ingredient and dosage for your furry family member.
7. Dog acne home remedies
The bad news: dogs get acne, just like people. The good news: they don’t care. While a breakout will probably not lower their self esteem, the spots and pimples may irritate pups, which could lead to excessive scratching and infection.
To help reduce and prevent acne, wash their face every day with warm water. Then be sure to dry it so the moist skin doesn’t invite bacteria. And if your dog is a messy eater, wipe around their mouth after meals to help keep the area clean.
8. Natural antiseptic for dog wounds
Wounds or punctures that won’t stop bleeding (especially from bacterial-laden dog bites) should send you straight to the vet. But you can apply natural antiseptic to minor scrapes and cuts to prevent the growth of nasty microorganisms. Natural antiseptics include turmeric, coconut oil, aloe vera and witch hazel.
For a spicy antiseptic concoction that will also help with inflammation—and prevent licking, because most dogs don’t love the smell—mix turmeric from your spice cabinet with aloe vera in a 1:1 ratio and smooth it on the scrape. This is a great solution for scrapes on your pups’ paws. If you have an aloe vera plant, you can harvest fresh gel, but be sure to only use the middle, clear-colored part of the inner leaf.
If you notice increased redness, swelling or pain, or if a wound oozes or smells, call your vet.
9. Home remedy for flea prevention
Most vets will point you towards tried and true chemical chewable and topical options for flea prevention, but there are several natural strategies as well:
- Citrus spray or rub
- Rosemary dip or spray
- Coconut oil rub
- Weekly baths with a gentle, lathering soap to drown fleas
10. Natural sedative for dogs
A light natural sedative may help if your dog has trouble settling down for the night. Talk to your vet about what type of sedative is best for your dog. They may suggest products with natural ingredients such as melatonin or zykene. Or they could recommend a spray or diffuser with a pheromone called D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone). This compound mimics the natural pheromone produced by nursing mothers that promotes a sense of peaceful well-being.
Herbs That Are Safe for Dogs
Many herbs can enhance your dog’s health, but it’s critical to check with your vet before adding them to your dog’s diet. Some herbs are toxic to canines. Others can have dangerous interactions with medications. Here are five safe herbs for dogs and how they help:
Basil. An anti-inflammatory, this herb also supports cardiovascular health.
Chamomile. This calming herb is great for mild anxiety and for fighting inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions.
Cinnamon. This herb helps fight inflammation and regulate blood sugar.
Ginger. Helpful for nausea and vomiting (especially car sickness), this herb is also delivers antioxidant benefits.
Turmeric. This anti-inflammatory herb has also been found to protect stomach and liver.
Treat Your Dog Naturally with PetPlate
Mother Nature provides plenty of remedies for many of your dog’s most common issues, from upset stomach to acne. Knowing when and how to use them—and when to call the vet—is key.
Adding natural supplements in the form of treats can also be an easy—and delicious—way to enhance your dog’s health. Check out PetPlate vet-designed supplements featuring organic ingredients in tasty, crunchy soft chews your dog will love. Joint Jumpin’ Mobility Cookies deliver glucosamine and chondroitin to support hip and joint health and maintain mobility. Tummy Ticklin’ Digestive Cookies are fortified with a special blend of probiotics to support healthy digestion (and quality poop!). Learn more here.