7 natural home remedies for cat and dog allergies
Wipe your pets with a wet towel when they come in from outside. (Photo by Leslie McFarland)
At least 10 percent of dogs and cats suffer from symptoms caused by flea, environmental and food allergies, according to Dr. Jeanne Budgin, president of the American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology. Try the following home remedies to help alleviate pet allergy symptoms from flora, food and fleas.
1. Get rid of plastic food dishes.
Hot spots around the face can be caused by plastic food bowls. Throw out your plastic food and water bowls. Plastic tends to develop tiny cracks that can harbor bacteria, which cause reactions in sensitive dogs and cats. Pets that are sensitive to these plastic food bowl bacterial allergens often develop puppy acne or feline acne and a rash or pimples around the lips and chin, and sometimes even around the eyes or ears. Replace plastic with stainless, glass or ceramic food bowls and keep them meticulously clean, including washing them in the dishwasher at least weekly.
2. Do not use tea tree oil to treat skin conditions in pets.
Tea tree oil causes nasty contact allergies in pets, up to and including neurological reactions. Never put human acne medications on your pet. Human skin is much more acidic than pet skin, and using any human skin or hair products on your pet – including shampoo – can cause contact irritation.
Natural remedies for hot spots and allergies include Epsom salts. The healing properties of Epsom salt have been known for generations. Gentle soaking of just about any infected area of skin with Epsom salts – including feet, feline acne, hot spots and more – once or twice daily, discourages infection, reduces swelling and promotes healing. Epsom salts are available at any human pharmacy. To apply, use a folded cloth applied gently to the affected area. If the hot spots are under the feet, soak feet in a saturated solution, meaning add as much of the Epsom salts to a warm/hot bowl of water until no more will dissolve. Soak for five to 10 minutes. Do not let your dog drink the water.
Check out: Angie's List Guide to Veterinarians
3. Add a complete oil to your pet's diet.
A simple way to treat dry skin and dandruff is to add a complete oil to your pet’s diet. Corn, safflower, peanut and sunflower are examples of oils that contain all the essential fatty acids. Your cat can take about half a teaspoon with each meal. Dogs can be given one to three teaspoons with each meal, depending on size. But remember that more is not better since oils are quite fattening, and some dogs can develop pancreatitis if fed too much fat.
4. Soothe itchy skin with an oatmeal soak.
A mixture of oatmeal and water can be rubbed onto the dog’s skin to help relieve dryness and soothe itchiness. The oatmeal should be left on the skin for approximately ten minutes and then rinsed off with warm water. Baby food oatmeal makes a great, inexpensive soak.
5. Get creative with treats.
Use little, white marshmallows as treats for food-allergic dogs. They’re low calorie, and dogs love them.
6. Wipe allergens off your itchy dog.
The simple act of wiping the dog or cat down with a wet towel when they come in from outside can really help decrease percutaneous absorption of allergens.
7. Treat hot spots with equal parts Listerine, baby oil and water.
Put all three in a spray bottle, and massage a small amount into the skin three times daily. Clearly, caution is indicated and veterinary supervision is a must.
Magnusson is a 2000 graduate of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. After 10 years in practice working for other vets around the city, he is excited to finally be able to offer his services one-on-one to the residents of Indianapolis.
As of July 25, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.
This is an updated version of a story originally posted on July 25, 2011.