Natural Remedies for Respiratory Issues in Dogs and Cats

| Modified on Apr 29, 2021
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Just like people our beloved pets can end up with respiratory problems ranging from infection, to aspiration to COPD. Newborn animals can have respiratory issues as can elderly pets and every age in between.

Because proper lung function is critical to life, any lung issue needs to be promptly diagnosed and treated. Lack of oxygen delivered by the lungs to heart can lead to heart failure. Dogs with lung problems will often experience fatigue and panting, related to the lack of oxygen to the lungs.

Causes of Lung Issues in Dogs and Cats

  • Infections (viral, bacterial, fungal)
  • Heartworm
  • Lungworm
  • Vaccine Side Effect
  • Pneumonia
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Poor air quality
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Pesticides

Lung Issues in Pet Babies

If your puppy or kitten is having difficulty breathing for any reason, a visit to the vet is warranted. Puppies and kittens are delicate and there is not time to try different remedies to figure out a solution. If your newborn animal has aspirated on milk he will need to have antibiotics and monitoring from a vet.

Remedies List for Pet Lung Problems

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a simple solution for many problems that affect the lungs of pets. A daily dose of apple cider vinegar can reduce allergies and asthma, fight infection, and improve the pH of the body.

A simple and gentle way to dose your pet with apple cider vinegar is shown on this video!


Mullein is a gentle herb that is healing to the lungs. It is mild tasting and usually easy to dose.

Mullein tincture is given 3-5 times a day. It should be diluted in some water. It can be added to food or water or mixed with water and give by a syringe.

  • Kittens and Puppies: 3-5 drops per dose
  • Cats and small dogs: 8- 10 drops per dose
  • Medium dogs: 15-20 drops per dose
  • Large dogs: 30-60 drops per dose


Turmeric is a spice that is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. It can be used for lung issues that are caused by infections, allergies, or any type of inflammation.

Dosing information for turmeric can be found on this page.

Reduce Chemical Exposure

Pets are close to the ground. All four paws touch the ground, bellies and noses are exposed to the ground. These chemicals absorb into the skin and wreak havoc on the bodies of animals.

Second hand smoke is harmful to pets as well as people. This page will give you ideas for detoxing your dog or cat from chemical overload.

Cleaning your pet's paws after a walk can significantly reduce their chemical load.

Dietary Changes

Cheap dog and cat food tends to have significant amounts of fillers, chemicals, colors and grains, none of which are ideal for pets. Making your own dog or cat food or buying higher quality pet foods can reduce allergies and asthma in pets, eliminating lung problems. Higher quality foods also provide better nutrition for pets which will allow all body systems to function more optimally.

Have you resolved a lung issue in your dog or cat? Please send us some feedback!

Additional Pages of Interest in the Pet’s Section:




Apple Cider Vinegar

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Hisslv4ever (Rodeo, Ca) on 02/06/2018
5 out of 5 stars

I have just tried ACV for Upper Respiratory Infection for the first time and I must say I was skeptical but now I am amazed. I have 20 cats and when the first one started sneezing I had no idea how I was going to keep this under control. I use lysine and it def helps but they dont like it the treats more than the gel. Also a little pricey. The ACV is a miracle. I did the back of the neck thing and also on the paws and after 24 hrs the improvement is unbelievable. They actually seemed to even like it. It was SO much easier than trying to shove meds at them they don't want to eat. I cant even believe how much better they are today. I will continue giving them until gone and beyond. The URI is very hard on them and can last for weeks if not treated so I was freaking out wondering how I was gonna keep this under control. Thanks to this site I know now and I want to tell every cat owner on the planet about it especially the ones desperate to help their kitties but dont have money for very expensive vet care.I always prefer the natural option if possible and this is awesome information. Thanks a million times really.

Multiple Remedies

Posted by Ramelle (Lacombe, La) on 01/21/2011

To the owner of the dog with panting and fatigue-

My Westie mix female was having similar symptoms. After going to Both a natural vet and a conventional one , it was concluded that she has COPD. She has had Chest xrays, U/S of major organs, EKGs, lab tests of all sorts-including heart worm and all negative for cancer or infection. She was treated for "lung worms" but later vet said she doubted that was her problem. Now, she takes Lasix, theophylline, Pneumotropin PMG, tumeric, garlic, vit E, fish oil, and and another med to boost her immunty (mammary tumors). One homeopathic remedy that helps Her is ipeacac 30C Every 5 days or so- helps her cough up pleghm.

