A reader called the other day asking if I had any suggestions for her adopted rescued pet that has what sounds to me like chronic diarrhea.
She has visited two veterinarians, one of whom told her the animal would outgrow the problem.
The other suggested changing the food and adding acidophilus, a strain of Lactobacilli bacteria, which is a probiotic because it helps provide a proper balance of health-promoting bacteria in the intestine. The bacterium manufactures natural antibiotics that kill dangerous microorganisms.
Actually, holistic medicine is not one of my strong points, but I am always ready to learn. So, I found an article in the December 2008 issue of Dog Fancy magazine titled “Stock up: The top 10 holistic remedies to keep in your home,” by Denise Flaim.
Reading this article, I learned the herbs listed can be used by humans as well as by dogs and cats, adjusting the dose for size.
Starting with the reader’s request, Flaim cites Slippery elm. She says the “bark of this native North American tree, [it is] believed to coat and lubricate the digestive tract, making it a gentle and safe herb for diarrhea and intestinal upset.” Flaim recommends consulting your veterinarian on dosing.
Another possibility is Colostrum, which Flaim identifies as “first milk.” The substance is “rich in immunoglobulins and beneficial proteins such as growth factors.” It may bolster the animals’ immune system, which helps if there is a hidden infection.
Pumpkin is full of fiber and other nutrients. Plain, canned pumpkin is a great diarrhea remedy, but can be used for constipation as well because of the fiber. Just be sure to purchase plain canned pumpkin, not pie filling.
Some of the other holistic remedies Flaim lists as “must haves” in your cupboard are:
Apple-cider vinegar, which can be used as a daily tonic. It is a special type of cider vinegar and is labeled “the mother” because of the bacterial culture from the fermentation process. Another way to identify this special product is to look for little “floaties” in the bottle.
Arnica is a homeopathic remedy for bruises, sprains and trauma. Flaim says it is perfect for dogs recovering from surgery or a pulled muscle. It works by moving fluid away from the injury. I have used arnica and was quite impressed.
Calendula comes from a type of marigold. It is sold in health-food stores and, according to Flaim, is a powerful healer. Use only on closed wounds that are starting to heal because its quick healing effect can trap infection inside weeping wounds, Flaim warns.
Rescue Remedy is a “preparation of five individual flower essences, gentle tinctures believed to operate on a vibrational level to balance emotions,” according to Flaim.
She goes on to say it is ideal for traumatic events, like thunder, or medical trauma, such as surgery, and calms the dog down. You can purchase it in droppered bottles, but also is available as a spray that can be applied to the dog’s muzzle or paw pads where it is absorbed.