10 Natural Alternatives To Antibiotics For Dogs
Penicillin is often described as a miracle drug.
Prior to its discovery … people died from trivial injuries and diseases by today’s standards.
Minor wounds became infected. Common diseases such as strep throat and pneumonia overwhelmed the body.
There’s no question that penicillin and today’s modern antibiotics can save lives.
But their use has come at a cost.
Why You Should Consider Alternatives To Antibiotics
Antibiotics destroy your dog’s intestinal flora.
Recent research shows that much of the beneficial bacteria in the gut is destroyed forever … even if you give your dog probiotics after antibiotic use.
Dr Martin Blaser of New York University’s Langone Medical Center spoke to this.
He argues that the long term impact of antibiotics on gut bacteria is so serious … medicine should consider restricting antibiotics for pregnant women and young children.
“Early evidence from my lab and others hints that, sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover. These long-term changes to the beneficial bacteria within people’s bodies may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease. Overuse of antibiotics could be fuelling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations.”
Previous studies looked at farm animals and antibiotic use. They showed an increase in antibiotic resistance in animals who take the drugs. This resistance also extended to the people who worked on the farms where those animals live.
Even when farmers stop using the drugs … resistance persists for years. That’s because mothers pass drug-resistant flora down to their offspring for generations.
It isn’t just about animals. Overuse of antibiotics has caused antibiotic-resistant disease in people too. So now there are serious infections that antibiotics can’t handle. Even the CDC recognizes this problem.
And these aren’t the only problems with antibiotics.
Anti = Suppression
Whenever you use an “anti-” drug, you’re suppressing your dog’s symptoms. It may temporarily resolve your dog’s problem. But suppression can drive the disease deeper. And it often comes back later … sometimes in a worse form.
So it’s best to save antibiotics for serious, even life-threatening illnesses.
Avoid using them frivolously for things like diarrhea, skin or ear infections or minor wounds.
Fortunately, there are many natural alternatives to antibiotics.
Natural Alternatives For Pharmaceutical Antibiotics
Instead of antibiotics as a first line of defense … try one of the many natural options available.
They’re effective and they’ll help your dog avoid immune system complications.
1. Oil Of Oregano
Oregano oil has earned media attention for its use in chicken feed.
Studies show that oregano oil has antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic and antifungal properties.
Many farmers are using oregano oil to replace antibiotics. This helps them keep their poultry and livestock free of disease.
Scott Sechler, owner of Bell and Evans in Fredericksburg, Penn. raises antibiotic free poultry. He has used oregano oil in his feed for three years.
He has received flack from naysayers. But Scott claims oregano oil provides the best antimicrobial results … since he stopped conventional antibiotics.
Science shows the health benefits of oregano oil come from carvacrol and thymol. These are powerful phenols that can kill harmful bacteria and microbes.
But you must use oil of oregano. The oregano spice you use in your pasta sauce doesn’t have the carvacrol. And that’s what makes the oil such a great antibiotic.
When looking for oil of oregano … look for a product that is wild harvested or wild crafted in the Mediterranean. This oil is steam distilled, which prevents damage to the oil from overheating.
Oil of oregano is a good alternative to antibiotics and can be used topically or internally. You can also diffuse it.
Caution: Never give it to your dog undiluted.
Dilute 2 to 3 drops in a teaspoon of almond oil or MCT oil. You can give this to your dog 3 times a day. For topical use, you can also mix 1 drop of oregano with 1 tsp of almond oil to up its antibiotic power.
Caution: Avoid oil of oregano for dogs who experience seizures.
RELATED: Oil of oregano – nature’s antibiotic …
2. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey hails from New Zealand and Australia. It’s from the nectar of the manuka tree (tea tree). Manuka honey is an excellent topical antibiotic.
Medical researchers have shown interest in the honey’s antiseptic properties. And that’s because of the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Researchers have found some honeys, especially manuka honey, prevent the growth of MRSA. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a nasty superbug that invades hospital patients.
All honey contains the antiseptic hydrogen peroxide, but it’s very unstable. It’s easily destroyed by catalase, an enzyme found in human skin.
