For the love of your pet: Home remedies for your pet

By John Beck
Oct. 18, 2012 at 5:18 a.m.

Are there any home remedies you can recommend for allergies, arthritis, bad breath and anything else that pet owners can treat or maintain without having to step in the veterinary office?

Most of these conditions do require prescription medication, although some can be treated with simple procedures with common household items. These common ailments can be seasonal or in some instances year-round problems.

Allergies are a common problem we see in the spring with flowers, trees and shrubs pollinating all at once irritating their senses; year round with mold, dust, feathers and wool lingering around. Some common signs to look for if you think your pet has allergies is licking at their paws, sneezing more than normal, scratching all over, flaky skin, hair loss, and redness to the skin. Try giving your pet a cool water bath for about 10 minutes to help relieve some of the itchy skin and irritated feet; you can also try to add Aveeno to the bathwater, to help soothe the aggravated skin. It would be best to have Children's Benadryl in your medicine cabinet for emergency outbreaks; consult your veterinarian for dosage.

As a dog/cat ages, one frequent dilemma pet owners have to deal with is arthritis. Arthritis cannot be cured but we can help lighten the aches caused by the disease. Larger dogs are more prone to have arthritic problems with all the weight bearing down on their joints. Smaller framed dogs are also in the same boat with them jumping on and off the couch or bed. It impact to joints.

One simple solution is having your pet in optimal physical condition. Eighty percent of pets in America are overweight. Stairs will help your smaller dogs get on and off the bed and couch without damage. Dogs and cats should have somewhat of an hourglass figure with ribs slightly pronounced. The smallest gestures go a long way with your arthritic pet.

On a cold night, try putting your pet indoors so joints won't be so aggravated in the morning. Try elevating his food and water bowl so he doesn't have to bend all the way down to eat. Who doesn't like a good massage every now and then? It's the same for our beloved companion. Try rubbing his sore spots in small circular motions for about 10 minutes, 2 inches below the joint, working your way up to 2 inches above the joint and back down again. You know you have done some good when your pet looks more relaxed at the end than when you started.

Bad breath is a common complaint pet owners have regarding their beloved companion. Dogs and cats accumulate tarter buildup on the surface of their teeth, which are breeding grounds for bacteria. With mass amounts of tarter on the surface of teeth, bacterial infections throughout the body are almost a certainty. Canned food is one of the main culprits most pets have; try simply switching to dry food instead. Start young puppies/kittens with a pet toothbrush in their mouth massaging their teeth and gums, so when they are older, they won't give you any trouble trying to stick something foreign inside their mouth. A few common toys and treats help pets chip tarter off on their own. Try buying a rubber toy with grooves in it. Raw carrots also help scrape off tarter.

These simple home remedies can help ease the pain, but will not cure the illness. I hope these simple treatments can help your beloved pet, if problems or ailments become more aggressive, please contact me or your local veterinarian.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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