Do you know what to do if your dog eats chocolate, an entire bowl of grapes, or a child’s new toy?
What about if she gets frostbite on her paws or slips on the ice?
Dogs have a way of getting into things … especially at the most inconvenient times. Like over the holidays when you have a house full of guests, dinner in the oven and – even if you had time to go to the vet – your regular clinic is closed and the emergency vet is twice as far (not to mention twice the price).
So it’s a really good idea to be prepared with some emergency remedies in case your dog helps herself to things she shouldn’t be eating, or gets injured outdoors in winter conditions.
Homeopathic First Aid Remedies
First of all, let’s talk about remedies and where to buy them. All the homeopathic remedies listed below are good to have in the house for any emergency, at any time of year.
- Arnica Montana
- Nux vomica
- Arsenicum album
- Carbo vegetabilis
- Rhus toxicodendron
- Ruta graveolens
- Ledum palustre
We’ve got even more natural homeopathic remedy recommendations! [Check them out]
These remedies come in several “potencies” described as 6C, 30C, 200C, 1M. For your emergency first aid kit, 200C is a good option but if you can’t find it easily 30C is more commonly available and will be fine too.
If you have a Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe or a health store or apothecary nearby, they should have all these remedies. They usually cost about $9 for a tube containing 80 pellets. Otherwise, online stores such as amazon.com or smallflower.com are good places to shop for your remedies.
How To Give The Remedy
To dose your dog effectively, you need to get the remedy in contact with your dog’s mucous membranes … like the gums. Here’s how to give the remedies:
- Hold the tube by the cap, with the cap end down.
- Twist the main part of the tube until two or three pellets drop into the cap.
- Don’t worry if you dispense more or less than two or three pellets … the size of the dose in homeopathy is not important … you just need to get the remedy into your dog as best you can.
- Remove the cap and tip them straight into your dog’s mouth. The easiest way to do this is to pull your dog’s lower lip out near the corner of her mouth, and pop the pellets between her lip and gums.
- Try not to touch the remedies with your hands, as that can interfere with the remedy.
Or, if your dog tends to spit the pellets out, you can give a liquid dose. This is also a useful method in an emergency situation when you might need to give several doses.
- Put two or three pellets into a clean glass with about 1 oz of filtered or spring water (never use unfiltered tap water).
- Stir the liquid. The pellets may not completely dissolve right away, but that’s OK … the remedy is still in the water and is ready to use.
- Use a glass dropper or teaspoon to put some of the liquid in your dog’s mouth. Again, pulling out the lower lip near the corner of the mouth makes it easy to get a few drops on your dog’s gums.
- Don’t refrigerate the liquid. This solution will keep on your counter for two or three days.
- Stir the remedy again before each dose.
- If the dropper or spoon touches your dog’s mouth, sterilize it before putting it back in the glass so you don’t contaminate your remedy.
For emergency ailments, the key is to get the remedy into your dog quickly.
- As soon as you know your dog needs help in situations like the ones described below, give two or three doses over a period of about an hour.
- Then wait and observe your dog.
- If your dog starts to get better, the remedy is doing its work, so stop dosing.
- If your dog gets better, but then backslides or plateaus, give one more dose to get her back on track. Continue this process as necessary.
- If your dog doesn’t start to improve after the first few doses (say within a couple of hours), switch to a different remedy.
So, what are some things dogs tend to get into over the holiday season?
Typical holiday temptations that can be bad for your dog are:
- Chocolate (especially dark)
- Fatty meat trimmings (especially if your dog’s not used to them)
- Macadamia nuts
- Grapes or raisins
- Poinsettias or other plants that can be toxic for dogs
- Overindulgence of any food
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate Or Another Harmful Food
Use the remedy that best matches your dog’s condition. If your dog doesn’t show any improvement in the first hour or two, switch to a different remedy.
- Nux vomica – this remedy is for over-indulgence of any kind, for dogs that get into the garbage or maybe help Grandma clean her plate by sharing a little too much turkey skin under the table.
- Arsenicum album – this remedy is excellent for food poisoning, so use it if your dog’s eaten chocolate, macadamias, raisins or your poinsettia … or other foods that are toxic to dogs
- Carbo vegetabilis – use this remedy if your dog gets weak or is very gassy with a distended abdomen.
NOTE: Carbo vegetabilis is a very good remedy for the deadly condition known as bloat (GDV or gastric dilatation and volvulus). If you suspect bloat, it’s a true emergency and you need to get your dog to the vet ASAP – but give this remedy in the car on the way there, and it’s possible you might not need the vet by the time you arrive.
