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Owner feeding a dog a treat

The essentials

  • Regular antibiotics should still be used when prescribed by a veterinarian —  But, it can also be helpful to try naturally-occurring antibiotics prescribed by a vet to calm symptoms and boost immunity.
  • These natural remedies can boost the immune system and encourage good bacteria — They offer antibacterial and antifungal support as well as general wellness and health benefits to your dog.
  • Ingredients with natural antibiotic qualities may be easier on your pup’s gut —  Using them can reduce the risk of them developing antibiotic resistance.

A note on antibiotics 🚨

Antibiotics can help your dog deal with a bacterial infection or reduce the risk of getting one. In either scenario, a vet may prescribe amoxicillin or other antibiotics to help your dog.

While antibiotics can help your pet in the short term, there are side effects that come with using antibiotics. These include everything from minor side effects such as drooling and fatigue to allergic reactions that cause muscle spasms and seizures.

There’s always the risk of antibiotic resistance in dogs, too. If your dog has built up a resistance, an antibiotic used to fight off a certain type of bacteria will have no effect.

Your vet can help you weigh the pros and cons of antibiotics for your dog. On top of that, your vet can teach you about natural antibiotics for dogs that combat and prevent bacterial infections. You can get these dog antibiotics without a prescription. Most importantly, natural antibiotics for dogs may help your dog move past or avoid a bacterial infection — without putting their health at risk.

Conventional antibiotics versus natural products: What are the differences?

Conventional antibiotics are medicines prescribed by a vet to treat an infection. Pet owners can be quick to put their dog on regular antibiotics. However, studies show that antibiotic resistance is an issue in pets. The more we give them medical antibiotics, the more likely they will develop resistance.

🚨 If you suspect your pet has an infection, it’s important to go to the vet and follow their guidance on treatment.

Alongside this threat of resistance, conventional antibiotics can also mess with your dog’s intestinal flora affecting their gut health (consider probiotics if this does happen).

But, some natural products have antibiotic properties. Using these natural remedies lowers your dog’s risk of resistance and gut damage.

Of course, if your pet is suffering from a severe infection, prescription antibiotics need to be used, and you should always follow your vet’s advice. In general, antibiotic resistance is rare, but repeated use of conventional antibiotics and not using a full course of prescribed antibiotics can be some of the factors that contribute to antimicrobial resistance.

1. Manuka Honey

manuka honey for dogs natural antibiotic

Honey is one of the world’s most healing foods. It’s been used for centuries by people all over the world. This is due in part to the superfood’s antibacterial properties .

Veterinarians sometimes use honey for wound care for dogs. They apply honey bandages to wounds to help limit the risk of bacterial infections. But, honey is rarely used on its own for dog wound care. And, vets may use systemic antibiotics with honey to help heal big wounds in dogs.

Why it works: 

Manuka honey has natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, such as:

  • Lower pH. Manuka honey has a lower pH compared to other honeys, which may promote wound healing
  • Amino acids. There are some acides, like fructose and glucose, that may help hydrate the skin
  • Fights germs. Manuka honey has been shown to have more methylglyoxal (MG) than regular honey. This organic compound can help fight germs and speed up healing in healthy dogs.

👉 While more research is underway, studies indicate that for diabetic dogs the high amount of MG may delay wound healing .

How to administer: Dog owners can administer a dose in food or as a sweet treat. For kennel cough, a teaspoon of manuka honey in food can be a great solution. Most dogs love the taste! However, if your dog is diabetic, be careful of the sugar spike and avoid honey as an oral treatment.

To apply topically, simply apply the honey to wounds as a protective barrier.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric powder and turmeric roots on the wooden table

Turmeric is a great natural anti-inflammatory and can benefit dogs in much the same way that it benefits humans. It may be used to help dogs dealing with chronic inflammation due to paresis and paralysis. Forget the turmeric lattes, though, your dog only needs a small amount added to their food bowl to feel the benefits of this powerful natural antibiotic.

Why it works: Curcumin is the ingredient in turmeric that makes it great for your pet. It has antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin found in turmeric can have a great effect on your dog’s immune system.

How to administer: If you’re using turmeric on your dog’s skin, you can create a mixture of turmeric powder and natural aloe vera gel to soothe wounds. If you’re feeding your dog turmeric, 5 to 20 mg per pound of body weight per day is a good starting point depending on their body weight.

Start with a quarter of a teaspoon for a 20-50lb dog, and less for small dogs.

👉 Too much turmeric can be hard on the digestive system and cause loose stools and tummy cramps. Don’t dose up too quickly and stop immediately if your pup doesn’t tolerate it.

You can also incorporate turmeric into your pup’s diet with doggie supplements. Some of our favorites that use turmeric as an ingredient are Premium Care’s Hemp Mobility Chews (designed to improve joint health) and Zesty Paw’s Turmeric Curcumin Bites (for everyday vitality).

3. Oregano oil

oregano oil for dogs natural antibiotic

Oregano oil is considered one of the best natural ingredients for your dog. This herb oil has antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antifungal properties. In fact, many farmers are using oregano oil as a natural antibiotic because it helps to keep poultry and livestock healthy. Some formulas are even made just for dogs, like this oregano oil from Garden of Life.