But more than 20 years ago … a New Zealand biochemist discovered what the ancient Maoris had always known.
After you take the hydrogen peroxide out of manuka honey … other phytochemical antibacterial factors remain. And these factors are powerful and stable.
Years of research failed to identify this … it was simply seen as “non-hydrogen peroxide activity.”
This occurs in some other forms of honey, but is most powerful in manuka.
“Not only has it the potential to limit the growth of wound pathogens, but there is evidence that honey has the potential to promote healing,” says Rose Cooper, a microbiologist at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff. “No other antimicrobial agent possesses these characteristics.”
Manuka shines as a topical antiseptic for cuts, wounds and abscesses.
Just apply it right to the affected area. If you want to boost it up a notch, mix it with colostrum to stimulate wound healing.
And manuka honey can also help with gastritis and other digestive problems. That’s thanks to its anti-inflammatory and probiotic characteristics.
Its antibiotic, anti-fungal and antiviral properties also make it an effective remedy for …
- Kennel Cough
- Other conditions
When you buy Manuka honey, look for one with at least UMF10+.
UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor. A higher number means higher Methylglyoxal (MGO) … and that means more therapeutic benefits.
For internal use start off slow and work your way to these doses:
Under 20 lbs … ½ tsp twice daily
20 to 60 lbs … 1 tsp twice daily
60 lbs or more … 2 tsp twice daily
Caution: You shouldn’t give manuka honey to diabetic dogs or dogs under 1 year of age.
RELATED: Manuka honey for dogs …
3. Olive Leaf
Olive leaf comes from European olive trees in the subtropics and is …
This is because of oleuropein … the active ingredient in olive leaf. It boosts the immune system and deactivates pathogens like bacteria, yeast and viruses.
But olive leaf also has constituents like secoiridoids, flavonoids and triterpenes. These help boost its healing power.
Unlike antibiotics, olive leaf is an alternative that doesn’t harm the beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut. It targets the bad bacteria and leaves the microbiome intact … so the gut stays healthy.
Olive leaf can help with many health issues in your dog …
- Kennel cough
- Intestinal infection
- Yeast infections
- Dental infections
- Urinary tract infections
You can buy olive leaf in powder, capsule or tincture form. But be sure to look for certified organic. Herbal products come in a wide range of quality and organic will be the most healthful.
If you choose to use powder, you can dose your dog based on his size.
Small Dogs … ¼ tsp daily
Medium Dogs … ½ tsp daily
Large Dogs … 1 tsp daily
You can also make tea from dried leaves.
Steep 1 tsp of dried leaves in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the leaves and let the liquid cool. A 50 lb dog can have up to 1 cup daily.
Caution: Olive leaf can cause digestive upset in some dogs. If your dog is nauseous, vomiting or other stomach upset, try a different option.
If you use olive leaf for yeast infections, you can give up to 500 mg daily (capsule or powder) per 50 lb of body weight. But start slow and work your way up to the max amount. Olive leaf can cause yeast die-off effects that can aggravate symptoms.
To help with intestinal parasites, look for an olive leaf extract with 12% oleuropein or more. Give it twice a day for 8 weeks.
Small Dogs … 300 mg twice daily
Medium Dogs … 500 mg twice daily
Large Dogs … 1000 mg twice daily
RELATED: Olive leaf: alternative to antibiotics …
4. Essential Oils
Antibiotics are often prescribed for dogs with Lyme Disease. But they can be expensive, difficult to dose and have dangerous side effects.
Researchers at John Hopkins University decided to look for an alternative solution.
And they landed on essential oils. Essential oils are oils extracted from plants. In 2017, researchers at John Hopkins looked at 34 essential oils. They found 23 oils that were more effective than Doxycycline … a popular antibiotic for the persistent form of Lyme disease.
You read that right. 23 of the oils performed better than one of the strongest antibiotics.
And 3 of these essential oils were especially effective …
- Clove Bud
- Cinnamon bark
Researchers said they “completely eradicated all viable cells without any regrowth in subculture in fresh medium.”
