Home Remedies for Pets

Remedies for Fleas, Dry Skin, Cuts, Skunk Spray, and More

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Here are some valuable home remedies for dogs and cats that can keep your pet’s tail wagging and save you an unnecessary trip to the vet.

Home Remedies for Fleas

Use these home remedies to get rid of fleas on pets and in the home. Remember: He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.

  • Place a flea collar in the bag of your vacuum cleaner. Any fleas you sweep up will stay put in there.
  • If you don’t want to use a flea collar with insecticides, active ingredients such as cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, and marigold won’t exterminate fleas, but will deter them.
  • Give your dog a flea bath with limonene shampoo, and flea-comb him down thoroughly while he’s in the water so the fleas drown.
  • As a flea deterrent, try adding a teaspoon of vinegar to each quart of the animal’s drinking water. It helps keep pets free of fleas and ticks, but is not harmful to the pet itself. Learn about the other helpful household uses for vinegar.
  • Sprinkle borate powder into crevices of couches and chairs.
  • Stock your yard with off-leaf larvae-eating nematodes (available at pet and garden stores). Nematodes will also be helpful to bring down your Japanese beetle population.
  • Getting proper nutrition for your pets is the best flea prevention. Add brewer’s yeast to your pet’s food, as well as essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. Check out these tips for proper pet nutrition.
  • Spray window and door screens with distilled water containing several drops of bitter orange essential oil. (Fleas hate citrus scent and will avoid crawling in through the screens.)
  • Learn everything you need to know about fleas. Try this page for even more home remedies for fleas.

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Photo Credit: Crestock.

Itchiness: Dry Skin on Dogs and Cats

  • Oatmeal Bath: Put uncooked oatmeal or rolled oats into a sock or nylon stocking and run a tubful of warm water over it. Soak your dog (cats will rarely let you do this) in the water for 5 to 10 minutes. Oatmeal based shampoos are also available at pet stores. Find out more about oatmeal’s soothing benefits.
  • Aloe Vera: Break off a piece of the plant and apply the thick juice directly to the raw area. Do not let your pet lick the area, as aloe vera can cause vomiting when ingested. Learn more about the benefits of aloe vera or how to grow your own aloe vera plant.
  • Aggravated skin sores, also known as hot spots, can make your pet miserable. If you see a hot spot developing, clip about one-half to one inch around the sore to prevent hair and other dirt from further aggravating it. Clean the sore with hydrogen peroxide on gauze or a cotton ball, and after it dries, spray the area with cortisone cream. Do this twice a day until the sore starts to dry out or a scab begins to form.

Home Treatment for Cuts, Scrapes, Abrasions

  • Mix together 1 pint water, ½-teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon calendula tincture.
  • Soak an injured paw in the solution. If the wound is on the body, put the solution in a squirt bottle or large syringe and gently apply it to the injured area.
  • Repeat the soaking or application every 4 to 6 hours for the first 24 hours.

Home Treatment for Bites and Scratches

For serious bites and scratches, take your pet to the vet. For smaller wounds:

  • Rinse out the fresh wounds and punctures with large amounts of this solution: 1 pint water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon Echinacea/goldenseal tincture.
  • Hydrogen peroxide may also be used to clean wounds, but it can damage delicate tissues.
  • Cat wounds are notorious for forming abscesses. If the abscess is draining, clean it with with Echinacea/goldenseal solution. Always wear latex gloves while handling an abscess.

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How to Heal Tissue Trauma

  • If your pet falls, gets stepped on, is in a fight, or is otherwise bruised, the common homeopathic remedy arnica can speed recovery. Give two pellets of arnica 30c once per hour for three hours following the injury.

What to Do if a Pet Is Choking

You can perform the Heimlich maneuver on animals.

  • Lift a small pet, or reach over the back of a large one and raise the back legs, so that the rear end is elevated over the head.
  • Place your hands around the lowest part of the chest and give a quick, gentle thrust inward and upward. 
  • Remember to scale the force of your thrust to the size of your pet. For small pets, imagine you are performing this on an infant or toddler.

