20 Natural Home Remedies for Cats and Dogs

From knocking out fleas and ticks to fighting the havoc of hairballs, these simple, all-natural remedies are both planet- and pet- approved.

Tabby cat and dog sleeping next to each other on a sofa

Keller Menke / FOAP / Getty Images

Every year, Americans spend upwards of $90 billion on their pets, with about $50 billion of that going to over-the-counter medicine, treatments, and vet care and products. That's $50 billion dollars on things that require packaging, shipping, and are often made with synthetic — if not toxic — ingredients. But just because we are neurotically obsessed with our pets (in the best way, of course), it doesn't mean we have to spend boatloads of money on things that can be easily approximated from our medicine cabinets and kitchen cupboards — and often in better form.

The following remedies are a start for taking pet treatments into your own hands with natural ingredients and much less cost to incur. All the while, they will help you keep your carbon foot/paw print in check.

1. Gross Out Fleas With Citrus

Fleas don’t like citrus. Make your pet’s fur unsavory by rubbing it with a small amount of fresh lemon or orange juice. You win bonus points for sustainability if you use leftover citrus rinds to do it.

2. Drown Fleas With…Wait for It…Water!

Woman bathing her cat with a showerhead
Waitforlight / Getty Images

Fleas aren’t so grabby when deluged with the miracle solution known as water. Dip your pet in a tub of water and rinse them as well as you can. A gentle shampoo (or natural liquid dish detergent) can help as well.

3. Clean the House to Make Fleas Flee

Tidy housekeeping can do a lot to keep the flea community away. Frequently vacuum your pet’s favorite hang-out spot; launder pet blankets, towels, and beds; and keep the floor clean with a natural disinfectant.

4. Feed Flea Babies to the Worms

Morbid as it may sound, beneficial nematode worms like to eat flea larva. Therefore, keeping them in the garden can help control outdoor flea populations. They are available for purchase at most garden shops and pet stores.

5. Make a Rose Geranium Tick Collar

Rose geranium oil is successful at repelling ticks. Apply a few dabs to your dog’s collar. Note that this is not recommended for cats.

6. Dress Your Pup in Pants to Deter Ticks

Fashion some trousers for your pooch to wear when romping through the woods or fields of tall grass. You can use an old pair of socks, a shirt, a child's sweater, or something similar to impede ticks from latching on. DIY doggy leg warmers won’t completely eliminate the chance for ticks to hitch a ride on your dog, but they can help.

7. Protect the Pooch's Toots With Booties

Dog wearing booties and a sweater in the snow
Photology1971 / Getty Images

Ice, snow, and salt can be painful for dog paws. Invest in a double pair of dog booties to protect tender feet from the winter elements. These are also good for hiking in rugged terrain. Proud dogs may feel shame, but their paws will thank them.

8. Treat the Feet

If your dog’s feet seem sore from rough ground, hot or cold pavement, or any other reason, check their paws and toes. Remove anything that doesn’t belong there, wash gently, and apply a gentle moisturizer. If any paws are bleeding, apply antibiotic ointment and gently bandage them.

9. Spray Chamomile for Irritated Skin

Chamomile tea is great for alleviating skin irritations. Make the tea, put it in a spray bottle, and place it in the refrigerator. Once it's cool, you can apply it to your pet's raw skin.

10. Pamper the Pup With Vitamin E

A dog’s dry skin can benefit greatly from a Vitamin E boost. This can be done via an oral supplement or the application of Vitamin E oil directly on the affected areas.

11. Kick the Itch With Oatmeal

If your pet can't stop scratching, oatmeal can help. Use baby oatmeal (or fine-grind your own), add a little water, and rub the paste onto itchy areas. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse it away with warm water.

12. Rehydrate a Sick Dog

Flavorless electrolyte drinks (e.g., sports waters and pediatric drinks) can help a sick dog recoup necessary fluids after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting. Before administering anything, check with your vet about how much to give.

13. Make a Happy Tummy

Cat licking yogurt off of a spoon
Chalabala / Getty Images

Just like people, pets on antibiotics may have stomach problems as the medication wipes out beneficial bacteria as well as the sinister ones. A little yogurt (with live active cultures) with dinner will help the stomach.

