Canine Herbal & Natural Healthcare

You may have heard of dogs “detoxing” when they first start a raw diet. This all depends on the current health levels of the dog, particularly how many toxins it has been exposed to, and this in particular includes the number of vaccines, heartworm medications, flea and worm preventatives etc they have been given which all have chemicals in them that are difficult for the dog to expel from the body.

With the increased health that raw provides, occasionally this build up of toxins will start to be excreted, usually through the body’s largest organ; the skin.  Typically, this will present itself as unexplained itchy skin, itchy ears with or without discharge and runny eyes. These are all signs that the body is cleaning itself naturally and no oral steroid or injections, antibiotics or topical treatments should be necessary, and in fact, if used, will suppress the detoxification process and cause it to internalise into the major organs potentially leading to organ disease later in life.

For this reason, dogs usually need to detoxify and the following natural healthcare methods will enable them to do so safely, slowly and naturally without intervention with chemical medicines and preventatives.

Beware administering steroids to your dog to deal with this detoxification – consult a good holistic veterinarian. Please also see:

We have many years experience of using natural and herbal methods in canine healthcare and have learnt that utilising these methods in the short-term, saves a lot of money in the long-term as veterinary bills are dramatically reduced (to almost zero in many instances) in line with the increased health of the dog.

1) Skin, ears and eyes

SKIN – To soothe itchy skin:

  • Bathe in Lavender which will help calm the itching – use something similar to Dr Bronners organic lavender liquid soap range.
  • Make a strong tea with dry lavender flowers. Allow to steep for a couple of hours. Put the tea in a sprayer bottle, and spray a couple of times a day.
  • Spray with Aloe Vera juice with or without some Lavender tea added.

EYES – To bathe/soothe weepy eyes:

Half teaspoon of sea salt dissolved in a cup of Spring Water and then bathe the eyes with a soft fibre free cotton cloth.

EARS – To clean itchy ears:

Olive Oil and Lavender Essential Oil – take about 1/2 cup of olive oil and add about 10 drops of lavender essential oil and wipe the ears with a soft fibre free cotton cloth.

2) Flea, Tick & Worm Control

NOTE:     Repeated use of preventatives such as Frontline, Advantix etc actually cause skin problems, cancer, nervous system damage and other diseases as they are neurotoxins (this is how they kill fleas and ticks, they disrupt the nervous system) and an accumulation of these neurotoxins in the body will cause disease later in life. This is why owners are told not to get the product on their hands as people have more legal recourse than animals.

For more information please see this report:

A dog fed on a natural, species appropriate raw diet without toxic chemical preventatives is not as attractive to fleas or ticks as these parasites prefer unhealthy bodies.   A raw fed, healthy body will also not fall ill with tick borne diseases. However, whilst that level of natural health is being achieved:

To prevent fleas:

  • Comb regularly with a simple flea comb and kill any fleas in a cup of washing up detergent.
  • Bath with a Neem oil shampoo as a preventative – don’t be tempted to use standard “medicated” or “flea pet shampoos” as these have toxic pesticides in them.
  • Use a Neem oil based herbal flea spray – see recipe below.
  • Or use a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water spray which repels (not kills) fleas.
  • For walks in woodland or other areas where high numbers of ticks may be present use a herbal anti-tick/flea spray that contains Rose Geranium Essential Oil or simply put just two drops (no more) of pure Rose Geranium Essential Oil on each dog’s cloth collar every week. Also comb the dog whenever returning from tick prone walks as ticks take a while to “latch on”, so can often be caught whilst crawling on the dog.
  • Citrus repellent – Cut a lemon into quarters and put into a 500ml jar. Cover with boiling water and steep overnight. Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray all over the dog, especially behind the ears, neck, arm pits and base of the tail.
  • For infestations, such as taking in a stray dog, use the suffocation soap-sud bath method – wet the dog thoroughly and then shampoo using a natural liquid dish soap, i.e. one that is advertised as being very gentle, as well as natural. Seventh Generation is a favourite among dog owners, as well as Ecover, Dove, Ivory, or Dial. You can optionally add some warm Neem oil too for an added bug repellent effect. Lather well to create a lot of suds, smooth over to create a “sud blanket” effect and then leave on for 15 minutes to suffocate the fleas. Rinse thoroughly and comb out the dead fleas with a flea comb. We use this method extensively when taking stray dogs off the street in our work with K9 Rescue.
  • If fleas do become a problem, use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) as a flea powder, taking care not to create dust that can be breathed in – takes up to 3 days to kill fleas.
  • Neem oil has been used for hundreds of years in controlling pests such as mosquitos and fleas. It works both as a repellent and an insect growth regulator, thus preventing the larval stage to molt into an adult – so either a teaspoon of neem leaf powder mixed into food per day (1/2 teaspoon for puppies) or a spray made from neem oil are both effective pest controls.


You will need:

–   Recycled spray bottle that has a nozzle that can handle oil without getting clogged

–   100ml Spring water (Devin, pink label bottle)

–   5 teaspoons Vodka (to disperse the oil)

–   10-20 ml Neem oil (depending on how strong you want it)

–   5 drops Lavender Essential Oil

–   5 drops Rosemary Essential Oil

–   5 drops Rose Geranium Essential Oil (if you want to make it an anti-tick spray as well)

Shake vigorously before spraying each time.

Please note, this spray is NOT suitable for cats because of the essential oil content.

Note – raw fed dogs are at low risk to Tick Borne Diseases (TBD) as TBD is a Rickettsial disease, meaning it only affects animals with lower quality nutrition.


–   Boil 500 grams of dried thyme with 1 litre of water and one sliced lemon for several minutes

–   Run it through a coffee filter

–   Put in a spray bottle and keep in the fridge.

