Home Remedies for Pets

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

May 13, 2020

Here are some valuable home remedies for dogs and cats that can keep your pet happy and healthy. From getting rid of fleas to caring for dry skin, let’s get those dog tails wagging and cats purring. 

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.

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.
  • 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.


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.


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

  • 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.


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.


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.


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

Leave a Comment

Cortisone Spray

The Editors's picture

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.


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

The Editors's picture

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.


The Editors's picture

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!

Cat Meowing Constantly

Like an, 'Aorrow'? It's usually a call from my cat. For mine It means it needs assistance. You can try following them. Maybe they lost a toy somewhere or one of their regular napping or hiding spots was altered in some way? Maybe a treat was thrown somewhere they cant reach. Sometimes they want a specific person to feed them (give them a little more kibble even if the bowl is full and see!) or give them attention. Sometimes they're trying to call you, to them. I hope this helps!

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!

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

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

The Editors's picture

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.


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

The Editors's picture

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?

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,

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.