I would guess that you are reading this particular article, because you either cannot afford a vet visit at this time, it is after hours, you cannot reach a vet, are tired of running to the vet for every little thing, do not trust your vet, or are simply curious. I am happy to help you avoid tragedy. First you should always run through the following checklist to be sure your dog is not suffering from anything more dangerous than you think or more than you are prepared for. Second, you should remember that your vet is not the enemy. Though I do not regularly take my animals to the vet, he is still my first call when I am at a loss or scared. I have had many situations in which my vet was not a possibility and I needed to fall back on research, experience, and trial and error. I cannot promise a miracle cure to whatever ails your dog or cat and these remedies are not a replacement for your vet in emergencies. I hope these remedies are a better life for your pets and a closer link from you to them. And if it helps you to extend their life through the use of less chemicals or helps to lessen your vet bills than I am grateful my knowledge has been of service.
- Check her temperature with a rectal thermometer.
- Normal temp is between 99.5 and 102.5. A too high temperature is 105-106 and can indicate infection.
- Check for hydration.
- Pinch the skin on the shoulder and let go. If the skin springs back quickly she is fine. If the skin slowly spreads back or sticks in place she is dehydrated. The slower it retreats the worse she is.
- Has she eaten in the last few hours?
- Has she drank in the last few hours?
- Check her breathing by placing your ear to her chest. Rattling or congested breaths are to be worried over.
- How active has she been and is she now?
- Is she able to sleep comfortably or is she restless?
- Is she walking or running normally?
- When was the last time she relieved herself? Is she struggling to do so?
- What color is her tongue? Pink is good, white is very bad as she is not getting enough oxygen.
- Is there any rectal, urinary or vaginal discharge?
The following list includes drugs you may have on hand and how to care for minor injuries, but I also have information on natural remedies. If you would like more information on prescription medications there is a great site that lists the most common prescriptions and their purpose. I encourage you to study it before blindly accepting what you are told and to be well educated. That site can be found at Pet Education. Please remember that any OTC (over the counter) drugs can harm your dog. Most drugs acceptable for dogs will harm a cat. They should be administered in smaller weight doses than children and no more than once or twice daily. There are OTC drugs that are safe for your pet and others that will cause permanent damage or kill; such as Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Motrin and Ibuprofen. Safe OTC drugs and dosage amounts are listed below. Please be extra careful to read the active ingredients before giving to your pet. Any other drugs I have not listed can cause serious damage, so stay away from combination drugs!
- Aspirin- Pain & swelling
- only safe for dogs; should be administered at 5 mg per pound no more than twice a day.
- Ascriptin- Pain & swelling
- safe for dogs and cats; 5 mg per pound no more than twice a day for dogs and every three days for cats.
- Benedryl- Allergies
- only safe for dogs; 1-3 mg per pound is enough to relieve symptoms; no more than twice a day.
- Chlortrimeton- Allergies
- safe for dogs and cats; 2 mg per 10 lbs of weight 2-3 times daily per dog and half the dosage per cat.
- Antibiotic Ointments & Hydrocortisone- Cuts, abrasions & skin irritations
- safe for dogs and cats; applied as much and as often as necessary, external use only.
- Pedialyte- Dehydration
- safe for dogs and cats; give as much and as often as needed to rehydrate from vomiting and diarrhea.
- Pepto Bismol- Nausea
- only safe for dogs; 1 tsp per 20 lbs of weight every 4-6 hours.
- Pepcid AC- Nausea and gas
- safe for dogs and cats; 1 mg per 4 lbs of weight 1-2 times daily.
- Kaopectate- Nausea
- safe for dogs and cats; 1 tsp per 10 lbs of weight every 4 hours.
- Milk of Magnesia- Nausea
- only safe for dogs; 1 tsp per 10 lbs of weight (2-5 ml per pound) every 4-6 hours.
- Tagamet- Ulcer & stomach acid
- safe for dogs and cats; 1 mg per 4 lbs of weight 1-2 times daily.