As a follow up, the researchers did a second study to try 35 more oils.
In this study, 16 of the essential oils worked better than the top 3 strongest antibiotics.
And garlic was as effective as oregano and cinnamon bark from the first study. (You’ll want to remember that for when I talk about the next natural antibiotic.)
This shows that essential oils may be an effective alternative to antibiotics.
Caution: If you do decide to use essential oils as a natural antibiotic for your pet … consult with a professional aromatherapist or herbalist.
Essential oils can be effective but they can also be very dangerous if used wrong.
RELATED: Beware undiluted essential oils for dogs …
Garlic gets an undeserved bad reputation when it comes to dogs.
A 2000 study played a big role in that. Researchers fed 5 grams of garlic per kilogram of body weight to dogs each day. That’s a huge amount! It works out to about 5 whole heads of garlic for a Golden Retriever size dog.
Garlic contains sulfoxides and disulfides. These can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. But only when you feed your dog garlic in such large amounts. In moderation, garlic is very beneficial and safe. It can prevent blood clots, deter pests, prevent tumors and remove waste.
Another great benefit of garlic is that you can use it as an alternative to antibiotics.
You may even remember that it was one of top essential oils for Lyme disease. And that it performed better than the top 3 antibiotics. That’s because it has antiseptic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
In fact, people have used it for centuries to save wounds from infection and treat diseases.
When you crush garlic, alliinase enzymes combine with alliin. The result of this process is allicin. And allicin is attributed to many of the healthy benefits of garlic. Allicin is effective against a wide range of bacteria. This includes multidrug-resistant strains of E coli. It can also help manage yeast infections and parasites.
If you want to give your dog garlic, use garlic that is fresh, raw and organic.
To prepare the garlic, peel the cloves and mince, chop or crush them. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before use. But don’t wait too long or the beneficial allicin will degrade. 10 minutes should do.
The amount of garlic you give your dog will depend on his weight.
5 lbs … ⅙ tsp
10 lbs … ⅓ tsp
15 lbs … ½ tsp
20 lbs … ⅔ tsp
20 lbs … 1 tsp
Caution: Don’t use garlic for pregnant dogs or puppies under 6 months old. You also want to consult your vet about interactions with medication if your dog is on any.
RELATED: Can dogs eat garlic?
Plantain is a common weed that you can find almost anywhere. It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
It contains a phytochemical called allantoin. Allantoin can …
- Kill germs
- Speed up healing
- Stimulate skin growth
That makes it a perfect choice as an alternative to topical antibiotics.
You can make a lotion out of plantain for skin irritation. Combine plantain with calendula (I talk about this more later on) and aloe vera. Apply this to your dogs bites, rashes or sores.
You can also use it on its own. That makes it a great option for when your dog gets injured while out and about. Find a plantain plant, chew up the leaves and then put them on your dog’s wound.
You can even use plantain if you overtrim your dog’s nails and cut the quick. You can also steep a tea to use for ear infections.
For internal problems, juice fresh plantain plants in a juicer or blender. Mix with a small amount of warm water. It’s up to you if you want to strain the liquid.
Give your dog 1 tsp per 20 lbs of body weight with his meals each day.
You can also try capsules or liquid extracts.
Caution: Plantain can sometimes cause rashes, diarrhea or other allergic reactions. It may be a good idea to try plantain topically on your dog’s skin before you give it orally.
RELATED: The secrets of plantain for dogs …
Goldenseal is a herb. The roots and leaves are often used for medicinal purposes.
You may have even used it yourself for a cold, digestive upset or respiratory infection.
It contains berberine, a plant chemical with antimicrobial properties. It also has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. That makes it a great alternative for conventional antibiotics.
When you buy goldenseal make sure it’s from a cultivated organic source. Avoid using wildcrafted goldenseal, as it could endanger the species.
You can buy goldenseal tincture for topical use. To use it as a disinfectant, put a small amount on a washcloth and apply it to the skin 3 times daily.
It’s also possible to make your own tea if you don’t want to use tincture. To make goldenseal tea, boil a gram of powdered goldenseal in a cup of water.
