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Topical Benefits of Oats for Pets
Oats have been incorporated into many commercial products that protect the skin or help it heal. Most of these make use of colloidal oatmeal, which means the oats have been so finely ground that they remain evenly dispersed throughout the product. Research has shown that skin products containing colloidal oatmeal have anti-inflammatory, itch-relieving, and moisturizing properties. Options include:
- Shampoos: Natural oatmeal shampoos are readily available and can be a good choice for bathing pets who have dry, itchy, or irritated skin.
- Soak: For more anti-itch and anti-inflammatory actions, consider a soak. Commercial soaks are available or you can make your own. Put a handful of oatmeal in a nylon sock and attach the sock over the bathtub tap. Fill the tub to desired level with water filtered through the oats. Let the pet soak in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes (or for however long they will sit still). Rinse well and dry. Remember, pets prefer tepid water, and cannot tolerate really hot baths.
- Dry "Shampoo": Dry oat shampoos can help absorb oil from the coat and skin and relieve itchiness. Roast some oats until slightly browned. When they have cooled to room temperature, grind them up and work them into the pet's hair so they come into contact with the skin. Let stand for about 15 to 30 minutes, then comb out. Try this on a small area first, as some hair coats don't lend themselves well to this type of application.
- Oat Poultice: For "hot spots" or other localized skin irritations, make a slurry of ground oats and water, wrap the slurry in cheese cloth or a tea bag (available from health food stores) or soak a clean washcloth in the mixture, and apply as a poultice directly to the affected area. Leave on for 15 minutes or so (or as long as the pet will tolerate it). Repeat several times a day.
Healing herbs such as calendula, chamomile, or lavender can be added to oat mixtures to further enhance healing. Talk to your veterinarian about what type of treatment might be best for your pet based on his or her particular diagnosis.
Oats in Alternative Medicine
Oats are considered a nervine, an herbal compound that acts as a general nerve tonic, calming the nerves when necessary, stimulating their activity when needed. Oats are used for treating a variety of nervous disorders. Herbalists and homeopathic practitioners will often prescribe oats to treat exhaustion, irritability, and anxiety, to name just a few of the more common conditions.
Oats may benefit many other body systems including the skin, digestive tract, spleen, reproductive tract, lungs, hormonal system, and urinary tract. Oats also contain the compound b-sitosterol, which appears to have anti-tumor effects based on recent research. Check with your holistic vet for proper uses and dosages.
An element found in trace amounts in soil; closely related to sulfur
A medicine that is used to make the bodily system healthier as a whole; may also refer to certain contractions of the muscles
A wet dressing that is applied to an injury or swollen area
The act of altering the way that genes work with the help of science; human intervention with natural genetics
The whole system involved in digestion from mouth to anus
Organic substances that aid in the creation of proteins; also the end product of the decomposition of certain proteins.
A bundle of fibers that are used in the process of sending impulses through the body