It's a dog's life—and as a pet owner, you want to make sure that life is as long, happy, and healthy as possible. But some puppy problems, like constant barking, yard digging, and furniture chewing, have a tendency to leave us scratching our heads, if not tearing out our hair. While you should always consult your vet before trying any at-home health fixes, many everyday concerns have safe, effective home remedies that may work for your dog.
Save time and money on your pet's care with the following tips from Joey Green's Amazing Pet Cures (Rodale, 2011). Keep reading to discover our favorite natural cures for pets—and see some seriously cute pups! Have questions about any of these remedies? Always ask your vet, who can make sure they're appropriate for your pet.
To Keep Your Dog Hydrated:
Try: Pedialyte. If your dog suffers from mild dehydration—signs include a dry mouth, panting, and a loss of skin elasticity—pour Pedialyte into his water bowl to quickly replace electrolytes. Drinking water will replace most electrolytes, but drinking this solution, formulated for babies, quickly replaces minerals like potassium and sodium.
To Get Stickers and Burs Out Of Fur:
Try: All-Vegetable Shortening. To remove burs from your dog's coat, wear work gloves (to avoid getting pricked by the burs), work a dab of shortening into the affected areas, and pry the burs lose. Shampoo your dog to remove the vegetable shortening.
To Curb Chewing:
Try: BENGAY. To train your dog to stop chewing on a specific object, coat the object with a dab of BENGAY. The smell will repel him.
Try: White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix 5 ounces of White Vinegar, 5 ounces of Apple Cider Vinegar, and 5 ounces of water in a 16-ounce trigger-spray bottle. Shake well. Spray the solution on whatever furniture your dog likes to chew.
To Eliminate Fleas:
Try: Dawn Dishwashing Liquid. To kill fleas on dogs without using toxic chemicals, add a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid under running water to fill a sink or bathtub and give your dog a bath in the soapy solution. Work the lather into your pet's coat and let it soak for more than 5 minutes. The soap penetrates the exoskeletons of fleas, killing them, and works more effectively than some prescribed flea shampoos.
Bonus tip: If your pet gets bubble gum stuck to his paw or fur, you can use a few drops of Dawn to dissolve it.
To Prevent (Another) Accident:
Try: Strategically Trash Bags. To keep your dog off any area of the carpet or floor where he has previously left a mess, cut open a trash bag along the seams and cover the spot with the plastic. Dogs despise the feeling of plastic and will stay away.
To Prevent Ear Infections:
Try: Johnson's Baby Oil. Too much water in your dog's ears can lead to painful earaches, so before giving him a bath, place a cotton ball moistened with Johnson's Baby Oil in each of your pet's ears to keep out water. Just be sure to remove the cotton balls afterward.
To Stop Dandruff:
Try: Bayer Aspirin and Johnson's Baby Shampoo. Unless you're allergic to aspirin, grind six Bayer Aspirin into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle, pour the pulverized aspirin into a bottle of Johnson's Baby Shampoo, and shake well. Lather up your dog with the shampoo. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the salicylic acid in the aspirin time to exfoliate your pet's dead skin cells. Rinse clean with water.
To Discourage Digging:
Try: Tabasco Pepper Sauce and McCormick Ground (Cayenne) Red Pepper. To stop your dog from digging up your yard, mix 4 tablespoons of pepper sauce and 4 tablespoons of cayenne pepper in 1 quart of water. Sprinkle the spicy solution over the area where your dog digs.
To Get Out Chewing Gum:
Try: Olive Oil. If your dog gets bubble gum stuck to his paw or fur, saturate the gum with oil, rub your fingers to soften it, and comb out. Shampoo and rinse.
To Soothe Arthritis Aches:
Try: A sock filled with organic Rice. To soothe arthritis pain, fill a sock with uncooked white rice (not too compactly), tie a knot in the end, and heat it in the microwave for 1 minute. Place the warm sock directly over painful joints twice a day for 15 minutes. The reusable heating pad conforms wherever applied.
To Heal Cuts And Scrapes:
Try: Bag Balm. Quicken healing of cuts, scratches, skin irritations, and paw abrasions by rubbing on Bag Balm, the salve created to soften cow udders.
To Relieve Itchy Paws:
Try: Epsom Salt. If your dog suffers from itchy feet, fill the bathtub with 1 to 2 inches of water (enough to cover his paws) and dissolve 3 cups of Epsom Salt in the water. Stand your dog in the tub for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the Epsom Salt to relieve the itch. Do not let your pet drink the water, since Epsom Salt has a laxative effect. Remove your dog from the tub and gently pat his feet dry.
To Stop Shedding:
Try: Paper Towels. To prevent a dog from shedding all over the house, dampen a sheet of paper towel and run it over his fur. The paper towel collects the loose hair.
Published November 2011 in Prevention Magazine.