- Dramamine- Motion sickness & calming
- safe for dogs and cats; 12 mg /small dogs and cats; 25 mg /medium dogs and 50 mg /large dogs one hour before traveling.
- Gas X & Beano- Flatulence
- safe for dogs and cats; 30 mg /small dogs and cats, 60 mg /medium dogs, 125 mg /large dogs once daily. If you suspect your dog of bloat give a double dosage of Gas X and run to the vet.
- Vaporizers- Congestion & kennel cough
- safe for dogs and cats; use as often and as long as necessary, external use only.
- Glucosamine with/without Chondroitin sulfate- Joint pain & arthritis
- safe for dogs and cats; 500 mg /cats and small dogs, 1000 mg /medium dogs and 1500 mg /large dogs.
- Hydrogen Peroxide- Induce vomiting
- safe for dogs and cats; 1-10 tsp, per size, given orally once. Do not repeat if not effective and not effective for cleaning wounds.
- Little Noses & Saline sprays- Sinus infections, colds, and dry nasal cavities
- safe for dogs and cats; One spray in each nostril can be used as often as needed or recommended on bottle.
- Robitussin DM- Coughing
- safe for dogs and cats; .5 ml every 8 hours. Only the DM product!! Effective for calming coughs associated with kennel cough.
There are also many non drug products that can be very beneficial to the health of your pet and I have them listed below as well as their purposes. Make sure you remember that even natural home remedies must be administered in their proper form and proper dosage or you will make your dog sick. If you are searching more than this site for remedies please be careful to find more than one site to back up any particular remedy before you try it. You never know if you are learning from someone who actually knows what they are talking about or someone whom is passing on hearsay. Be very wary of any thing suggested on a forum. Take the time to find a creditable website to back it up before you try their suggestions unless it is suggested by someone with veterinary training.
- Corn syrup- Low blood sugar & low appetite
- I recommend a half to full teaspoon for every ten pounds. In tiny puppies only a drop for every 5 ounces. It can be administered as often as every four hours.
- Antibacterial Soap- Cleaning wounds
- do not use hydrogen peroxide, there is nothing better than soap to safely and effectively clean a wound.
- Bag Balm- Cuts, rashes, irritations, itchy spots, bald spots & other skin problems-
- this is my trusted cure all skin product. It clears up every problem your dogs skin may have and does so safely and naturally. Can be ingested and used as often as needed. It helps encourage wounds to scab faster.
- Salt water- Infection
- Salt water is made by mixing 1/8 tsp salt with 1 cup of boiling or hot water, then cooling to a warm temperature before dipping a cloth in the mixture for cleaning. Do not use for open wounds, it really stings.
- Apple cider vinegar- Kills ringworm
- safe for dogs and cats; use a cloth and dab it on the ringworm to kill the fungus. Do several times daily until problem clears; it may take some time.
- Olive/Coconut Oil- Constipation
- safe for dogs and cats; .5 ml 1-3lbs, 1ml per 3-10 lbs. Olive oil is good but Coconut is better.
- Lecithin- Constipation
- safe for dogs and cats; there is really no dosage as it comes in capsules found in the supplement isle of and dog supply store.
- Vitamin D Goat Milk (upset stomachs and not eating)
- safe for all animals and humans; comes canned in the baking isle or fresh with other milks, administer as needed by giving full strength to weak adults/ older puppies or (if using canned) diluting half milk with half warm water and dropper feeding to newborn pups that refuse to nurse. If using fresh it can be given straight. For whatever reason your dog is too upset to eat, the goat milk contains enough nutrition yet is a gentle liquid to help your dog through until health improves.
- Nettle- Antihistamine (allergies)
- safe for dogs and cats; add 1 tsp of ground nettle, burdock root, dandelion or red clover to 1lb of dog food. Chances of the normal person having these on hand are remote, but I felt them worthy of adding. They can be purchased from Vitamin World (online), GNC, Whole Foods and possibly at other natural markets such as Trader Joes, Sunflower, New Frontiers, PCC and local markets. Call before you drive around!
