FIDO: Hey, Fluff, I heard you were under the weather. How are you feeling?

FLUFFY: I’m much better today. Mom gave me some catnip and I feel fine now.

FIDO: Catnip?! How did that make you feel better? I thought catnip just makes cats happy.

FLUFFY: So did I, but mom found out that it also helps with nausea. She had the vet check me out, and he said it was okay to try it, so we did. And I felt better fast!

FIDO: I’m so glad, Fluff. I don’t like it when you don’t feel well.

FLUFFY: Neither do I. You know, Fido, mom found out about a whole lot of interesting remedies pet parents can use to keep their animals feeling good.

FIDO: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

FLUFFY: I sure am. Let’s go find Meryl.

…And so they did. Here are some holistic remedies that have stood the test of time. There are multiple studies backing up their claims for animal, and in some cases, human, use. As with any health care decision you make on behalf of your pet, always check with your veterinarian before moving forward. It is important to know the cause of any problems before treating them. Work with your vet to determine whether a holistic remedy might work for your baby.

Catnip and peppermint can be very helpful for nausea. In addition, peppermint aids in peristalsis (the muscle contractions in your digestive tract that help you go), so it may help with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. Dogs may enjoy the taste of room temperature, weak peppermint tea mixed in with their water. Cats prefer catnip, which may also help with vomiting.


Medical grade honey, applied topically to a wound, has been shown to be as effective as antibiotics in knocking out certain types of opportunistic bacterial infections. One form even comes as an FDA-approved bandage, and it’s being used in both human and veterinary medicine.

Bladder infections are common problems for cats and dogs. It is important to find and treat the cause of the infection using western medicine, because although supplements can help prevent new infections, they won’t cure the current one. Once Fluffy or Fido is given a clean bill of health, consider ongoing use of cranberry extract and d-mannose. Cranberry extract may prevent bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall, which allows them to be flushed out with the urine. D-mannose binds to some strains of e.coli, which is one of the causes of bladder infections. This, too, allows the bacteria to leave the body through the urine. And, of course, encourage your animal to drink plenty of fluids and urinate as often as possible. Replacing dry food with wet is one way to get more fluids into him.

Arthritis is a common source of pain for older animals, as it is for people, and its effects can be far reaching. When your pet is in pain, she won’t play or exercise as much as she needs to. She won’t be able to run and jump, or climb up to cuddle with you in your favorite cuddle spot. Stairs will become a problem. And, arthritis creates inflammation in the body, which is associated with many other challenges to your baby’s health.

Many human and animal doctors reach right for the anti-inflammatory drugs to help ease arthritis symptoms, but those have multiple potential side effects. Instead, ask your vet about glucosamine supplements. These have been proven effective in both animals and people. If that’s not enough, there is a prescription drug called Adequan that is approved for use in dogs, and many vets use it off-label for cats. Adequan does more than relieve symptoms; it has also been shown to rebuild cartilage in the damaged joints.

Another holistic approach that works for both humans and animals is acupuncture. It may provide pain relief, mitigate symptoms of asthma and arthritis, help with gastrointestinal issues, and more. Although every treatment has potential side effects, these are rare with acupuncture, and it won’t interact with any medications your pet may be taking. Don’t just have any veterinarian do acupuncture on your baby, though. Proper training and experience make a huge difference in the results. For referrals in your area, contact the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society ( or the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (

If you’re interested in exploring holistic remedies, find a vet at American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. And always remember, moderation in all things is best for both you and your babies. Sometimes a mix of holistic and modern medicine will be best, sometimes just one or the other. Keep an open mind when considering your options. Your furry friends will thank you!

We hope you enjoyed these tips, and that you learned something, too! We’d love to hear from you, so please send your ideas to


Meryl Schwarz, M.A., M.Ed., is an animal lover and Certified Professional Coach specializing in grief support for people grieving their beloved animals. Whether you’re grieving a terminal diagnosis, the normal aging process, a disappearance or a death, Meryl offers compassionate and caring support with the wisdom of experience. Visit her website at to schedule an appointment by Skype or phone.