Onion and Garlic

1 User Review
1 star (1) 

Posted by Oscars Mom (British Columbia, Canada) on 03/06/2015
1 out of 5 stars


Hello to anyone else with a dog with COPD or a breathing problem (or just has a Dog). Please Do Not feed your dog Garlic and/or Onions.

The following is a Copy n Paste info; 'All close members of the onion family (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.) contain compounds that can damage dogs' red blood cells if ingested in sufficient quantities. A rule of thumb is "the stronger it is, the more toxic it is." Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions, on an ounce-for-ounce basis. While it's uncommon for dogs to eat enough raw onions and garlic to cause serious problems, exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as dehydrated onions, onion soup mix or garlic powder, may put dogs at risk of toxicosis. The damage to the red blood cells caused by onions and garlic generally doesn't become apparent until three to five days after a dog eats these vegetables. Affected dogs may seem weak or reluctant to move, or they may appear to tire easily after mild exercise. Their urine may be orange-tinged to dark red in color. These dogs should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. In severe cases, blood transfusions may be needed.'

Second Copy n Paste info; 'Onions/Garlic cause toxicity by oxidizing an oxygen-transporting protein called hemoglobin in the red blood cells. When oxidized, hemoglobin forms clumps which can't carry oxygen as well. These small clumps, called Heinz bodies can be seen in the red blood cells when the blood is viewed under a microscope, especially when the cells are stained with a special stain called New Methylene Blue. Although a number of other compounds can cause Heinz bodies, when a veterinarian sees Heinz bodies in many cat or dog red blood cells, onion toxicity is the first differential that leaps out on the list.'

I only wanted to put this out there because my little Westie - Oscar has COPD. I nearly killed my little guy on Monday by giving him a very small handful of chopped up cooked chicken in his food. I never thought about the dehydrated onion and garlic powder I had used on the meat when I gave him the food :( . I had used a lot :( . The response to the food was immediate. His throat almost closed completely before he even got to lick his plate. It makes me cry to even think about it. Due to several reasons there is no vet available. I was on the net immediately trying to figure out what was going on. The above copy n paste was info I had found. Five yrs. ago Oscar had his spleen removed, the only defense the little guy had to help clean his blood on his own. If you google 'dogs and onions' and do some reading you will know what I mean. Over time the marrow in his bones will help to clean his blood from the Heinz bodies.

In the mean time - I have been giving him Turmeric 1/4 tsp. every four hrs. to help with swelling/inflammatory air way. 1/2 tsp. Organic Virgin Cold - Pressed Coconut Oil for healing properties and to help bowel movement. Two eyedropper drops of Food grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% in Two liters of filtered water. It is helping. I also turned the heat in the house up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for two reasons, 1) To induce panting, he could not breath on his own unless he panted. 2) Panting cools a dog down. I had to make him breath. I also didn't want him to get sicker because the panting gave him the chills.

Monday evening and Tuesday I thought I was going to lose the best little guy I had ever known. Wednesday, the panting was not as intense, there was a sliver of hope. Today, Thursday, he is walking on his own from one end of the house to the other (then rests for a bit). His breathing today is better. The heat is at 78 and he does not need to pant now when laying down. He can drink his water with out choking. It is now 11:30pm he has slept almost peacefully for three hrs straight. I think we are going to make it.

I must go now, it is time to wake him up and give him his medicine and a bathroom break. If this happens to you, I recommend your FIRST response should be to take the dog to a VET but sometimes that option is not available. So this was the action I took. Also - do not encourage your pet to move, walk or exercise in any way. Carry your buddy everywhere, including the bathroom. If you can, put soft food with medicine mix on a plate not a bowl so the nose is not pushing against anything. Hold food up for dog to eat so the head is not forced into a down position blocking food or air consumption. Hold water up for dog to drink. Encourage your dog to lay down while feeding or drinking. And of course Try your best to keep your cool. They are scared enough already and having them watch you cry is not going to help their stress level at all. Do what I did, after medication wait a few minutes to make sure they are okay. Go to the bathroom and release your own stress, don't be long. Then go back and cuddle your pooch. It will do you both good.

