Antibiotics offer several benefits to dogs but they are known to cause adverse side effects such as the destruction of the beneficial bacteria in the gut and an increase in antibiotic resistance in animals. Also, some experts believe that using antibiotics can suppress the symptoms of dogs that are ill. Yes, it can temporarily resolve the health issue, but suppression can increase the risk of the disease coming back later, sometimes in a more serious form. Indeed, these are important reasons why many experts believe that antibiotic use should be reserved for serious, life-threatening diseases. Using antibiotics for diarrhea, minor injuries, or infections affecting the skin or ear are often viewed as risky and unnecessary.
The good news is, there are now many natural alternatives for synthetic antibiotics. Instead of giving antibiotics to your dog at the first sign of an illness, you should try these natural options first. Many of these natural antibiotics for dogs have been tested for efficacy and safety, and to ensure that they don’t trigger serious adverse reactions in dogs.
Common Natural Antibiotics for Dogs
Oil of Oregano
Various scientific studies have shown that oregano oil is effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. In fact, many farmers have been using oregano as part of their preventive health program for poultry and livestock. Oregano oil contains powerful phenols known as carvacrol and thymol which have known anti-microbial and anti-parasitic properties. Oregano oil should be diluted in almond oil or MCT oil before administration. It can be applied topically or given orally. It can also be diffused as a form of aromatherapy.
Dosage and administration:
Oral administration – Dilute 2-3 drops of oregano oil in 1 teaspoon of almond oil or MCT oil. You can give the diluted oregano oil to dogs 3 times a day.
Topical use – Dilute 1 drop of oregano oil with 1 teaspoon of almond oil before applying to the affected area.
Manuka honey is the nectar of the Manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium),) which is endemic in New Zealand and Australia. It possesses outstanding antibiotic properties and is best used topically. When antibiotic-resistant superbugs became prevalent, Manuka honey has come into close scrutiny because of its antiseptic and antibiotic attributes. Clinical studies have shown that some types of honey, such as Manuka, can prevent the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). When applied topically, Manuka honey can limit the growth of pathogens in the wound as well as promote the healing process. It can be used as a topical antiseptic for wounds, cuts, and abscesses in dogs. Some experts recommend boosting Manuka’s antibacterial and healing properties by mixing it with colostrum. Manuka honey contains methylglyoxal (MGO), a compound that is responsible for its antibacterial properties. MGO is also referred to as Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). Take note that the higher the UMF, the more therapeutic benefits can be reaped. When buying Manuka Honey, go for one with at least UMF10+. Manuka honey also provides prebiotic support for gut health.
Dosage and administration:
Topical – Can be applied directly to open wounds, grazes, cuts, and burns. Flush the wound with sterile saline before applying a layer of Manuka honey. The frequency of dressing will depend on the wound’s nature and severity.
Oral or internal use
Under 20 pounds body weight – 1/2 teaspoon twice a day
20-60 pounds body weight – 1 teaspoon twice a day
60 pounds or more – 1 teaspoon twice a day
Manuka Honey should not be given to diabetic dogs or those that are under 1 year old.
The leaf of the European olive tree has an active ingredient known as oleuropein which is responsible for the Olive leaf’s antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It can also help boost the function of the immune system. Olive leaf also contains secoiridoids, flavonoids, and triterpenes which can help boost the healing process. Many studies have shown the beneficial effects of Olive leaf in many common health issues in dogs, such as influenza, kennel cough, dental infections, intestinal infections, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections. Olive leaf is available in powder, capsule, or tincture form. Be sure to get one that is certified organic. You can also make tea from dried Olive leaves.
Dosage and administration
Small dogs – 1/4 teaspoon once a day
Medium dogs – 1/2 teaspoon once a day
Large dogs – 1 teaspoon once a day
Olive leaf tea – At least 1 cup for a 50-pound dog.
Yeast infections – Up to 500 mg daily per 50-pound body weight. You can give it in capsule or powder form. Take note to start with a small amount and gradually increase the dose each day until you reach the maximum amount. Doing so can help minimize the effects of yeast die-off.
Some dogs may experience digestive upset after taking Olive leaf preparations. When your dog experiences nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms of an upset stomach, it is recommended to stop giving Olive leaf and try other options.
Essential oils are extracted from plants. While there are essential oils that can cause adverse reactions in dogs, there are those that can have beneficial effects in terms of strong antibiotic activity. Three of the most effective essential oils are oregano, clove bud, and cinnamon bark.
Considering the potential adverse effects of essential oils, it’s best to consult a professional aromatherapist before using any form of essential oil on your pet.
Plantain is a type of weed that can be found almost anywhere. It contains a phytochemical, allantoin, which is responsible for the plant’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help promote wound healing and stimulate skin growth. This makes plantain an excellent alternative to topical antibiotics.
Indications and Dosage:
For skin irritation – Make a lotion by combining plantain, calendula, and aloe vera and apply it on skin rashes, sores, and bites. It can also be applied to your dog’s nails in case you accidentally cut the quick during a nail trim.
Ear infections – Make plantain tea and use it as an ear cleaning solution.
Internal problems – Make plantain juice by placing fresh plantain plants and a small amount of warm water in a juicer or blender. Give 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight with your dog’s meals each day.
