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

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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!!!



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

The Editors's picture

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: 
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

The Editors's picture

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?

Ear scratching can have

The Editors's picture

Ear scratching can have several causes. Ear mites (check for coffee-grain-like, crusty substances in the ear--this might be their debris; the parasites themselves are too tiny to see) can cause itching. There is medicine that the vet can give you that can get rid of these pests fairly easily.
Fleas can also cause itching. There are also medicines or shots that the vet can give you to get rid of these pests. A flea comb used daily helps to get rid of adult fleas on your pet.
Sometimes cats will scratch their ears and other places if they have an allergy--it is often hard to determine the cause (food, pollen, some other allergen); your vet might be able to help you narrow it down, as well as give your cat a medicine that will soothe the itch temporarily, to keep it from scratching. You can have your cat tested for common allergens at the veterinarian, although these blood tests are expensive.
Also, if your cat's claws are long, just a normal itch might cause a small wound; this in turn might get infected or just itch, so the cat scratches again, cause it to become worse. If you can, be sure to keep your cat's claws trimmed (look online for how to do this safely, using cat claw trimmers--you want to avoid trimming into the quick of the claw). Here is a good video on how to do this:
Also, sometimes something may get lodged in the ear canal, or infections, such as yeast or bacterial infections, can occur there, that require medical attention.
It's best to take your cat to the vet any time that it is in discomfort. If the itchy ears do not go away in a day or two, or the wound does not seem to be getting better, it also is advisable to seek a vet. Or, you could try calling your vet; they might be able to tell you how to clean and protect the wound, perhaps using medicine from a pet supply store, and might be able to tell you other signs to watch for. Hope your kitty feels better soon!

I need help with my maltese

I need help with my maltese who has sizures according to the vet but what happens is he starts to shake and and his head is drawn sideways and stays there...his legs cramp up and tremble- what I have to do is massge his back up and down over abd over until the episode subsides- the problem is it's happening over 5-6 and more times per day...I'm really woried and vets only give me medicine then another medicine and I really can't afford this and more importantly the harmful side effects it causes...

we had a Maltese that had

we had a Maltese that had seizures his entire life. We started making his food - lean groundbeef-oatmeal-carrots and flaxseed. If you don't want to do this just sprinkle flaxseed on his food. Our vet also said to give him a drop of Karo syrup every day to boost his sugar level. His seizures almost stopped entirely. He died at 17. Good luck


You can also rub CBD oil on the bottom of him paws. It stops the seizures right away. I use it on my 8 year old Old English Massive.

hi, i have several cats. i

hi, i have several cats. i think i have a carrier in the bunch. they keep getting upper resperatories. i get antibiotics for them and it seems to help temporarily but comes back in a few months. i live on fixed income so i was hoping there was something i could do at home all natural. also ssomeone told me to put selenium on there food and it would help. please help meand my babies.

Upper respiratory infections

The Editors's picture

Upper respiratory infections can be common in multi-cat households, and it is often difficult to control the spread. We are not veterinarians, so unfortunately we can not suggest any medication. You might talk to your vet (even over the phone) as to any natural treatments, supplements, etc., that might help. In general, if one of your cats gets sick, it will help to isolate him or her from the others. If symptoms start to get worse, other than a mild sniffle, it is best to take that cat to the vet so that you can get medicine and advice to fight the infection. If not treated, depending on the cause, certain respiratory infections may cause serious problems, such as pneumonia. If the infection is viral (as several are), it is likely it will pop up from time to time (and antibiotics, which only attack bacteria, will not help). Some medications or supplements can help to suppress certain viral outbreaks; it will depend on what actual disease is affecting your cats. Some cats can be carriers, depending on the cause. To help with general health, keep the cats in a stress-free environment as much as you can. Wash your hands before touching each cat, especially after handling one that is sick. We hope that you find a remedy that will keep your kitties healthy and happy soon!

