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using melaleuca oil for natural pet first aid

Melaleuca (alternifolia) essential oil, aka tea tree oil, is a staple in our family’s medicine cabinet for the pets as well as the humans. I use it primarily for its antiseptic purposes, but it also benefits the skin, in general, and supports immunity. Best of all, it is completely natural and highly effective, which, in my book, makes it a much better choice than traditional over-the-counter topical medications. I don’t know what I’d do without it!

One challenge in treating pets with topical solutions is that if they can reach it, they’ll lick it. And it feels like they can reach just about every part of their bodies. You know what I mean?

Melaleuca oil is a great fix for this problem because it won’t harm them if they lick the  treated area. It also tends to “soak in” and stay where is is supposed to, so even if your pooch or kitty decides to take matters into his own paws…er…tongue, the treatment can still be effective.

Though melaleuca oil is a natural way to heal and care for pets, it is strong, so it usually needs to be diluted. Any carrier oil will work, but I would highly recommend coconut oil for it’s lightness and innate benefits to the skin. Some applications recommend another type of carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba oil.

Always be sure to test a small area of your pet’s skin with a highly diluted mixture to be sure he is not sensitive to melaleuca oil. Cats tend to be more sensitive to it than dogs, so start testing felines with a very diluted mixture.

The following solutions can be used as a guideline:


So how can melaleuca oil help your dog or cat?

Arthritis: Though your arthritic animal should be evaluated by a veterinarian, you may be able to provide some immediate relief by combining 1-2 drops of melaleuca oil with 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil. Gently massage the affected area, and, if your pet will tolerate it, apply a heating pad (on low setting to prevent burning). You can also use this method for minor sprains.

Cuts and minor skin abrasions: Melaleuca oil can be applied (“Recommended Melaleuca Oil Dilutions for Pets”) 2-3 times a day directly to the wound to aid in healing. This also helps prevent infection. If the wound has already become infected, keep applying the oil for seven days.  Alternatively, your pet’s wound can be bathed with an antiseptic wash. Just add 2-3 drops of melaleuca oil mixed with 3 drops of the carrier oil. Add to a warm bowl of water and stir well. The wash can be applied with a cotton ball twice a day.

Flea repellant: Mix 3-5 drops of melaleuca oil with 1 1/2 cup of carrier oil (jojoba is recommended so that it doubles as a coat conditioner). Store the mixture in a dark glass container in a cool place. In between bathing, sprinkle a few drops over the coat, especially around the neck and either comb through or sponge over the fur.

Dermatitis: Small areas of dermatitis can be treated with the solution mixture recommended above, (“Recommended Melaleuca Oil Dilutions for Pets”).

Ear infection: Mix 1-2 drops of melaleuca oil with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Warm the mixture (be sure it’s just warm…not hot), and, using a dropper, apply 1-2 drops inside the ear (do not insert the dropper in the animal’s ear). Massage the affected ear, and try not to let your pet shake his head, or the drops may come out. Do this twice a day until the infection is gone.

Ear mites: Mix 1-2 drops of melaleuca oil with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Using a cotton ball, apply a couple of drops by wiping the inside of the ear. This can be done once a week for ear mite prevention, if you pet is prone to ear mites.

Hot spots: Hot spots can be effectively treated with the solution mixture recommended above, (“Recommended Melaleuca Oil Dilutions for Pets”).

Insect bites & stings: If a stinger is present, carefully remove it. Apply the solution mixture recommended above (“Recommended Melaleuca Oil Dilutions for Pets”) with a cotton swab.

Mange or rash: Apply the solution mixture recommended above (“Recommended Melaleuca Oil Dilutions for Pets”). This will help with itching and inflammation. Apply twice a day.

Matted coat: Should your pet’s coat become matted, which can often happen in animals with long, fine hair, wet the matted hair with 1 drop of melaleuca oil mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of carrier oil. Rub the solution into the matted area and try to de-matt with a comb. Try to gently pull the matt away from the skin so it can be cut without creating a bald spot or damaging the skin.