There’s no limit to what a dog might swallow in this category …
What To Do If Your Dog Eats A Non-Food Item
The choice of remedy depends on where in the digestive process the object is … the stomach or bowel.
Recently swallowed or larger items will likely still be in the stomach; the dog will usually still feel pretty well with normal energy level, but just not interested in food or water … or she may be repeatedly vomiting.
If the object moves into the intestinal tract, more serious signs of bowel blockage occur … frequent vomiting with decreased energy, lethargy, sometimes collapse. This can be a serious condition, and may require an emergency visit to the local vet.
- Phosphorus: give this remedy if the swallowed object is in the stomach. You may see blood in vomit or your dog may cough up blood.
- Calendula: this is a good wound-healing remedy that will help resolve any internal tears. Use Calendula if the object is in the bowel.
Caution: Consult a veterinarian if vomiting persists more that 24 hours, or if your dog’s condition deteriorates suddenly.
It’s not just around the house your dog can get into trouble …. there are some outdoor hazards in winter … and not just around the holidays, of course.
Too Much Cold Exposure
Just like humans, if they’re out in below-freezing temperatures for too long, dogs can suffer from frostbite and chilblains. They may be having a great time hanging out in your snowy yard, but if they start to look cold or shivery, they need to come indoors.
Frostbite: Areas susceptible to frostbite are the pads, nose, tips of the ears, tail and scrotum. Frostbitten tissue looks pale or grey-blue and the area will be cold to the touch. As the tissue warms up it may become red and very painful. The frostbitten tissue may blister, then turn black and slough off over the next few weeks.
Chillblains: Chillblains are sore areas on the skin, caused by extreme cold. Your dog’s pads are especially vulnerable to chilblains as ice can form around the hair between the pads and irritate or damage the skin. If your dog has chillblains, her pads will look red and inflamed and be sensitive to touch. You may even see cuts on her pads, or, after a day or two, shedding skin. Salt on city sidewalks and streets can also cause irritation and soreness as the salt “burns” the pads. Low blood-flow areas like the tips of the ears and tails are also at risk for chillblains.
What To Do If Your Dog Gets Frostbite Or Chillblains
With frostbitten skin or chillblains, don’t try to warm the area quickly as this can be extremely painful. Apply snow or cool water (you can use a towel soaked in the water) to the area to warm it up slowly. Don’t rub or massage the area as this may further damage the skin.
These are the primary remedies to help the pain, irritation and burning of both frostbite and chilblains.
- Pulsatilla: this is the first remedy to use for frostbite and chillblains. It should help with pain, swelling and burning. This is an especially good remedy for gentle individuals who enjoy the outdoors. If there’s no improvement in the first hour or two, switch to the next remedy …
- Nux vomica: try this remedy when Pulsatilla doesn’t help ease the pain and inflammation of frostbite. Nux can be especially helpful if the skin is red and swollen and the skin may be cracked. The patient may be irritable. If there’s still no change, move on to …
- Sulphur: give Sulphur if the previous remedies haven’t helped ease redness and swelling. This remedy will help chilblains that are thick and red or cracked.
Other Winter Injuries And What To Do About Them
Dogs can slip or fall on ice and sprain, strain or bruise themselves. As soon as you can, give …
- Arnica montana: Arnica is the first remedy to give with any injury or trauma. It’ll help ease pain, inflammation and bruising.
After the initial two or three doses of Arnica, switch to one of the following remedies, depending on the injury.
For sprains and strains:
- Rhus toxicodendron: this remedy is a good choice after Arnica for sprains and strains that improve with movement or get worse with rest. They may also get worse with over-exertion. It’s often a good remedy for injuries during wet weather.
- Ruta graveolens: give this remedy for sprains and strains that don’t get better with movement, or for older injuries that haven’t improved with Rhux tox.
- Arnica montana: continue giving Arnica for bruising.
- Ledum palustre: give Ledum for lingering bruised tissue that hasn’t resolved with Arnica.
Avoid winter injuries with our winter safety tips [Find them here]
Having a few simple homeopathic remedies in your first aid kit can help you manage emergencies without a trip to the vet. Whether you’re concerned about what to do if your dog eats chocolate, gets up close and personal with the Christmas tree, or slips outside on the ice, homeopathy can be a big help!
Of course, if you have any concerns or your dog’s condition doesn’t improve, don’t hesitate to call your homeopathic or holistic veterinarian – or in serious situations, take your dog to the emergency clinic … even if that means your guests have to cook their own dinner!