Our dog is a wet mouth cocker

Our dog is a wet mouth cocker with a chronic mouth yeast infection. I have vet prescribed wipes to use daily to help it, but I can't afford to keep buying them and wondered if there is a home remedy I could wipe his mouth with to keep this infection in check.

Did the vet have you treat

Did the vet have you treat the cause not just the symptoms? Get rid of ANY sugar in your pet's diet. The yeast feeds on sugar. Switch to all-protein food. And NO table scraps.

Add Epson salt if you notice a yeast infection starting to break out. Treat with 1/16 teaspoon Epson salt in 1 liter of non-chlorinated drinking eater for 2 to 3 days.

You could also try to add yogurt to his food to add "good bacteria."

Thanks for the ideas

Thanks for the ideas

Hi, we bought a puppy not

Hi, we bought a puppy not more than two weeks, his only 1 and half month. Our problem is when we bought him I already notice the small wound in his tummy really small like a period, and he has no fleas or thick and now since he has a long nails and we're afraid to cut them on our own because we might hurt him, and them he started scratching those little wounds and were surpirse on what had happens next. Those little wounds get bigger in his tummy and now it is more worst than before it has an awful smell already and right now i don't have a budget to take him to the vet. And his tummy get bigger than before like a ballon. But he is eating ( always hungry) and now drinking water.. But those wound, I don't know how to treat them, I put betadine for human wound but that seems do nothing to help heal those wounds.. Can you help us please?? We don't want to loose him.

yesturday was when i began to

yesturday was when i began to notice my 2 1/2 yr.old male chiahuahua would not eat.till tonight i got him different brand of dog food.boy as soon as i served him a plate,he woofed it down and cleaned his plate. But just as he was all day today,he continued to not be normally his active self.throughout the day,he stay he just slept.periodically,he would reach out to me to pick him up so that i could just hold him in my arms and pamper him with love.i also noticed that his eyes look different.the eyes seem to appear to move slowly and at times his eyelids would tend to appear as if he were drowsy.im concerned and want to know if it sounds like maybe either one of these two possibilities?#1- could it or does this sound like possible symptoms of parvo? Or #2-possible symptoms of coming in contact with poison? The reason for this is cuz we unfortunately,have recently learned that our home has invaded by bedbugs.so we have been using insectisidal chemicales on the furniture,carpets on EVERYTHING!im wondering if he might have laid on the area that had been sprayed the day before? Or walked on a floor area that had the spray on it and later got some in his mouth whenlicking his paws or something? Please help! Hes my baby and i cant even imagine loseing him! Hes like my child and i love him so much! Thank you!its just me and him,we live alone.im really struggling financialy so i dont have funds to take him to a vet,thank you so much!...leanna

Hi my cat has a rather large

Hi my cat has a rather large scab on his neck. I think it might be an allergic reaction from the metal bell on his collar as it's only developed since I put one on, he has no other scabs anywhere else and is defleaed monthly so I don't think it's flea allergies although he does get them but his flea treatment takes care of that. What can I use for the scab and is there an alternative to metal bells? He needs them so he can't kill birds, he's lethal, had to put 2 on him! Thanks!!

Some cats can be allergic to

The Editors's picture

Some cats can be allergic to plastic, too. We'd suggest having your vet check your cat to make sure it is an allergy and not an infection, scratch, bite, etc. Bug bites may also cause sores, and can also cause allergic reactions. (Is your cat scratching?) Be sure that the collar isn't too tight and abrading your cat's skin, which can also cause a scab and fur loss.
As for deterring cats from catching birds, there are a few methods, including motion detector sprinklers (placed a distance away from the feeder), ultrasonic repellents, citrus peels, etc. There is also something called a CatBib, which, according to the literature, seems to be effective, but not all cat owners would feel comfortable putting this on their pet; it does say that it doesn't hamper any other activity of the cat. We have no experience with it, however. We would think that, if you suspect a metal allergy, there might be a plastic bell, or at least a plastic bell housing, option for cat collars, the same as you can find little plastic bells in cat toys. You might try searching the Web for that. Always use a safety collar on your cat, so that if the collar gets caught on a branch or something, it will break so that your cat won't choke.
Hope this helps!

