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Friday, May 20, 2011

Cut Your Vet Bills with Home Pet Care

We do love our pets and worry constantly about their safety, health and welfare.

The situations they get themselves into never fail to amaze and amuse me.

Veterinary expenses are enough to deter the decision to take on the responsibility of a pet. Unless you can take care of some situations at homes, you may be spending a lot more on vet bills than you anticipated.
Routine care and awareness can nip a lot of potential problems in the bud.

How easy is it to turn a day upside down? Just ask these guys!
If there is an opening of any kind, be it dryer, washer, closet, cabinet, car, freezer, luggage, box, bag.....they are in it. We even have a kitten we suspect got packed up with donations to a local thrift shop! Their curiosity can get them into sooo much trouble!!

At least with cats they don't just eat anything like puppies will. Thankfully, these guys haven't yet required emergency surgery. They just show me what trouble they've gotten into by bringing whatever it was back up.

Belly and bowel upsets can be calmed by offering plain white rice, yogurt, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin in place of the usual kibble. Keep a can of pureed pumpkin on hand in the pantry. It is good for both constipation and diarrhea. Add about two tbsp. pumpkin (not the pie blend) for a medium sized dog. Continue at mealtimes till the problem resolves itself.

If your dog ate something toxic you should call your vet for reassurance that vomiting the substance back up is the right thing to do. Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy for such emergencies. Give one teaspoon for every five pounds of body weight to induce vomiting and repeat once if necessary.

Pets love touch. When you are brushing, holding or fussing with your pet, be conscious of any lumps, fur mats, odors, hot spots or minor wounds.
Long-haired fur mats easily which unless de-thatched can get tight and painfully pull the skin. Keep pets grooms to removed excess fur which otherwise ends up on your furnishings or ingested. To a certain extent furballs are ok but no one likes to clean up the yellow stain caused by a cat's vomit. A type of pet comb called the "furminator" is so efficient at removing that undercoat we only use it outside. The hair removed is unbelievable.

To help with hairballs in cats, give just a bit of butter (1/2 tsp) for a few days.

Odors and ear scratching may be an overgrowth of yeast. I found two recipes. The first is a mixture of 1/3 white vineger, 1/3 isopropyl alcohol and 1/3 distilled water. The second is 1/2 distilled water and 1/2 white vinegar. Either one is inexpensive and a good preventative for keeping those ears clear. Just wet a cotton square and wipe the outer ear canal once a week. Don't use q-tips. No poking inside the ear canal.

If your pet's ears are already scratched sore, don't use the vinegar or alcohol/vinegar blend as it will be painful for your pet. Add a garlic clove to an ounce of olive oil and keep in a glass dropper bottle. When not in use keep this mixture in the refrigerator since hopefully you won't be needing it that often. When needed warm the bottle by rolling between your hands or sit in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Do not microwave to avoid the chance of uneven hot spots. Add a small amount onto a cotton round and wipe out the ear canal or add just a small bit into the ear, gently squish a bit to help the ear clean itself and wipe with a cotton round or tissue.

If when you clean your cat's ears you find a black discharge on your cotton round, it is probably because of ear mites. The garlic olive oil can be used as a way to smother the mites but you have to be diligent and apply the oil daily until you don't see signs, which may take up to a month. If you have more than one cat there is a good chance you'll need to do this for each cat. Add a dropper of garlic oil to each ear, gently squish the ear cartilage so it gets down into the canal, wipe out with a cotton round to remove the black discharge and clean the ear. Be sure to do both ears.

Another great natural method of ear cleaning is to wipe out the canal with coconut oil. As an anti-fungal, coconut oil will help keep those yeasties at bay.

Learn more about coconut oil for your pets from this article. Coconut oil is loaded with the good fats our pets need for better digestion, fresher breath, smooth coat, clean teeth and to make life easier your dog will probably take it right off a spoon. Start off with about 1/4 tsp for every 10 pounds of body weight and work up to about a tsp. a day for the average 10 pound cat and 1-2 tbsp. a day for the average dog weight of 50-60 pounds or 1 tsp per 10 pounds.

To help keep those teeth clean and breath fresh, try adding a bit of coconut oil to an ordinary toothbrush and go over your dog or cat's teeth. Your dog will probably just try to chew on the brush but that's ok, he is still getting the antibacterial benefits on his teeth and mix with saliva to do the trick. Now a cat may like it or fight it but it's worth a try.