Why it works: Research is ongoing regarding oregano oil and other essential oils for dogs and whether they’re safe for them. Science shows the health benefits of oregano oil may come from two specific ingredients known as carvacrol and thymol . As with any other essential oil, it’s important to consult with your vet before giving your dog oregano oil.

How to administer: Be sure that you are using oil of oregano and not the herb itself. The oil is necessary to ensure that your pet gets the benefits of the carvacrol and thymol. To use it, dilute 2 or 3 drops in another carrier oil like olive oil and administer it topically

Dangers or side effects: Avoid oil of oregano for dogs who experience seizures.

4. Apple cider vinegar

A bottle of apple cider vinegar with fresh apples

You may have heard of apple cider vinegar as an ingredient in fad diets. While research is still ongoing, apple cider vinegar has antibiotic properties and may help to fight gut inflammation and infection. This may help your pet feel more comfortable when digesting their food.

Why it works: 

  • It’s naturally anti-inflammatory
  • It’s naturally antiseptic

How to administer: Use one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one cup of warm water and put it into your dog’s ears to help flush out an ear infection. This flushes out any debris or bacteria. Make sure your dog’s eardrum is intact before you flush your pet’s ears. It’s important to note that apple cider vinegar — even when it’s diluted with water — can be caustic. There’s also the risk that it will irritate your dog’s ear canals.

👉 It’s important to consult with your vet before administering apple cider vinegar.

5. Coconut oil

Fresh coconut oil on wooden table

Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial. It can help heal wounds, and it’s a great remedy for cracked skin and paws as well as chapped lips. Additionally, some pet parents use it for hot spots, and to help clear up rashes.

Why it works: Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal.

How to administer: You can add a teaspoon to your dog’s food for gut and digestive health. Alternatively, coconut oil can be massaged into the skin.

6. Olive leaf

Green olives on a branch of olive tree

Olive leaf extract may be a safe and natural antibiotic for your dog. Research suggests oil leaf extract may help reduce inflammation. The active ingredient in olive leaf is called oleuropein  which holds antioxidant properties and makes olive leaf extract magical as a natural antibiotic, especially for skin infections.

Why it works: Olive leaf extract has antioxidant properties. It is able to reduce inflammation due to its polyphenolic compounds. These compounds have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory activities.

How to administer: Depending on your dog’s weight, you can add about half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of olive oil to their dry food.

Frequently asked questions

Are natural antibiotics for dogs safe?

Yes, natural antibiotics for dogs are safe for your pet if you use them correctly. Some pets with certain conditions should avoid certain natural remedies, so carefully research each option thoroughly and speak to your vet before administering anything to your dog.

Should natural antibiotics be used in place of regular antibiotics?

No. Medical antibiotics can have undesirable side effects, but sometimes using them is necessary to cure an infection.

A great natural antibiotic is more effective when used as an initial measure, or a preventative measure to stop any infection or inflammation from getting worse. You should always consult a vet before switching medical antibiotics for natural ones.

When shouldn’t you use natural antibiotics for dogs?

There are a few scenarios when you wouldn’t want to opt for natural antibiotics. These are:

  • If your dog has specific medical or health conditions.
  • If your dog already takes medication.
  • If your dog is seriously ill and needs medical antibiotics.
  • If your dog has responded badly or had an allergic reaction to natural antibiotics in the past.

What products are natural remedies for dogs?

The good news is that there are many different great natural antibiotic options for dogs. They include foods, oils, herbs, and plants with antibacterial properties. These foods and essential oils may help prevent bacterial infections and create useful home remedies for your dog.

👉 Remember, consult your vet before administering any natural antibiotics to your dog.

What is the strongest natural antibiotic for dogs?

Debate is ongoing about the natural antibiotic that works the best for dogs. To date, two natural antibiotics stand out from the pack: manuka honey and turmeric.

Manuka honey is considered one of the strongest natural antibiotics for dogs. It is used to treat wounds and lesions. Manuka honey also helps reduce inflammation.

Some experts believe turmeric is among the best natural antibiotics for pets and people.  Turmeric contains a lot of powerful ingredients that are beneficial to overall health. Plus, it’s been shown to help heal bacterial and fungal infections.

What are the benefits of using the best natural antibiotics for dogs?

Here are the 4 biggest benefits of using natural antibiotics to help prevent infections or complement antibiotics used by your vet:

  • Low risk of side effects. It’s unlikely that your dog will experience long-term side effects.
  • Healing properties. Natural remedies have antiviral and antifungal properties.
  • Easy-to-find ingredients. Natural antibiotics contain ingredients you can buy over the counter.
  • Low risk of indigestion. The ingredients in natural remedies are easy to process.

Ask a vet about the benefits of using natural remedies for dogs versus conventional antibiotics to help you decide which options are the right ones for your pet.

How can I get antibiotics for my dog without going to the vet?

You can buy over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotics at a pet store or online. These antibiotics are available without a prescription. It’s important to remember that different bacterias can cause the same symptoms, and OTC antibiotics may not treat the infection your pet is dealing with, or get rid of it entirely. Because of this, the results of OTC antibiotics for dogs vary.

If your dog is dealing with a severe infection, err on the side of caution by going to a vet. At this point, a vet can diagnose and treat your dog and prescribe antibiotics as needed.