The amount of yogurt to give your pet will depend on their size, For cats and small dogs, one tablespoon of yogurt each day is appropriate. Larger dogs should have two to three tablespoons per day. But regardless of size, it's good to start with a small portion to make sure your pet responds well to the addition to their diet. After that, you can move to the suitable amount.

14. Relax Aching Eyes

If your pet’s eyes seem irritated or infected, a warm chamomile tea bag can be used to soothe them.

15. Use Epsom Salt for Sprains and Strains

Your suddenly limping dog may have strained or sprained something playing too exuberantly, so it’s time to try the world famous granny remedy of an Epsom salt soak. Add half a cup of Espom salt to a warm bath and let your dog soak for five minutes, twice daily. If your dog doesn’t agree with you on this method, you can soak a washcloth in Epsom salt and warm water and apply to the local area.

16. Reduce Facial Hot Spots by Switching Bowls

If your pet eats from plastic bowls and suffers from chronic hot spots, irritation, or allergic reactions around the face, the fix may be as easy as changing to a glass or metal bowl. Plastic harbors bacteria and other nastiness that can be very irritating. After you change, also be sure to wash the bowls thoroughly once a week.

17. Fight Hairballs With Butter

Cat. Hairballs. Ick. The grooming brush is your best defense against hairballs, a daily brush followed by a wipe from a moist towel should help considerably. But during high hairball season, a half a teaspoon of butter can really help. (That’s half a teaspoon of butter for the cat, not you.)

18. Try Juice for the Bladder

Cats are naturally prone to bladder and urethra issues. If yours is so, unsweetened cranberry juice to the rescue. Cranberry increases urine acidity resulting in a reduced chance of blockages or infections. You can add cranberry powder to food, or cranberry juice to the water, or give your cat a cranberry capsule. Ask your vet about proper dosages.

19. Administer Canned Pumpkin for Digestion

In older animals, digestion can get a bit bumpy. If your pet is more mellow than usual, seems to be straining, and makes frequent toilet attempts, constipation may be the problem. Adding one to four tablespoons of canned pumpkin to food could get things started again.

For a severe case, try mixing in a tablespoon of Milk of Magnesia.

20. When They Eat Something They Shouldn't Have...

Dogs eat just about anything, and there are many things that cats shouldn't, so if your pet devours something toxic, you can use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Give them one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight, and repeat once if needed. (Call your vet, too.)

And of course, for serious issues, make sure to check with your vet.

View Article Sources
  1. Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics.” American Pet Products Association.

  2. Perry, Leonard.  “Beneficial Nematodes.” University of Vermont.

  3. Tabanca, Nurhayat, et al. “Bioactivity-Guided Investigation of Geranium Essential Oils as Natural Tick Repellents.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 61, no. 17, 2013, pp. 4101–4107.

  4. Llera, Ryan, and Ernest Ward. “Care of Open Wounds in Dogs.” VCA Hospitals.

  5. Gollakner, Rania. “Chamomile.” VCA Hospitals.

  6. Dean, Maggie. “5 Natural Remedies to Help Your Itchy Dog.” American Kennel Club.

  7. Reisen, Jan. “Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs.” American Kennel Club.

  8. Martin, Alex. “How to Support Your Pet During & After Antibiotics.” AnimalBiome.

  9. Simon, John M., and Stephanie Pedersen. What Your Dog Is Trying to Tell You: A Head-to-Tail Guide to Your Dog's Symptoms & Their Solutions. St. Martin's Publishing Group. 2014.

  10. Gottlieb, Bill. Health-Defense How to Stay Vibrantly Healthy in a Toxic World. Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. 2015.

  11. Zucker, Martin. The Veterinarians' Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Healing Techniques from the Nations Top Holistic Veterinarians. Penguin Random House. 2000.

  12. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease.” American Veterinary Medical Association.

  13. Dorsch, Roswitha, et al. “Urinary Tract Infection and Subclinical Bacteriuria in Cats: A  Clinical Update.”  Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, vol. 21, 2019, pp. 1023-1038., doi:10.1177/1098612X19880435

  14. Senior Pet Care FAQ.” American Veterinary Medical Association.