Sometimes pets can be

Sometimes pets can be allergic to metal like we can. It may be the nickel in it. You might try adding some material between it and the skin or maybe a plastic bell like they have for pet birds.
I wish you luck!

My dog is scared of

My dog is scared of thunder.Do U have a natural remedy that can help him with this? Thank U Patsy Ferguson. pferg53@gmail.com

For a dog afraid of thunder:

The Editors's picture

For a dog afraid of thunder: There are different approaches that you could try. For example, your vet or pet stores sell plug-in diffusers which release a pheromone that is similar to the one that mother dogs release when their puppies are nursing.
Also, you could also try to desensitize your pet with music CDs. Play it quietly and then slowly start to turn up the music so that it plays very loudly.  Ask your dog to relax and reward your dog for relaxing. However, do not reward or pet your dog when it is scared or you reward that behavior.
You can also work on training your dog to relax and lay down on command when it's not thundering.
Finally, there are medications; speak to your vet. All the best!

.dog afraid of thunder..

I have an elderly poodle/schnauzer mix who becomes a shaking, fearful dog with thunder/lightening. I have found "composure", a vet developed tranquilizer that can be purchased online to be very effective. It's less expensive online than at the vet's.

What I started doing with my

What I started doing with my dogs when they were puppies was to play ball with them whenever the weather seemed as though it would storm. Doing something pleasurable when a storm is coming in helps them associate that type of weather with good things. Give treats and praises at this time, and ignore any scared behavior. Try to to redirect puppy to ball or other fun activity if he seems scared. Kind like with a toddler. When they fall, if you baby them, they start to cry, but if you act like it was a funny thing, they play off of your reaction.

My aunt swears by the thunder jacket, which is a doggy jacket that fits snug on them. I have never used but I know several people say that it has helped their dogs with thunder. Maybe it's like swaddling a baby.

We have been fostering a dog

We have been fostering a dog for over a year now. She is not that old maybe 3 to 4. She was found starved living in filth... I agreed to bring her home to get out of shelter to gain weight. Early vet check said she had no peripheral vision. Se has been here right at a year. Thriving.... the last several months she started running more and more into things. Finally she is not 100% blind. I had her scheduled to see Dr. Miller an eye specialist for animals. My husband got laid off the same week. Ive had a dog years ago same situation. After awhile another vet I worked for then she and I decided the only way to alleviate her pain was to remove both eyes... best decision ever. She was a new dog afterward. I need to get Roxy who is now my dog due to foster failure... I need to find out first can anything at all be done to save her eyes. If not and pain cannot be controlled I will have the same vet before remove her eyes. A last resort. It immediately takes the pain away. Roxy is not very old at all. Starvation is most likely the cause. As she is a mixed breed at 80 lbs. I no longer work for a vet. Roxy is spayed... extremely loved. The vet that preformed the eye surgery before on our other dog is willing to do it again for Roxy. I do not qualify for care credit. My husband and I can pay very little now but once his job starts back can pay more. He is a welder in a union. We have 2 children one in college one planning to go. We pay all his bills and some of hers. We own several other pets. All spayed and neutered. Even our rabbit. All rescues or I agreed to take my elderly friends 3 to be exact their beloved pets... they passed within one year all three. I kept my promise. They see a vet when needed but Roxy's situation is more urgent... any kind of guidance would be sush an answered prayer. I cannot nor will not let her be in pain. The other dog that went thru the exact same procedure... was a completely new dog after.

Hi! My dog has a lump under

Hi! My dog has a lump under his right eyelid. Watching it very carefully, it does not seem to grow any. In fact it looks a little smaller at times but then it is right back again the size it was. It looks soft. The vet said it would cost $200 to remove it by laser. I am on a fixed income and don't have the money. Any suggestions on what it might be and what I could try first? Thank you for any any suggestions.