Note – ensure you have a tick removal tool, for any ticks that do get on your dog. For example:  Note, ticks bite in a slight corkscrew, so the twist (anti-clockwise) reduces the risk of leaving mouth parts behind.

Alternative pre-made products on the market are Ark Naturals Flea Flicker! Tick Kicker! and CSJs Billy No Mates



Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powder comprised of micro-skeletons of deceased diatoms, which are a type of algae (both fresh water and sea water varieties occur).

Reported to kill 75% of flies, fleas and ticks that come in contact with it within 72 hrs.


When applied to the animal’s fur, DE scrubs on the hard exoskeletons of fleas. The tiny granules of silicon (like finely ground sand) work in the tiny holes of the flea’s respiratory system and in the joints of the fleas. Every time the flea moves or breathes, the silicon grinds away at the exoskeleton, eventually killing the flea through blocking/maiming the respiratory holes or by water loss, as the exoskeleton helps keep in the flea’s body water. It works the same way when applied to carpets.


1)      Take care not to breathe in the fine dust – rub gently so that it does not become airborne or wear a mask and put one on your pet. Even though it’s non-toxic, you don’t want to get it in your lungs as it will cause a nasty cough.

2)      Sprinkle the DE along your dry pet’s spine. Massage it along the body, working your way carefully to the extremities, avoiding the eyes. Pay attention to warm areas – under ears, neck, arm/leg pits.

3)      Spread some diatomaceous earth on the carpets, brush it in and leave for about four days. Then vacuum it up to remove most of the fleas in the carpet.

4)      Repeat the application frequently during an infestation. You should notice a decrease in fleas within a couple days.


A dog fed on a natural, species appropriate raw diet is not attractive to intestinal worms as these parasites also prefer unhealthy bodies. Food Grade Diatomaceous earth (DE) is excellent for internal and external parasite control. It is ADAS trialled and approved in the UK for insect control and as a feed additive for farm animals.

De-worming should only ever be done based on the results of a faecal exam. If, for some reason, there is a heavy worm burden, then de-worm just once with a chemical de-wormer and then follow up with Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth daily in food for 30 days.   If the worm burden is low, simply feed Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth for 30 days without resorting to a chemical de-wormer.

Quantities per day:

1)            Puppies 5kg to 10kg – 2 teaspoons

2)            Dogs 10kg to 25kg – 1 to 1.5 tablespoons

3)            Dogs 25kg+ – 2 tablespoons

4)            Dogs 50kg+ – 3 to 4 tablespoons

Food grade DE eliminates roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms within 7 days of being fed daily.

NOTE: Make sure not to use the kind of DE used in swimming pools which is toxic. Use natural food grade diatomaceous earth; it is available in gardens supply centres, some health food stores, and from natural-pet catalogues such as for Europe or in the USA.


3) Digestive Issues


– Use for irritated Gastrointestinal Tract, Diarrhoea or Constipation

Slippery Elm Bark Powder aids digestion through a soothing and healing action on irritated mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines, and is especially useful if encountering problems when first switching to a raw diet.

When mixed to a paste with a little tepid water it has a mucous consistency to it which is soothing internally.   It also has a great taste so dogs usually love it too! Alternatively, you can dust the meat with it.

You don’t need much – one teaspoon up to 3 times a day should be more than enough.

Slippery elm is a highly nutritious wholesome food product. The bark of the Slippery elm contains mucilage which is a soothing nutritional food, similar in texture to oatmeal and rich in nutrients. Slippery elm is very easy to digest and can be tolerated when other foods can’t. It is, therefore, an ideal food during times of digestive discomfort and for those recovering from illness and is considered a “survival food”.


– Use for mild gastroenteritis, food poisoning and stomach upsets.

Activated Charcoal can eliminate fungi, viruses, and bacteria and may also promote recovery from some types of food and other poisonings.

Activated charcoal is simply burnt wood that has had all its oxygen removed leaving it extremely porous. This results in each granule of activated charcoal possessing an extremely large surface area – a single gram of activated carbon has a surface area greater than 500 square meters! It is a non-toxic universal antidote that can be taken internally or applied topically for insect bites and stings. In powdered form, activated charcoal is one of nature’s most efficient adsorbents—a powerful aid in eliminating toxins, gas and many poisons from the stomach and intestines.

It works by adsorption by collecting substances in a condensed form on a surface, and then slides through the stomach and intestines without itself being absorbed. On its way it binds with toxins, wastes, and other substances and then is excreted along with them by the body. It also effectively adsorbs gases, especially in the lower intestine, and thus helps relieve flatulence and gas pains. Not all chemicals are attracted to carbon though, such as sodium and nitrates, so this would need to be borne in mind.

Warning: Do not use charcoal regularly or as a daily supplement, as in addition to adsorption of toxins, activated charcoal also adsorbs food nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.


Activated Charcoal — Directions for Use:

It can be obtained in granule or powder form (e.g.   Simply mix a dessertspoon of the powder with a little milk or raw egg; most dogs will lap it up willingly.

1)      General intestinal distress and gas: Give up to six times daily as needed. Follow each dose with water.

2)      Diarrhoea (due to causes other than when first switching to a raw diet): Give upon first noticing the complaint and again with each bowel movement. Follow each dose with water.

Note: Stool darkening is normal and may continue for a few days after use.

3)      Poisoning: Charcoal is most successful if used within the first hour of swallowing poison. In severe poisoning cases, several doses of charcoal might be required. Ordinarily, activated charcoal should not be used to treat the ingestion of corrosive poisons (lye, acids, fuel oil, alcohols, et cetera). In the event of accidental poisoning, please call your vet before using activated charcoal. They will advise as to the use of charcoal after taking info on the type of poison.