In our house, we eat mostly organic food and we use natural remedies when we’re sick.
Our 17-year-old dog did very much the same. His diet consisted mostly of organic people food, especially as he got older.
When he was sick, we either called our family homeopath or we brought him to a holistic-minded vet.
We use essential oils to to help maintain healthy ears.
As a Cocker Spaniel, his long floppy ears don’t allow for light and air to circulate under his ear flaps. So, occasionally, to prevent infection, we clean them out with a very low dilution of aromatic oils.
But please always ask your vet before using essential oils on a dog. Let he or she be the final word on whether you should use these highly concentrated aromatics on your pet.
(Remember, I’m not a vet. Just a dog Mom. All of this is my personal opinion only. Basically we fed him good food and avoided potentially toxic chemicals.)
This article is also updated. Our dog lived a full life until a couple of months after he turned 17. He is no longer with us. But we have two puppies in the house.
Geranium Oil for Dog Fleas
(This post contains affiliate links, and if you purchase a product I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you.)
Essential oils were the main way we kept fleas and ticks off of our dog’s body.
One summer, I noticed two large ticks had attached themselves to his face. So I decided to get serious. I put a drop of geranium essential oil on his collar, with the plan to refresh it about once a week or every few days.
Insects hate the smell of concentrated geranium. Just in case you’re thinking of doing the same thing, first check with your vet. Essential oils shouldn’t be used on pregnant or nursing females, or on very young puppies.
Anyway, I do think our efforts to raise a healthy dog have paid off. Our dog did very well for his age, and he greatly exceeded the average age for his breed.
Are Flea Collars Dangerous to Pets?
We adopted our dog from a shelter at the age 3 1/2.
Never once, since we’ve brought him home, have we put a chemical pesticide on our near his body.
I like to think this has made a difference. Even at his very old age, he ate like a pig and he still pulled on the leash when we took him for a walk. (He’s never been a really well behaved dog.)
Recently, he saw a squirrel on the back deck and ran outside to chase it up a tree. In an effort to keep him healthy, we’ve never used any of those widely advertised chemical flea products.
Are Flea Products Dangerous to Pets?
I wonder how many pet owners are aware of the potential risks.
Judging from the popularity of these products, I don’t think many people know that one particular type of treatment is especially controversial.
The so-called “spot-on” treatments have resulted in a number of pet deaths, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which noted that at least 1,600 animals lost their lives during a five-year period.
Among the most concerning are a class of chemicals called pyrethroids. These compounds caused most of the serious reactions, the CPI noted.
Are Flea Collars Dangerous to Humans?
On this site, I usually only write about natural living as it pertains to humans. But there’s no reason why we shouldn’t try to keep our pets healthy.
Also, keeping these potentially dangerous chemicals out of your house will also benefit the entire family.
That’s because flea collars leave pesticide residue that doesn’t just stay on the animal. It travels and exposes everyone to potentially dangerous chemicals. \
According to the National Resources Defense Council, unacceptably high levels of toxins are present for weeks after a collar is placed on an animal.
Anyway, back to our efforts to control fleas and ticks naturally. As I already mentioned, we use geranium essential oil instead of chemicals. There are also some excellent natural flea and tick control products available, including Vet’s Best Flea & Tick House Spray.
Are Lawn Chemicals Bad for Dogs?
Our dog was not exposed to herbicides or other potentially dangerous chemicals when he walked across our front lawn. That’s because we’ve let our lawn go natural.
Maybe our neighbors aren’t happy with this decision. But it worked for us.
There is now scientific proof that dogs and lawn chemicals are a bad combination.
In fact, exposure to these compounds has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer in canines. Lawn chemicals have also been found to increase the risk of childhood leukemia.
Grain Free Diet for Dogs
Toward the end of his life, we fed our dog a lot of organic people food.
We weren’t worried about “spoiling” him or having him reject his dog food. (He still devoured that anyway.)
But we did limit his grains.
It’s my personal feeling that dogs are not built to digest a lot of corn, a main ingredient in a lot of the dried kibble. There are many higher quality kibble brands on the market that don’t even contain corn.
Another problem with corn is that it’s likely to be genetically modified. French researchers have found that rats fed genetically modified feed developed cancer. (You can read more about genetically modified ingredients here.)
Before we switched him to more people food, he was doing very well on a grain free formula called Taste of the Wild that contained bison, venison and other healthy ingredients.
Our dog did so well on this food. We fed it to him for about a year before he lost his taste for it.
I felt putting our then elderly dog on a grain-free diet was a good move. Before then, he had been deteriorating. However, if you decide on a diet change, you need to consult your vet. This is especially the case if your dog is old, has a chronic health problem or digestive issues.
One vet I respect believes that puppies should not be on a grain-free diet.
Bottom line: Check with your vet.
Homeopathy for Dogs
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been using homeopathy on our dog for more than a decade. We are very fortunate to have an excellent family homeopath, who is also able to treat our family pet.
However, I realize everyone doesn’t have access to this type of care. Still, there are some homeopathic formulas that don’t require the expertise of a professional.
That’s because they’re designed to work on a wide cross-section of people and animals.
One of my favorites is Bach Rescue Remedy. I love this blend of five flower essences created by Dr. Edward Bach, MD, a famous British homeopath who practiced in the early 1900’s.
Dr. Bach designed a line of flower remedies that bear his name. These are intended to ease emotional stress. He believed that negative emotions can cause disease.
Bach Homeopathy for Dogs
Bach Rescue Remedy for pets is made for those intensely stressful situations, such as a trip to the vet or to the groomers. (Our own dog hates these two places.)
Rescue remedy could also be used when it’s particularly noisy outside, such as when Fourth of July fireworks light up the sky.
This is meant for short-term use, to help with sudden and acute stress. I personally would not use it daily.
We’ve owned our own bottle of Rescue Remedy for more than a decade and it still seems to work. The bottle below is made for pets, and is preserved with glycerin instead of alcohol.
Essential Oils for Dog Ear Care
About a year ago, our dog developed what seemed to be an ear infection. We could have brought him to the vet.
But we decided to try a home remedy first. That’s because one of the pharmaceuticals recommended for dog ear problems has some nasty side effects. It contains an antibiotic and a steroid. Side effects have been reported, especially with long-term use.
We’d much rather work with our dog’s body whenever possible. So, in this instance, we were able to solve the problem with natural essential oils.
(But please always work with your vet, as essential oils may not be appropriate for your dog. Also, certain essential oils should never be used on pets.
We Loved Our Dog
I realize our dog was very elderly. We couldn’t keep him forever.
But we tried to keep him around as long as we could. We realize every day was a gift.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Essential oils and homeopathic remedies should not be used on pregnant female dogs unless under the direction of a veterinarian. I am not an animal healthcare expert, so this article is not intended as medical advice. All statements are my personal opinion only, and are written for discussion purposes only.