We get many questions here at Only Natural Pet Store about dogs and cats with
health issues–from tummy troubles, itchy skin or ear infections to cancer. Sometimes,
however, the condition of the animal is not so clear and the pet owner is not sure
where to turn. A trip to the veterinarian can be stressful and costly, so some folks
hesitate to take their companions to the vet's office right away. Sometimes waiting
is reasonable and an animal can recover from a bout of diarrhea or itchy skin at
home. Sometimes, however, waiting too long can have detrimental consequences for
the animal. Below we have outlined some instances where home care is likely to be
sufficient and some indications that require a trip to the vet. Keep in mind, however,
that this is only a partial list and a rough guideline – whenever in doubt, CALL
your veterinarian’s office.
Minor injuries, scrapes or bruises can sometimes be handled at home. If
an animal has a scrape or wound in an area of an inch or two, first aid may be all
that is needed. Larger or deeper wounds need medical attention and cat or dog bites
always need veterinary attention.
You may need to begin by calming and muzzling the animal to protect yourself
during first aid treatment. For immediate treatment of injuries or trauma we recommend
keeping two products on hand:
HomeoPet Trauma and Pet Essences Emergency Rescue Flower Essences. HomeoPet Trauma jump starts the healing process
and Emergency Rescue Flower Essences treat the emotional trauma that accompanies
most injuries. Both are safe to give even when veterinary care will be needed and
medications may be administered. They should be given very frequently immediately
following the trauma – every few minutes, and then tapered off as the animal begins
For smaller wounds, clip the hair away from the area, gently wash with warm water
to remove debris, and apply an antibiotic cream. Keep the animal from licking the
ointment off by stroking or brushing your pet for 10–15 minutes while the medication
has a chance to do its job. Apply ointment several times a day. You should see healing
beginning and improvement in the area within several days. If you don’t see improvement
then it’s time to go to the vet.
Puncture wounds need to be treated with caution as they can be worse than they
appear and can become infected more easily than surface wounds. Clean and treat
with antibiotic ointment as described above, but call your veterinarian if you see
any swelling or inflammation.
For bruises or minor strains the key is usually rest and protection of the affected
area. Keep the animal confined if necessary and take them outside only on leash.
Some sprains can take weeks to heal, so don’t let the animal become overexcited
or let them begin normal exercise too soon.
Musculo/Skeletal supplements, like Traumagesic by integrative Therapeutics can speed healing of bruising, sprains and
calming remedy such as Only Natural Pet Relaxi-Herb or Love My Pet Stress Relief can help during the confinement period for restlessness
or anxious animals. Provide some good
chews, like Only Natural Pet Bully Sticks, for dogs to help them work off energy that can’t be expended through exercise.
When to see a vet for injuries, scrapes or bruises:
Minor stomach upsets involving diarrhea or vomiting can often be monitored
at home for a day or two before heading to the veterinarian’s office. These symptoms
can often be traced to something simple such as ingesting something unusual (like
the kitchen garbage), anxiety or stress, eating too much or too fast, or exercising
shortly after eating, etc.
For the occasional bout of diarrhea, adding some canned pumpkin and probiotics
to the food and feeding a bland diet for several meals may be all that is required.
Canned pumpkin is an essential in every guardian’s pantry as it can help both diarrhea
and constipation. Cats can get 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon, and dogs can have 1 tablespoon
to ¼ cup or more depending on size.
For occasional vomiting, a short fast (one or two meals), small drinks of water
and a bland diet can do the trick. (A big drink of water can further irritate a
troubled tummy and cause more vomiting). A bland diet would be equal parts of boiled
chicken and white rice–given in small meals. Hamburger and rice can be substituted
with as much of the fat drained as possible - rinsing the meat will help wash away
Handy upset stomach treatments to have on hand for minor stomach upsets include:
Only Natural Pet Tummy Relief,Vetri-Science Fast Balance–GI or
Homeo Pet Digestive Upsets for fast (almost immediate in many cases) relief from
diarrhea and stomach upsets. Slippery elm bark or marshmallow (readily available
at health food stores) can also help calm and sooth the digestive tract.
Cats often vomit or "gag" due to hairballs in their stomach. Long haired cats
seem to have a greater problem since there is just more hair to ingest during the
self-grooming process. Prevention is the best course of action for hairball problems
daily grooming and the addition of
digestive enzymes and
essential fatty acids to the food. For cats who continue to have occasional
hairball problems we suggest keeping hairball treatments, like
Only Natural Pet Laxa-Herb, Only Natural Pet Hairball Chewables, or Pet Naturals of Vermont Hairball Relief Plus on hand.
When to see a vet for stomach upsets:
Animals with chronic loose stools or diarrhea, or chronic vomiting should be
evaluated by a holistic veterinarian for food intolerances, allergies or other underlying
illness. For animals with chronic digestive upsets please see our article, "Inflammatory
Bowel Disease and Other Gastrointestinal Issues."
