November 3, 2009

There are many cases when expert veterinary attention is absolutely vital for your pet’s health and well-being but there are also some situations when a natural or home remedy can provide an excellent compliment to more conventional care. Of course the correct diagnosis is a must, and any time there is doubt, a consultation with your vet is the only responsible way forward. Once a diagnosis has made, however, a holistic or integrative approach may be appropriate. Discussed here is a selection of common home remedies that may be useful tools in a holistic approach to total health.

Skin & Coat

The condition of the skin reflects underlying conditions within the body. A skin condition may be an indicator that another organ system is out of balance or in a diseased state.

The cause of skin and coat problems may also range from a food intolerance, to contact allergies (sensitivity to floor cleaners or laundry detergents or upholstery protectors for example) or some other underlying cause such as a thyroid condition.

A change to a simple diet and the elimination of grain can be a great first step in combating hot-spots, constant itching, dryness, dry hair and associated problems. In addition, using natural home cleaning products and fragrance free detergents, as well as refraining from spraying anything in your yard for a month or two can help if the problem is a contact allergy.

Supplementation with essential fatty acids is excellent for the skin and coat. Flax, coconut, olive and safflower oils, as well as fish (body, not liver) oils, contain a wealth of fats that support healthy, supply skin and a shiny, lustrous coat.

Herbs that promote normal skin function include nettle, dandelion and burdock which cleanse and replenish this important organ. Seaweed is also rich is many trace minerals, vitamins, amino acids and other compounds that are essential for the skin.

Zinc, magnesium, and the antioxidant vitamins A, C & E are also vital for skin function.

Bumps, Bruises & Strains

Arnica is the top homeopathic remedy for these ailments. It helps to alleviate pain and promote healing. Hypericum is useful for nerve pain.

Vitamins E & C have natural anti-inflammatory properties, and can be added directly to the food.

A gentle massage with lavender essential oil diluted in a carrier oil such as grape-seed, can be very soothing for sprains and spasms.

Digestive Upset

A digestive disturbance is often caused by food, or other consumed substances (dirty water, household objects or substances not intended for digestion often take their toll, especially on younger pups who like to taste everything as they investigate their worlds!) A bland, simple diet can assist in determining the cause of chronic problems. Eliminating grains is very helpful in cases of IBS or other ‘mystery’ disturbances such as intermittent diarrhea and vomiting.

Slippery Elm is one of the most valuable herbs for GI upset; it soothes and protects and helps to regulate the system. Plantain and fennel are useful herbs to try.

Supplementation with a digestive enzyme can help with numerous chronic digestive disturbances. For acute conditions such as sudden diarrhea, the homeopathic remedy, Arsenicum can work wonders. For loss of appetite, a teaspoon of honey, offered alone, may be all that is needed to return things to normal.

Ipecacuanha, a homeopathic remedy, is useful for vomiting and nausea.

Ear Infections

A chronic buildup of wax and debris in the ears, combined with incessant head shaking, scratching and other signs of discomfort, may be the result of a food allergy. Eating grains is one of the most common contributors to long term ear infections.

A topical solution made from apple cider vinegar mixed half and half with warm water can be used on a cotton ball to gently wipe the ears. This solution will help to acidify the ear, inhibiting bacterial growth. Never pour anything into the ears; do not push the cotton in too far and never use a Q-tip or other object that can cause severe long term damage to the delicate, sensitive ear canal.

Once cleaned a natural grain-free diet can help to keep the ears healthy long term, and a monthly ‘maintenance cleaning’ may be all that is required.

Cuts, Scrapes and other Minor Wounds

Never attempt to treat very deep wounds or bites at home, these can become seriously infected. Beware of using rubbing alcohol (which can sting) or peroxide (which can damage cells further) on cuts. Bathing with dilute epsom-salt water may be helpful. Applying topical calendula cream can have very potent healing benefits. Homeopathic phosphorus and arnica can help to stop bleeding.

Anxiety

Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a wonderful natural solution to stress, anxiety and general emotional upset. A few drops can be applied directly to the tongue or to drinking water, to help revive and restore calm.

A tea made from chamomile is also very soothing for nervous, irritable or upset animals. It can be added directly to the food.

Insect Bites & Stings

The homeopathic remedy, Apis is the number one substance to reach for in cases of a bee sting or similar problem. Beware of extreme reactions to stings, such as severe swelling and hives as these can be a warming of anaphylactic shock in which case emergency veterinary care is vital. Benadryl may be helpful for less sever reactions.

The information in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the expert care and advice provided by your veterinarian or other health care provider. Dietary and other health-care changes should be made under the guidance of your vet, particularly when underlying health conditions exist.