Home Remedies - The pros and cons

By Dr Roy Aronson

 Is it safe to treat your dogs at home?

The most common killer of pets in the USA is Acetamenaphine. Sounds terrible, exotic and lethal. Until you call it by the name that millions of people around the world know it as – Tylenol.

This foregoing fact is enough, I am sure, to illustrate the dangers of home remedies. You must be careful, but help is at hand – you have a new ally, and that ally is Dr Google.

We live in an unprecedented age. The age of instant information. Never again can someone tell you something that you have to believe in with blind faith. You can check it on the web, but you must ask the correct questions. If you want to find out about the efficacy of a product or home remedy, ask Google, but ask the correct question.

For example, if a remedy has as its active ingredient Acetamenaphine, the question that you would type in is: Acetasmenaphine toxicity dog and cat. The answer will flash before your eyes in 0.27 seconds.

So what are the pros and cons of home remedies? Here are some of them, listed below:


  • Cheap – you may actually have some at home so you don’t need to buy it.
  • Quick – if you have it at home you can administer it immediately.

And that short list just about exhausts the list of pros.


  • Uncertain efficacy, your remedy may not work.
  • Dangerous and may be a life-threatening poison.
  • If a remedy does not work, you may have wasted valuable time.

As you can see, the list of pros vs cons is short but fairly easy to compare. I believe that the cons far outweigh the pros, so in general, in the words of the WWE superstar wrestlers, “Don’t try this at home.”

Home remedies

Does this mean that there is nothing you can do at home to relieve your sick pet? Absolutely not. There are many treatment modalities that one can glean from discussions with a vet or from trawling the internet. Here are a few examples:

  1. If your dog is vomiting, withhold food and water for a few hours then feed your dog a bland diet of plain boiled chicken and rice, three or four small meals a day for a few days. Should the vomiting persist beyond 12 hours, then you need help.
  2. If your dog is frantic and is scratching itself to pieces, bath the dog in a good quality shampoo –just don’t use a hairdryer to dry the coat.
  3. If your pet is bleeding, apply a compression dressing. A big wad of cotton wool and a sock makes a great dressing. Wind the cotton wool round the bleeding limb then put the sock on. This will make a snug dressing and it gives you some time to get help.
  4. Chamomile tea can be used for a number of skin ailments in pets. This common West Indian remedy relies on the natural disinfectant effect of the plant. A soothing solution, chamomile calms minor skin irritations by killing yeast and bacteria. Make a strong chamomile tea, pour it into a spray bottle and let it chill in the fridge. Then spray it on red and raw skin liberally for an immediately soothing effect.
  5. For either easily constipated or diarrhoea-prone dogs, pumpkin can work wonders – though not always. It’s a do-no-harm approach that anyone can try, but never let an animal suffer for more than a day or two of mild symptoms before you talk to your vet.
  6. Finely ground oatmeal (as in baby oatmeal cereal) can be stirred into a bath of warm water for a super-soothing soak to relieve itchy skin.
  7. For a mild strain or sprain from playing too exuberantly, add ½ cup Epsom salts to a warm bath and let the affected limb soak for five minutes, twice daily. You can also soak a washcloth in Epsom salts and warm water and apply only to the area.


There are many such tips and tricks for helping your pet at home, the trick is to be prepared. Forewarned is forearmed, so get the information before the emergency strikes.

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