- Egg Shells- Calcium deficiency & inducing labor
- safe for dogs, cats and humans; wash egg shells after cracking. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 min on cookie sheet. Grind to a fine powder and add to food. 1 tsp= 1800-2000mg. If you are not impatient you may simply air dry them for a day then grind. Dosage per day: - 10 lbs 1/16 tsp, 10-50 lbs 1/8 tsp, 50-75 lbs 1/4 tsp, 75-100 lbs 1/2 tsp, 100 lbs + 3/4 tsp.
- Melaleuca Oil (allergies)
- mostly safe for large dogs (80 lbs and over) and older humans; dilute 1 drop oil in 1 Tbs corn syrup or honey and administer 1 tsp by mouth once a day or dilute 1 drop oil in 1 tsp coconut oil (1 Tbs if they lick their paws) and administer to the pads of the paws or bottoms of feet. This can be toxic if ingested in large dosages, especially in weak immune systems, so use with care and watch closely for signs of toxic shock; namely depression, weakness, muscle tremors and lack of coordination.
- Sweet Marjoram Oil (allergies)
- mostly safe for small dogs (not puppies!) and humans (take care with children!); dilute 1 drop oil per 1 Tbs honey or corn syrup and administer 1 tsp a day or dilute 1 drop oil in 1 tsp coconut oil (1 Tbs if they lick their paws) and administer to the pads of the paws or bottoms of feet. This can be toxic (less so than melaleuca oil) if ingested in large dosages, especially in weak immune systems, so use with care and watch closely for signs of toxic shock; namely depression, weakness, muscle tremors and lack of coordination.
- Chia Seeds (night terrors/ sleep disorders)
- safe for all animals and humans; administer 2-3 hrs before bed 1/2 tsp per 5 lbs as whole seeds, ground, added cooked or raw to food, or soak in water to make a gel. There are no known allergies.
- Charcoal Tablets (upset stomachs and removing toxins)
- safe for all animals and humans; administer exactly as directed on the bottle, no need to adjust for size. Can be given in cheese, wet food or peanut butter (however you get you pet to take pills) or directly by mouth (if you are able to force feed). Give for 1 week to clear stomach problems or to remove toxins from the body; must be sure they continue to drink plenty of water to move the charcoal through and out the system with the toxins.
- Tumeric (anti-inflammatory; joint pain)
- safe for all animals and humans; sprinkle onto food or cook in egg to administer daily, adjust for the amount of food it is being added to as it has a powerful taste. Give as a daily supplement for dogs with joint pain.
- Ginger (antispasmodic; stomach/ muscle pain)
- safe for all animals and humans; administer as a poultice directly to the affected area. To make: chop root into fine pieces, add to a pot and just cover with water to make a mush as it heats. Heat on high stirring often to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or less till you have a soft paste. Spoon into cheesecloth gathering and securing into a bag.
- Feverfew (sedative, flea rinse, & anti-inflammatory; joint pain)
- safe for all animals and humans; administer as a cooled tea and dropper feed 3 drops per 5 lbs. Expect a fight as the tea is bitter. Pill form may also be purchased by holistic vets or online.
Always be very careful before you give your pet a drug. They can have serious side effects that are irreversible and can result in death. Do not give more than one drug to your dog without consulting your vet. There are many unforeseen side-affects of mixing drugs and it is better not to mess with formulas. Make sure you always keep any drugs up high and in completely closed containers. Whenever you take any medication be sure you do not drop any, in fact, put your dog in another room or in their crate until you have finished and checked to make sure you have not dropped any pills or liquid. My mother lost a beloved and very rare cat when she found and ate a pill my mother had dropped. If the result of the medication does not kill your pet it ruins their immune system and makes them highly susceptible to all airborne diseases. The next step is knowing when you can help your dog at home or if a vet is required. In most cases you can care for many types of health issues yourself including ear infections, muscle strains, broken nails, cuts, skin abrasions and rashes, sinus infections, allergies, eye infections, breathing problems, lethargy, coughing and more that I cannot think of at the moment. I have nothing against vets, in fact I make sure I have one I trust within a phone call if I need them, but I do not depend on them for everything as most parents do not rush to their pediatrician whenever something happens to their child. In many cases I have talked with dog owners that do not have a vet within a reasonable distance and have needed temporary help until they can get to their vet.