Pet Indigestion or Loose Stool

  • When your dog scavenges something from the compost pile, it irritates the bowel, creating nerve impulses that signal the gut to speed up. When food moves too quickly through the gut, the result is loose stools. In dogs and cats with chronic inflammatory bowel disease, the gut responds as if irritated at the slightest stress or change of diet.
  • The herb slippery elm, available as powder or capsules, coats the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, counteracting the irritation and allowing stools to firm up. Put 1 tablespoon of the powder (break open capsules) into 1 pint of water and bring to a boil to thicken. Let it cool, and administer by mouth. Give a teaspoon or less to small pets and several tablespoons to large dogs every 2 to 4 hours, until the gut settles down (usually 8 to 24 hours).
  • Also, be sure to check our list of foods that are poisonous to pets so that you can keep your furry friends from too many stomach aches.

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Burrs in Fur: Tips for Grooming

  • For dogs, comb the burrs in their fur with a metal comb immediately. If burrs are badly tangled, rub vegetable oil on your fingers and work the lubrication slowly through the fur until you can pull the burrs out.
  • Cats typically will want to take care of their own grooming, but you can help by gently working through the mess with a wire brush. Most cats won’t let you cut the fur or lubricate it the way a dog will. (We suggest wearing long sleeves… Maybe even two layers.)

Remedies for Itchy Ears

  • Aloe vera or the contents of a vitamin E capsule can soothe red or inflamed areas of the ear.
  • A gentle cleaning with a cotton swab or gauze dipped into vegetable oil can help to remove a buildup of wax and dirt.
  • Remember that dog and cat ear canals take a right-angle turn at the base of the ear, and be careful not to jam anything deep into the ear canal.

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Home Remedies for Sore or Runny Eyes

  • A simple rinse of saline solution can help a mild eye irritation. Continue eye drops every four hours, until clear.
  • If symptoms persist, consult with your vet.

How to Ease Pet Arthritis

  • Massage helps to relieve muscle tension that contributes to pain. Be gentle. Start from the center of the body and work your way outward. If feet are too sensitive, leave them alone.
  • Nutritional research suggests that supplements containing chondroitin sulfate and glucosaminoglycans can help inflamed or damaged joints. Check with your vet or health-food store.
  • Egg-crate foam and other creature comforts can bring relief to older and arthritic pets. Buy enough foam for two or three beds, cover the foam with washable covers (easy to make from old towels), and put them into the places your pet likes to sleep.
  • Find more tips about caring for an elderly pet.
  • How old is your dog? Find out your dog’s age in dog years with our dog age conversion chart.

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How to Get Rid of Skunk Spray on Pets

  • Bathe your dog in a mixture of 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap. Work the solution into the fur (avoiding eyes), then rinse.
  • To rid the stench from your pet, douse him with tomato juice, leaving it on for several minutes before rinsing it off. For a large dog, a single washing can require several cans of tomato juice. You may have to repeat the procedure, but the odor will eventually work itself out of your pet’s coat.
  • Get more tips for dealing with that gross skunk spray smell.

Check out these tips for pet home safety so that you never have to use these home remedies! Also, try our ideas for pet-proofing your home.

Is your pet a bit overweight? Check out these tips to help them lose the pounds.

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Note: The Old Farmer’s Almanac does not have professional vets on staff, so please do not inquire about serious pet health issues on this page. Contact a vet immediately if your pet develops serious symptoms, such as trouble breathing, urinating, or moving, or if s/he shows signs of shaking or weakness, seizures, confusion, fever, vomiting (unless it’s a hairball), swelling, deep wounds, bleeding in urine or poop, or other ailments that may indicate that the pet requires prompt attention. If your vet office is not open during an emergency, there are 24-hour veterinary hospitals that you can call for advice; check with your vet beforehand to get the number of one, or search online. If your financial resources are limited, your vet may be able to work with you to develop a payment plan. There are also other options for financial assistance, including pet insurance (for future ailments); for advice, consult a local animal shelter or local branch of an animal welfare association, such as The Humane Society.

What are some of your favorite home remedies for your pets?

Reader Comments

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home remedies for pets

Thank you for this article. I've been treating the easy stuff for years using the methods you've mentioned with great success. I had a Maine Coon cat that would get awful colds. His whole ruff would get stiff from the mucus. I took him to a vet several times thru the year but at $125-$150 a crack it was getting quite expensive. I've always treated myself and my two-legged kids with echinacea at the first sign of the sniffles and it would usually stop a cold dead in it's tracks.Well, It worked on Er-so-bad (Guess how he got his Maine Coonie name! I used the liquid from Nature's Way with a 1:4 extract. I wouldn't use it on a kitten under 6 mos old.) Start with .25ml (dropper is marked). You can wash it down with a little water but DO NOT force it down the throat. You don't want the cat to choke or aspirate the fluid into it's lungs. My cats produced alot of saliva, almost like a light foaming. If they keep it down you should see a marked improvement the next day. Even if some comes back up, they are still getting some of the benefits. Keep it up for at least a week. Oh while I'm on this, I have been told to NEVER give a cat any aspirin product EVER because it is FATAL!

