Home Remedies for Pets

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

October 24, 2018
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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 help 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?

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Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

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

The Editors's picture

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

The Editors's picture

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

sore mouth

We’d strongly recommend that you talk to a vet about this. Even over the phone, they might be able to give you some advice as to anything you might be able to do at home to make your pup more comfortable, what symptoms to watch for that indicate the the condition is worsening, and generally how to keep him safe. There are also 24/7 emergency animal clinics that sometimes offering free advice over the phone for less serious issues. Some possible concerns is that there might be a cut, or even an embedded splinter, that has the potential to become infected; he also may have hurt a tooth. It’s best to have a vet take a look. We hope that your puppy feels better soon!

My dog seems to have

My dog seems to have respiratory issues lately. She acts like she is always gasping for air and makes a grunting noise. What can I do for her?

breathing issues

The Editors's picture

There are several reasons why a dog might be having trouble breathing, from mild to serious. We’d suggest that you take your dog to the vet to find out what it might be, especially if your dog exhibits other symptoms, such as the breathing difficulty persists, congestion, discharge in the nose, lack of appetite, lethargy, etc. One of the more benign possibilities might be paroxysmal respiration, aka pharyngeal gag reflex (sometimes called reverse sneezing, although it isn’t a sneeze). You can find information about this online, and how to help your dog feel better during these spasms. Other possibilities might include allergies, asthma, heart conditions, heartworms, infections, etc. We hope that your dog feels better soon!

my outdoor/indoor. cat

he has 2 strange almost like welts or bites on his thigh , one came 2 days ago, now he has another, I have been swabbing neosporine, I cant afford to bring him to the vet...is there any over the counter other than that? I've had to bring in a mobile vet before, but that costs alot, and can't even get him in a carrier, any suggestions?
thankyou

cat bites

The Editors's picture

Neosporine can help minor wounds for cats for short periods. Be sure that the cat does not lick off the ointment and ingest it, and stay away from formulas that include pain relief. Make sure that the area is clean–you can use soap and water to disinfect the area, and wipe using a clean cloth. If the cat develops a fever, abscess, lethargy, or lack of appetite, it implies that the wound might be infected, and the cat will need more intensive care. Even though you can not afford to go to the vet at this point, you might be able to ask their advice over the phone; also, some vets also have an emergency fund or payment plans to help those who need immediate assistance. In addition, there might be 24-hour emergency animal clinics in your area that you can call for general advice as well. They might be able to tell you things to watch out for, some treatments that may help your cat to heal at home, etc. Hope this helps!

my dog

My dog has vaginal adema for about a month now I need some home remedies to help me plz do you have any ideas that could help

Toy Poodle both blind and deaf

I have a toy poodle that is the love of my life. She has cataracts and has become blind in both eyes. Recently, she has become deaf as well. She seems to do well in the house, but is now afraid to be outdoors. We aren't sure how old she is because she was a rescue when we adopted her 7 years ago. The vet is guessing between 12 and 14. I am struggling as to whether we are doing the humane thing by keeping her alive. She seems happy when we feed her, and when she goes to bed with us at night. Other than that, she mostly sleeps. This dog is my everything (Lexie). I'm just not sure what to do. She also seems to be coming down with some painful arthritis which I am treating with massages at home. Any advice. Thank you.

Sleeping for most of the day

The Editors's picture

Sleeping for most of the day is normal for older dogs, and it sounds like Lexie is still interacting with you, and eating.

This is a very difficult time in a pet owner’s life. It is a very personal and painful decision as to if/when to put a pet to sleep. My vet tells me to review the quality of life of the pet. Is s/he happy much of the time? Comfortable enough overall? Is s/he eating, digesting things well, etc.? Interacting, at least a little? Will s/he encounter much pain soon? Sometimes, one just knows when the right time is. Other times, it is not easy to interpret what our pet is telling us. Only you and your family, with clues from your dog, can determine the best answer for your pet.

As to arthritis, perhaps ask the vet if Lexie can handle glucosamine supplements (there are capsules for dogs–just mix the powder in with food). Some pets respond to it. It worked wonders for my first cat, but it didn’t really help my second.

