When it comes to preventative and medical treatments for my dogs, I always try to find a natural, effective, and affordable at-home option before running to my vet, credit card in hand. As a dog blogger, I feel that it’s my duty to share some of the cost-saving remedies I’ve discovered over my nearly 10 years as a dog guardian. Please keep in mind that I’m not a vet, nor do I pretend to be one. I know my dogs very well and consider their weights/habits/reactions when choosing to administer these tried and true solutions.

Epsom salts – I’m telling you, these tiny yet powerful granules are an ultimate multi-functional dog remedy. I’ve used Epsom salt soaks to prevent infection when Roxy lost her toe nail and when she split her paw pad. Simply mix salt with hot water and soak the foot for 5 minutes, 2x a day. It also works wonders for calming Chance’s itchy paws.

The most miraculous use, though, was to reduce the terrifying cyst that was growing on Cash’s neck! (Okay, disclaimer time. If your dog has a lump growing ANYWHERE, get to the vet asap to have it checked. We didn’t begin the epsom compresses until after the cyst was aspirated and cleared by our vet). After placing a hot towel soaked in the salt water mix on the cyst for 10 minutes, 2x day, for seven days, the cyst drastically reduced in size. Apparently the mixture was drawing the fluid out…super gross.

Vitamin C – We’ve all heard that vitamin C is great for warding off colds in humans, but did you know it works on dogs, too? Cash recently began hacking up a storm which led me to believe he had something stuck in his throat. Turns out my 8 year old geezer had his first cold. Although my first thought was to run to the vet, a vet-tech friend of mine advised that 1000mg of chewable vitamin C/day combined with Nim Jion natural cough syrup would do the trick, and in three days it did, saving me loads of money and saving Cash an unnecessary round of antibiotics.

Bonus – vitamin C is also good for building joint health and preventing arthritis, so now all of my dogs get some each day.

Antioxidants – Every day there seems to be a new super-berry fad, boasting loads of antioxidants to fight off cancer and other dangers lurking in your body. I have to admit, I’ve always thought this to be nonsense, except for when I need an excuse to have a second, aw heck, a third glass of wine. But when that cyst on Cash’s neck continued to reappear, I went looking for a more permanent solution, and my vet’s response? Surgery. No way, Jose, not unless I have to.

So I went to the same brilliant vet-tech friend who introduced me to the wonders of vitamin C. This time she recommended a powerful dose of antioxidants each day. I was very skeptical, after all, if Dr. Oz says it works, I assume it won’t. In any event, she gave me a sample of Ark Naturals’ Nu-Pet chewable wafers. These monster tablets are packed with phytonutrients but taste like beef treats, so they’re super easy to give. In just 5 days, Cash’s cyst was completely gone, and after nearly two weeks, still hasn’t come back. I guess this means I have to take back everything I’ve said about Dr. Oz…or at least about antioxidants.

Parsley – This low-cost topper freshens breath while boosting the immune system. The only problem is getting your dog to eat it. Unlike Cash, Roxy and Chance are not vacuous voids who will eat anything unfortunate enough to cross their paths. To please their sophisticated palates food needs to be meaty, or in Roxy’s case, sweet, so I usually need to trick them into eating parsley. Tossing it into a food processor is usually the fastest way to conceal it within their kibble.