What is a Safer Method in Caring for Pets; Home Remedies or Veterinary Advice?

While surfing the Internet the other day, searching for an interesting topic, I happened to run across an advertisement for the book, “Amazing Pet Cures”  by Joey Green.

Cat and dog together

Not only does it recommend “1,130 Secret Uses for Your Favorite Products” as safe and effective home remedies for curing simple pet ailments which may save a trip to the vet, the book’s main theme is “pampering your pet for pennies using-well-known brand products”. The enticing hook? Many of these products are more than likely already found around the house.

While considering the use of some of these common household products may initially be appealing, while checking them out I found some of them to be just plain outrageous. For example: using KrazyGlue to safely remove ticks from pets makes absolutely no sense to me at all. The active ingredient in KrazyGlue is cyanoacrylate, a material that is related to cyanide. Instructions provided by the manufacturer warn that the product needs careful handling.

Another worrisome suggestion offered to readers is the use of Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain rice to help sweeten kitty’s breath. However halitosis may be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition, so before looking for a quick fix to cure or mask bad breath, to me, it seems more prudent to seek veterinary advice.

Recently we talked ad-nauseum about flabby tabbies. But if your pooch is a bit pudgy, to help him shed a few pounds, the suggestion is feeding him Grape Nut’s Flakes. As far as I am concerned, without knowing if there is an underlying medical condition causing a dog to be overweight, the idea seems to me, (pardon the pun) to be  a bit “flaky” and irresponsible.

Another rather bizarre idea to help dogs who enjoy romping in a winter wonderland is to use Pam Cooking Spray to prevent the snow from sticking to their paw pads.  I don’t know how your dog or cat would react to the hissing sound of a spray can, but if I tried this little trick on Sir Hubble Pinkerton, or Dr. Hush Puppy, I would have two very frightened cats hanging upside down from one of our ceiling fans.  

While I am all in favor of some my grandma’s tried-and-true home remedies meant to stifle sniffles, relieve those red and runny eyes together with those pearls of wisdom aimed at alleviating the discomfort of the nagging simple aches and pains we endure daily may well be just what an old-fashioned and experienced doctor may prescribe; when it comes to treating sick kitties, I seek my veterinarian’s recommendations.  

After all, although it may initially be a tad more expensive, in the long run using more traditional measures can save pet guardians a lot of heartache and financial distress.   So if you’re really committed to helping Fido lose some weight, consult with your vet for a safe exercise program and a sensible weight control diet.  And rather than using Pam Spray on your pet’s paws, try rubbing a dab of Vaseline onto their tender footsies before trekking about in the snow.

While these “trendy” products that this book pitches may initially seem like a great idea, especially since many of us may have them stashed away in a closet; in the vast number of cases using products designed specifically for pets is far more effective and a darned sight safer.

What do you think?  Which type of products do you prefer? Share your thoughts in a comment.


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What is a Safer Method in Caring for Pets; Home Remedies or Veterinary Advice? — 23 Comments

  1. I agree Jo – I also think those suggestions are absurd. Crazy glue (super glue to English people) to remove ticks? What the hell…. Are you sure the book didn’t come from the comedy section of the library or amazon….. 🙂

  2. Some home remedies can be dangerous! I hope people don’t buy the ‘Amazing Pet Cures’ book and take it for gospel 🙁

  3. There are some home remedies that are safe and effective for minor conditions.
    However, it is the caretaker’s responsibility to know their limitations and be learned enough to know when a condition needs expert attention.
    It’s always preferrable to me for a cat to be taken to a vet than for the caretaker to play guessing games.

  4. I think that both can be very beneficial. Initially, I would ask my vet about ailments and illnesses and what treatments or remedies are deemed necessary. Like you, Jo, I want to get at the root of the problem rather than just treating symptoms. However, once the problem is diagnosed, I have found that there are many homeopathic and/or holisitc approaches to treatments and cures. I think that we, as pet caretakers, need to do our research and come up the right balance of medical and homeopathic/holistic treatment for each of our individual pets. What works for one may not work for another and that’s where vet expertise comes in. Thanks for a great article! 🙂

  5. Hi Reno,

    I don’t put homeopathic or holistic approaches to treatment as “home remedies”. My vet is holistic- she has a wide range of treatment options to deal with different conditions, and when used appropriately can be extremely effective- and when used with traditional medications can be just what is needed.

  6. I believe sometimes DIY cat health care is OK. It may even be very useful but risks can never be taken. Unless the person knows exactly what they are doing they should see a vet.

  7. As a believer in natural, wholistic and traditional methods of prevention and healing, I would of course say that logical, safe, proven “home remedies” for any species are preferable to drugs and operations from allopathic doctors/veterinarians; but I also believe that health should be maintained through preventiveness (i.e., a healthy lifestyle and diet) and that the misinformed, ill-informed, and those lacking in knowledge should definitely NEVER try things they read in the media without knowing they are safe!!! In these cases, I would say a vet’s advice is (usually) preferable.