Thanks to God and to Earthclinic for the help. I would not have known about using the Hydrogen peroxide if I hadn't been guided to this site two weeks ago looking for Borax information. Thank you Ted for the effort you put into this place. You are an invaluable person and I appreciate your help. From Oscars mom.

Replied by Theresa
(Mpls., Mn)

Hey Oscar's Mom!

Sorry to hear about Oscar's health scare and so glad that the hydrogen peroxide remedy brought Oscar some relief!

I do want to point out that what you describe sounds more like a food allergy - anaphylactic shock - rather than a toxic reaction to garlic and onions.

While it is true that onions and garlic in large quantities are toxic to dogs - you would have to sit your dog down and feed him 50 cloves of raw garlic for a toxic dose - the symptoms from such a poisoning would result in anemia [lack of red blood cells to carry oxygen] and lethargy, NOT an immediate reaction of a swollen throat; that reaction is an allergic reaction.

One possibility for you to consider for Oscar's COPD are some remedies on EC's COPD page:

Also pay particular attention to Jack from Toledo OH for his remedy for emphysema/COPD:

Lastly, you might consider taking Oscar to the vet to rule out a collapsing trachea which commonly afflicts the small breeds.

Replied by Oscars' Mom
(British Columbia, Canada)

Hey Theresa!

Thanks for the links, I will check them out.

I still stand by my Warning. I understand the over-all of large amounts of garlic and onion point you are getting at. Each dog is different and will have a different reaction to any substance.

Yes, Oscar was having an allergic reaction ( for the first time ) to both the onion powder and the garlic powder but it didn't help that I had been giving him food like this off and on for most of his life. It was my own ignorance that I didn't know the depths of what an onion and garlic can do over the long haul to a dog. I do now.

With Oscar having no spleen you can cut your theory to him only needing to eat 50 cloves down to him only needing to eat 12.5 cloves. In other words Down to 1/4th that it would/could take to make him ill. (I'm only giving an example here, since we are not including a discussion of the Size or Breed or Health condition of a Dog digesting Garlic.) Plus don't forget he was having onion powder with the garlic powder. Both being a powder - a Concentrated form.

I didn't have time or energy yesterday or today to go into Mass depth over Oscar's health history. But I do stand by my Warning and so does my Vet whom Oscar spent most of the morning with today. I also spent every day since Tuesday on the phone updating Oscars' Vet of what was going on and what I was doing for him. The Vet was prepared for the blood test to give him first thing this morning. He does have a light case of Heinz bodies. It was the emergency Vet line Monday night that suggested it was a reaction to the onion and garlic powder, that is why I knew to google it.

So yes he had an allergic reaction initially but combined with the Heinz bodies he had slowly building up in his blood, it did not help his ability to get oxygen to/mixed in his blood. Mondays meal was the meal that finally kicked his health over the edge.

I am also happy to say the Vet says his trachea is still in un-collapsed state but thank you for the suggestion. It is something we check every time we go for a checkup.

I ONLY wanted to tell people what my Vet had said. Don't give your dog onions and garlic of any kind. Over time it 'could/can' have an adverse affect on your pet. In my case it did. I'm not trying to challenge anyone on their own theory. I am only sharing my own experience here.

Oscars' mom.

Replied by Om
(Hope, Bc Canada)

Dr. Goldstein, a vet in NY, wrote a book and mentioned that he gives lots of garlic to his bunch of pets. I rather think that removing the spleen would bring up more problems. I cured a dog with spleen cancer in six months.

So sorry to hear this. I feed garlic in small amounts. If I have too much garlic, I feel very sick. It is the amount that matters as with all good things. Namaste, Om

Replied by Theresa
(Mpls., Mn)

Hey Oscar's Mom!

Kudos for being so diligent in your care of Oscar!

I do not mean to infer you are providing anything but excellent care, and that care *must* be individualized and tailored to each pet.

I have had experience with dogs crashing from eating onions; I have also had dogs enjoy garlic. My main point was that Oscar was experiencing an allergic reaction - in this case to the garlic, or perhaps an additive to the garlic to make it not clump and pour out of the shaker easily. Normal-typical-standard reaction to too much garlic is anemia. Oscar did react to the garlic, but it was an allergic reaction, not anemia; most pets do not experience anaphylactic shock/closing of airways when they ingest garlic. MOST are OK when they ingest garlic. And too much of a good thing = anemia, not closing of the airways.