Poor kitty

My cat has what seems to be little scabs down his back, there hair along the spine area is also thinned. He doesn't have fleas and i don't notice any biting or scratching of the area.

scabs on cats

Awww. Scabs can be the cause of a number of issues: food allergies, ring worm, and others. We would suggest you take the kitty to the vet to be sure to treat the right issue.

itchy dog

We have found that adding coconut oil to their meals - the itching stopped

Hopefully a helpful tip!

I found your site very and booked marked it for the future. Thank you so much! I seen several of your readers have a hard time like many of us do pay for a costly vet bill so I hope to help. I worked at a vet office at one time and 99% of vet offices take a credit card called " care credit " and it can be used for people too it low rate and fairly easy to get approved for! I hope it helps some of your fur babies if you have no choice but to go to vet. God bless! :-)

Itching

Whenever my dogs roll on their back to scratch it, I sprinkle medicated body powder on them and rub it in. Seems to relieve the itch every time.

Skunk spray

My dog got sprayed and the only thing tomato juice did was stain her fur pink. I filled the laundry tub with warm water and Dawn dish detergent and washed her down. Not only did Dawn remove the skunk odor, but she smelled good too. The following day I gave here a bath with her own doggie shampoo. For her nose and eyes, I gently rubbed a wrung out washcloth in the areas. She did have a faint scent in her nostrils for several days, but the soapy cloth worked very well on her face and inner ears.

skunk spray

tomato juice does nothing except dull our sense of smell to the degree that we think it works. it does not. Soap and scrub.

Vinegar for fleas and ticks

The article mentioned putting vinegar in the drinking water. That sounds good as we drink switchel. It would seem that cider vinegar would be the right one to use but thought I would check. Thanks

Cortisone cream

Under the Section entitled "Itchiness..." - how exactly do you "spray" cortisone cream??

Cortisone Spray

Hi Leah,

There is a cortisone spray product meant for dogs, different from cortisone cream. However, you can also use cortisone cream by applying and gently rubbing onto the skin.

Pimples

The vet said just watch it and if it changes let him know. He's a good vet but always wants to do tests I can't afford. Looking for more options. I found a cough syrup for her that really helps with the tracheal collapse. She is 11yo and I have had her for 4 years with no medical problems. I got her from the friend I got her from said she had an anal gland abscess. But nothing since then.

Searched this pet section

Searched this pet section hoping to find home remedy for an old wound on my dog. She is a rescue dog, the dog vet informed us that she had a chemical burn, the vet cut around the site and treated the site. Our dog is almost 2 years old, we have had her almost one year. She is a little protective of the site and sometimes we see her trying to scratch at it with her teeth. It is located on her lower back. Thinking Aloe Vera or Cortisone may help. We await your response. Thank you.

fleas on my dog

my dog is allergic to all vet medications is there a homemade solution i can make to help get rid of them

DIY homemade flea repellant for dogs

Wash your dog with Castile soap each week followed by a final rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. For this rinse, use one part vinegar to ten parts water.

In general, for flea prevention, we would advise feeing your dog ½ teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar per day per 25 lbs. of dog.  Also, spray your dog every week with a spray bottle of solution that is a mix of 4 ounces warm water, 6 ounces Apple Cider Vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon sea salt.

My 12 yr old cat meows all the time

I make sure he has food and water all the time, his liter box is clean. I've taken him to the vet and the vet said there was nothing wrong with him.i give him attention. I have no idea why he keeps doing this. His meows almost sound like he's saying hello lol.

meowing

Is this a change in behavior pattern? Some cats (like Siamese) are naturally talkative and meow a lot, commenting on events or responding to their owners. If that isn’t typical for your cat, and it isn’t something like a urinary tract infection, thyroid, kidney disease, or other health issue, has there been any change in routine? Some cats under stress – such as due to a change in daily routine, owner stress, construction in or around the house, a new dog or cat in the neighborhood, a new baby in the family, being alone except for the pet sitter while the family is on vacation, a change in food – will become discontent. Your cat is fixed, correct? Sometimes older cats can get more vocal. And sometimes, a cat will blossom and become more talkative as the the bond between owner and cat strengthens. If you think it might be stress, try increasing the attention; perhaps he will calm down a little after a while. Good luck!