For a pet toothpaste combining coconut oil with the benefits of diatomaceous earth, try this blend
Pet Toothpaste

Pet skin allergies are one of the most common reasons pets need to visit their veterinarian. As frustrating for the doctor as for the pet owner, these conditions are often chronic, meaning all you're doing is offering temporary relief even though you go to the vet hoping the next "fix" will work this time for good. Prednisolone works like a magic pill but long term steroid use is often detrimental for your pet's health.

Be aware of what is in your pet's food. The more inexpensive brands are corn based which is a cheap filler, adds weight gain, often attributes to allergies, and is not the best thing for a naturally carnivorous animal. You will find that the better quality pet foods require less per serving, bringing the overall cost down. Cheaper foods don't offer the nutrition your pet needs, contain fillers and potentially harmful additives and preservatives, eventually evident in the condition of the skin, coat and possible chronic disease. The addition of 1 Tbsp. of flax seed oil added daily to your pet's diet can help with irritated skin. Commercial pet foods are often lacking in the 'good fats' so needed for healthy skin. Flax oil comes bottled in the refrigerated section of most health or natural food stores.

Allergies and anxiety can result in a dog miserable with itchy, twitchy skin resulting in obsessive licking a certain spot, known as hot spots. This mixture of vegetable glycerin and witch hazel (click hereis worth a try to help break the cycle and hopefully the licking will stop. Just spray the affected area and rub in a bit with your fingers.

Urinary blockages in cats is every cat owners nightmare. Blockages can be painfully fatal if not caught in time, so a trip to the visit should not be pushed off. Crystals can block the urethra making it very difficult or impossible for the cat to urinate. Signs of a bladder infection and inflammation include: frequent straining in the litter box, not making it to the litter box, voiding very little urine at a time, constant licking at the back end, lethargy, bloody urine, painful meowing.
Preventative measures include adding a bit of apple cider vinegar to your cat's water bowl to help keep the urine acidic or add some cranberry juice to your cat's diet. These can be given in capsule form or dried cranberry juice powder added to the food. Unsweetened cranberry juice or a cranberry tincture can be added to the water bowl. Ask your vet for the proper dosages. 

Minor wound care can be nursed at home. Keep on hand two 'must haves' from your health food store. Ask for the essential oils Tea Tree and Lavender. They'll come in little 1 oz. amber glass dropper bottles. Essential oils are very potent and NEVER allowed accessible to the possibility of your pet ingesting them. External use only!!

Should you have a wound to deal with, dilute 10 drops tea tree in a cup of warm water and wash the wound to disinfect and clean the area. Once clean and dry apply a good quality healing salve. If the wound is a puncture it needs to heal from the inside out. If it closes over too soon, there is an increase of infection. This is especially true with cat bites. Cat bites very often develop an abscess and antibiotics may be needed but home care of the wound is still necessary. For deeper wounds, keep the wound disinfected with the tea tree wash but wait a few days before applying the salve. Won't harm your pet if he licks at the salve.
This link is for an herbal salve utilizing the healing powers of herbs, Calendula and Comfrey.

click here

Lavender is like a first aid kit in a bottle. Just a drop will help the itch of bug bites. Dilute 10 - 15 drops in a pint of warm water and sponge bathe your pet to relief either sunburn or irritated, inflamed skin.

A great balm to keep on hand utilizes the properties of herbal oils Chickweed, Plantain and Comfrey. Apply to bug bites or inflamed skin conditions and hot spots. Won't harm your pet if he licks at the salve.

click here

Protection from the elements is done very efficiently by a dog's coat, but depending on the breed, they may be a bit more vulnerable to the sun's rays. Not all breeds have the skin protection of thick body fur and are susceptible to sun burn. Over-exposed noses and ears, or the body itself in hairless breeds, can suffer from sunburn just like with our unprotected skin. An herbal salve made up of St. Johnswort, Comfrey and Lavender, this balm not only repairs damaged tissue but calms down the inflammation and pain that follows a burn.
 click here
Some dog breeds just seem to have more of a doggy odor than others, and some dog fur just seems to take forever to dry after getting wet.  Come in from the rain or following a bath, and that wet dog smell can be very distinct.  This deodorant spray is listed as a deodorant spray for people seeking alternatives to aluminum based deodorants, but is also very good for our pets (not cats). Vanilla and Sage are often used in pet odor candles, for they are very good at eliminating odors. Being alcohol based, it dries quickly, leaving behind a really nice smelling pooch. Do not get into the eyes.

Bathing your dog can be a rewarding and bonding experience, especially if you know you are using a gentle shampoo free of potentially harmful additives. Over use of bathing products can dry out and contribute to the imbalance of skin conditions.
The links below are for shampoos based on the gentle, natural ingredients in Bronner's castile soap, Aloe Vera Gel and Apple Cider Vinegar.

