Pet Corner: First Aid for Pets

Give your pet the best possible on-the-go care with these herbal first-aid tips.

| November/December 2001

  • Take care of your pets with these herbal first-aid tips.
    Photo by Hagit Herkovich
  • Chamomile is a healing ingredient in skin-soothing salves or sprays for pets.
    Photo by Africa Studio
  • Super skin-soothing herbs for salves, from left to right: Yarrow, calendula and chamomile.
    Photo by Vera Dolezalova

Herbs were the very first helpers, chosen by the animals themselves to aid healing. Much of what we know about these medicines, we originally learned by watching the animals treat themselves using a number of plants in a variety of ways.

And now, some of us have come full circle: Veterinary school taught me all about the extremely potent man-made medicines available. However, over the course of the many years I practiced holistic medicine, I learned that the very best first aid for pets is almost always an herbal (or herb-related) remedy.

Herbal first aid for pets is a home-based activity. Because the herbs you’ll be using are extremely safe and effective, you can be your pet’s “first-aid nurse” with confidence. And many of the most effective first-aid herbs can be found in your own backyard (or they can easily be grown in your garden).

When to Take Your Pet to the Vet

How can you tell a true emergency (requiring immediate veterinary attention) from a problem you can treat at home? There’s no hard-and-fast rule. A day of mild diarrhea, or a day or two of refusing food, or a bout or two of vomiting are normal for some animals. Prolonged or severe diarrhea or vomiting, or longer than a few days of refusing food, warrant a visit to the vet. An animal running a fever of more than 103 degrees should also be seen.

For cuts or wounds, I like to use the rule of thumb that if you would see your physician for a similar-appearing wound, then the animal should probably be seen by a vet. In my practice, I also liked to see any animal that had been subjected to blunt trauma—a critter hit by a car, for example. Blunt trauma can cause internal damage that is not evident until it is too late.

But finally, I told folks the same thing we told concerned pet owners when they called the emergency clinic where I was chief of staff. When they asked, “Is this something you should see tonight?” our answer was always, “If you think it should be seen, bring your pet in right away. That’s what we’re here for.”

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!