Animals Pets 20 Natural Home Remedies for Cats and Dogs By Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. our editorial process Melissa Breyer Updated December 22, 2020 Keller Menke / FOAP / Getty Images Share Twitter Pinterest Email Animals Wildlife Pets Animal Rights Endangered Species From knocking out fleas and ticks to fighting the havoc of hairballs, these simple, all-natural remedies are both planet and pet approved. In 2020, Americans are expected to spend $99 billion dollars on their pets - with $50 billion of that going to live animals, 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 (in the best way, of course) with our pets, it doesn't mean we have to spend boatloads of money on things that can be easily approximated, often in better form, from our medicine cabinets and kitchen cupboards. The following remedies are a start for taking pet treatments into your own hands - with natural ingredients and must less cost to incur - all the while, keeping 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. Bonus points for putting mostly-juiced citrus rinds to use. 2. Repel biters with brewer’s yeast A dose of brewer's yeast mixed with a small amount of garlic in dry food daily will help to repel fleas for dogs. For cats, add brewer’s yeast to food, but don’t use garlic with cats (it can lead to anemia for felines). 3. Drown fleas with…wait for it…water! 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 as well as you can. A gentle shampoo (or natural liquid dish detergent) can help as well. 4. Clean the house to make fleas flee Tidy housekeeping can do a lot to keep the flea community down. Frequently vacuum your pet’s favorite hang-out spot, launder pet blankets, towels and beds, and keep the floor clean with a natural disinfectant. 5. Feed flea babies to the worms Morbid as it may sound, beneficial nematode worms, available at garden shops and pet stores, like to eat flea larva. Keeping them in the garden can help keep outdoor flea populations controlled. 6. Make a rose geranium tick collar Rose geranium essential oil is successful for repelling ticks from dogs. Apply a few dabs to your dog’s collar. This technique is not recommended for cats. 7. Dress your pup in pants to deter ticks When romping in the woods or fields of tall grass, fashion some trousers for your pooch out of old socks, a child’s sweater, a shirt...whatever will impede the ticks from latching on. DIY doggy leg warmers won’t completely eliminate the chance for ticks to hitch a ride, but it can help. 8. Protect the pooch's toots with booties Photology1971 / Getty Images Dog paws and ice/snow/salt are an ouchy mix for dogs. Invest in a double pair of dog booties to protect tender feet from the winter elements or for hiking in rugged terrain. Proud dogs may feel shame, but their paws will thank them. 9. Treat the feet If your dog’s dogs seem sore from rough terrain, hot or cold pavement, or any other reason, check the paws and toes. Remove anything that doesn’t belong there, wash gently, and apply a gentle moisturizer. If bleeding, apply antibiotic ointment and gently bandage them. 10. Spray chamomile Chamomile tea is great for alleviating skin irritations. Make tea, put it in a spray bottle in the refrigerator, and apply it to your pets raw skin. 11. Pamper the pup with vitamin E A dog’s dry skin can benefit greatly from applications of vitamin E oil to affected areas. 12. Kick the itch with oatmeal Use baby oatmeal (or fine-grind your own), add a little water, and rub the paste onto itchy areas. Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water. Seriously good trick. 13. Rehydrate a sick dog Flavorless electrolyte drinks, like sports waters and pediatric drinks, can help a sick dog recoup necessary fluids after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting. (Check with your vet about how much to give.) 14. Make a happy tummy 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. 15. Relax aching eyes If your pet’s eyes seem irritated or infected, a warm chamomile tea bag can be used to soothe them. 16. 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 an Epsom salt soak. Add 1⁄2 cup Epsom 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 just to the local area. 17. 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. 18. Fight hairballs with butter 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. 19. Try juice for the bladder Cats are naturally prone to bladder and urethra issues. Unsweetened cranberry juice can help. 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. 20. Administer prunes or 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 canned pumpkin or diced prunes to food could get things started again. For a severe case, try mixing in a tablespoon of Milk of Magnesia. Note: Prune pits are toxic to animals (as well as humans), so make sure the prunes you serve are pit-free. View Article Sources “Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics.” American Pet Products Association. Perry, Leonard. “Beneficial Nematodes.” University of Vermont. Tabanca, Nurhayat, et al. “Bioactivity-Guided Investigation of Geranium Essential Oils as Natural Tick Repellents.” J Agric Food Chem, vol. 61, 2013, pp. 4101-4107., doi:10.1021/jf400246a “Scented Geranium.” ASPCA. Llera, Ryan, and Ernest Ward. “Care of Open Wounds in Dogs.” VCA Hospitals. Gollakner, Rania. “Chamomile.” VCA Hospitals. Dean, Maggie. “5 Natural Remedies to Help Your Itchy Dog.” American Kennel Club. Reisen, Jan. “Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs.” American Kennel Club. Martin, Alex. “How to Support Your Pet During & After Antibiotics.” AnimalBiome. 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. 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