Mouth sore: Combine 3-6 drops of Melaleuca oil with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and warm water. Apply directly to the sore for faster healing and to alleviate pain. This is most effectively done with your finger, in my opinion.

Warts: If your animal tolerates diluted melaleuca oil, you can apply 1-2 drops of straight oil directly on a wart with a cotton swab. This can help with pain and itching, if it is present. This can be done for several weeks…patience is required. Some types of warts will not respond to melaleuca oil, but if the wart is bothersome, it’s certainly worth a try.

High-quality Melaleuca oil is available from most reputable herbalists and natural health stores, and anywhere quality essential oils are sold. I purchase the highest-quality T36-C5 oil from Melaleuca, the wellness company, where excellent discounts can be had with a preferred customer membership. Many of the recipes I use regularly come from R.M. Barry’s Melaleuca: The Wellness Guide.

Though I don’t shun traditional medicine completely, holistic healing is the first route I take for my family, including my pets. Melaleuca oil is at the foundation of our methods, and is something I recommend to my friends and pet sitting clients with confidence.

How have you used Melaleuca oil to help heal your pets?

On the second Wednesday of each month, I contribute an article on holistic pet care at Hybrid Rasta Mama, a fantastic blog that offers information and insights on conscious parenting, natural living, holistic health, real food, and coconut oil. This post was featured last month.

Please visit me there today to read ThunderShirt Helps Dogs Find Anxiety Relief the Natural Way. Leave me some love! XO

Disclaimer: This article is not meant as a substitution for veterinary care or professional holistic animal care. Please consult your veterinarian or pet care health professional before embarking on any new treatment plan.


the lesson in Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow”

Chipotle‘s newest thought-provoking film is every bit as good as the last, in my biased opinion, and this time, there’s an app to go with it. I declare myself biased because my husband works for Chipotle, so some may discount my opinion based on that. Thought I’d better throw that tidbit out there right away.

“The Scarecrow,” with it’s simple, clear visuals and haunting remake by Fiona Apple of the song “Pure Imagination” from the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” challenges how we think about fast food. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will challenge you to throw off a bit of the denial the next time you take your family to the restaurant with the golden arches. By all means, what you eat is your choice, but no matter your choice (and I’ve been known to make some pretty poor choices), at least understand what you are putting into your body and what the industries you are supporting do to the animals you are eating. There ARE better choices out there. Chipotle is one of them.

Please check out “The Scarecrow.”

The littles and I have watched “The Scarecrow” a couple of times. The first time, I let them just watch it to see what they would pull from it on their own. They understood that it was sad, and they felt bad for the animals.

Porter (6) asked “Why are these Chipotle things always so sad?”

It’s hard to explain it to a six-year-old. You can’t really go into the politics of it all, so I did my best: “They are supposed to make you feel sad, because they want you to feel so strongly that it changes the way you think.”

The second time we watched, I did some commentary and paused it if they asked questions. Porter seemed to understand as I explained that the people are just eating the food, and they don’t know about all of the chemicals in it, and they don’t know how badly the animals are treated. All they see is the cute little store front and the yummy-looking food, so they buy it, and they eat it. What “The Scarecrow” is showing us is what goes on in reality. “Oh, so that’s why you won’t take us to McDonald’s and fast food very often,” he concluded, then asked “but why can’t we just eat the good kind of animals, and why can’t the fast food places use those?…Chipotle does.”

So he got the message perfectly. “Exactly, Porter.” I said. “They don’t because it’s cheaper to buy the yucky stuff, so that means they make more money.”

“That’s just wrong,” he declared. Bingo.

Campbell (4), my little self-proclaimed vegetarian, had a few more questions and had some very strong feelings: “The poor cows need us. And the pigs. And the chickens.” Yes. “Mommy, I want to save a cow.”

I asked her how we could do that.

“We could make a home for it at the farm.”

