When your pet is feeling under the weather, a visit to the vet can sometimes be expensive. Before you decide to bite the bullet and head to the clinic, there are some simple, time-tested techniques, for a range of symptoms, you can try at home.
Many pets suffer from mild allergies or irritation caused by dry skin. An oatmeal bath is a remedy for itchiness that has been around for many years. You may remember being treated with an oatmeal bath yourself, when suffering from chicken pox as a child! Baby oatmeal cereal comes finely ground, or you can blend raw oatmeal yourself. Stir the oatmeal into a bath of warm water and allow your pet to soak. It’s like a home spa treatment for your dog, and they will find it very soothing on their itchy skin.
Obviously, if your pet has suffered a serious wound, they should be taken to the vet immediately. However, if their injury is mild, or they have a small swelling, strain or sprain, you could try a bath of Epsom salts. Epsom salt and warm water is known to reduce swelling and promote healing. This should be done twice a day for five minutes. If this is not convenient or practical, you could try making a homemade heat pack, drenching a towel in Epsom salts and warm water, and applying directly to the wound.
Fleas hate citrus. If you spray your pet with lemon water, it may help keep the fleas at bay. For maximum impact, pour boiling water over lemons and allow to soak overnight. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and apply all over your pet (avoiding the eyes, of course).
Another time-honoured technique for repelling fleas is to add a little powdered Brewer’s yeast to your pet’s food. If you are able to get hold of Brewer’s yeast tablets, wrap in meat or cheese to ensure your dog gulps it down without a fuss. Garlic is also ideal for this purpose, but should only be given to dogs, as this can lead to anemia in cats.
If your poor pet has had a bout of sickness or diarrhoea, their electrolyte levels may need topping up. Sports drinks can be useful in replenishing your pet’s sick tummy. You can also prevent, or treat, upset tummies with probiotics. A daily probiotic tablet, or a small bowl of natural live yoghurt, will top up the levels of good bacteria in your pet’s gut. This is especially helpful after a course of antibiotics, when bad bacteria that can lead to illness, are in high numbers.
Cats in particular are very prone to bladder and urinary tract problems. Add some cranberry juice to your cat’s water, or get them to take a daily cranberry supplement. Cranberry increases the acidity of urine, which minimises the chance of blockages or infections.
As our best friends and companions, our pets deserve to be treated with the same care and attention we reserve for ourselves. Remember that they, too, suffer from occasional illnesses, pains and general discomfort. It is our job to make sure that discomfort is minimised, and keep our precious pets safe and happy. If that can be done without an expensive vet visit, all the better!