Fleas are one of THE most common reasons that dog and cat owners seek out a Veterinary clinic, yet unfortunately all that the Veterinarian can offer is a variety of potentially toxic insecticides.
Dog and Cat owners are becoming increasingly concerned about the high number of side effects from conventional flea medication, and many are seeking some of the safer, holistic options of natural flea control.
So where do you start?
According to ‘conventional’ veterinary wisdom, most pet owners are given ONLY one option, some sort of potentially toxic insecticide.
My advice is to incorporate a number of natural flea control methods, using the conventional options in severe infestations, or when the natural remedies are not working.
In treating fleas naturally, you need to focus on 3 areas of flea control: Flea control on your pet, Flea control in your house, and Flea control in your yard.
1.NATURAL FLEA CONTROL ON YOUR PET
A HEALTHY PET. A healthy pet will have less of a problem with fleas than an unhealthy one. If your pet has a skin problem such as an allergy caused by food, fleas will make the irritation worse, and may reproduce that much quicker because they have an easier time feeding on weakened skin. Do all that you can to boost your pet’s immune system – you may find that just by improving your pet’s overall health, you will gain control of your flea problems. To help boost your pet’s immune system, use a natural health supplement such as my own :
Flea Comb your pet regularly. Flea combs are fine teethed combs that are able to pick up flea dirt ( flea poop), flea eggs and adult fleas.
1. Start from the head, and comb backwards.
2. If you find black specs ( flea poop) place it on a white piece of paper and add water. If it turns red, your pet has fleas.
3. Place the eggs, fleas and flea dirt in soapy water ( this will kill the fleas)
4.If your pet has fleas or lice, repeat this twice a day.
5. Preventively check your pet for fleas/lice once a week.
SHAMPOO. Bathing is effective at soothing irritated skin and eliminating some of the adult fleas. There are a number of flea shampoos combined with oatmeal. Use cool water and leave the shampoo on for 10 minutes. Your pet can be safely shampooed twice a week. There are a number of effective holistic flea shampoos that are reasonably effective. Some of ingredients that work for dogs and cats include Neem oil, Eucalyptus and Cedarwood oil.
Avoid Tea Tree oil – it is very toxic to cats, and small dogs, although found in some of the ‘natural’ flea control products.
Conventional Flea shampoos that contain pyrethrins are the safest type of conventional flea and lice treatment- I advise using these shampoos for dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.
MAKE YOUR PET TASTE BAD. Garlic and Brewer’s Yeast have been advocated as a way of repelling fleas. In my experience it only seems to help a small number of dogs, but it is worth a try. Garlic is not safe to give to cats long term. For a 10 lb dog, give 1/4 tsp of garlic and 1/4 tbsp of brewer’s yeast daily.
MULLEIN. Make as a decoction/tea and rinse on your pet. Get a handful of the herb, steep in hot water, cool and pour over your dog or cat. This will temporarily paralyze the fleas.
CEDARWOOD OIL SPRAY: A relatively non-toxic natural substance, has been proven effective in the eradication of infestations in pets. Be cautious in spraying any type of essential oil on cats or small dogs, only lightly mist them, then use a flea comb to spread the spay around. Here is a recognized safe cedarwood oil flea spray for dogs and cats: Triple Sure Natural Flea and Tick Spray made by Natural Wonder Products.
BORAX. This is another home treatment for flea infestations. Borax kills fleas by dehydrating them.
2. FLEA CONTROL IN YOUR HOUSE
SUCK THEM UP AND WASH AWAY. Thoroughly vacuum the areas where your pet spends time. Concentrate on bedding, carpet, cracks and crevices. Regularly wash your pet’s bedding. Do not forget about the car. Steam cleaning your carpets is an even more effective method of killing fleas, larvae, and eggs.
CHINCHILLA DUST. This is correctly called ‘diatomaceous earth,’ which consists of the skeletons of microscopic algae. It can be purchased in pet supply stores, but be sure it is the kind meant for pets, not the glassified type which is used in swimming pool filters. It can be used on your pet and in the house. Apply it weekly during flea season, vacuuming 3 days after applying. Make a point of putting it in the cracks and crevices. This can also be safely applied to your dog or cat.
WEEKLY WASH: Wash your pet’s bedding in hot water at least once a week. Carefully roll up the bedding so as to not lose the eggs which could drop off. Washing will the fleas, removing the eggs, larvae and pupae
DEHUMIDIFY. Humidity is vital for flea survival. Flea eggs need humidity of 75% to hatch, flea larvae need 50% humidity to survive. For example in places with adequate humidity, 20% of the eggs survive. In dry areas with LOW humidity, less than 5% of the eggs survive. Using a dehumidifier in your home will go a long way in stopping the flea cycle.
3. FLEA CONTROL IN YOUR YARD
NATURAL CONTROL IN YOUR YARD. Nematodes are microscopic worms that prey on the larvae and pupae of fleas. They can be purchased at most garden stores; a small canister contains 100 million little worms. Follow the label directions, spraying them on the damp bushy areas in your yard.
SHORT LAWN. Keeping the grass short allows the sun to shine on the larvae killing them. The goal here is to make it uncomfortable for the fleas to reproduce.
ANTS ARE GOOD. They will eat flea eggs and larvae – so longs as they are not eating your house, then keep them alive to interrupt the flea life cycle.
NATURAL TOPICALS OUTSIDE. Diatomaceous earth, which consists of the skeletons of microscopic algae. It can be purchased in pet supply stores, but be sure it is the kind meant for pets, not the glassified type which is used in swimming pool filters. It can be used on your pet and in the house and on areas where your pet sleeps outside.