“That’s a great idea. But we don’t have a farm,” I reminded her.

“So what can we do?” she asked.

“Well, how about we don’t buy the animals from the factories. If we don’t eat many animals, and the ones we do eat come from little farms that treat them right–rather than factories–we’ll be helping the farmers who are doing the right thing. If everyone does that, then the guys that are doing the wrong thing will go out of business and they won’t be able to hurt us or the animals any more.”

She thought for a minute and then spoke again. “But how do we get everyone to do that? Mommy, can we change the world?”

And that’s just the question. Can we?

my Zero Waste Week

ZeroWasteOur family is on the home stretch of Zero Waste Week (based in the UK, but is spreading, hopefully), and I’m coming to realize that it’s not that much different than how we typically live. WHEW! ‘Cause I was stressin’ just a bit when I signed the contract. The theme of this year’s week-long event is “Use it up!” The focus is on eliminating food waste.

Like all good rebels, I’m not following it exactly, but I’m coming close, and I’m learning a lot about how I can make changes to improve, which is valuable. We’re in the research stage of composting, so that’s out, for now, but I can say that we haven’t wasted one bit of food in very many days. I’m more conscious of it this week, but it’s not that hard. We’re not food wasters…anymore. Ask me a couple of years ago, and it was downright shameful, the leftovers that went down the tubes. And I didn’t even think it was shameful. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I am far from the best I can be, but I learn and work to do more every day! Anything that sticks is a long, slow, process, in my opinion.

I digress.

Zero Waste Week is about truly having no waste. Don’t you know there are children starving in Africa? Rachel is at the helm, and she’s awesome, yet extreme. When she says zero, she means zero. Thank goodness she’s, like, nine hours ahead, so it gives me time to catch up. Rachel means for us to cut the mold off of our bread and cheese, and possibly cure our expired meat or find use for that curdled milk. That is super admirable, and I’d like to say I’d be willing to do it, but, thanks to my two strapping, growing, piggish boys, nothing lasts that long. And since I’m borderline vegan, I don’t have to worry about eating rotten meat. So I guess I’m getting off easy. What I am doing differently is paying attention to every scrap, however not moldy or rotten.

So what have I done this week to make extra sure we’re not wasting? Check it out:

• I’m ultra-conscious of what our tortoise, Fluffy, can eat. If I asked him, he’d eat us out of house and home. But since I’m not asking him, he’s getting the greens off the top of our strawberries and the stems from our lettuce, which he enjoys. I actually made Big dig a strawberry stem out of the sink that he flippantly tossed aside. Doin’ my part.

• Using all of my “ingredients” for lunch. Rachel wants us to eliminate the word “leftovers” from our vocabulary and replace it with the “ingredients.” Since I work from home, I almost always make myself something to eat for my mid-day meal. Only I don’t have time to make a complicated feast, so preparation has to be simple. I enjoy salads, and they are great for using up small bits of leftovers ingredients. I toss in beans, soyrizo from breakfast, roasted veggies, a scoop of quinoa or farro–whatever is around! I never have the same salad twice. This week I made extra sure to use every ingredient in the fridge. And when I ran out of lettuce and couldn’t have a salad (boo!), I made pasta instead. I didn’t have any sauce and didn’t have time to make any, so I tossed in some Earth Balance (vegan butter substitute), some natural garlic salt, and some veggies. It was actually pretty good!

• I packed the kids “snackin’ lunches.” In a special effort to use up everything we had in the fridge before purchasing more, the kids got a couple of “snackin’ lunches,” which meant that instead of a main dish and some sides, they got a bunch of sides and small amounts of things. They found it to be a fun adventure and, though they have this lunch about once a week regularly, the haphazard, not-exactly-balanced odd combination of things that appeared in their bento boxes this week added an extra element of excitement and surprise. Pickles and sunflower seed butter go nicely together, don’t they?

