It’s a dog’s life- and as a pet owner, you want to make sure that life is as long, happy, and healthy as possible. But some puppy problems, like constant barking, yard digging, and furniture chewing, have a tendency to leave us scratching our heads, if not tearing out our hair. While you should always consult your vet before trying any at-home health fixes, many everday concerns have a safe, effective home remedies that may work for your dog. Save time and money on your pet;s care with these easy tips.
To keep your dog hydrated
- Try: Pedialyte:
If your dog suffers from mild dehydration—signs include a dry mouth, white gums, panting, and a loss of skin elasticity—pour Pedialyte into his water bowl to quickly replace electrolytes. Drinking water will replace most electrolytes, but drinking this solution, formulated for babies, quickly replaces minerals like potassium and sodium.
To get burs out of fur:
- Try: Coconut Oil or Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening:
To remove burs from your dog’s coat, wear work gloves (to avoid getting pricked by the burs), work a dab of Crisco into the affected areas, and pry the burs lose. Shampoo your dog to remove the vegetable shortening.
To curb chewing:
- Try: BENGAY:
To train your dog to stop chewing on a specific object, coat the object with a dab of BENGAY. The smell will repel him.
- Try: Heinz White Vinegar and Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar:
Mix 5 ounces of Heinz White Vinegar, 5 ounces of Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar, and 5 ounces of water in a 16-ounce trigger-spray bottle. Shake well. Spray the solution on whatever furniture your dog likes to chew.
To eliminate fleas:
- Try: Dawn Dishwashing Liquid or VO5 Shampoo:
To kill fleas on dogs without using toxic chemicals, add a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid under running water to fill a sink or bathtub and give your dog a bath in the soapy solution. Work the lather into your pet’s coat and let it soak for more than 5 minutes. The soap penetrates the exoskeletons of fleas, killing them, and works more effectively than some prescribed flea shampoos.
To keep him safe in the sun:
- Try: Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion:
If your dog spends time outside, prevent sunburn on his nose, ears, and other vulnerable areas by applying a light coat of Coppertone sunscreen (with an SPF of 15 or higher). Feed your pet immediately after applying the sunscreen to distract him from licking off the lotion. If your dog licks off the sunscreen, you can apply more.
Make sure the sunscreen you use on your dog doesn’t contain any PABA, zinc, or zinc oxide, which can be dangerous when licked.
When you’re shopping for sunscreen, it’s easy to get lost in the lists of ingredients that no one can pronounce and the labels covered in scientific mumbo jumbo. But if you value natural beauty and healthy alternatives to traditional cosmetics, Prevention can help. Try to find sunscreens with the most “natural,” by which we mean those that are not only good for you, but also good for the environment. In our search, we looked for products that:
- Use the physical (sometimes called mineral or natural sunscreens) sunscreens zinc oxide or titanium dioxide instead of chemical sunscreens (listed on the Drug Facts label that typically end with –ate, –ene, or –one, such as homosalate, octocrylene, or oxybenzone). Although chemical sunscreens are considered safe for humans they can be harmful to marine life. Plus, one study has shown the ingredient oxybenzone can cause hormone disruption in studies of cancer cells.
- Do not contain retinyl palmitate. The ingredient is technically safe for humans to use, but it has been linked to skin cancer when applied topically in very large doses to mice, so it’s worth erring on the side of caution. (Note: the species of mice used in the study were far more susceptible to skin cancer than humans, and there aren’t any human studies showing the ingredient causes cancer).
- Do not contain synthetic fragrance (often listed as fragrance or parfum) or parabens (any ingredients that include paraben). Fragrances can cause allergic reactions as well as make your eyes water, while parabens (especially butylparaben), which are used as preservatives, have been linked to coral reef damage.
- Have SPF 30 or higher. While there are many sunscreens with lower SPFs that are healthy options, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30, so we do, too.
Below is a list of all the natural sunscreens we tried that get our seal of approval. Just because a sunscreen didn’t make the list does not necessarily mean it’s not natural—we simply may not have had a chance to test it. So, always read labels to be sure!
Note: If just a brand name is listed without the specific name of a product, that means we approve of all the sunscreens they make that are SPF 30 or higher.
To prevent (another) accident:
- Try: Strategically Placed Trash Bags:
To keep your dog off any area of the carpet or floor where he has previously left a mess, cut open a trash bag along the seams and cover the spot with the plastic. Dogs despise the feeling of plastic and will stay away.
To prevent ear infections:
- Try: Johnson’s Baby Oil:
Too much water in your dog’s ears can lead to painful earaches, so before giving him a bath, place a cotton ball moistened with Johnson’s Baby Oil in each of your pet’s ears to keep out water. Just be sure to remove the cotton balls afterward.
To stop dandruff:
- Try: Bayer Aspirin and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo:
Unless you’re allergic to aspirin, grind six Bayer Aspirin into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle, pour the pulverized aspirin into a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, and shake well. Lather up your dog with the shampoo. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the salicylic acid in the aspirin time to exfoliate your pet’s dead skin cells. Rinse clean with water.
To discourage digging:
- Try: Tabasco Pepper Sauce and McCormick Ground (Cayenne) Red Pepper:
To stop your dog from digging up your yard, mix 4 tablespoons of pepper sauce and 4 tablespoons of cayenne pepper in 1 quart of water. Sprinkle the spicy solution over the area where your dog digs.
To keep food bowls clean:
Try: Coconut or Olive Oil:
To prevent leftover bits and pieces of moist pet food from sticking to the bottom of your dog’s food bowl, give the inside of the bowl a light coat of oil before filling the bowl with pet food. The oil will prevent the food from adhering to the bowl—and the oil gives your pet’s coat a nice shine.
To get out chewing gum:
Try: Olive Oil:
If your dog gets bubble gum stuck to his paw or fur, saturate the gum with oil, rub your fingers to soften it, and comb out. Shampoo and rinse.
To soothe arthritis aches:
Try: A Sock Filled with Uncle Ben’s Rice.
To soothe arthritis pain, fill a sock with uncooked white rice (not too compactly), tie a knot in the end, and heat it in the microwave for 1 minute. Place the warm sock directly over painful joints twice a day for 15 minutes. The reusable heating pad conforms wherever applied.
To relieve itchy paws:
- Try: Epsom Salt:
If your dog suffers from itchy feet, fill the bathtub with 1 to 2 inches of water (enough to cover his paws) and dissolve 3 cups of Epsom Salt in the water. Stand your dog in the tub for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the Epsom Salt to relieve the itch. Do not let your pet drink the water, since Epsom Salt has a laxative effect. Remove your dog from the tub and gently pat his feet dry.
- Try: Coconut Oil:
Rub the coconut oil on paws, messaging the oil until absorbed.
To stop shedding:
- Try: Bounty Paper Towels:
To prevent a dog from shedding all over the house, dampen a sheet of paper towel and run it over his fur. The paper towel collects the loose hair.
To heal cuts and scrapes:
- Try: Bag Balm:
Quicken healing of cuts, scratches, skin irritations, and paw abrasions by rubbing on Bag Balm, the salve created to soften cow udders.
- Try: Coconut Oil:
Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal and Anti-viral. Disinfects cuts and supports healing of wounds.