Modern medicine has come a long way in improving the health of people and pets. In recent years, holistic medicine has become increasingly popular to treat and manage common health conditions, including natural pet treatments.
As more people gravitate toward natural treatments for themselves, more pet parents are interested in holistic medicine for their pets. To date, natural treatments have not undergone rigorous scientific testing for their safety and efficacy in pets. That being said, there are some “tried and true” natural treatments that pet parents can consider giving their pets.
Essential oils come from plants. Lavender and chamomile essential oils, for example, are great herbal remedies for dog anxiety and motion sickness. To ease your dog’s anxiety, add a few drops of these essential oils onto their bedding.
To reduce your pet’s motion sickness, dab a few drops of lavender or chamomile essential oil on a cotton ball and place the cotton ball in your car about 30 minutes before you leave. Remove the cotton ball before leaving to prevent your pet from eating it.
Remember that our pet’s noses are much more sensitive than our own. Too much essential oil will aggravate your pet’s senses.
Coconut oil is an excellent natural remedy for dry or itchy skin. Our pets’ paw pads and noses can become especially dry and cracked in the winter. To remedy this, dab a little bit of coconut oil directly onto the affected areas. It’s okay if your pet licks off some of the coconut oil; ingesting a small amount of coconut oil is safe for pets.
Fish Oil and Olive Oil
Fish oil and olive oil can work wonders for a pet’s skin and coat. Adding omega-3 fatty acid supplements (derived from fish oil) or a small amount of olive oil to your pet’s diet can improve their skin and coat quality. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can also improve joint health for pets with arthritis.
Oatmeal is an excellent home remedy for dogs with dry, itchy skin. To create a soothing oatmeal bath, grind one cup of uncooked plain oatmeal in a food processor and mix it into a tub of lukewarm bathwater. Place your dog on a non-slip mat in the tub and rub the oatmeal/bathwater mix all over your dog’s body for 10 to 15 minutes. Dry your dog off without rinsing so that the oatmeal can continue moisturizing the skin. Alternatively, you can use a pet oatmeal shampoo.
The aloe vera plant works well for itchy or sunburned skin. Dab a bit of the plant’s gooey gel onto your pet’s irritated skin. Be aware that aloe vera’s white sap is toxic to dogs, so use it with caution and make sure to monitor your pet.
Certain foods, such as yogurt, can naturally ease digestive upset in pets. Although yogurt is as nutritious for our pets as it is for us, not just any yogurt will do. Adult dogs and cats are lactose intolerant. The added sugar in yogurt is unhealthy for our pets, and xylitol, the artificial sweetener that is sometimes added to yogurt, is toxic to pets.
The best type of yogurt for pets is plain, unsweetened, xylitol-free Greek yogurt. Start by feeding a few tablespoons to your pet and watch for negative reactions like gas, diarrhea or vomiting. Stop feeding yogurt if your pet can’t tolerate it.
Pumpkin is another good food to ease digestive problems. It is high in fiber and has many nutrients, including potassium and various vitamins. Also, the fiber helps promote a healthy gut bacterial population.
Pumpkin for pets must be plain and unsweetened—no pumpkin pie mix, which is high in sugar.
The recommended pumpkin dose for pets is one to four tablespoons. Start on the lower end of that dose to see how your pet responds. If your pet responds well, continue to stay within the recommended dose range.
CBD Oil for Pets
CBD, short for cannabidiol, comes from the hemp plant. Unlike THC, which is derived from the marijuana plant, CBD is not psychoactive and does not produce a “high.” It is very popular for reducing inflammation and relieving anxiety in people.
Pet parents are increasingly interested in giving CBD to their pets. There have been anecdotal reports of CBD reducing pain and relieving anxiety in pets. However, other than a few studies showing CBD’s ability to reduce inflammation in dogs with arthritis, there is sparse scientific evidence of CBD’s benefits in pets.
CBD oil and treats are available for pets. Because so little is known about CBD for pets, though, you should consult with a veterinarian before giving it to your pet.
Considerations for Natural Pet Treatments
Although natural treatments for pets are an appealing alternative to conventional medicines, they must be used properly to keep pets safe. Here are some things to think about regarding natural pet treatments:
- Consult with a veterinarian first: Do not give your pet any natural treatment without first consulting with a veterinarian, ideally a holistic veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend natural treatments and instruct you on how to safely give them to your pet. Your veterinarian will also be able to determine if your pet’s health condition needs more than just a home remedy.
- Tell your veterinarian which natural treatments you are giving: Sometimes, natural treatments can interfere with conventional medicines. Let your veterinarian know which natural treatments you have given your pet.
- Don’t forage for your own herbs: It may sound idyllic to forage in the woods for medicinal herbs. For your pet’s safety, though, use only high-quality natural treatments that have been processed to remove contaminants and other harmful substances.
- More is not always better: Natural remedies can be harmful if given in large doses. Always start small to see how your pet responds to the treatment.
- Closely observe your pet: If your pet doesn’t respond well to the treatment, discontinue it and talk with your veterinarian.
- Avoid certain herbs: Natural does not always equal safe. Your veterinarian can help you steer clear of toxic natural substances.
Certain natural treatments are safe and effective for treating common ailments in our pets. Consult with your veterinarian if you are thinking about trying natural remedies for your pet.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
JoAnna Pendergrass is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After graduating from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine with her veterinary degree, JoAnna completed a two-year research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University. During this fellowship, she learned that she could make a career out of combining her loves of science and writing. As a medical writer, JoAnna is passionate about providing pet parents with clear, concise, and engaging information about pet care. Through her writing, she strives not only to educate pet parents, but also empower them to make good health decisions for their pets. JoAnna is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and Dog Writers Association of America.