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healthy canine living
Group of dogs running over the lawn

The essentials

  • You can use natural antibiotics and enzymes to imitate the effect of medical antibiotics — they’re a natural healing remedy.
  • These natural remedies can be used to 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.
  • Regular antibiotics should still be used when prescribed —  But sometimes it can be useful to try ingredients with natural antibiotic properties prior to calm symptoms.

A note on antibiotics ⚠️

Medical antibiotics are extremely helpful at addressing some medical conditions in dogs. Natural antibiotics shouldn’t be substituted for medical antibiotics.

Lab-made antibiotics are not inherently harmful, and we don’t want to discourage dog owners from using them. Instead, we’re offering additional, natural options that dog owners might find helpful for less severe infections and injuries, or to use in combination with medical antibiotics.

Pet owners should always consult a vet before trying to treat their pet themselves. This article is meant to be an educational resource about natural foods and supplements — do not attempt to treat your pet without a vet’s guidance.

Antibiotics versus natural products: What are the differences?

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 are to develop resistance.

Alongside this threat of resistance, 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 means that your dog is at a lower risk of resistance and gut damage.

Of course, if your pet is suffering from a serious infection, then medical antibiotics should be used and you should always follow your vet’s advice. However, natural antibiotics are a good first step to see how your pet gets on with them before escalating to medicine which could build antibiotic resistance. In general, antibiotic resistance is rare, but repeated use of antibiotics and not using a full course of prescribed antibiotics can be some of the factors that contribute to antimicrobial resistance.

Are natural antibiotics safe?

Yes, natural antibiotics are safe for your pet if you use them correctly. Some pets with certain conditions should be more wary. That being said, if you carefully research each option thoroughly and speak to your vet before administering a dose, natural ingredients should generally be safe.

👉 Speaking to your vet is the best way to determine if natural antibiotics may be a good fit for your dog.

Keep in mind that each animal may have a different reaction to natural antibiotics. Finding what works for your pet is essential. The best way to do this is through trial and error.

Should natural antibiotics be used in place of regular antibiotics?

Yes and no. It really depends on how serious the infection is and how necessary the antibiotics are to overall health.

Medical antibiotics can have undesirable side effects, but sometimes using them is necessary to cure a severe infection. For example, most antibiotics run the risk of vomiting or diarrhea, however this is similar to all oral medicine. Your pet’s digestive system is always at risk for a minor flare up when taking antibiotics, although these side effects are relatively rare and don’t pose major issues for most pets. You shouldn’t risk your pet’s health if prescribed medical antibiotics, and you should use them, completing the treatment as specified by your vet.

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

When shouldn’t you use them?

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.

👉 Consult your vet if your dog has specific conditions or medications that could interact with natural antibiotics.

What products are natural antibiotics for dogs?

The good news is that there are many different natural antibiotics for dogs including foods, oils, herbs, and plants with antibacterial properties. These kinds of foods and essential oils are great for fighting bacterial infections and will help you create useful home remedies for your dog.

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

oregano oil for dogs natural antibiotic

oregano oil

1. Oregano oil

Oregano oil is considered one of the best natural ingredients with antibiotic properties for your dog. This herb oil has antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antifungal properties which can be healthy for your pup. In fact, many farmers are using oregano oil as natural antibiotics because they help to keep poultry and livestock free of disease without risking the likelihood of antibiotic resistance. Some formulas are even made just for dogs, like this oregano oil from Garden of Life.

Why it works: Science shows the health benefits of oregano oil come from two specific ingredients known as carvacrol and thymol. These are powerful phenols that can kill harmful bacteria and microbes and may be able to combat bad bacteria in your dog’s body.

Use oregano oil for: 

  • Mild infections
  • A topical antibiotic to fight off bacteria in a specific area
  • To clean wounds

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 is gaining the benefits of the carvacrol and thymol. To use it, you need to dilute 2 or 3 drops in another carrier oil like olive oil.

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

manuka honey for dogs natural antibiotic

Manuka honey

2. Manuka Honey

Honey is one of the world’s most healing foods and has been used for centuries by people all across the globe. This superfood is used as an antimicrobial agent due to its antifungal properties. It also reduces inflammation, soothes stomach ulcers and sore throats, and cures allergies. It also contains lots of polyphenols which are great natural antioxidants.

Why it works:

  • Contains natural anti-inflammatory properties
  • Has natural antiseptic properties

Use Manuka honey for:

  • Asthma
  • Dry skin
  • Inflammation
  • Itchy skin
  • Kennel cough

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.

A bottle of apple cider vinegar with fresh apples

Apple cider vinegar

3. Apple cider vinegar

You may have heard of apple cider vinegar as an ingredient in fad diets. But it’s more than just that. Apple cider vinegar has antibiotic and antibacterial properties and can help to fight gut inflammation and infection, which should help your pet feel more comfortable when digesting their food.

Why it works:

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

Use apple cider vinegar for:

How to administer: Use one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one cup of warm water and use that as a flush to put into your dog’s ears and flush out any debris or bacteria.

Fresh coconut oil on wooden table

Coconut oil

4. Coconut oil

If you want to try an ingredient on your pet’s skin that has natural antibiotic properties and smells great, then coconut oil is the best pick. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and helps to heal wounds which makes it a great remedy for dry or broken skin on your dog’s body.

Why it works: Medium-chain triglycerides are what makes coconut oil great for digestion. These triglycerides found in coconut oil can improve brain function and help with stomach issues. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal so it’s great for broken skin.

Use coconut oil for:

  • Dry skin
  • Infected skin
  • Digestive issues
  • Hot spots

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 to combat dry patches and rashes like hot spots.

Green olives on a branch of olive tree

Olive leaves in the wild

5. Olive leaf

Olive leaf extract is a safe and natural antibiotic for your dog. No matter what their ailment, olive leaf extract has antioxidant properties that can reduce inflammation and benefit overall health. The active ingredient in olive leaf is called oleuropein which holds antioxidant properties and makes olive leaf extract magical as a natural antibiotic.

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.

Use olive leaf for:

  • Infections (specifically skin infections)

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

Turmeric powder and turmeric roots on the wooden table

Tumeric powder

6. Turmeric

Turmeric is a great natural anti-inflammatory ingredient and can benefit dogs in much the same way that it benefits humans. Forget the turmeric lattes, though, your dog will need a teenie tiny amount added to their food bowl to feel the benefits of this magical 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.

What it can be used for or help:

  • Fighting off infection
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Help your dog recover from scrapes, scratches, and wounds (it has antibacterial qualities)

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.

👉 Be warned: too much turmeric can be hard on the digestive system and cause loose stools and tummy cramps. So, don’t up the dose 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).