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
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.
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