Itchy Skin, paws or ears can be a sign of allergies or fleas. Itchy skin
is never “normal” – there is no reason that any dog or cat should be chronically
itchy. Dry skin is not “normal” no matter how hot or dry the air where you live.
An animal who begins to scratch consistently needs immediate attention because it
will only get worse if you wait.
First determine whether fleas are the culprit. A
flea comb is an absolute essential tool for every household with a dog or cat.
Even if your dog or cat is an indoor pet, fleas can find them. Check for fleas first
and foremost because if you don’t and the fleas continue to multiply while you start
treating for allergies, by the time you realize you have fleas they will be much
harder to eliminate.
Run the flea comb through your pet’s hair and gather a bit of hair and “dirt.”
Then put this between two damp white paper towels and press them together–if the
“dirt” creates rusty looking spots on the paper towel, then there is a flea somewhere
– most likely a family of fleas – on your companion. If you keep combing, you will
likely trap some of them in the comb. Drown them in SOAPY water – fleas have been
known to jump out of plain water. If your flea test is positive, please read "The
Natural Approach to Flea Control" in our article archives. If the flea test
is negative, then move on to treating for possible allergies. This includes three
Please note: Many high-quality foods now add digestive enzymes and essential
fatty acids to their formulas, but they DO NOT contain sufficient quantities of
either to help eliminate allergic reactions and itchy skin. Please see our article,
Your Pet's Itchy Skin," for more information about solutions for an itchy companion.
When to see a vet for itchy skin, paws or ears:
If home treatment does not alleviate or at least reduce your companion’s itch in
three weeks, a visit or consult with a holistic veterinarian is advised. (We do
not recommend visiting traditional or conventionally trained veterinarians when
allergies are suspected, as the most commonly prescribed conventional treatment
with steroids or antibiotics will only prolong and exacerbate the problem). See
the American Holistic Veterinary
Medical Association website for a list of holistic vets in your area.
Hot Spots can be secondary infections from an animal scratching or licking
an area excessively or they may appear on their own – possibly a result of a mild
abrasion, bug bite or moisture on the skin. They can hide under the hair, so you
will need to clip the area thoroughly to treat them properly. Hot spots need to
be kept clean and dry and you will need to prevent the animal from licking or scratching
the area as much as possible. Apply an antibiotic spray or ointment frequently.
Our favorites are
Only Natural Pet Hot Spot Skin Relief Oil for dogs and
Doc Ackerman's Instant Hot Spot Relief Spray for dogs and cats.
When to see a vet for hot spots:
If the hot spot does not look better within a few days and clear within a week or
so then it’s time to see the veterinarian for further treatment.
Ear Infections are quite uncomfortable and your dog or cat will alert
you by shaking their head, tilting it to one side and/or scratching at the affected
ear persistently or rubbing it along the floor or furniture. Chronic ear infections
are very frequently a sign of allergies. Dogs with “floppy” ears such as hounds
and cocker spaniels are more prone to ear problems as are dogs that love to swim.
These animals may just need more frequent rinses with a good ear cleanser such as
Halo’s Herbal Ear Wash or
Ark Naturals Ears All Right.
The best treatment for most mild, chronic ear infections is to keep the ears
clean and follow the steps outlined above for treating allergies. Use a topical
ear wash to help control symptoms and control bacteria or yeast while you are helping
your companion’s system heal from the inside, try the
Animals' Apawthecary Herbal Ear Rinse which contains goldenseal and olive leaf
to help control bacteria, or
Only Natural Pet Ear Care with Tea Tree Oil which contains Echinacea and Tea
Tree Oil to disinfect and clean the ear canal. Tea tree oil is antifungal and can
be helpful in controlling yeast as well.
Please check out our entire selection of ear washes and treatments. For additional information, please see our article, "Addressing
Eye and Ear Disorders Holistically."
Ear mites can cause the same symptoms as an ear infection. Ear mites are more
common in cats – especially younger cats or outdoor cats. Ear mites are spread by
contact from animal to animal. If you suspect ear mites the only way to confirm
the diagnosis is by having your veterinarian examine the ear discharge under a microscope
to look for mites. The discharge from an ear with a yeast infection can look very
much like that of an animal with mites, so examination without a microscope may
have you treating the wrong thing. For ear mite infestations try
PetAlive Ear Dr. Consistent applications and persistence are important when
treating for mites.
When to see a vet for ear troubles:
ALWAYS see a vet for the following conditions:
Please remember this is only a partial list. When in doubt, call your veterinarian’s
office or local emergency clinic.
For more information about specific health conditions please check our
Holistic Healthcare Library.
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The articles and information in the Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for
informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product.
The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian.
Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff,
guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care