It is important to get the facts straight - poor Oscar did experience a life threatening situation that you expertly/intuitively nursed him through - KUDOS to you, and what a long night it must hav been. I just want to make clear to other readers that garlic - most of time time - does NOT cause the airway to swell shut. This was a particular reaction for Oscar and not typical.

And yes, dogs with out spleens are in another league - again, kudos to your expert care Oscar did pull through this.

Thanks so much for sharing Oscar's story - I know it will benefit others.

Replied by Oscars' Mom
(British Columbia, Canada.)

Hi Om, Thank you for the suggestion of the book. I will be checking on that info for sure. I'm excited to read it :).

That is seriously cool about curing the spleen cancer. Congratulations, that is a huge accomplishment. Is that info in the book you recommended?

Thank you for the comment for Oscar. I will just have to make his odd treat in a separate pan. Pity. I could eat garlic until the cows come home. Only one of my two wolf dogs gets sick from it but I kind of think it is a taste preference for him. lol At least that is what it looks like when he rubs his tongue across his blanket after he spits it out. My girl wolf has no problems with it at all.

Oh well, until something serious comes along for me to re-look at garlic (or onions), no one but me will be chomping on it now.

Namaste Om. :) Oscars' mom.

Replied by Om
(Hope, Bc, Canada)

Hello, Oscar's Mom ---

as to Dr. Goldstein's book, he used natural meds made in the US and Chinese traditional herbs. He wrote strongly about vaccinations and their deleterious effects. Yes, he loved to cook for his band of whiskers and wagging tails.

The healing of the spleen came about as there was a large article on my having a final resting place for unwanted, sick and disabled kitties. A man with a large black dog sought my help as he had seen a few vets, sparing no cost only to be told "it may be too late". All there was to be seen on the X-ray some dark places where the spleen is located. Another vet wanted to "excise" the offending organ.

This man had not been conversant with natural remedies, so I had to educate him. Gradually he supplied the daily items for his dog which I believe in as being beneficial :

ESSIAC four herb and all roots included. Daily on empty stomach.

Flaked yeast from the health store for good B vits.

Raw veggies done in the blender/processor.

Kelp powder

1/2 tsp turmeric in the veggies.

A good 3-6-9 oil like hemp seed oil and also coconut oil over the food.

Barley groats or pot barley cooked in the slow cooker with lots of water to soak the 'meat only' kibbles.

Well, in the process he got educated about human diet as well and managed to remember the number of ingredients which had been a bit overwhelming at the outset.

Six months passed. He came in ecstatic - the X-ray showed CLEAR. The woman vet who was so proud about her "excising" skills asked him what he had done. Since then she has , , , , , , , .

The fear of cancer is deliberately infused into the public. So people, cool it and make intelligent decisions which is your birth right.

I must add regarding a couple of posts here, that it is now more than ever hard to help the needy animals because of the cost. Some time ago there was a vet who remained affordable possibly out of compassion. The veterinarian assoc. pulled him on the carpet and that was it. Another affordable vet was slandered and had to close his practice. He is open now using another colleague and still remains below the margin of fees today - for how long?

It is distressing to read about the toxic drugs. Please research and google before administering straight poison. Disease is a business.

Bless you all. Namaste, Om

(San Jose, Ca)

Hi Om,

could you give the title of the book? I can't find it...thanks

Replied by Oscars' Mom
(British Columbia, Canada.)

Thank you Om for the recipe. I have a friend who owns a Rottweiler with lung cancer, I will be giving him this info, I am sure it will help. Much appreciation for posting it.

Oscars' mom.

Turmeric, Olive Oil

1 User Review
3 star (1) 

Posted by Hellokilly (San Francisco ) on 06/15/2017
3 out of 5 stars

My cat Frisco was diagnosed with a lung Granuloma a year ago and went on and off antibiotics but still has these asthma like convulsion like bouts. Its like he has a fur ball he can't get up. I have been giving him a 1/4 teaspoon turmeric with extra virgin olive oil and this seems to stop them but if he doesn't get this every day. They come back. Can I add something else, do something else to have more of a longer impact and a longer goal? Please help.

Replied by Tawanna
(New Jersey)

Have you tried Meyenberg goat milk, virgin coconut oil or raw honey?