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Monday, March 26, 2012

Natural Pet Care–How to treat for Ticks and Fleas


Because of a mild winter in most of the country predictions are that it will be a banner year for fleas and ticks. I know that where we are (Oklahoma) we did not get cold enough-long enough to kill fleas and ticks outside. As if I needed to have a reminder of how bad a flea and tick season it will be, while I was writing today I saw a tick crawling on my laptop. This year I am taking  the offensive on this problem. You see we have three wonderful dogs and a really cute kitty.
Given that I would not use toxic chemicals in our house, or yard why would I use them on our pets?  The same pets that climb into bed with my kids. Most commercial flea and tick remedies use pesticides, yes you read that right. The same pesticides that have labels warning of their hazards to humans, have instructions telling  you to soak a flea-infected dog or cat thoroughly..These chemicals, especially in liquid form, can be absorbed through the animal's skin and taken up by the blood.What makes us think that this is good for our households and pet? It is especially important to remember when you use a powder that it may spread where ever the animals lies, again – the kids’ beds. Even in the midst of a flea invasion, it's important not to let the urgency of your need to get rid of the pests override concern for the safety of your pets and household.
So what are our Natural Options?
  • Essential Oils –There are several options here, euclyptus is great at repelling bugs of all sorts, but you can add pennyroyal, lavender, citronella, rosemary and wormwood (Artemisia). Essential oils can be used on carpets, bedding and the pet itself. Instead of using one of those expensive toxic flea and tick treatments use one of these essential oils and place a few drops on the neck and base of the tail (two areas where fleas like to congregate). Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle with some oil in it and some water and spray your pets.
  • Good Nutrition – if a pet has a good diet, and eats well then there will be no parasites. Most pet foods are grain based with fillers, not optimal nutrition for carnivorous animals. You can improve your pet’s odds by adding some  brewers yeast and or garlic to it. Just like you your pet will secrete the garlic through the skin and many pests find this smell offensive.
  • Clean the bedding and the carpets, Frequent thorough vacuuming is necessary to remove flea eggs and larvae. The vacuum cleaner bag can be a reservoir of flea eggs and larvae. You will need to empty the canister or bag into a sealed plastic bag and dispose of them outside of the house.
  • D- Limonene Some recommend the use of d-Limonene it is a byproduct of the citrus industry and has a mild grapefruit smell. But you can make your own lemon spray if you choose.
  •  Give Diatomaceous Earth a try. Diatamaceous Earth is the only pesticide that is specific for insects and completely safe, in fact you can ingest it. Though I would not because it doesn’t really taste like much. Diatomaceous Earth works because it is a microscopically fine dust that attaches itself to and penetrates the exoskeleton of fleas and ticks, as well as other annoying pests. The insects then dehydrate and die. Diatomaceous Earth is great to use outside in the yard as well, but just know that it will affect beneficial bugs as well.
  • Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum Flea eggs hatch every 3 days, so by sprinkling your floors for at least 9 days, vacuuming each 3rd day for 9 days, takes you through the complete lifecycle of flea life. Be sure and empty your vacuum after each cleaning or the pests will just crawl back out and re-infest your home! You can mix up some salt and essential oils to further benefit from the vacuuming. See essential oils above
  • Salt – yes salt, regular table salt can be effective against large infestations of fleas. Combine salt with vacuuming and you will be pleased with the results. You can also salt porches, doghouses and kennels to kill eggs & maintain flea control.
  • Borax works as an alternative to salt but has a few cautions. In high humidity areas you may need to use a dehumidifier with the salt treatment for its use to be effective
  •  Make a Flea Collar – use a bandanna or other appropriate sized piece of cloth, and dab on some essential oil 9see list above0 sense a project coming on with this one.
To really battle fleas and ticks you have to stay on top of the problem before it becomes a BIG problem. Check your dogs regularly, this is usually Deacon G’s job, he checks them over whenever they climb in his lap and if he finds a flea or tick takes care of it right then and there.  Thanks to his diligence we  have never had a really bad year with fleas and ticks on our animals, but I am ready for it. Remember whatever method of control you decide to use be sure to put the animals outside for a couple hours after treating so that the fleas and ticks that jump off don’t re-infest your house
Do you have any Natural Flea and Tick remedies you have tried? How have they worked for you? Share with us and let us know.

this post is linked up with Green and Natural Mamas


Unknown said...

I found a really great "bug spray" for pets that is all natural and organic at PETfection (you can Google them). The best part? Their prices are amazingly low - not like the high prices you find for anything labeled "natural" or "organic" at most online retailers. Oh, and if you order directly from their site and live in Michigan, your shipping is free!

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Thanks Alicia, what a great resource for those who don't want to make their own.

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