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8 Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics for Dogs

Antibiotics have been instrumental in curing illnesses and saving lives. There’s no question how beneficial they are in our and our pets’ lives. But it’s also true that at times, antibiotics are overprescribed, which can lead to them being less effective.

Maybe you’ll be surprised to learn that there are several natural antibiotics available that can help your dog. We go over eight natural treatments that have a few of the same benefits and work almost as well as antibiotics. Many of these treatments, unlike traditional antibiotics, don’t just treat the symptoms but also the root of the problem.

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A Word on Antibiotics

Antibiotics are paramount in treating bacterial infections. They can slow down or eradicate the growth of bacteria in an infection, such as leptospirosis, which leads to serious complications if not treated with antibiotics.

The abuse of antibiotics occurs when they are used to treat diseases typically caused by parasites or viruses, as they will have no effect on these medical conditions.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when you stop giving your dog the medication too soon. Your dog will seem to be feeling better, so you might think that they’re cured and you can stop giving them the antibiotics, but this can lead to relapse and resistance. Antibiotics can sometimes affect your dog’s gut health as well.

These conditions can last for years, if not for the rest of your dog’s life, so antibiotics should only be used for severe, life-threatening conditions.

So, sometimes, antibiotics are the only course of treatment that will help your dog, but there are times where seeking alternative medicine might be useful.

pills
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A Word on Naturopathy

Alternative medicine includes naturopathy, which uses various methods, including exercise, acupuncture, and herbs, to treat an illness. Of course, what works for people will not necessarily work for dogs or be safe, for that matter.

But there are times when antibiotics aren’t necessary, and using the right herbal treatment can help in the healing process. Using natural remedies along with antibiotics can also be an effective option for infections that aren’t as serious.

Natural antibiotics are best used for preventative treatment, which can help infections from getting worse or completely prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Before you start to give your dog any natural remedies, consult with your vet first. Your vet can advise you on what the best treatment is for your dog and can help you figure out the right dose and type of herbal remedy that will be safe and effective.

When Should You Not Use Natural Remedies?

There are certain dogs and situations in which natural antibiotics aren’t recommended:
  • If your dog has a serious bacterial infection that requires medical antibiotics
  • If your dog has a certain kind of health condition
  • If your dog has reacted badly to natural remedies in the past
  • If your pup is already on medication

Speak to your vet before you attempt to use any kind of natural remedy on your dog.

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Here are eight natural remedies that have antibiotic properties that you can safely use on your dog (with your vet’s knowledge and permission).

1. Apple cider vinegar

apple cider vinegar
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock
Apple cider vinegar has strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties that can benefit dogs in multiple ways:
  • Helps with hot spots and itchy, flaky skin
  • Cleans the ears and can help with ear infections
  • Can eradicate yeast infections on paws
  • Helps with urinary tract infections
  • Balances pH levels in the body in order to improve digestion

It’s safe for dogs, and you can add it to your dog’s food or water every day to act as a preventative. You can use about 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon for a medium to large-sized dog, but start small when adding it to their water. Be sure to have another bowl of water available for your dog in case they reject the apple cider vinegar-treated water. You can also add it to plain yogurt, which might help disguise the taste more.

If your dog has an ear infection, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of warm water and gently flush your dog’s ear with the mixture. Make sure you speak with your vet if your dog does have any kind of infection before treating it at home.

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2. Calendula

calendula plant
Image Credit: Hans Braxmeier, Pixabay

Also known as pot marigold, the calendula plant is a part of the sunflower family and like all the herbs on this list, has many healing benefits.

Calendula can aid in:
  • Assisting with inflammation
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Relieving pain and heals wounds
  • Treating yeast and fungal infections

Calendula can be given to your dog by adding a tincture to their food (just a few drops). If you need to apply it to your dog’s skin, you can make a compress with calendula tea and apply it directly to the wound or spray it on your dog with a spray bottle to relieve itchy skin.

