Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Homemade Remedies For Pet Care

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, April 29, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

From greening my household cleaning supplies to choosing organic food to being mindful of ingredients in body care products, I try to shop thoughtfully and make the best purchasing decisions for my family and the planet’s health. That said, I recently discovered there’s one area I’ve erroneously overlooked – our dog.

Our big loveable Labrador Brophy is as loyal as he is energetic. He has always been the protective guard dog we needed and the cuddly playful pet we wanted. From morning through night, he has one eye on the whole family (and the other on his food bowl).

Recently though I have been wondering if I could have been paying better attention to him. Is it possible to green pet care? Are there less toxic (and perhaps less expensive) alternatives to conventional options for common problems like fleas, pet stains and seasonal allergies?

In hopes of learning a few homemade remedies for everyday pet problems, I asked around and learned a few tips and tricks from other pet owners. Here are a few everyday products that pull double duty around the house and your pet.

Note, always check with your pet’s veterinarian before treating your pet.

Baking soda: This all-purpose household item solves numerous pet problems. If you’re already using baking soda to freshen your fridge, carpet or trash cans, try a thin layer on the bottom of bird, rabbit and hamster cages too. Is your pet accident-prone? After an accident on a rug or carpet, scrub the area with club soda, and let dry. Then sprinkle the area with baking soda, and let it stand before vacuuming.

Nutritional yeast: Fans of nutritional yeast sprinkle it on their popcorn and stir it into their mashed potatoes, but it is also used to help keep pets’ coats healthy and makes them less tasty to fleas. The correct amount of yeast depends on the size of the dog, so seek guidance from your pet’s vet.

Essential oils: I heard from a few dog owners who swear by essential oils as nerve-calming remedies and anti-itch solutions. Like nutritional yeast, fleas don’t like the taste of some essential oils either.

But be careful, because some essential oils have been reported to be toxic to cats and dogs, so be sure to talk to your pet’s vet first to see which oils are best for your pet. Always remember that when essential oils are used, they must first be diluted into a carrier oil. I’m sure many savvy shoppers have other homemade remedies for pet care that helps them keep a leash on the cost of pet-care products.

What are your tips? I’d love to hear them.