Goldseal is also good for internal use. It helps with …
- Kennel Cough
- Digestive infections
Give 5 to 10 drops of tincture or ¼ cup of tea per 20 lbs daily. You can also use 1 tsp of powdered goldenseal per 20 lbs daily.
Note: Goldenseal tastes very bitter, so you may need to to disguise the flavor with a treat or in your dog’s food.
Goldenseal is also useful for ear infections.
Mix 1 tbsp of olive oil with 2 to 3 drops of goldenseal root extract in a cup. Use an eyedropper to place 2 to 3 drops of the mixture in the infected ear.
Caution: Your dog shouldn’t use goldenseal long-term. Use it for a week or so at a time then take a break. Do not use goldenseal for pregnant, newborn or hypoglycemic dogs.
RELATED: How to use goldenseal for dogs …
Like plantain, yarrow is a common weed with antibacterial properties. Yarrow essential oil is effective in killing many bacteria, including staphylococcus.
You can use yarrow as a topical antibiotic to help with …
- Cuts and wounds
- Inflamed skin
You can use a yarrow tincture as an alternative for antibiotics or you can make tea.
Place 8 tablespoons of fresh yarrow or 4 tbsp of dried yarrow in a quart of boiled water. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and let it cool.
Put the tea in a spray bottle and apply to the affected area 3 to 5 times daily.
Store tea in the fridge for a few days.
Calendula are orange and yellow flowers are often used for healing. And you may know them as pot marigolds. It’s a multipurpose flower with anti-inflammatory, antifungal and anti-microbial properties. It also relieves pain and helps heal wounds. And it’s a great antibiotic alternative.
You can apply it as a lotion, which you can make yourself with calendula tincture.
Add ¼ tsp table salt to 1 cup of purified water. Add 20 to 40 drops of calendula tincture.
Put the lotion on a cotton ball and dab it onto wounds 2 to 4 times daily. You can also drip or flush the wound with this solution.
Like many of the other solutions on this list, you can also make your own tea with dried calendula. Add 2 tsps of dried calendula to 1 cup boiling water. Steep, cool and strain the tea. Put the tea into a spray bottle and spritz your dog to relieve itching … or soak a cloth and apply it to the wound.
For internal use, put several drops of tincture on your dog’s food or add some dried herb.
Caution: Calendula should not be used for pregnant dogs.
RELATED: Calendula for dogs …
Turmeric is a yellow-orange spice that you may already have in your cupboard. More than 6,000 studies have looked at turmeric and its benefits.
It has even proven to be better than many expensive drugs including …
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
It can also be used as an alternative to pharmaceutical antibiotics.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is antimicrobial and antibacterial. It’s also anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.
A 2015 study looked at the antibacterial properties of curcurmin. Curcumin killed all the tested bacterias.
Turmeric is a safe alternative for topical use … or you can feed it to your dog.
- For topical use, mix turmeric with organic aloe vera and apply to your dog’s wounds or scratches.
- For internal use, buy a water soluble supplement or make a golden paste.
If you want to add turmeric to your dog’s diet you can also use turmeric golden paste. Fat also helps with turmeric absorption so it’s a good thing to add (along with black pepper).
Mix ½ cup turmeric powder with 1 cup of water in a pan. Stir it on medium/low heat for 7 to 10 minutes until it forms a thick paste. Add more water or turmeric if needed.
When a thick paste forms add 1 ½ tsp ground pepper and ¼ cup MCT oil or ghee. Stir well. Remove from heat and let cool. Place in a jar and store in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Give your dog ⅛ to ¼ tsp of golden paste for every 10 lbs of body weight daily. Start slow and work your way up to this amount.
Turmeric leaves the body quickly … so you may also want to feed the golden paste in smaller amounts throughout the day.
RELATED: Turmeric for dogs: 5 surprising health benefits …
As you can see, there are many different alternatives to pharmaceutical antibiotics.
So before you pick up that antibiotic, consider one of these natural options. It’ll help your dog heal and prevent long-term damage from dangerous medications.