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3. Coconut oil

Coconut oil
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We all have heard about the advantages of coconut oil, and the benefits do not stop with humans. It contains the “good” fat (medium-chain triglyceride [MCT] oil) that includes lauric acid, which is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

It can also:
  • Aid in digestion and digestive disorders
  • Help with weight loss, bone health, arthritis, and metabolic processes
  • Improve skin and coats
  • Help reduce coughing
  • Improve the mental function of senior dogs

You can add 1 teaspoon to your dog’s food or apply it directly to your dog’s skin for any skin issues. Go easy, however, if you’re adding it to your dog’s food, as it can lead to diarrhea and greasy poop.

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4. Goldenseal

Goldenseal plant
Image Credit: Jan Haerer, Pixabay

Goldenseal is a perennial herb that grows in the eastern parts of the U.S. and in southeastern Canada and belongs to the Buttercup family. It is vulnerable, so it is usually cultivated.

It aids in:
  • Treating bowel and stomach issues
  • Preventing bacteria from attaching to the cells
  • Treating eye issues and infections
  • Treating kennel cough
  • Helping mucus membranes

Goldenseal is safe to use but only for a short time to treat the issue. You can give it to your dog in tea form, as a tincture, and as a poultice.

If your dog has an eye issue, you can use the tea mixture as an eyewash (cooled off, of course). It is quite bitter, so you might need to give it to your dog in powder form in their food.

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5. Manuka Honey

Natural, raw honey is known for its healing properties, both externally and internally. Manuka honey is harvested from the flowers of the Manuka tree in New Zealand and Australia, which gives it potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects.

It can:
  • Help with skin issues
  • Provide immune support against viruses
  • Heal wounds
  • Be a prebiotic for gut health
  • Help with oral health
  • Be strong in antioxidants

You can give ½ a teaspoon twice a day for small dogs, 1 teaspoon twice a day for medium dogs, and 2 teaspoons twice a day for large dogs. Don’t give any to dogs under 1 year old or dogs with diabetes.

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6. Olive leaf

Olive leaf
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Olive leaf is an extract taken from the leaves of the olive tree. It has been used as an antimicrobial and antiviral for a variety of infections.

It can be used to:
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Treat high blood pressure
  • Help reduce high blood sugar
  • Work against intestinal parasites
  • Help with flu and kennel cough
  • Fight infections

It can be given as a liquid or capsule in your dog’s food. You can make it as a tea or give it to your dog in powdered form. For a small dog, give ¼ teaspoon once a day, a medium dog should have ½ a teaspoon once a day, and a large dog should have 1 teaspoon daily.

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7. Oregano oil

woman pouring oregano oil on container
Image Credit: Devanath, Pixabay

Oil of oregano is known for being effective against the flu and colds, but it’s also an effective antibacterial and antifungal treatment. It’s different from the oregano that you cook with because it contains carvacrol, which has all the benefits.

It can:
  • Treat candida
  • Aid in treating viruses, such as salmonella
  • Act as a de-wormer
  • Help with giardia
  • Assist in oral health
  • Defend against bacterial, fungal, and bacterial infections.

You can add one or two drops of oregano oil to your dog’s water. It can also be added to your dog’s toothpaste for better oral health.

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8. Turmeric

turmeric powder
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Curcumin is found in turmeric, which is what gives it antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

It aids in:
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Arthritis pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems

It’s best if you make a paste with the turmeric using an MCT oil (like coconut oil) and water and black pepper. It’s typically called “golden paste,” and there are different recipes that you can find online. You might need to try a few variations so you can find the one that will work best for your dog.

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Conclusion

All these natural remedies have had multiple studies conducted on them that support the health benefits listed here. If your dog has recurring health issues that aren’t serious enough for medical antibiotics, some of these herbs might help without any of the side effects that sometimes accompany antibiotics.

However, before you begin any kind of treatment using any of these herbs, no matter how safe they are, you need to speak to your vet. They will give you guidance and can help you find the right treatment that will support your dog’s health.

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Featured Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay