Pet Happenings - March 2001
Traveling with Your Pet? Common Ailments
and How To Treat Them
If youre getting ready to make your vacation plans and they
include traveling with your pet; or even if youre just taking
mini excursions around the area with your pet, here are some common
ailments that pets seem to get and some household, and over-the-counter
remedies for treating them.
ALLERGIES: The fastest and easiest remedy is to give your
pet a cool-water soak. Bathe your pet for about 5 to 10 minutes
in cool bath water, since warm water aggravates the itch. To make
the soaks even more soothing, vets sometimes recommend adding
colloidal oatmeal (such as Aveeno) to the bath water. It gives the
water a smooth, silky feel that will help calm the crankiest skin.
If you dont have colloidal oatmeal or an oatmeal shampoo,
you can substitute regular oatmeal from the kitchen. Take an old
sock and fill it with oatmeal. Tie the sock over your bathtub spout
so the water comes through the oatmeal.
you can help bring allergies under control with antihistamines.
Lowell Ackerman D.V.M., PhD, a veterinary dermatologist in Scottsdale,
AZ, says your vet may recommend an over-the-counter drug such as
Benadryl (diphenhydramine). The typical dose is one to three milligrams
for every pound of pet, but you should ask your vet for precise
dosages. For best results, dont give the antihistamine only
when itching flares. It should be given throughout the allergy season.
To help calm itchy skin, try giving your pet fatty acid supplements,
which are also used for relieving mange and other skin disorders,
advises William H. Miller, D.V.M. of Cornell University College
of Veterinary Medicine. The supplements come in capsules and are
available from veterinarians and some pet stores. Ask your vet which
dose is right for your pet.
The capsules may be a tricky thing to get your pet to swallow, an
easier way is to take the capsules apart and squeeze the oil onto
your pets food. Theyre effective in about 20% of dogs
and 25-30% of cats. They taste fishy, and cats especially like them.
Dogs with allergies occasionally suffer from itchy feet and soaking
them in Epsom salts can be a big relief. Fill the tub with just
enough cool water to cover your dogs paws. Dissolve several
cups of Epsom salts crystals in the water. Stand your dog in the
tub for 5 to 10 minutes, then gently dry her feet. Dont let
her drink the water, though, since Epsom salts can act as a laxative.
(This remedy is for dogs only.)
Some pets also acquire an allergy cough. If your pet is coughing
more than once an hour, he can probably benefit from a cough suppressant.
Use a product containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan,
such as Robitussin Maximum Strength Cough Syrup. Ask your vet what
dose is right for your pet. Be sure, however, to pick a product
that contains only the active ingredient you want. Some cough medications
also contain drugs such as aspirin or acetaminophen, which can be
dangerous for pets.
BURRS: When a burr is really tangled in your pets
fur, applying a little vegetable oil will help get it loose. A spritz
of detangling spray, available at pet stores, can also help. If
youre buying a detangling spray for your cat, make sure its
If you cant get the burr out by coming or with your fingers,
you can cut it out with a pair of blunt tipped scissors to avoid
gouging your pet. Its best to cut perpendicular to the mat,
not parallel to it. Just make sure youre cutting hair and
And, for just plain matted fur, a light sprinkling of cornstarch
makes stubborn mats easier to pull apart. It helps the hair glide
out of the mat. As you work deeper into the mat, add more cornstarch
CAR SICKNESS: Oddly enough, the same drug that works for
people to ward off motion sicknessalso works for pets, says
James B. Dalley, D.V.M. of the Michigan State University College
of Veterinary Medicine. Medium to large dogs should be given 25
to 50 milligrams of Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) at least an hour
before traveling, says Dr. Dalley. Cats and small dogs should get
about 12.5 milligrams.
Dramamine is available in 50-milligram tablets that can be split
into quarters to provide the right dose for your pet. Vets
say its safe for most healthy dogs and cats, although pets
with glaucoma or bladder problems shouldnt take it without
a vets approval.
DEHYDRATION: Dehydration can cause your pet to lose electrolytes,
minerals such as potassium and sodium that transmit electrical impulses
throughout the body.
While giving plain water will replace most electrolytes, you can
help your pet recover from lack of water even more quickly by giving
her an electrolyte-enriched drink such as Pedialyte. You can buy
electrolyte solutions at grocery stores and pharmacies.
If your hot dog or cat seems reluctant to drink, try tempting her
with an electrolyte-containing sports drink like Gatorade. Some
pets have a thing for sweet, fruity flavors, and they enjoy Gatorade.
Pets that have gone a long time without water may have trouble keeping
fluids down. A helpful alternative is to give her an ice cube. As
she licks it, shell slowly hydrate her system. This also works
well for a pet that is recovering from diarrhea or vomiting, since
dehydration is a concern with both of these conditions when keeping
anything down may be problematic.
INSECT BITES AND STINGS: Making a paste of baking soda
and water to apply to a bite or sting several times a day can
help ease discomfort, says Larry Thompson D.V.M. at Cornell University
College of Veterinary Medicine. The alkalinity helps relieve the
itch. A dab of calamine can also help.
Another remedy is applying milk of magnesia to the sting. It contains
magnesium hydroxide, which will also help reduce the itch and irritation.
You can apply it with a cotton ball several times a day.
Meat tenderizers contain enzymes that help break down the poison
in insect stings, which reduces the irritation. Make a paste by
adding water to the tenderizer. Then apply it directly to the sting.
Repeat as often as needed.
Experts arent sure why it works, but ammonia helps cut the
pain of bug bites and stings. Dab it on the bite or sting with a
Aloe vera is good for skin irritations. Applying a thin layer of
gel from an aloe vera plant will help ease discomfort and possibly
speed healing. If you dont have an aloe vera plant, you can
buy the gel in health food stores.
For areas that are sore and irritated, try applying a thin layer
of hydrocortisone cream. Use Cortaid or another cream with 0.5 percent
Applying a cold compress to stings helps take the swelling down
and dulls the pain. Wrap a handful of ice cubes in a washcloth or
small towel and hold it on the area for at least 5 minuteslonger
if your pet will hold still. It might help calm your pet, too.
And, just as in allergies, a cool soak in an oatmeal bath can help
insect bites and stings as well. (see allergies).
PAW PROBLEMS: Like people, pets occasionally suffer from
dry, cracked, callused skin on the bottoms of their feet. To keep
the pads protected, try applying a moisturizer. The same stuff you
use on your hands will work for your pet. Vitamin E oil, available
in drugstores, also works well. Once youve applied a moisturizer,
the big trick is to keep them from licking it off. Put the oil on
at mealtime. Theyll eat first, so the oil will have some time
to soak in.
While giving your pet an occasional moisturizer will help make her
feet more comfortable, getting them too soft makes them vulnerable
to injuries. So dont use lotion for more than a few days in
SKUNK SPRAY: Although the standard remedy for a pet getting
skunked is tomato juice, there are some other
remedies that work just as well if not better. If you want to try
the tomato juice, wash your pet first with soap and water. Then
pour on the tomato juice. Make sure the juice saturates his coat
and let it soak in for 10 to 20 minutes. Then rinse him off and
wash him again with his regular shampoo.
The over-the-counter medicated douche known as Massengill has long
been a favorite of pet groomers, and is supposed to work miracles.
For small to medium pets, mix 2 ounces of Massengill with 1 gallon
of water. For large dogs, youll want to double the amount
of water and Massengill. Pour the mixture over your pet until it
really soaks in, and wait 15 minutes to rinse it out. Then wash
your pet with his regular shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
A shower of vanilla can help sweeten your stinky pet. Douse your
pet with 1¼ cups of vanilla extract mixed in 1 gallon of
water. Let it soak for about 10 minutes, then wash him with his
regular shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
According to chemist Paul Krebaum of Lisle, Illinois, you can make
an excellent de-skunking formula by mixing ¼ cup baking soda
and 1 teaspoon liquid soap in a quart of hydrogen peroxide. Work
the solution into your pets fur, then rinse well.
© 2001 Moab Happenings. All rights
reserved. Reproduction of information contained in this site is