Refusing to walk or use a limb
Not using a limb to walk and not allowing you to touch this limb can mean many things from a simple sliver to a broken leg. The first step is to muzzle your dog, if you must, and restrain them so you can get a look at the injured limb. Feel down the leg starting from the top and working your way down. If they react terribly before you reach the foot, it could be a broken bone or serious sprained muscle. It may also be a slipped disk in the knee. Feeling the area and waiting for a reaction from your dog will tell you where to start looking. Move away the hair from the spot and look for cuts, protrusions, blood, splinters or parasites. Cuts, no matter how deep can be immediately treated with my favorite product. I recommend Bag Balm in the place of an antibiotic, because it is safe for your dog to lick and even safe for you to use on yourself. It's main purpose is not only to clean and disinfect, but to force scabbing which allows the cut to heal faster. It can be found in a green, old-fashioned, square tin at hay and feed supplies and Walmart (in the pet section). You can clean the wound with Antibacterial soap; do not use Hydrogen Peroxide, it is useless in this case. Some cuts need stitches, but Bag Balm will keep the cut from infection until you can reach your vet. If the cut is not too deep and will not leave hanging skin you can use the bag balm several times a day, bandage if you wish, and the cut will heal on it's own without help. I once cut my cat trying to remove a large mat and the bag balm healed the cut without stitches in about a month. It took about a day to scab over and from their we just avoided the area. If you find parasites, they need to be removed at once and then clean the infected area with soap. If you see bone, get to a vet. You can administer Aspirin for pain until you can get the bone set. Splinters can be removed with sturdy tweezers and a needle, restrain your dog first and then clean and use bag balm on the wound. If you prefer to use an antibiotic cream, you must cover the wound to keep your dog from licking it as the creams are toxic if ingested. Many problems can not be seen so easily. If you feel down your dog's feet or toes and he cries out or jerks in pain, it can be either a broken foot, bruised pads, broken nail or splinter. Splinters in the pads can be very hard to find, you will need to carefully check each pad for problems. Try bending the joint above the foot to see if the pain lies there, if not the foot may be fine. Feel each toe for reactions as this is most likely a sign of a broken nail. If the nail is broken well below the quick, you will not see any other signs of trouble but feeling the toes will case great pain. If you cannot see any cuts or protrusions from the pads, but you get a reaction, he has bruised a pad, which can be very painful. For broken toes and bruised pads you can give him aspirin for the pain and I always apply bag balm to the pained area and bandage the foot. The wound will heal itself in a couple of days and it is okay for your dog to hobble on three legs. If the wound does not heal, you will need an x-ray.
