Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Plant Power

Oregano, a powerful natural antibiotic

Well, it's always something. That's what I've been dealing with all week. We came home from our travels to beach and mountains on New Year's Day and found one of our dogs, the Spitz, was dirty and stinky. We figured he'd rolled in something while we were away. We fixed and ate our lucky foods and then I told our teen to go give the dogs a bath.

Well, right away, our son called us and we found to our horror the dirt and smell came from a terrible wound on the dog's neck, which had bled and festered. We don't really know what happened. We think the collar cut or irritated his neck and then he got all dirty so the sore became infected. Our Spitz has a lot of fur and you couldn't see the sore itself, which was under his collar. You can't even see the collar, as a matter of fact, under all that fur. We had another teenage friend of our son feeding the dogs and bringing them in and out of the house, but we don't blame him since we couldn't see the wound at first either. Also, the dog wasn't acting sick or as if he were in pain, so there wasn't any red flag there.

Our wounded dog

Naturally, this happened at night on a holiday! I felt so horrible and guilty to find our dog had been suffering while we were on vacation, and there was no vet open anywhere near here. Now, it just so happens that as a child I wanted to become a large animal veterinarian when I grew up. I didn't in the end because the allergist told me I would always be sick spending my time in barns and around animals, but now I kind of wish I'd done it because I'm sick all the time anyway and make a lot less money!

But anyway, our neighbor and my best friend's father was the town vet and drove to farms all over the area tending to livestock as well as treating regular pets. He asked if I would like to assist him and see if I really enjoyed the work when I was about nine and my parents agreed to let me go. So, before the age of ten, I had helped deliver calves, assisted during canine surgeries, helped set broken bones and remove casts, treated wounds, and on one memorable occasion performed an autopsy on a lamb. The farmer called the vet because his lambs were dying one at a time, so we went out to autopsy the most recently deceased. I wasn't strong enough to open the abdominal cavity, so the vet cut the lamb open for me and then let me perform the rest of the cuts, telling me where to place the scalpel. The lambs had worms, it turned out, so then we knew how to treat the rest of the flock.

All I can say is, thank goodness for that vet and for my rural Ohio upbringing, in which sending a nine year old to assist a farm vet is considered a perfectly reasonable parenting decision! I do have experience in wound care because of that and also due to my husband's life-threatening work accident and our children's surgeries. I wasn't sure where to start with this wound, however, because the fur had become a dirty, bloody mat over the sore. I wasn't a cut, it was more like a terrible scrape, so stitches wouldn't help. I didn't want to shave the infected skin, so I carefully cut the fur away from the wound with scissors. I worked pretty much one hair at a time and it took forever. When the hair was cleared away I cleaned the whole area as gently as possible with regular soap and water and then again with hydrogen peroxide. Then I applied Neosporin with pain relief and bandaged the area with gauze and tape. I thought that would keep the dog as comfortable as possible until we could get to the vet in the morning, but I really wished I had some antibiotic to give him so we could knock the infection out immediately.

Thinking for a while, I remembered oregano. I've mentioned before, this herb is considered the most powerful herbal antibiotic, but I read recently that strong doses are more effective than penicillin. We looked up oregano to see if it is safe for dogs, and it is, so I went out to the garden and picked some. I ground about a tablespoon of fresh oregano with a mortar and pestle to release the oil and then wrapped it in natural peanut butter to make a "pill" our dog would take. He loved it and gobbled it up!

In the morning I could not believe the improvement in the wound when we removed the bandage. I decided we could wait until Monday to see if he needed the vet. In less than eight hours, almost all sign of infection had disappeared and the  wound had shrunk by half! I've never seen anything like it and I know it wasn't just due to the Neosporin and hydrogen peroxide! I was so impressed I ordered oregano oil to keep in our first aid kit just in case I don't have any in the garden when it's needed. Now, less than a week later, the wound is a spot the size of a pencil eraser (it had originally been about the size of a quarter), and it seems to be healing incredibly fast. There is no infection at all. I am watching it very carefully and we will of course go to the vet if it doesn't continue to improve. I've kept the dog on his oregano and peanut butter medicine twice a day and I clean his neck twice a day and change his bandage.

Our dog, playing in the yard

The dog is acting like himself, running around playing his favorite game : Keep Away. He loves to have you throw him a tennis ball and then he pretends he will give it to you but runs away with it at the last second. He's eating well and is full of energy. He also is indulging in his bad habit, which earned him the nickname "Mr. Potty Britches" at the vet's at home. He's what my grandfather called a "whizzler", meaning a dog who pees when he's scared or excited. Our dog also likes to pee on anything new in the house and at the corners of the bed posts and stuff. It makes me wonder why I saved him!

He's doing much better

During the Blizzard of '78 we found a dog shivering in a snow drift at the end of my grandparents' driveway. His paws were bloody and he was trembling, so they brought him in. I had recently either watched or read 101 Dalmatians, so I immediately named him "Dalamatian" because I couldn't pronounce it properly. Dalamatian was actually a beagle. But alas, Dalamatian was a whizzler, so my grandparents sent him to the pound while I was out shopping with my mother and told me his real owners had come to get him and were so happy to see him. I didn't find out his true fate until I was in college! So, I guess my Spitz is lucky I'm more soft-hearted!

Please understand, I am not advocating eschewing medical care at a doctor's office, but I thought you might like to hear about our success using a natural remedy as emergency treatment when no other option was available. I've decided we are going to add a lot more oregano to our diet, just to nip any bacteria in the bud! Now that this crises appears to be averted, I will try to get back into my studio and back to work. You can order Young Living Oregano Oil from me. Go to Young Living and type in my number: 2256091. You can find many more natural remedies and recipes on my Facebook page, Naturally Amanda. Make sure to like my page so you'll see all my newest posts!

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