My sneezing mouse mincie

Please help!! My new mouse is sneezing and has a little clicking sound... I so stupidly smoked while she was in my shirt while driving in the car (please don't give me and fuss about it, I'm in tears as I write this) she's now sneezing and has that clicking sound. I'm hoping she will be feeling better tomorrow.... Does anyone have any advice as to how I could how I can help her at home.? I am a broke college student with no help from anyone and just recently lost my job, I love this little mouse more than anything, I suffer from major depression and she's the only thing that makes me genuinely happy. I obviously can not afford at this time to take her to the vet, if worse comes to worst I will over draw my bank out to take her in, but I'm hoping there's something I can do at home for my little baby girl. Please if anyone has any idea or can help in anyway please don't hesitate to email me at sheabababie@hotmail.com
Thank you!
-Amber&MincieFe

sore cat

My cat is very sensitive when it comes to petting him. He loved attention and being pet but now he seems to be real sore to the touch except on his head. What could be wrong with him?

Hair loss an my cat

Is there a way I can treat my cat with a home remedy to stop the itching? Will vinager water hurt her if I spray her with it

stop the itch

What treatment is best will depend on why your cat is itching. Sometimes it is an allergy to something, such as either a food or food additive (my cat was allergic to peas–and pea hulls are often included in dry cat food), or an environmental allergen. Itching can also be caused by fleas or bites from other pests, or bacterial or fungal infections. There are also other conditions, such as certain skin troubles or even stress or boredom. Although diluted apple cider vinegar, preferably unpasteurized, is said to sometimes help certain itching ailments, such as certain allergies, we’d not recommend spraying it, in case it got into kitty’s eyes. Also, there is a small chance that the cat would have a reaction to it, making the problem worse–such as those cats that are allergic to yeast. Instead, you might test on a small area for a few days if you choose to try it. Apply to the coat using a clean cloth or paper towel soaked in the solution. Make sure that it does not touch any cut skin or sores. Hope this helps!

 

My 16 year old cat started

My 16 year old cat started getting like this a year ago. I found out he has arthritis, and the physical touch hurts him. I have been goving him fish oil in his food to help with joint pain.

Help for my 14 year old maltishu

Demi has a cist like growth on right hip. It doesn't seem to be painful, but getting larger. I would like it drained or severed-whichever is safest. Otherwise, she is in good health.

dog cyst

Quite often cysts are just plugged oil glands and will rupture and heal on their own.  Occasionally, they could develop into a tumor which needs to be severed. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult for us to know and a vet has to be involved to diagnose. All the best wishes to Demi and you.

Chlorine Allergy

My one year old puppy was swimming in our pool, and we noticed his belly has red blotches on it. We can only assume he is allergic to the chlorine. What remedy will help him with this? **Keep in mind anything topical he will lick off**

my cat

My cat is 10 yrs old and as somes sores under her sick and a few like little black stones i cant afford to take her to the vet what can i do as she is still eating and drinking well and
going to the toilet and doing both thanks margaret purcell.

black specks

Unfortunately, we can not diagnose your cat, as we are not veterinarians (and we can not see her in person). However, are these black stones very tiny? Flea dirt and fleas themselves can look like little black specks. Some cats are allergic to flea bites, and can develop bald areas and sores. Observe your kitty – does she scratch a lot? Groom excessively? Then it might be due to fleas (cats can wash the itchy area too much and cause more irritation). Even indoor cats can get fleas if a mouse gets into the house. See the article above for suggestions as to how to help pets combat flea infestations (a flea comb is a great start!). There are other pests and diseases that can cause these symptoms, but you might try this first. If the condition gets worse, however, we’d recommend talking to a vet or a 24/7 emergency vet clinic – a technician may be able to advise you at least generally over the phone, without a fee. (Check with the facility first.)

I was most impressed with all

I was most impressed with all the information from this page to help my pets, very helpful thank you.

My dog has a lump on his throat

My 1 year old puppy has a lump on his throat, he won't eat any food i give him, and if he does , he would puke it all up.
And he can't bark too.

I can't afford taking him to the vet,
What home remedies could i do?

Please help.

Puppy

My 4 month old puppy was chewing on a wooden bathroom door. Now the left side of his mouth is swollen and very sore . He won't even let me touch his mouth. What are some home remedies I can do to help him

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