Bald patches, rashes, irritations & scratching
Many of these problems are attributed to allergies, but I would look for the other common reasons before you jump to conclusions. All skin irritations can also be caused by parasites, tiny scraps, multiple splinters, poison contact and more serious problems. Parasites are always my first concern. They will cause your dog to scratch, bite, rub against furniture and the carpet. They will leave irritated areas that look like scraps. The common parasites are fleas, ticks, lice, mange and mites. Ticks are fairly easy to find since they find a good spot to break the skin and do not move and they are rather large. Fleas will leave tiny dust trails that look like dirt, but are really feces. Lice look lice fleas, but they move very slowly if at all, while fleas move very quickly. mange looks like a skin irritation that oozes and bleeds if untreated. If parasites are the problem you need to get them off your pet and into a soap and water mix. Then you need to really clean your dog, rubbing the shampoo into the hair and skin for at least five minutes; this will kill any remaining fleas but will not kill ticks. Any shampoo will do, it does not have to be a flea shampoo which can be hard on the skin. the last step is to visit Relief from Pests and clean out your home and find a suitable repellant. Mange should be treated by a vet and is difficult to get rid of. Lice can be teated the same way you would fleas. Ringworm is another possible suspect. It looks like a crusty ring on the skin. I have been told that Apple Cider Vinegar works beautifully to clear ringworm. Dab it on with a cloth several times a day. I have not dealt with ringworm at any time, but I have talked with several farmers who swear by it. Watch out, as it does sting when first applied. If you have marked pests off the possibility list you need to look closely at the spot to see if there are any splinters, however tiny, in the wound. Applied bag balm will help the body bring the splinters to the top layer of skin if they are too small to remove. If you have not changed anything in your home, it may be that your dog has scraped up against or under something rough that has irritated or broken the skin. Bag Balm is always the first thing I use, but if the problem persists after a week, I look to allergies. Before you run to the vet to have your dog tested I would try giving the correct dosage above of Benadryl once a day for three days. If the problem continues move to twice a day. If this does not clear up the problem, it is not allergies and your vet will need to be consulted and your dog will need need to be tested for other possibilities. If this does work, you need to think back to what you have changed recently. Food, detergent, carpet shampoo, lotion, dish detergent, other cleaning agents, air freshener, perfume, aftershave, deodorant... you name it. If anything has change, change it back. It may take awhile for your dog to recover completely, but you will see a difference. If you have changed food recently and cannot change back you will need to keep up with the Benadryl while you slowly change to another brand. It may also be seasonal allergies. Watch for whether or not this occurs during certain times of the year and talk to your vet.
Ears, eyes and sinus infections are not always difficult to treat. If you are dealing with breeds that are known for sensitive eyes, you should not play around with home remedies, but there are a few things you can try. Eye infections are easy to spot as you will have green or yellow weeping from the eye. It may be puss like or runny which could mean a cut, conjunctivitis, or it could be extra weeping from a sinus infection. Conjunctivitis is contagious and life threatening if left alone. It is usually recommended you see a vet immediately, but I have been able to clear up cases with hourly cleanings with a gentle cloth and salt water. Then, using a separate cloth for each eye, gently clean each eye the best you can; it does not matter which direction you work in. Remove all the pus you can and then wash the cloths or boil in water before next use. If the eye does not improve in a day or so, it is best to see a vet to have the eye checked for cuts. If your dog also has green drainage from his nose, you will want to use Little noses or a simple saline spray to clear the sinuses, which will soon clear the eyes, but it is important to keep them clean until the infection clears. Cuts are not as terrible as you may think, they are generally healed with a small tube of antibiotic cream put under the lower lid for about a week and it is not expensive. Ear infections may be mites and both need to be cleared. The best sign of an ear infection is your dogs head shaking. There will be no other reason for them to paw, scratch, shake or rub their ears.
