I remember my first couple of years as a dog owner. At the first sign of trouble, I’d race Oscar to the vet.
Throwing up after a meal? “Quick… to the vet’s office!” His poop looks a little runny? “There’s no time to put on pants—we’ve got to get him to the vet!” He looks sad? “Just to be safe, we’d better go to the vet.”
After every visit, Oscar was given a clean bill of health or diagnosed with a common issue that would have cleared up on its own. As you can imagine, the vet bills started to pile up and I’m pretty sure that the vet techs thought I was ridiculous.
Over time, I’ve picked up a few tips that come in handy when Oscar starts exhibiting signs of common problems. Some I’ve learned while writing articles, others came from pet-owner friends. But before I go into these home remedies, please remember that if your dog is in pain or has been showing constant symptoms (excessive diarrhea, frequent vomiting, extended loss of appetite), you need to get him to the vet for medical treatment right away.
For the more common stuff, check these first:
When your dog gets an upset stomach, chamomile tea works wonders. It boasts natural disinfecting effects that can settle stomachs and relieve gas. You can even use the tea (served cold) as a way to relax anxious pets. Plain yogurt is also great for stomach issues. It will put your dog’s intestines in balance, so that bad bacteria are kept at bay. If you want to prevent or reduce this kind of problem, give your dog a spoonful of yogurt as a treat a few times a week.
Bad breath can signal a digestive issue, but if you don’t brush your dog’s teeth, the culprit might be a simple matter of hygiene. Give your dog a carrot to chew on. This veggie works as a mild abrasive that helps remove plaque from teeth and freshens breath.
Small cuts can turn into big problems if left untreated. You can help with an antibiotic topical ointment such as Neosporin—just apply a small amount to the area two or three times daily until it’s healed. Be sure to clean and disinfect the cut before applying the cream.
There are tons of bur-bearing plants in my neighborhood, and every so often Oscar gets them stuck in his fur. Usually, I notice right away and pull them out. But there have been times when I’ve missed a few on his paws. Before I could get them, Oscar tried to take care of the problem by licking them out. He got them out of his fur, but a couple of hooks got caught in his throat. All it takes to get out of this sticky situation is a small piece of bread dipped in peanut butter or olive oil to dislodge the burs—works like a charm!
This can flare up any time of the year, but itchy skin seems to be a bigger problem in the winter months. I don’t spend my money on fancy shampoos—instead, I grind up some oatmeal and use it to soothe Oscar’s dry skin. I stir a cup of the ground oatmeal into warm bath water and let him soak for 15 to 20 minutes, then rub the oatmeal into his fur before rinsing.
Swelling and Bumps
When you notice a bump or swelling on your dog’s body, don’t panic. While playing or running around, your pooch may have tripped or run into something. Try Epsom salts or a heat wrap to bring the swelling down.
Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.