Recently I was reading a pet-related industry insiders report that said ‘first aid for pets is a relatively new category in the animal industry.’ Relatively new? No it’s not…if you are like me and share your life with an animal, you know that first aid is one of the primary things on our minds. The health and wellbeing of my dogs is paramount to sharing a quality human-animal bond with him. The report went on to add that the most common complaint from pet owners was knowing how to address skin and paw issues. After digesting this article I thought that maybe what it was truly reporting on was the growth of commercially viable answers (e.g. products) in response to a pet first aid survey. So, I thought I might save you some time and money by sharing our very own MattieDog© tried and true DIY pet first aid tips with a holistic twist.
Human and Pet First Aid Differ
First aid kits meant to address human concerns often do not contain the appropriate supplies for animals. Rubbing alcohol pads are included in first aid kids for the primary purpose of killing bacteria. Good in tiny amounts, like for wiping a small spot on your pups skin prior to a shot, however for a cut…you better stand back, cuz ‘that’sa gonna hurt,’ as my grandpa used to say. But what can I do, I hear you asking. I have two bundled terms for you: ‘povidone iodine‘ and ‘epsom salt.’
Skin: Scrapes, Rashes, Pimples/Doggy Acne and Minor Wounds
Povidone iodine is clinically proven to defend against common bacteria (yeast, staph and the like), doesn’t burn and is not toxic should your dog lick his/her skin post application. You can buy povidone iodine in any pharmacy. To apply povidone iodine to your furry one’s skin you need to:
- Dilute: depending on the size of the area you are attempting to treat, start by pouring a small amount of iodine in to a glass bowl and then add warm, preferably filtered water to the bowl. While there’s no specifically prescribed measurement, the mixture should eventually attain the color of iced tea.
- Apply/Compress: use an organic cotton ball or washcloth and soak it in the diluted mixture. Allow the saturated cloth to drip just a little bit, do not squeeze all of the mixture out of it; and gently apply to the area you are intending to treat. Repeat up to a 20 minutes if possible.
Our Own DIY Pet First Aid Povidone Iodine Experience: We spend time in the glorious outdoors of the great Pacific Northwest where towering evergreens coexist alongside the dreaded foxtail plant. Foxtail looks like a tall grass with a wheat-like pod at the end. The end of the foxtail actually is a seed head with hook-like barbs, and is extremely bad news for dogs. We are vigilant about keeping our dogs away from foxtails, yet even so on one Sunday afternoon we returned from a hike and noticed that an area just below one of our Shih Tzu’s eyes was red and slightly swollen.
Oh no! No vet, as we were deep in the woods in our cabin…so, now what to do? We were prepared to take the four hour journey back to the city but thought we’d try a little DIY pet first aid. Povidone iodine to the rescue! Following the dilute and apply method above, we were able to apply a warm compress to our little furry baby’s eye area, and within 15 minutes the area was softened enough that the foxtail could safely came out. We continued to clean the wound with the mixture and since our Shih Tzu couldn’t lick the area, we applied a small amount of manuka raw honey (for it’s natural antibiotic properties) as well; and her discomfort was gone and skin looked back to normal extremely fast.
Paw: Irritants, Yeast, and Minor Scrapes
Some people have good responses to these paw conditions through the povidone iodine treatment approach; however, there are ways you can add complimentary DIY pet first aid holistic tips to augment the treatment and improve healing. One of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to treat paw issues is by adding a little epsom salt paw-dicure to your dog’s day! Epsom salt contains the potassium, chloride and nitrates that restore your dog’s own natural paw pad bacterial balance; and it’s available from any drug store. Here are our tips:
- Dilute: pour epsom salts in warm bath water (1 cup to 1 gallon ratio), fill up the tub adequate to the size of your dog so that the water rises just above your dog’s ankles (yes you know what I mean); and swish the mixture to ensure salt is dissolved.
- Soak: gently place your dog in to the warm diluted salt water for approximately 10 minutes. To help your dog acclimate and enjoy the paw-dicure, make it an experience with soft music, treats, and gentle petting/massage and he will grow to enjoy this time.
- Wipe: once 10 minutes is up the paw-dicure is over and out comes your pup from the tub. You can drain the water with your dog still in the tub if he doesn’t mind the noise, however do not rinse. The Epsom salt soak just naturally raised the pH level of your pup’s tootsies, addressing harmful bacteria (that cause itching, irritations, etc.,) and regenerating healthy bacteria (that help keep your pup in tip-top shape).
Our Own DIY Pet First Aid Epsom Salt Experience: Shih Tzu’s are susceptible to yeast imbalances in their paws. A decade ago, before we knew what type of diet might trigger our pup’s yeast imbalances, and as a result have them gnaw their toes, we were less selective about the treats we gave our Tzu’s. Once we put two and two together we visited a holistic vet to learn more, and made the necessary dietary changes she recommended. We also followed her epsom salt soak instructions to help sooth our pup’s itchy yeasty paws, and with just the first paw-dicure our little fuzzy one was no longer chewing his paws – relief! Today, to help ward off pollen and other paw irritants, we incorporate an epsom salt paw-dicure in to our pup’s weekly bathing schedule – and to this day, their tootsie are nibble free. Okay, got me… I nibble on their cute toes every now and again….
Is DIY Always The Answer to Pet Health?
DIY is a good way to care for your furry family member after you have established a reliable understanding of your animal’s health attributes and patterns, specifically for non-emergent issues. You want to start off your relationship with your newly adopted family member with the type of confidence that builds through knowledge. Become informed and seek out holistic veterinarians or veterinarians that are open to alternative treatments. Why do we recommend this? Antibiotic prescriptions tend to be dispensed for everything….funny thing about antibiotics though, prolonged exposure often causes yeast infection that become harder and harder to treat. We maintain a very close relationship with all of our dog’s veterinarians, holistic and traditional….and we do have many of them due to adopting seniors and special needs animals. Our dog’s primary vet has been very open to a blended treatment approach that includes holistic treatments!
Holistic Pet Care and Resources
The pet industry insider report closed by saying that ‘pet owners’ safety concerns include wanting to quickly and effectively treat their pet’s injuries as well as seeking out more holistic and natural products,’ and as you can tell, we couldn’t agree more! Don’t get me wrong, having worked in an inner-city trauma hospital for a majority of my professional career, I totally understand that clinical interventions are necessary and often the most prudent path. However, for minor scrapes and every day pet-related boo boos give holistic pet care a try. Organic, natural and sustainable…hey, what’s good for you is good for your pet. Here are some good DIY pet first aid with a holistic twist resources to help you establish a more connected human-animal bond with your furry family member:
- Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats
- Dogs Naturally Magazine
- American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
- The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat
Be Your Animal’s Advocate
Just like when humans experience scrapes and cuts, our animals need someone that will help them along their path to renewed vitality. Be your animal’s advocate, all that it takes is a little know how, open communication with your furry family member’s care team(s) and a willingness to be there when needed. If you are reading this, I know that you are willing. Developing a strong human-animal bond with your pet is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences you can have. Take your time and learn about the DIY pet first aid tips with a holistic twist treatments that I’ve shared with you today – and I’d love to hear your DIY pet first aid with a holistic twist experiences so that we can share, learn and grow together…that’s what a pack does!
Thanks for reading, and until next time – take care and keep on lovin’ your dog!