7 Natural Therapies to Help Your Pet Heal

Whenever possible, I use plants, herbs, essential oils and other nontoxic substances to help my pet patients overcome illness and maintain good health. And these seven therapies are tops in my book for itchy skin, allergies, tummy issues, constipation, killing off bacteria and soothing anxious pets.

7 home remedies for pets

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • I always recommend natural, non-toxic remedies as a first choice in treatment and wellness protocols for my patients
  • Natural remedies that can benefit your dog or cat include coconut oil, manuka honey, aloe vera, lavender oil, oregano oil, ginger, and chamomile
  • It’s always a good idea to consult with an integrative or holistic veterinarian about your pet’s individual needs and the most appropriate natural remedies and doses
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If you’re a regular reader here at Mercola Healthy Pets, you know that whenever possible, I use natural remedies and healing therapies to help my pet patients overcome illness and maintain optimal health. Used properly, plants, herbs, essential oils, and other natural, non-toxic substances can compliment and often replace drugs and other chemical agents.

To use this approach with your own pet, I recommend talking with your holistic or integrative veterinarian about your animal companion’s health and lifestyle before starting any new treatment.

7 Natural Remedies That Can Benefit Your Pet

1. Coconut oil — I’m a huge believer in the benefits of coconut oil for pets. Coconut oil is a source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which benefit cognitive function.

I recommend feeding ¼ teaspoon of 100% organic, cold-pressed, and human-grade coconut oil for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for dogs and kitties. This can be added at mealtime to your pet's fresh homemade or commercial raw diet.

In addition, coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid, which is a powerful antimicrobial agent. This makes it an especially good choice for pets with yeast infections or allergies. It may also help with hairballs in cats

Coconut oil can also be used topically for skin conditions. It can help improve the overall condition of your pet’s skin and clear up itchy, irritated spots. It also helps soothe and heal cuts, abrasions, stings, bites, and hot spots.

2. Manuka honey — Manuka honey is one of my favorite all-natural, incredibly effective remedies. Clinical trials have shown that manuka can successfully eradicate literally hundreds of strains of bacteria, including certain antibiotic-resistant varieties.

Manuka has an exclusive ingredient with antimicrobial qualities called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) that gives it extraordinary antibacterial activity.

Honey releases hydrogen peroxide through an enzymatic process that gives it its antiseptic qualities, but active manuka honey contains a "special something" that makes it far superior to other types of honey when it comes to killing off bacteria.

The level of UMF varies, which is why each batch of manuka is ranked and priced according to the quantity of UMF it contains. The higher the concentration of UMF, the darker, thicker, and more expensive the honey. A rating of UMF 10 or higher is recommended for medicinal use.

I use manuka honey extensively in and on my patients to manage resistant ear and skin infections (for example, hot spots, feline acne, and acral lick dermatitis) and large, superficial wounds that can't be closed surgically. It’s especially beneficial for managing secondary infections in burn victims.

Given orally, manuka honey is effective at addressing H. pylori, the bacteria that contributes to gastrointestinal (GI) irritation, and can be very helpful in cases of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and excessive E. coli blooms in animals with dysbiosis.

3. Aloe vera — You can use the inner gel of the aloe vera plant to reduce the discomfort of skin irritations, cuts, or wounds on your pet. After you clean the area, apply raw aloe to provide a soothing effect.

A small amount of whole leaf aloe vera juice, which is a natural laxative, can be added to your pet’s food to help with constipation. Inner leaf aloe juice, which doesn’t contain the skin, helps heal gastric ulcers, colitis, and leaky gut.

If your dog develops acral lick dermatitis, also known as lick granuloma, which is an injury to the skin caused by constant licking, consider applying a raw aloe poultice after cleaning the area. Fillet a fresh aloe leaf and place it, gooey side down, on the wound. Replace with a fresh leaf about every 4 hours.

4. Lavender oil — Lavender oil is used in aromatherapy to help calm nervous or anxious animals. I’ve used it in wildlife rehabilitation by putting a few drops of pure, pharmaceutical grade lavender oil on a cotton ball, which I tape to the outside of the cage. It’s tremendously effective.

If your dog has a noise phobia, I recommend placing a few drops on his collar or bedding before a stressor occurs, if possible, or diffuse the oil around your house for an overall calming effect.

If you’re looking for a natural flea repellent, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and spritz it on your pet before she goes outside. This same mixture helps reduce paw licking when spritzed on feet.

If your kitty has feline dermatitis, after cleaning the skin wound with dilute povidone iodine, apply a few drops of lavender oil diluted with coconut oil to encourage healing. 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.

5. Oregano oil — Oregano essential oil contains potent antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties. It can be used in lots of different ways, including to calm itchy skin, sooth irritated gums, and to assist in balancing a dog’s gut flora.

Oregano oil should always be diluted before using it in or on pets. If your pet has ear mites, you can apply diluted oregano oil (1 drop mixed with 10 drops carrier oil, such as calendula or coconut oil) after removing the gunk and debris from the ears.

If your dog has a yeast infection, I recommend adding natural antifungal foods to the diet, including small amounts of fresh oregano to help reduce the level of yeast naturally. It’s also a beneficial herb for dogs with kennel cough or recurrent infections.

I also use a few drops of oregano oil added to pet-friendly shampoo to help reduce bacterial growth in patients with MRSA infections,

6. Ginger — Ginger is a widely used, non-toxic, non-irritating remedy for soothing tummy troubles. You can either give it orally or use it in oil form by applying a few drops to your palm, mixing in a carrier oil (such as coconut or olive oil) and massaging it into the skin on your pet’s belly.

Alternatively, you can add small amounts of freshly grated ginger or the dry herb to a tasty meatball or other yummy treat. Use no more than a pinch (1/16th teaspoon) for kitties, 1/8th teaspoon for small dogs under 10 pounds, ¼ teaspoon for medium-sized dogs, ½ teaspoon for large dogs, and ¾ to 1 teaspoon for giant breeds.

Give the ginger one to three times a day as needed. If you’re using it to help with motion sickness, be sure to give it to your pet at least an hour prior to travel. Alternatively, you can add ¼ cup ginger tea per 20 pounds of body weight to food daily as needed, to control nausea and GI upset.

7. Chamomile — Chamomile is a wonderful calming agent. It also has analgesic and anti-spasmodic properties and is beneficial in soothing the central nervous system.

You can use chamomile to calm pets who are, for example, anxious about vet visits. You can also use a cool chamomile tea bag against a wound, irritation or bug bite on your dog’s or cat’s skin to provide a soothing effect.

Something else to consider is a soothing chamomile after-bath rinse for your pet. Add 5 chamomile tea bags to 2 quarts of very hot water and steep until the water is cool. I actually recommend soaking the tea tabs for about 3 hours to allow the maximum amount of polyphenols to release into the water.

Remove the tea bags and pour the rinse over your freshly bathed pet from the neck down. Massage into the skin, and don’t rinse. You can even “recycle” the used tea bags for use later as a soothing topical poultice for hot spots or rashes, just pop them in the freezer to create a ready-to-use “medicated icepack.”