  8. of course it is better for the owner and the cat to handle living/health issues naturally. After all, that is how it was intended by nature originally. Vets are not part of natural evolution process. However, I do not believe that naturopathic vets or knowledgeable neighbours actually know what they are talking about most of the time. It is still trial and error methodology.I do feel more compelled to try out my neighbour’s advice rather than vet naturopath’s mostly because it does not cost me anything and because I believe that vet’s suggestions are not sure to work anyway yet he is expecting me to cover the cost of his trial and error experimenting

    • Thanks Laura for sharing. I had to remind myself what “naturopath” means.

      naturopathic medicine, is a form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, (Wikipedia).

      When it comes to this sort of medicine vets are probably hopeless! As long as there are no risks – and I expect that there are not as it is a natural form of medicine – it should be OK to do it without vet advice.

  9. If I see that any of my critters have health problems it is vet time for a professional opinion. Now I don’t normally use alternative methods to treat my animals. BUT I do have to admit I had a really bad problem with my dogs eating each other feces and I tried the meat tenderizer in food, did not work.Tried feeding them pineapple, did not work.(These were vet recommended) This is dead of winter so it was impossible for me to go out there with them all the time. My last resort was to give them a teaspoon of pumpkin, YES PLAIN ordinary canned pumpkin for several days and it worked. It works so well that I try to daily remember to give it to them. They love it and it does no harm to them at all. Simple easy cheap way to solve the problem. I know it might not work for everyone but I can’t see any problem in at least trying it. The “treatments” advertised on line do not work most of the time and are very expensive. As always check with your vet first before trying this.

  10. Sometimes the vet will actually recommend a non-prescription remedy for certain conditions but otherwise, nope, I would no more try it on my cats than I would on myself without my doctor’s okay–and I can ask, and complain if it doesn’t work, or get myself to an urgent care clinic. My kitties are less vocal.

  11. one of my cats recently came home with his rear end opened up from some kind of cat fight. rather than take him to the vet [which i have done on other occasions and the vet has assured me that i am quite capable of treating those kinds of problems] — this time i decided to do just that — treat it myself. lena is healing nicely — he had some tense moments there for about a week – but hopefully by next week he will be able to go outside again.

    of course, if he had gotten worse, instead of better, i WOULD have taken him to the vet in an instant.

      • thank you michael. i’ve been taking care of cats for over 30 years. many many years ago some of the vets taught me how to do certain procedures – -like give the cats the shots -all except for rabies, which i need to take them to the vets for that one. so i’ve been treating cat ‘owies’ for years.

        • Sometimes a well educated (self-educated) cat caretaker can do veterinary work better than a vet for all kinds of reasons one of which is that the “trauma” of going to the vet is avoided. Another is speed. You can deal with things faster. And some vets are not very good or not good with cats etc.

  12. i feel blessed that i knew some good cat vets who were willing to take the time to teach me — ’cause they knew that i took care of lots of feral cats and i was on a limited budget so it wasn’t like i could bring all those cats to a veterinary clinic to be attended to.

    • That is good veterinary care really. It with delegating in a way their role to somebody who they know is competent and who can do more in the field than they could ever achieve. I like that attitude and I agree that these veterinarians are good for that reason alone.

  13. I totally agree with what you said Jo. Consulting an expert, a veterinarian for this matter is always a must because this will save you and your pet a great deal of pain. Not all home-remedies would work and it might cause a more serious problem if the remedy would turn out to be a tragedy.

  14. When it is my pet’s health and well being and I am in doubt I contact our vet. She is very good at her profession and I trust her. I have had concerns about one visit though. I have a cat that I raised from a five day old kitten. He is tightly bonded to me and has anxiety issues. When his routine is upset he stresses and starts throwing up and cannot seem to stop. When I took him in this time, trip number four, the vet said it was either pancreatitis or Irritable Bowel. Her prognosis was exploratory surgery. NO WAY!!!
    In the past she has given him a shot to ease the vomiting and this worked well.
    Sometimes the cure or finding a cure is terrible. I know that there has to be herbs or something that he can have to stop the vomiting but she seems to think it is much worse. We are awaiting a second opinion.
    I always check with the vet first….even a second opinion or third before considering a home remedy.

  15. Is vinegar safe for cats ears if they are a bit itchy and has had dermititus in the past? Iam on a fixed income and it’s hard just to get through the month but I hate to see her scratching her ear so much and I can tell it is tender to touch. Thanks any;true feedback is greatly appreciated.

    • Marilyn, I have to ask: what is causing the itching? That must be the first question. Is it dermatitis? Is it ear mites? Do you know? I can’t answer the question without knowing the certain cause. Sorry. I understand your predicament and your feelings.

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