Panting is widely accepted as normal for dogs, but sometimes the panting can mean heatstroke or pain. Excessive and loud panting should not be ignored. If your dog has been hurt recently, panting is a sign of pain. Those who have seen a dog in labor will know the difference, the panting is faster, louder and it does not stop when you cool the room temperature. If your dogs tongue is very red and/ or eyes have a glazed look, and he is lethargic your dog is suffering from heat stroke. In this case you can wet your dog with cool, not cold, water or apply ice packs to the armpits and neck area or have fans running directly on your dog to cool the body temperature. Gasping is caused by a foreign object in the throat. If the dog can obviously breathe, then let him cough it out himself. If he is gasping you will need to rush to a vet, or you can follow this link to Seefido.com to learn how you might remove the object and help your dog to breathe if you cannot reach a vet in time. Hopefully, you are learning this before your dog chokes on something. Another very important link is The Global Crisis Center. They explain exactly what to do to save your dog or cat from drowning or choking. Constant coughing, it almost sounds like a seal bark, is a symptom of kennel cough. To hear what it sounds like you can do a Youtube search for kennel cough and there is always someone with a video posted of their sick dog. Kennel Cough is very contagious, like the cold, and can be dangerous to your dog's health. You can ease the coughing in your dog with a vaporizer, I like the warm mist best, but you must make sure you do not use it in an enclosed space and you must be sure to clean it regularly. Pug-faced dog owners know that sneezing is a common occurrence, but it can also be a sign of a foreign object in the nasal passages. Do not try to remove it yourself, your dog should be able to handle this on his own. Reverse sneezes are another problem and sounds like raspy breathing. The condition can be helped by touching the base of the throat, gently, to induce swallowing during an episode, pinching the dogs nostrils or massaging the throat. Some dogs will do it rarely while it is chronic for others.
Stomach problems & food
There are so many reasons for an upset tummy, that I am sure I will miss something. Most diseases will cause an upset stomach in one way or another. The most common are parvo and parainfluenza, which both look alike and both kill. They kill your dog by dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. The best defense is to keep fluids in your dog for both symptoms and to catch the problem early. If you are late in reacting you will need to have your vet give fluids intravenously. More information on parvo is found at The Parvo Virus. Vomiting can also be caused by swallowing foreign objects your dogs stomach cannot digest. If he cannot throw it up surgery is the only option and the sooner the better. Vomiting can also come from ingesting to much grass, eating too quickly, poison and food allergies. You will know if he is eating grass because he will vomit green. Poison may be followed with fast lethargy, seizures, diarrhea and unconsciousness. If you suspect poison you can induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide given by mouth. If he is eating his food too quickly you will see him vomit shortly after eating and food allergies will come with a change in dog food. Diarrhea is more common and less of a worry. If diarrhea is combined with another symptom such as vomiting or infected eye tears or mucus, you need to get to a vet. If there is only diarrhea your dog may be stressed, overexcited, adjusting to change, or reacting to something he ate that was mildly irritating. If you see diarrhea or vomiting only once or twice in a long period of time and not together, there is no reason to panic, but you may want to give your dog some corn syrup for energy and Pedialyte for dehydration. If your dog's food continues to cause problems you will need to make a very slow change to a different brand. If your dog is the problem, you will need to change how you feed him.
Lack of energy
It can be very scary to see your baby not be able to rise from the floor, but in most cases if you are around and aware of your dog, you can catch most problems before they become problems. In small breed dogs and puppies, corn syrup is always the first step. Keep an oral medicine syringe around and clear corn syrup handy for emergencies. It has a very long shelf life. You will first notice the problem before you even understand what is wrong. most people tell me they just can tell something is not right with their dog. You may notice they take longer to wake or move more slowly, they do not react as quickly or not at all, they do not play as hard or get as excited about favorite activities or food. All small breed dogs are prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Corn syrup is the fastest way to replenish their blood sugar without harming your dog. If you catch it soon enough one dose, generally, does the trick. If your dog has become lethargic, you may need to administer doses as often as every four hours. It can also be administered in their water bowl by heating the water to boiling and allowing the syrup to dissolve, then cool before serving. Other reasons for lethargy are parvo, foreign objects in the stomach, parainfluenza, heat stroke, poison, dehydration, anemia, advanced eye, ear and sinus infections, trauma, starvation and many different disorders. To learn more about Parvo please visit The Parvo Virus. The most common way to tell if your dog has swallowed something is to feel their stomach, you may feel a lump. Starvation is pretty easy to spot as are infections, which you should have noticed sooner. Parainfluenza looks very much like parvo and heat stroke was explained earlier in Breathing problems. If the syrup fails to perk your dog up or if he is very limp, get to a vet.