Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.
We live in the mountains with our four German shepherd dogs. Our nearest veterinarian is approximately 45 miles one way and so we often treat our furry family members with homeopathic remedies. These have worked for us in the past, and although I am unable to say that the natural remedies always work, these are worth giving a try.
We feed our guys quality food and they don’t get table scraps or treats that are not good for them. There are numerous articles available that describe human foods that could cause harm to your pets, so this blog will not detail on them.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome
One home remedy I can attest to as working is bilberry capsules. Our senior girl, Sarah, suddenly and without warning went blind. One minute she was fine and the next she was totally blind. We took her instantly to our veterinarian who diagnosed SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome), which affects only a minute amount of canines and has no cure, nor do they know much about it.
A specialist was consulted and said the damage was permanent and non-reversible. It is believed to be caused by high blood pressure, but even that is uncertain. I wrote a blog about it and a reader wrote that her dog had the same diagnosis and it was suggested she use bilberry capsules as they restored her dogs sight.
When retinas detach and are floating free, there is not much to do, but I went into town immediately and bought a bottle of bilberry capsules and started giving her one a day. Three weeks later, we noted she could see and now she is doing just fine. The specialist proclaimed less than a handful of dogs ever regain any sight but Sarah is pretty much back to normal sight.
One of our four has suffered with hot spots each summer even though we have cool temperatures at 9,800-foot elevation. We have had him allergy tested, mite tested, and tested extensively and still in the summer he has hot spots. He is not alone, because other dogs I am aware of have the same problem in the summer.
There are several possible causes but the most common is bacteria. Recently a rescue friend told me about something that worked for her dogs who had hot spots: She gave the dogs a pinch of oregano on their food once a day. Most of the time a steroid and antibiotic is prescribed and steroids have a host of side effects that many vets don’t always have to deal with — not the least of which is repeated potty breaks and some lethargia.
Thanks to a TV commercial about using oregano in chickens as opposed to antibiotics, she wondered if it would work on the causes of hot spots as an antibacterial. She said she tried it and noticed immediate results.
I went to the spice cabinet and started our boy on it and also noted he stopped licking and scratching within a couple days. So far, we have not noted any side effects and he has enjoyed some relief from his annual summer hot spots.
Two of our four have pannus, which is found in middle-aged German Shepherds but also can occur in other breeds. It is a progressive disease where blood vessels and scar tissue invade the cornea and can, if left untreated, cause ultimate blindness.
Our vet advised us that living at high altitude can be a contributing factor due to the intensity of ultraviolet rays' impact on the eyes. In the winter when we have snow, the sun and snow glare combined can be harmful to the eyes. We have drops that we use as prescribed by the vet, but the most effective remedy seems to be having them wear dog sunglasses in intense sunlight.
We have seen that by using the sunglasses, the disease does not seem to progress and we don’t have to use eye drops as often. (See photo above.)
Intestinal Worms and Skin Parasites
For worms, we use diatomaceous earth (DE), which is a small abrasive diatom that when given orally with food will eliminate any worms and the eggs. If we suspect that there are mites or fleas/ticks, we will very lightly dust their fur, being very careful to keep it away from their head and eyes.
Since it is a similar consistency to talcum powder and freely floats on the air, we ruff the fur and lightly dust behind the shoulders. We use food-grade neem, so if they lick it off, it will not harm them. A special note: Do not get it in their ears and protect them from getting it in their eyes or lungs as it is an irritant. We did this initially on the dogs many years ago and now we dust the fenced-in backyard which they often frequent.
When using DE, a little goes a long way so don’t over apply. We have found it far better than the chemicals that are sprayed or squirted on our guys. We used it in the house one time and found that it freely floated in the air and attached to everything, so we vacuumed it up after a couple days, as we didn’t like breathing it nor did we want our dogs to breathe it in. I have asthma and am quite sensitive to airborne irritants.
An excellent information source on DE is Wolf Creek Ranch.
Not to be overlooked is using raw, unflavored pumpkin when they have loose bowels or mineral oil when they are constipated. Both have and do work for us. If those don’t work, off we go to the vet.
Using Neem Oil with Pets
When our furry friends have dry, crusty spots like on their ears or other parts of their body, we use neem oil. Neem oil is an antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic. It repels fleas, ticks, and mange mites.
A dab on the exterior of the ear, top of the head and the tail base works well to repel mosquitos, flies, and only needs to be reapplied every 2 or 3 days. We prefer using it as opposed to the sprays that have so many chemical ingredients that we have no clue what we are applying or if it will pose harm our pets.
Some of what we use is preventive but some is remedial also. None of this is justification for not having your furry family checked regularly by your veterinarian, which we do. We work with our vet in using these homeopathic treatments and we keep our vet informed.
Our fur family are all inside dogs and only go out into our protected backyard to go potty and sniff and for regular walks. Living remotely as we do, they are not exposed to other dogs, but we still keep their vaccinations current. Others may have different environmental conditions and may have to use homeopathic remedies in conjunction with their veterinarian approval.
For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their lives in the Sangre de Christo mountains of southern Colorado, go to their blog site: www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com. They live in a small cabin with their four German Shepherd Dogs at 9,800 feet elevation. Read all of Bruce's remote-living blog posts for MOTHER EARTH NEWS here.
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