When it comes to your pets, you do everything you can to keep them in tip-top shape. But sometimes, even with the best care, our furry friends can come down with a bug. Whether it’s from lack of exercise, being around another sick pup, or (shudder) eating poop, bugs happen. But too many bugs in a row, as well as too many medications and antibiotics, can leave your pal with a sluggish immune system that needs some help to get going again.
Now, I am not a veterinarian, and if your pets aren’t acting like themselves (change in eating habits, lethargic, or peculiar poops) you should take them to see the vet. Always talk to your vet before trying homeopathic remedies, as not all routes are appropriate for all pets, especially if there is a preexisting condition.
Here are some great, all natural yummies you can add to your besties’ diets to help them regain their vigor, as well as some tips to improve their every day lives. I’m including a few links, and I highly recommend you look over them for additional information.
This herb is an antiseptic, antibiotic, digestant, and blood purifier. It stimulates the lymph system to effectively remove toxins from the body, and give the immune system a gentle boost. After a time, the body will build immunity to Echinacea’s effects. To prevent this, a good rule of thumb for pets and humans is 5 days on, 3 days off. For details, including preparation and dosage, click here. I also recommend reading this article by The Animal Herbalist for more information on the benefits of Echinacea. However, if your dogs suffer from an autoimmune disease you should not give them Echinacea, since it will stimulate their already overactive immune system.
SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, also called a Mother or Mushroom. If you’re an avid Kombucha drinker, you probably have cultures coming out your ears—I have 6 extras in my fridge as we speak! These are packed with probiotics that can help replenish the healthy flora in your pups’ gut. You can dehydrate them, or cut them up and give them as raw treats. Nimbus loves them! There’s not too much of a flavor, and I personally like the rubbery texture (yes, you can eat them too). A little goes a long way, so start the servings small, a few bites a day, and see how your dogs react. You can also give them very small amounts (a teaspoon to start) of kombucha tea, if they will take it (Nimbus will not).
Coconut oil has wonderful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. The medium-chain triglycerides in the oil promote energy for lethargic pups, as well as aiding in weight loss. It revs up metabolism and protects from illnesses. It also aids in digestion, and gives dogs a healthy, shiny coat. It tastes fabulous, too! Just a drizzle over their dog food will have them coo coo for coconuts! Come on, you knew that was coming.
No amount of supplements, exercise, and snuggles can replace a healthy, organic diet. Dogs are carnivores, so when purchasing dog food, meat should be the very first ingredient—not corn. Organic is important to ensure they aren’t consuming harmful GMOs. You also want to steer clear of preservatives and artificial colors. Some dogs greatly benefit from a strictly homemade diet of mostly fresh meat and a little rice. The same rules apply to treats. You can make your own, or buy organic treats. Here is a good list of things to avoid giving your dog.
This is essential for your dogs, keeping their immune systems strong. Going for a brisk walk and playing fetch, tug-of-war, or “try to get me” will not only help you and your dogs to bond, but will keep them at a healthy weight as well as stimulate their lymph systems. It doesn’t take long, and by the end you will all be smiling!
It’s important for your dogs to hydrate regularly throughout the day, especially in the hotter months. I keep a bowl of clean, fresh water outside as well as inside, so Nimbus always has what he needs. Dogs need water to flush out toxins just like people do, so make sure your dogs have access to water throughout the day, and if you’re worried about accidents at night, take the water away 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Cleanliness is healthy doggieness
Keeping your dog beds clean is an important part of maintaining a healthy immune system. Wash your dogs’ favorite blankets and pillows regularly to keep them germ and parasite free, and you can add 5-6 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the wash for disinfecting. Adding 6 drops each of hyssop and eucalyptus oil to 2 1/2 cups of water in a spray bottle will act as a safe, effective disinfectant spray. Cleanliness applies to boarding too. When you go on vacation, be sure you leave your dogs with someone you trust. Having someone house sit is a great way to keep your dogs from the unnecessary stress of a new routine, new surroundings, and new (sometimes ill-behaved) companions.
If you do board, check out the place ahead of time and be sure to ask questions such as “How often do you take the dogs potty? Do the dogs get playtime? Is there supervision while the dogs play together? How long are the dogs left in the kennel?” These simple questions can save you and your dog a tremendous amount of stress during vacation time. If you live in the Seattle area, Puppy Manners has an incredible board and train program, and their care and love for dogs is unsurpassed.
Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, is released in both dogs and humans when snuggling, and lowers the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Snuggling with your pups lets them know they please you, and that you accept them. This is incredibly important for your dogs’ self-esteem and overall health.
One of the hardest, yet most important things you can do for your dogs, is say no. I have, hands down, the cutest dog in the world and when he looks up at me with those big, Nala eyes of his, it’s hard not to give him anything and everything he’s begging for. But I say no because I love him. One of the healthiest things I do for Nimbus is feed him a healthy dog food in an appropriate amount, and give him all natural or homemade treats sparingly (I also make him work for them). I like letting Nimbus have a lick or two here and there if it’s healthy for him. For example, my husband made me an egg this morning and I let Nimbus lick the left over yolk on my plate. It’s tasty for him, and I know it supports a shiny coat.
But there are many things we humans can enjoy that dogs should not. A great resource is CanIGiveMyDog.com, which is a fabulous site where you type in the food in question and get a break down of why you should or should not feed it to your dog. I know that by saying no to Nimbus I am being a good mom and helping him lead a full, healthy life.
I want to reiterate that these are good guidelines and healthy options for your dog, but I am not a vet and this is not meant to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your vet if your pups aren’t their normal selves, and before changing or adding anything to their diet.
Now, go play!