Dee Connors says ...
what essential oils are considered toxic to pets?? and another tip, when your dog has the squirts, feed that sucker two table spoons of pumpkin puree. he/she will have normal stool within about 5 hours. i ALWAYS keep it in my pantry for my pups.
04/29/2012 10:37:36 AM CDT
D.K. Leland says ...
Definitely lavender and lemon oils on the dog's collar and around the house to repel fleas; nutritional or brewer's yeast rubbed into their coats, and in their food to repel insects; sprinkle salt or diatomaceous earth on the floors as they will dehydrate fleas; apple cider vinegar and water for itchy spots; biodegradable poopy bags; gulpy refillable water bottle.
05/02/2012 10:45:04 PM CDT
Janet says ...
Hi, Does anyone have any healthy and natural suggestions for the following? One of my dogs suffers 24/7 from urinary tract problems and the other small dog now has asthma. I have 4 dogs and I am always looking for good tips. Thank You, Janet
05/11/2012 5:20:30 AM CDT
Bianca says ...
Comb for fleas with vinegar/water solution. Helps repel fleas and condition skin. And vitamin C (we use rose hips) added to diet can help with kidney stone problems.
05/16/2012 4:38:22 PM CDT
Connie says ...
You need to be very careful with "Pet Care" as there are more pets then just dogs. Essential oils have been known to be toxic to cats, and when you say "pets" then talk about essential oils, you could be doing harm to the cats in the world out there if someone reads this and doesn't realize that what is OK for a dog isn't OK for a cat - just like garlic and many other things. http://essentialoilworld.com/essentialoilreviews/pet-health/essential-oil-safety-with-cats
05/16/2012 4:41:41 PM CDT
Monique says ...
I would not put this out there if I had not used these products and been impressed by their effectiveness, but if you are looking for natural/holistic products for your pet, go to: www.spiritessences.com and take a look at their product line. I will even share my 10% discount code: DADDYO. We have a cat that is in the last stages of inoperable mouth cancer and the 2 products I have used during her treatment and now preparation for departure have well and truly been amazing.
05/16/2012 4:42:39 PM CDT
James says ...
What about natural breath refesher? My little Jack Russell sometimes has terrible breath, anyone have suggestions? Thanks Jim
05/16/2012 5:01:01 PM CDT
C. Bill says ...
mix a bit of fresh parsley into their food every day.. this helps to freshen their breath and adds some much needed greens to the diet!!
05/16/2012 5:07:12 PM CDT
JT says ...
James, get thee to a vet for a dental exam pronto. Bad breath is often a sign of advanced dental disease, which can be extremely painful. Think of the tooth aches you've had, now imagine them going on and on and on...
05/16/2012 5:07:23 PM CDT
Peggy says ...
A great natural remedy for doggie "poop" & upset stomach problems is sweet potatoes. I usually keep a bag in the freezer since my dog is on a grain free diet and the only other natural alternative is rice. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber and can accumulate fluid in the bowels and normalize the "you know whats". BTW - really miss those Whole Dog biscuits & sure hope they come out with a grain free variety!
05/16/2012 5:15:02 PM CDT
Karen Dinsmoor says ...
James, could be dental but digestive problems will also cause bad breath. Research the pet food you are using, make sure there are no chemicals or roadkill in it. Also Probiotics and/or Enzymes are often a solution for digestive/bad breath problems.
05/16/2012 5:21:19 PM CDT
Kathie says ...
Janet, re: chronic UTIs. I do animal rescue and have come across this with both cats and dogs over the years. You give cranberry. Cats require much less and I always have to chop the pill up but a dog could handle. The ones I buy are at Walgreens mainly because I need to chop them for a cat too but start your dog on these and keep your dog on this (because your dog has chronic problems, for an occasional problem I would only treat for a montI). I do suggest however that the dog be taking her/his treatment with antibiotics at the same time because this will not get rid of the infection, it will keep them from coming back. I buy the 250 mg tablets and I give 1/4 for cats but a whole pill for dogs. Any other questions, just e-mail me at kats5dogs@aol.com
05/16/2012 5:29:58 PM CDT
Barbara Smith says ...
A great cure for urinary infections is a capsule of Cran Actin cranberry capsules in their food. I used to give one capsule for a 22 pound dog. My dog was paralyzed and prone to UTIs all the time, and this was a miracle. It also works for humans!!! Good luck.
05/16/2012 6:05:36 PM CDT
Karen says ...
Janet, not sure what kind of urinary tract problems you dog is having but cranberries usually work for UTI in people, may work for dogs. Also probiotics and/or enzymes is always good for digestive problems and don't forget to check into your dog food for chemical additives and roadkill... Asthma is often allergy related, I have asthma also and when I can get down LOT's of fresh water my asthma is better, also anti-histamines can help, sometimes asthma is triggered by allergy attacks. There are herbs,and homeopathic remedies that may work (or other modalities), but you need to get to a vet for treatment, asthma can be as life threatening in pets as it is in people. Good Luck!
05/16/2012 6:06:44 PM CDT
Lotus Flower says ...
Can anyone suggest some remedies for a cat with periodontal disease? We have been working on getting her teeth clean but the gums themselves are still quite red and one side is swollen (she doesn't appear to be in pain anymore though, thank goodness!).
05/16/2012 6:28:21 PM CDT
lori says ...
Does anyone know any natural remedies for chronic ear infections in labs? He is allergic to yeast. Thanks!
05/16/2012 6:32:30 PM CDT
judy mayer says ...
What natural products can help with ear inflammation from allergies???
05/16/2012 6:41:24 PM CDT
MCR says ...
There is a product called cedar-cide, made from the cedar shrub, not the tree. It is not only an insect repellant anti-itch spray and animal dip, but is a general all purpose insecticide. it is completely natural, you can spray the lawn, your shrubs, flowers, the house, yourself and your pets. while getting rid of harmful insects, like fleas, ticks, flys, and ants, it also kills the grubs in your lawn that attract moles. I have used it on everything and everyone in the house. It is effective when camping and other outdoor activities. Since it is hydrophilic,(water loving) it actually is more effective when it rains. All this and it does not harm the good biota-i.e. butterflies and bees. It does deter wasps and hornets from hanging around. It is highly concentrated and consequently, lasts a long time, since you must dilute it. You can find several on-line sites that sell this product so you can compare prices. I will warn you, it DOES NOT smell like the cedar chips or blocks that you put in your closet to deter moths, it has a very acrid odor, but it does dissipate fairly quickly. It is a highly effective, natural product that functions in several ways and I highly recommend it. I have not had to buy flea or tick medicine in the last three years, and I have not had to call in the pest control people to control the ants, spiders or other icky bugs either.
05/16/2012 6:51:45 PM CDT
leewaysf says ...
For your JRT, after the dental cleaning a few months, if your dogs breath returns, get a thorough check up. Mine had cancer and was not diagnosed. She was only 10.
05/16/2012 7:02:20 PM CDT
Wild Pumpkin says ...
Lotus Flower, please get your cat to the vet immediately. She may have a very serious disease called stomatitis. The gums are always inflamed and will become infected and she may stop eating completely due to the pain. Our boy had all his teeth removed and now is healthy and pain free. He eats pureed foods, wet food with warm water or dry food soaked in water or broth. He's happy and doing great!
05/16/2012 7:28:55 PM CDT
Mary Lou says ...
Bad breath is a sign that your dog needs to see the vet for a dental and oral exam. One pup I know had a congenital concave pouch in his mouth. It was filling with food debris. Dogs can acquire gum infections from bacteria possibly from snacks and soft food.
05/16/2012 7:33:03 PM CDT
Mary says ...
Rub some lavender oil in your palms, then on your dog's face is he/she is afraid of thunder & lightning. Works wonders!
05/16/2012 7:33:20 PM CDT
Patty says ...
A great product that helps reduce plaque, tartar and bad breath is PlaqueOff. I use it on a daily basis and it really helps a pup's teeth & breath! As a precaution, it would be a good idea to have your dog's teeth checked for dental disease as this can be painful and the bacteria can migrate through the bloodstream to internal organs.
05/16/2012 7:35:37 PM CDT
Rebecca says ...
Anyone with bad breath issues, red gums, dirty teeth, etc. as JT said before if you have any of these issues get your fur baby to the vet ASAP. Not only is this very painful but also very harmful to their health, causing heart, kidney & liver failure if left untreated.
05/16/2012 7:48:43 PM CDT
Stephanie P. says ...
@Janet, Ask your vet, but I give our dogs one tsp. of organic (it must be organic, I use Bragg brand) apple cider vinegar on their dog food daily, it's supposed to be great for their systems, also can be good for their skin. They don't mind the flavor at all, but maybe start with a few drops at first and build up if you think your dog would be adverse. I also rub warmed Coconut oil on their skin, and let it sit for a few hours, before bathing them.
05/16/2012 8:19:13 PM CDT