The 4 Most Popular Holistic Remedies for Dogs

Many dogs suffer from chronic health problems and pet owners are increasingly turning to holistic remedies. A holistic approach to medical conditions can be curative or palliative. Holistic health involves treating the whole animal, rather than treating only symptoms; for example, changing the diet of a dog with chronically itchy skin instead of, or in addition to, using topical medicated cream.

What Are Holistic Remedies Good For?

Holistic remedies treat any number of health conditions or infections in dogs, including:

  • Fleas and ticks
  • Parasites (worms)
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Allergies
  • Diabetes
  • Skin infections or excessive scratching
  • Degenerative conditions, such as arthritis
  • Lethargy and other changes in behavior

Holistic health includes both Western medicine and alternative treatments. It is not a replacement for vet visits or prescription medication. Many pet owners choose alternative diets and supplements for their dogs simply to keep them healthy and to avoid unnecessary chemicals.

Here's a look at some of the most popular holistic remedies for dogs:

1. Raw and Other Homemade Diets

Changing diet is the first step towards holistic health for many pet owners. Whether from one commercial food to another, or from commercial food to a raw or home-cooked diet, making different choices to feed your dog is a good place to start if you're concerned about his long-term health.

Dog owners choose to stop feeding packaged food for a number of reasons, including the levels of chemicals in kibble, and the quality and quantity of protein content. Many dog owners who have shifted from kibble to raw will note a shinier, healthier coat and less smell. Raw food enthusiasts believe that such dietary changes can treat and prevent any number of illnesses or ailments over the short and long term.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These fatty acids (commonly called omega-3s) are considered highly beneficial to all animals for everything from allergies to cancer to mental functioning. There are not enough good sources of omega-3 in most canine diets. Fish oil supplements in pill or liquid form are the most common choice for adding omega-3 to a dog's diet.

3. Glucosamine

Glucosamine is a compound present in healthy cartilage. Many dogs develop arthritis as they age, and more experience episodic joint pain. Glucosamine has become another popular supplement for dogs, both to treat and to prevent arthritis and other chronic joint problems.

4. Cedar

Holistic options for flea and tick treatment are wide ranging, but the most popular one is cedar. Many commercial natural insect repellents contain cedar oil. Some pet owners place cedar shavings or chips around the house or in dog bedding. You can also dilute cedar oil and spray it directly on your dog, rugs and furniture, and yourself. Use caution around mucous membranes when doing this. Cedar repels fleas, ticks and other biting insects, but will not kill fleas or eggs, so diligent washing is recommended when using cedar for indoor flea control.

When you choose holistic remedies, keep in mind that they are often a complement to, rather than a replacement for, traditional veterinary medicine.