General Clean Shampoo

Flea Deterrent Shampoo

Shampoo for irritated skin

A further use for lavender and peppermint is to add about 10 - 15 drops of either oil or a combination of both to an 16 oz. spray bottle of water. Spray your dog and/or pet bedding to freshen as well as repel fleas. If using on a cat the lavender is safe but avoid the peppermint. Also spray your mattress and upholstered furniture.

In addition for the battle with fleas, Diatomaceous Earth is a non-toxic all-natural powdered substance that can be rubbed directly into the fur and/or sprinkled onto the pet bedding. Diatomaceous earth  is not an earth. It is the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one celled plants called diatoms. It can also be used as an organic wormer and will kill any worms or parasites the pets may have. Be sure to use pure, food-grade DE. Nature’s Wisdom Diatomaceous Earth contains Perma-guard de. PERMA-GUARD is the trade name known world wide for using a grade and quality of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) that is extremely pure.

To use Diatomaceous Earth for fleas:
Avoid getting the powder into your pet's eyes. Rub about one tbsp. into the fur of dogs over 35 pounds. Use about one tsp. for cats or little dogs. Do this once or twice a week.
To use Diatomaceous Earth for worms:
Add one tbsp a day to your dog's food.
Add one tsp. a day to your cat's food.
Repeat this until you no longer see signs of worms either in the stool or in vomit.

Borax is another option for fleas. Sprinkle it over your carpets and rugs, work it in, wait at least a half hour, and vacuum.

For a natural flea powder combining diatomaceous earth with neem powder, yarrow powder and geranium essential oil, try this blend:
Pet Flea Powder

 Rescued pets have no way to actually tell us the origins of their fears and anxieties. We try to help these emotionally based behavioral disorders by offering secure, safe havens free of stress. But past traumas are buried deep and all it takes is the loud bang of gunfire, fireworks or even door slamming, to send a shaking pet under the bed. Or perhaps with your companion it is dealing with separation anxiety, and our dog exhibits inappropriate chewing, either of his own tail or paws or your home furnishings. Before relying on anti-anxiety medication, try the power of herbal remedies. Lavender and chamomile are safe for pets and are great for calming fears.

A remedy great to have on hand though you hope never to have to use it is Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. It is a remedy to give in situations of extreme shock and fear. It is made up of five flower essences known for their calming properties: Impatiens, Clematis, Rock Rose, Cherry Plum and Star of Bethlehem. Found at a health food store, this remedy developed by Dr. Edward Bach, should be in every first aid kit and every car glove compartment. Preventing shock at the time of an emergency definitely can save lives. Give two to four drops on the tongue or gums every 10 - 15 minutes en route to the veterinarian.

Listed below is an essential oil based spray useful for spraying pet bedding or massaging it right into their fur. It will help with fears and anxiety as well as calm down an excited pet in preparation for sleep. This air or linen spray also works great for people who have trouble sleeping and children who need help settling down. Click here

The threat of Lyme disease is always a concern for pets as well as ourselves.  Ticks can be very stubborn to the typical flea and tick sprays. Rather than dousing yourself and loved ones with pesticides and organophosphates, and then worry about the risks of these toxic ingredients, try an approach these buggers naturally detest and don't build up a resistance. The scent of certain essential oils encourages them to flee. Ticks don't like the smell of the oil therefore try to avoid it. Rose Geranium, Pelargonium graveolens, is a necessary part of any effective eco-friendly tick repellent. This spray is ideal for use on your dogs, but don't use on cats. Some essential oils can be dangerous to cats. Cats don't have the enzymes necessary to break down certain components and unless eliminated efficiently their build-up can lead to toxicity.

A great tip to remember:
When you come in from outside or even periodically while on a hike or gardening, take a lint roller and go over your clothing to pick up any ticks. Roll it over your dog or cat to pick up any ticks. Being deer ticks are so small and blend in so well with darker clothing and fur, this tip is genius.

  click here

Below is a great gift idea for the dog lover! A nice assortment of care products useful for people and their pets for bath time, times of anxiety, tick prevention, wound care and pet odor.
click here

Your dog will love these handmade, homemade dog treats to help repel fleas.
Click here to take you to a blog post with the recipe.

Last, please remember that when you have a young dog you have to be patient and tolerant. Dogs aim to please and aren't purposely getting on your nerves with their impulsive, destructive behaviors.
Here is a cute, yet so true post about living with a toddler dog

I'm Sorry!

The items shown above can be found within the Meadow Muffin Gardens shop 

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