8 Home Remedies You Shouldn’t Give Your Dog
Home or natural remedies can be a blessing. Your dog exhibits a certain symptom, you look it up, give him or her the treatment and voila! Your dog is feeling better. But you should exercise caution when administering certain natural remedies. Some can do more harm than good or are just flat out ineffective. Here some of the most common home remedies that you shouldn’t give your dog.
Using Garlic to Kill Fleas
There is no evidence that garlic is effective in killing or controlling fleas, said Sarah Nold, DVM and senior appeals specialist at Seattle-based pet insurance company Trupanion.
If you’re searching for a home remedy to get rid of fleas, Nold recommends sprinkling Borax laundry detergent on your carpet, pushing it down into the carpet with a broom, leaving it out overnight and vacuuming up the next day. This helps to dry out the flea eggs or larvae that might be in the carpet, helping to control fleas in the environment. If you use this method, keep children and pets out of the area until the Borax has been vacuumed up, she said. Vacuuming regularly and immediately emptying your vacuum outside is also helpful in controlling fleas in the environment.
Additionally, garlic can be toxic to dogs if they ingest it, said Jennifer Quammen, DVM at Grants Lick Veterinary Hospital in Butler, KY.
Treating Eye Infections with Borax
You’ll want to steer clear of treating eye infections with Borax or boric acid. Borax is a compound used as a kitchen or bathroom cleaner. There is an old wives’ tale that putting this into the eye will treat the infection, however, Quammen said it normally just causes more irritation and may lead to pain, corneal ulceration and skin or eyelid irritation or infection.
Killing Mange with Motor Oil
Mange is a skin disease caused by mites that can lead to itching, hair loss and scabs and lesions. Some people have tried to use motor oil or kerosene to treat the condition. It’s a widespread myth that this method works. Although this treatment is thought to suffocate the mange mites and kill them, the oil can be irritating to the skin and dogs can lick it off, causing stomach issues including vomiting, nausea, lack of appetite and diarrhea, Quammen says.
This oil can also get into pets’ eyes, leading to infections and corneal ulcers, she adds.
Treating Sunburns with Sunblock
If your dog gets sunburned, Quammen cautions that you should not give your dog diaper ointment or human sunblock to help treat it. Zinc oxide—an inorganic compound commonly found in both substances—is toxic to dogs and can cause severe anemia or red blood cell damage when consumed. Signs of zinc oxide poisoning are subtle and varied, from laziness and lack of appetite to overt hemorrhage or bleeding, Quammen says.
Giving Advil for Pain
If you dog is in pain, don’t reach for the same drugs you’d use if you weren’t feeling well. Although some over the counter drugs (like Benadryl) can be given to dogs to help ease symptoms, you’ll want to avoid giving your dog Advil, Motrin or Ibuprofen. These painkillers are all toxic to dogs, Quammen said, and can cause severe and acute liver or kidney damage —enough to send your dog or cat into liver or kidney failure.
Symptoms of this type of toxicity include not eating, vomiting, urinating more (or not at all), jaundice/icterus and many others. The signs are subtle, so it can be tough for people to know something severe is happening, she said.
Treating Ear Mites with Olive Oil
There is some anecdotal evidence that treating ear mites with olive oil or mineral oil might work, but it’s probably not the most effective treatment. If you use mineral oil, it’s also recommended you apply it daily for two to three weeks.
“Both olive oil and mineral oil are thought to smother or drown the mites, but neither will treat the secondary infection (yeast or bacteria) that is almost always also present,” Nold said.
An ear mite infection usually produces a dry, black ear discharge and itchy ears including scratching the ears and head shaking. Ear mites are not the only cause of these symptoms, however, so your pet should be seen by a veterinarian if they have them. The vet also can recommend other products that will treat the infection faster.
In general, cats are more commonly infected with ear mites. Dogs can be infected, but tend to be prone to other ear infections that do not have to do with mites, Nold said.
Treating Urinary Tract Infections with Cranberries
One of the biggest health myths out there is that cranberries treat urinary tract infections (UTI).
UTIs requires antibiotics to be treated, Nold said, but in some cases, cranberries can be helpful in preventing urinary tract infections.
“The cranberries change the pH of the urine and also prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary bladder wall,” she said. “However, your veterinarian should be consulted prior to [giving your pet cranberries] as they may want to perform diagnostics to make sure your pet doesn’t have any complicating factor such as urinary stones.”
If you suspect your dog has a UTI (symptoms can include blood in the urine, difficult urinating, cloudy urine and urinating often but in small amounts), call your vet instead of trying to treat the infection at home.
Stopping Diarrhea with Cottage Cheese
“A bland diet, such as low fat cottage cheese or low fat yogurt, boiled potatoes or boiled plain pasta, can help with mild diarrhea,” Nold says. “However, diarrhea can be an early symptom of a serious underlying condition.”
If your pet has any other symptoms, such as lethargy or vomiting, if there is blood in the stool, the stool appears tarry or black in color or the diarrhea has continued for more than a couple days (despite the bland diet), she recommends bringing your pet to the veterinarian. Diarrhea can also quickly dehydrate your pet, especially if he or she is young and/or very small.
Teresa K. Traverse is a Phoenix-based writer, editor, traveler and dog mom to Chihuahuas Autumn and Rocket.