Vicky con­tin­ues to ad­vise us on which mi­nor ail­ments could be treated at home, which old wives’ tales and un­proven reme­dies to steer well clear of, and when it’s time to visit the vet

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Home reme­dies


If your dog has a wound that goes right through the full thick­ness of the skin, or has a deep­punc­ture or dirty wound, it should be as­sessed by a vet as soon as pos­si­ble in case it needs su­tur­ing or an­tibi­otics.

Many mi­nor wounds can be treated at home, though. Salt wa­ter (one tea­spoon of salt in one pint of wa­ter) is ideal for clean­ing wounds, as many dis­in­fec­tants can de­lay heal­ing. Skin creams are use­ful but make sure your dog doesn’t lick them off, as some creams may be poi­sonous. Honey can be used in the early stages of wound heal­ing, but cover it with a dressing. Learn to ap­ply ban­dages to legs, and use t-shirts or col­lars to pre­vent dogs lick­ing wounds on the body.

Es­sen­tial oils are highly an­tibac­te­rial and while some­times sug­gested for use on wounds, they should be used with ex­treme cau­tion as most are toxic if in­gested, par­tic­u­larly tea tree oil.

Fleas and worms

The safest and most ef­fec­tive par­a­site con­trols are those which you can buy from vets and phar­ma­cies. Some web­sites sug­gest home reme­dies for worms in­clud­ing black wal­nut, pump­kin seeds and di­atoma­ceous earth, but none are par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive and some can cause se­vere ab­dom­i­nal dis­com­fort for your dog. Sim­i­larly, there are many home recipes for flea prod­ucts based on es­sen­tial oils which, as dis­cussed above, can be toxic if in­gested.

Other itches

Gun­dogs are prone to get­ting scratched up in the course of their jobs and this can lead to sore, itchy skin. A rinse in salt wa­ter af­ter work­ing helps soothe the skin with­out re­mov­ing the pro­tec­tive oils. Adding an omega-3 sup­ple­ment to the diet can help sup­port the skin bar­rier.

If you sus­pect sea­sonal al­ler­gies, omega-3 sup­ple­ments or a change to a raw or hy­poal­ler­genic diet might help, but it is sen­si­ble to rule out mange and other par­a­sites with a trip to the vets first. Di­etary changes may not show ef­fects for six to 12 weeks.

Eyes and ears

I am very cau­tious about home treat­ment of eye and ear prob­lems as it is im­pos­si­ble to as­sess them prop­erly at home. Mild eye ir­ri­ta­tion can be treated with salt wa­ter bathing, but if the eye is red, painful or cloudy, or if the pupils are un­even or the eye isn’t look­ing bet­ter the next day, you must see a vet.

Many ear clean­ers are avail­able, and reg­u­lar ear checks should be part of your rou­tine. Never put any­thing into an acutely sore ear but sil­ver wa­ter ear drops are a use­ful medicine cup­board standby for sus­pected mild ear in­fec­tions.

Know­ing how to ban­dage a poorly paw is a good skill to have In this se­ries, Vicky an­swers ques­tions that peo­ple ask about treat­ing dogs at home.

Shop-bought tablets are avail­able, but the best op­tion is to buy from your vet or phar­macy

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