• I consumed “ingredients” left behind by the littles. We all know that the calories we consume by nibbling on the kid fare that is left behind don’t count, so I took full advantage this week. It worked out okay. I like bread crusts and cracker crumbs…yeah. It only backfired on me once when I drank the nutrition shake they didn’t like. I forgot that I put some dairy milk in it, and it didn’t agree with me so well. Sigh. Live and learn. Nothing was wasted!

• I made croutons! I always keep our heels of bread in the fridge with the best intentions to make croutons. Sometimes I actually get around to it, but sometimes not. This week, I made them! I just cut the bread into squares, tossed them in olive oil and a seasoning blend that sounded good, and popped them in the oven until they turned golden and crunchy. Delish. I have enjoyed them in my salads, and the littles have taken them to school for snacks.

I was introduced to Zero Waste Week by Small Footprints when she spotted my post on the day I purged the fridge. My recipe was subsequently adored (goodie) and posted by Rachel on the Zero Waste Week recipe section of the Web site. In my quest to eliminate food waste in our home, I’ve accidentally discovered some real recipe gems…now if only I can remember them. The only disadvantage to using up all the bits of food is that when you make something worthy of being a featured special at The French Laundry, it’s tough to re-create. First world problems.

Even if you missed this year’s Zero Waste Week, you can still check out the Web site for some fantastic tips that will help you make lifestyle changes toward becoming less wasteful. And be sure to sign up for next year’s Zero Waste Week!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear the tricks you employ to be less wasteful.

are animals food? last night’s dinner conversation

We eat meat very rarely in our house. I’m borderline vegan, but I do make meat for the kids a couple of times a week. They can make their own choices when they are older and understand all of the information before them. I let them know why I don’t eat meat, and I tell them why people do. I never criticize them for eating it or tell them it’s bad, but I don’t serve it frequently, either.

Last night for dinner, I made the kids some cod and veggies. They had the greatest conversation with no intervention on my part. (In case you’re new to my family, my son, B, is sixteen. My son, Porter, is six, and my daughter, Campbell, is four.)

Campbell: So, this is fish, but not the kind that swims. That would be hilarious!

Porter: Um. Yes it is, Cam. What kind of fish did you think? Fake fish?

Campbell: So, am I actually eating an animal right now?

The boys: Yup.

Campbell: And they squeeeeeeeeze the eyeballs out so it tastes good?

B: Well, that’s one way to put it.

Campbell: One time, I want to try eating fake animals, because I don’t like eating real animals.

B: You kind-of have. Didn’t you eat at McDonald’s?

Campbell: Oh, yeah! That’s not real food!



natural pet care: keep your eyes peeled on Hybrid Rasta Mama!

HRMWhen I heard that Hybrid Rasta Mama was looking for a writer to contribute posts about natural pet care, I had a feeling it would be right up my alley. So while I acted all cool on the outside, on the inside, I was stretching my hand in the air screaming “pick me! Pick me!” Well, guess what?

She picked me!

I’m super excited and honored to be starting as a contributor on Hybrid Rasta Mama. Our ideas align in so many ways. She’s a wealth of knowledge that I know I will benefit from (and of course pass along to you). The Hybrid Rasta Mama blog is all about “conscious parenting, natural living, holistic health, real foods, and more.”

I’m just tickled to be helping her add a natural pet care facet to her amazing body of work. Please check out her site, especially on the second Wednesday of each month when I’ll be featured. Come visit me there!

catch-and-release cricket

We are fortunate enough to have very few problems with pests in our home, so we opt not to call in the chemical guy with the big guns in the interest of preserving a healthy environment for all and our children’s reproductive freedoms…and stuff like that. We do, from time to time, provide shelter to a cricket or two (and, yes, I realize a thousand more in the walls, but I don’t see them), especially during the monsoon season, when they’d like to get out of the rain for a spell, as would any rational being.

So tonight I’m in the bathroom just after tucking the littles in, and I see the tiniest little thing on the tile floor. It’s a baby cricket! Adorable (yes, I realize this means they are multiplying)! I roused the littles out of their almost-slumber.