Best wishes,

Heidi
The Old Farmer’s Almanac team

I give my Cocker Spaniel

I give my Cocker Spaniel baths in Dawn dish soap. Makes her coat soft and shiny, and it helps prevent fleas.

We got a beagle from the

We got a beagle from the pound and he was suffering from a few hot spots. We were able to cure them using olive oil once or twice a day. He would lick at it for a bit. He'd quickly tire of the oiliness on his tongue and quit. He was never able to lick it all off and the hot spots would be cooled by the oil. They were all gone in little more than a week.

My cat had a very swollen paw

My cat had a very swollen paw yesterday, she couldn't walk on it and was in a lot of pain. While I was trying to figure out what to do about it, I mixed some catnip in with her food, because I thought it would help with the pain and stress. Within a couple of hours the swelling went down and puss started draining. I put a little catnip in with her dinner too. This morning I was going to try washing it with water with a few drops of tea tree oil in it, to keep it from getting infected, but it looked so good I decided to wait. It looks mostly pink now, like a wound that is healing nicely. She is an outdoor stray that adopted me and she is currently nursing kittens, so I'm just going to keep a close eye on her and keep putting a little catnip in her food until she is healed. I am really amazed at how well this worked - natural, easy, free (since I had catnip), fast, and with no bad side effects - it seems kind of miraculous to me!!!

I HAVE TWO DOGS ON WEINER DOG

I HAVE TWO DOGS ON WEINER DOG A DOBERMAN..THEY BOTH HAVE WORMS IN THE SKIN BETWEEN THE HIDE AND MUSCLE I HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING NOW I HAVE THE SAME THING AND SO DOES MY HORSE...I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO..THE VET. TELLS ME IT A PROBLEM WITH THE SKIN,,,BUT ITS ACTUALLY NOT ON THE SKIN ITS UNDERNEATH THE SKIN AND HIDE. IF YOU COULD GIVE ME ANY SUGGESTIONS I WOULD TRUELY THANK YOU FOREVER
PATRICIA

Hello this is Sandy I have a

Hello this is Sandy I have a chihuahua and today 7-10-15 I noticed that she has started to shake her body off constantly and sneezing continuously.she is a mother to three puppies and she is old in age this afternoon I Fed her some turkey ham because I had nothing here to give her and when I was making me a salad she was around me showing signs of being hungry and my husband had left in a hurry and forgot his phone and I have epilepsy I can't drive so I gave her the turkey ham and I took a nap. My husband came home a couple hours later and I was still asleep and when I woke I seen my chihuahua continuously sneezing and shaking her body off and I told my husband what I had fed her and he moved some that was left inhher feeding tray and washed her tray and she stopped sneezing but is still shaking off her body but not as much as she was.what could it be?

A chihuahua often shakes

A chihuahua often shakes because it is cold. Their small bodies do not retain warmth well. They also shake when excited or anxious. However, there is a small possibility of something more serious such as low blood sugar or a kidney disease. Here's a page about some of the more serious conditions: 
http://www.petchidog.com/chihuahua-shakes 
Of course, we are not vets and suggest you see a medical professional for accurate advice.

Why would someone put rubber

Why would someone put rubber bands on a mother dogs tits.. They seem to be wrapped pretty tight.. She has two without rubber bands and has two puppies.. Isn't this considered animal cruelty.. I need to know it has bothered me since I saw the dog. Should I call animal control or my local police department?

my dog has had a big sore on

my dog has had a big sore on her body for about 3 weeks and then it burst.i thought it would get better,but it didn't. she keeps on scratching it and it won't get better no matter how much medication i put on it. could you please help me?

Do you understand why your

Do you understand why your dog had a sore? It could be an infection but it could also be the symptom of something more serious. We'd advise seeing a vet.
To keep a dog from making a wound worse, you'd normally have the dog wear an Elizabethan collar or inflatable collar.

Honey please take the baby to

Honey please take the baby to see a veterinarian a.s.a.p. you wouldn't like it if the infection gets into the bloodstream or even _ worse.

My male cat keeps scratching

My male cat keeps scratching at his ear. It has caused him to have a small open wound. I can tell he is uncomfortable, but I am not sure what to do to help it heal and to keep him from keep scratching. What could cause this to keep recurring and what can I do to treat this?

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