If you’re anything like the other hyper-concerned pet owners out there, you probably don’t love the idea of giving your buddy potentially upsetting prescriptions, medications or chemicals to help address their day-to-day health concerns. To ease the worry, you may decide to turn to more natural treatment options instead of getting a prescription from the vet. No doubt, you’ll be surprised to find how many stubborn pet issues you can address using things you may have in your pantry, garden or fridge.
Why Use Holistic Pet Remedies?
While conventional veterinary medicine is amazing and required for many situations, it may not be the right choice for every scenario. Minor, everyday concerns that are not linked to serious side effects may be treated with natural solutions, so long as you exercise extreme caution. Holistic remedies may help prevent medicinal reactions and allergies while helping you save on vet bills and prevent putting your animal through the trauma of a visit to the vet.
While opting for more holistic solutions tends to come with less risk, you still need to make sure you’re closely following the advice of a trained veterinary professional no matter what you’re administering to your pet. Here are some of the more common holistic treatments vets recommend to their fluffy friends.
Pumpkin for Constipation
It’s one of the best and healthiest tricks in the animal care handbook: pumpkin for dog constipation. Generally speaking, supplementing your pup’s food with a little canned pumpkin is a safe and surprisingly effective way to give your dog a big dose of fiber and water to kick-start the digestive tract. In addition to its gentle laxative effect, fiber can also help prevent diarrhea, so it’s good to keep in your pet care arsenal for many tummy troubles.
Digestive Enzymes for Digestive Troubles
You’ve probably heard of adding digestive enzymes to your diet to help support your digestive system, but can the same approach help your furry friend? Absolutely! Dogs can benefit from many of the same enzymes as humans, including amylase, protease and lipase, especially if they tend to have chronic digestive concerns. Often, owners will sprinkle digestive enzymes directly on their dog’s regular foodas a simple, supplemental solution.
Fish Oil for Skin and Fur
That glossy mane takes work! The beneficial fatty acids, including Omega-3, found in fish oil can work wonders for both dogs and cats. These fatty acids are surprisingly potent when used to ease irritation and inflammation, especially as it pertains to the skin. Adding a liquid fish oil supplement to your pet’s dinner can help reduce itchy skin, dandruff, hot spots and irritation while making their fur extra-soft and shiny. Vitamin E oil is another natural substance that’s said to help keep your pet’s coat lustrous.
Glucosamine for Joints
According to the Mayo Clinic, glucosamine is a natural compound found in cartilage, often harvested from shellfish or produced in a lab. The substance is generally prescribed to dogs for muscle, joint and bone support, especially if they suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. If your pet struggles with common muscle- and joint-related issues — such as hip dysplasia or torn ligaments — then glucosamine can provide some relief.
Oatmeal for Irritated Skin
Especially common in dogs, skin allergies can plague our pets all year round, primarily in the spring and summer. Just like allergies in humans, dog allergies are often triggered by environmental factors such as grass or ragweed. Pets may also experience stubborn, itchy and painful breakouts after being bitten by fleas (called flea allergy dermatitis). Oatmeal has long been used as a soothing, itch-relieving ingredient in dog shampoos because it contains natural avenanthramides and phenols, which are commonly used to soothe irritated skin.
Tea Tree Oil for Fungal Infections
Our pets are constantly getting into stuff, so it’s no wonder that they occasionally come down with fungal (e.g., ringworm) and yeast infections. Yeast infections occur when too much yeast grows on the skin. Tea tree oil, a naturally antibacterial oil derived from the Melaleuca tree, is commonly used to help kill the overgrowth of bacteria and help kick some of these frustrating skin issues. You can make your own gentle tea tree oil spray or purchase it over-the-counter to spray directly onto your pet’s infection.
Properly Treating Pet Ailments the Holistic Way
Just because holistic treatment works for you doesn’t mean it will work for your fuzzy family member. On the same token, just because it’s “natural” or “holistic” doesn’t mean it’s safe. There are many common plants that prove otherwise.
Certain seemingly safe plants and herbs that help keep us healthy are toxic to pets. One example is aloe vera — the burn-soothing succulent that’s a staple of many windowsill gardens. As lovely as this plant may be, it’s toxic to dogs and cats and should never be used in their treatment.
If you aren’t sure whether or not something is safe for your dog or cat to eat, be sure to stop by the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, which offers detailed information on what kinds of plants, herbs and foods are off-limits to your pet. As long as you consult the professionals, use common sense and steer clear of any potentially toxic substances, the holistic approach should yield good results.