“You have to see this baby-cricket-cutest-thing-EVER!” I said.

Truly, they were impressed and wanted to keep it for a pet. I did, too. But, truthfully, I have never pet-sat for a cricket (I have fed them to other charges, though). So I wouldn’t know how to care for one. Not knowing how to care for a creature leaves it out of the pet category, and I feared it might perish before I could do sufficient research. I opted for the catch-and-release.

It was easy enough to do a gentle scoop into my hands, and I tossed the little guy out the bedroom door into the back yard (“garden,” for my UK-ers…it has grass and flowers).

“Bye, crickey!” bellowed the littles.

“But, Mommy?” Po questioned. “You tossed him from pretty high up, like if we were jumping off the Empire State Building, and I think that wasn’t very nice and it might have hurt him.”

“Oh, baby,” I responded, “I totally get why you would think that, and you’re right. For his body size, it was a really high toss. But bugs can do some crazy sky diving tricks, so I know he’s okay.”

Po contemplated. “But he didn’t have a parachute.”

I rolled my eyes at my own stupidity, as I often do when my children call me out. “Very true, but I know he’s okay. You have to ask Daddy why, because I don’t know about the physics and all of that, but I promise crickey landed softly and he’ll be just fine.”

Long live crickey. And a lesson for me about insect physics is in store.


I did not take this photo. I did not have some super-crazy-amazing camera on my bathroom floor at bedtime, so I did not capture the moment. This is a super cute baby crickey, though, right? Photo credit: photo.steves-digicams.com.

the day I purged the fridge: mixed bean and quinoa hodgepodge

I’ll throw a disclaimer out right away: I’m not a chef. I’m not a food photographer. This is not turning into a food blog.

What this is is a yummy recipe-ish concoction that I threw together one day with stuff left over in the fridge, and it has become a staple in our house. It’s animal-friendly (vegan) in the way that it doesn’t use them, and it’s a complete meal. Plus, it’s flexible and easy, so if you’re a not-chef, like me, you can swing it. Here goes…

mixedbeanmixed bean and quinoa hodgepodge

serves any number of people over any number of days, depending on how much you want to eat

stuff you need (all approximate)

• 1 cup quinoa

• 2 cups vegetable broth

• 1 lb organic green beans

• 1 lb/1 can dark kidney beans

• 1 lb/1 can garbanzo beans

• 1/2 pound cooked lentils

• 3/4 cup Italian-ish dressing of your choice (You can make your own, or I like Trader Joe’s or Annie’s Naturals Tuscan Italian varieties.)

what you do with that stuff

Cook the quinoa in the vegetable broth (you can also use water, but vegetable broth will provide more flavor, plus, it’s easy to make), covered, until the liquid is absorbed (15-20 minutes), then cool.

Discard the ends of the green beans and snap each bean into thirds. Steam slightly in a steamer basket or blanch (you still want them to be crunchy), then cool.

Cook the beans, unless you’re using cans (I usually use organic canned beans for convenience). Feel free to substitute any type of bean you like.

Cook the lentils, if necessary (I LOVE the packaged lentils at Trader Joe’s…you can find them in the veggie section. Much easier.)

Once everything has cooled, stir all ingredients together in large mixing bowl.

Feel free to play with the proportions to suit your dietary, taste, or texture preferences.  It keeps nicely in the fridge, so I make this big batch so I can have something to easily grab for lunches over several days. It’s quite filling! The rest of my family loves this as a side dish. I sometimes eat it as-is, but I often use it as my base and add different combinations of things I have around. Some of my favorite additions:

• avocado and beets

• pecans and raisins

• almonds and apples

• over a bed of your favorite cooked greens

• over your favorite lettuce

• with a side of roasted fennel (another of my staples)

I probably would have fallen of the vegan wagon a lot more often had I not been able to reach for this nutritionally-balanced quick meal, so I’m sure to have some on hand about every-other week so that I can just grab a scoop when I’m ravenous.