Plantain may cause adverse reactions in some dogs. If your pet develops rashes, diarrhea, or other hypersensitivity reactions, it is recommended that you first apply plantain on your pet’s skin to see if there are any reactions before giving it orally.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
The roots and leaves of Goldenseal contain berberine, a biochemical that has been demonstrated to have antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known for its immuno-stimulatory effects. Goldenseal is effective against kennel cough, influenza, infections of the digestive tract, giardiasis, and worms. When buying Goldenseal preparations, make sure the source is organic and cultivated.
Dosage and Application:
Topical use – Use Goldenseal tincture on any skin irritation.
Powder form – Give 1 teaspoon of powdered Goldenseal per 20 pounds of body weight daily.
Tea – Give 5-10 drops of Goldenseal tincture per 20 pounds of body weight daily.
Tincture – Give 1/4 cup of tea per 20 pounds of body weight daily.
Ear infections – Mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil with 2-3 drops of Goldenseal root extract. Apply the 2-3 drops of the mixture in the infected ear.
Goldenseal has a very bitter taste; offer it with your pet’s favorite treat or food to mask the flavor.
Goldenseal is not advisable for long-term use in dogs. A week of use should be enough before taking a break and trying other options.
Goldenseal is contraindicated in pregnant, newborn, or hypoglycemic dogs.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Essential oil extracted from the Yarrow weed has antibacterial properties. It’s often used as a topical antibiotic that can be applied to cuts and wounds, ulcers, burns, swelling, and skin inflammation.
Dosage and administration:
Yarrow tincture can be applied topically to the affected area 3-5 times a day.
Yarrow tea – Mix 8 tablespoons of fresh yarrow or 4 tablespoons of dried yarrow in a quart of boiling water. Allow the mixture to steep for 20 minutes before straining and letting it cool. Use a spray bottle to apply yarrow tea to affected areas 3-5 times daily.
Calendula (Pot Marigolds)
The orange and yellow Calendula flowers have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and anti-microbial properties. They can also help alleviate pain and promote wound healing.
Dosage and application:
Calendula lotion – Mix 1/4 teaspoon table salt to 1 cup of purified water. Next, add 20-40 drops of Calendula tincture. Use a cotton ball to dab the lotion on the dog’s wound 2-4 times a day. The solution can also be used to flush wounds.
Calendula tea – Add 2 teaspoons of dried Calendula to 1 cup of boiling water. Let steep for 20 minutes and cool before straining the tea. Use a spray bottle to spritz the tea on your dog’s skin irritations. You can also soak a cloth in Calendula tea and apply it to your pet’s wound.
Calendula tincture – Put several drops of Calendula tincture on your pet’s food.
Calendula is contraindicated in pregnant dogs.
The health properties of colloidal silver have been known for more than a thousand years. Silver is believed to boost the immune system function. The submicroscopic silver particles are small enough to exert action at the cellular level and destroy pathogens including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
Colloidal silver can reduce the population of beneficial microorganisms in the gut.
Turmeric is well-known for its beneficial therapeutic effects. Numerous studies have been able to demonstrate that the action of turmeric is better compared to steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pharmaceutical antibiotics. Turmeric contains curcumin which is responsible for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.
Dosage and Application:
Topical use – Mix turmeric with aloe vera and apply it to your dog’s skin problems.
Internal use – Mix turmeric with a water-soluble supplement for dogs or make a paste. You can also add black pepper as it can enhance the absorption of turmeric. For a thick golden paste start by mixing 1/2 cup turmeric with 1 cup of water in a pan. On medium or low heat, stir the mixture for 7-10 minutes or until a thick paste is formed. You can add more water or turmeric if necessary. Once a thick paste is formed, add 1.5 teaspoons of ground pepper and 1/4 cup MCT oil. Stir well while cooking. Remove from heat and let cool. The paste can keep well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Make sure to place the paste in a clean jar with a cover. To mix in your pet’s food, give 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of golden paste for every 10 pounds of body weight on a daily basis. It is recommended that the amount given should be gradually increased until you are giving the desired amount. Ideally, the golden paste is given in smaller amounts throughout the day because turmeric is eliminated quickly from the body.
Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
The root extract of Oregon Grape has been shown to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hepato-protective properties.
Dosage and administration:
Tincture – Use 12 drops of Oregon Grape tincture per 20 pounds body weight.
Be sure to give the correct dose to your pet as excessive dosing can lead to toxicity and even prove to be fatal.
Oregon Grape is not safe for use in pregnant and lactating dogs as it can stimulate the contraction of the uterus. It can also possibly be transmitted to breast milk.
The herb is contraindicated in dogs with liver disease.
Pros and Cons of Natural Antibiotics For Dogs
Most natural sources are readily available and often free.
Herbs possess multiple therapeutic benefits and are typically effective against pathogens — bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Many natural antibiotics help boost the immune system function.
There are many types of herbs with antimicrobial properties. If your dog doesn’t respond to one, you can always switch to other herbal options.
Being natural substances, herbs don’t pose a toxic waste risk to the environment.
Natural antibiotics take time to act. Some may not be as effective against specific pathogens compared to synthetic antibiotics. While this is not really a big deal in most cases, there are instances in which fast-acting synthetic antibiotics are needed.
There are natural antibiotics (like Goldenseal) that can kill beneficial microorganisms just like synthetic antibiotics do. Experts recommend giving probiotics to your pet when giving natural antibiotics.
Some antibiotic herbs have become threatened species because of their popularity as natural treatments. Only buy from sources that cultivate and organically propagate the plants.