Kiss Me, Kitty
Experts say the first step to curbing bad pet breath is proper dental care, including brushing your pet's teeth.
But beyond that, Nancy Scanlan, D.V.M., a holistic veterinarian in Sherman Oaks, California, says a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dash of clove oil mixed into a pet's food may also help the problem.
Finely chopped fresh or dried parsley, which contains chlorophyll, may work too, although you might have trouble convincing your cat that it's a good idea.
Chew on This
Does your dog love to gnaw on chew toys or your slippers? Try substituting fruits and vegetables for your pet to munch on instead.
"Pick premium foods and give your dogs veggies and fruits daily for the same reasons it's healthy for us to eat veggies and fruits," says Susan G. Wynn, D.V.M., a holistic veterinarian in Acworth, Georgia.
Raw celery or carrot sticks are healthful choices for dogs to crunch on, and Scanlan notes that dogs especially love carrots. She cautions, however, that you should keep an eye on your pet and avoid feeding them veggie sticks if they tend to swallow large pieces. Wynn also suggests staying away from onions, grapes and raisins, which can be toxic to animals. Good fruit choices that dogs tend to like include bananas, apples, melons and blueberries.
Cool Off Hot Spots
A hot spot is a localized skin infection marked by pain, redness, itchiness and oozing. If your pet develops a hot spot, you might try a cool compress or soaked tea bag of strong black or green tea. "It is antioxidant, which is generally anti-inflammatory, and astringent, which helps to dry up the oozing," says Wynn.
Skin So Smooth—and Furry
When your dog's skin becomes dry and itchy, Scanlan recommends mixing a drop of olive, fish or safflower oil in his food to bring back some of the moisture. One caveat: This is not an effective treatment for fleas, so consult your vet if you suspect that fleas might be making your pet scratch.
A Holistic Vet for Your Pet?
Home remedies may help with some conditions, but to get to the root of a problem, a visit to a holistic veterinarian might be in order. According to Nancy Scanlan, D.V.M., president-elect of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), holistic medicine takes into account an animal's whole life, including diet, behaviors, emotional stress and medical history. It often combines conventional treatments with complementary ones, such as acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy and chiropractic.
If you're looking for a holistic vet for your pet:
- Visit ahvma.org. The website provides a directory of holistic veterinarians along with information about their training and interests. The AHVMA serves as a forum for studying new advances in complementary therapies, and members receive continuing education in the field.
- Check credentials. There is no single organization that certifies holistic vets, but the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (aava.org) certifies them in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.
- Verify licensure. Make sure your vet is licensed by the state and is not opposed to conventional treatments.