Tuesday, June 30, 2009
By Linda Cole
They're baaaack! Fleas are once again climbing from their hiding cracks and crevasses and mounting an invading army with your pet as the target. Many pet owners wrestle with the same question every summer. Do I stick with the usual control that uses chemicals to kill the fleas, or is it time to try a natural control?
For animals who have had allergic reactions or other medical and sometimes life threatening reactions to over-the-counter flea control, the answer is simple. More and more owners are taking a look at natural flea control to avoid harsh chemicals found in many of the topical medications that are on the market. However, when it comes to battling an obnoxious pest that can also do bodily harm to your pet, some kind of flea control is essential. If you’re looking for alternative solutions, the news is good – with natural ways to combat the mighty flea.
As with any flea control, you have to be consistent and dedicated to stay ahead of flea infestations. Most natural control can take up to a month before you start to see results. Don't be discouraged. Find what works best for you and your pet, and implement several of the natural flea control solutions.
Apple Cider Vinegar makes the skin taste acidic to fleas, so don't substitute any other vinegar. Depending on the size of your water bowl, add one tablespoon per cup of water. Don't stop if your pet gives you “that look.” Animals adapt. If they refuse to drink the water, you can mix a 50/50 solution in a spray bottle and put it directly on your pet.
Brewers Yeast with Garlic is a favorite of mine because it can be used as a treat or put directly on their food. Not all pets like it, but those who do will wolf it down. Brewers yeast can be purchased in tablets or powder. It contains B vitamins, biotin, proteins and zinc, and can help improve your pet's blood, skin and immune system. Like apple cider vinegar, it works from the inside by giving the pet's skin an odor and taste not appreciated by fleas. If your pet won't eat brewers yeast, mix up 1/4 cup powered yeast in a quart of water and pour into a squirt bottle. Spray on your pet and work the yeast and water into their coat as you spray. You can also use powered yeast as a flea powder. Shake it over their coat, working it in as you dust.
Rosemary: To make a dip with rosemary, use two cups fresh herb to one gallon of warm water. If your dog is super-sized, you will have to adjust the amount for size. Steep the rosemary for 30 minutes in boiling water. Pour into a gallon of warm water and allow it to cool slightly. You want your mix to be warm, not hot. Pour over your pet and let them air dry for best results.
Lavender Essential Oil has been used in the past to treat anxiety in cats; however, I don't recommend this for cats as a natural flea control because it can build up and become toxic to them. For your dog, simply place a couple of drops at the base of their tail and the back of their neck after bathing them.
Lemon: Take two or three lemons and slice them rind and all. Drop into a quart of boiling water and let it set overnight. Strain out any pulp before using. Use this solution to sponge over your pet or put in a spray bottle. Let them air dry. Lemon can also help condition your pet's skin as well as repel fleas.
Raw Garlic should be used with care, as some animals tolerate it better than others. Never give raw garlic to your cat or dog unless you have checked with your vet first. Too much can make your cat anemic, and the jury is still out for dogs. Talk with your vet for specific dosage and any health concerns you need to be aware of before starting your pet on garlic. Fleas are nasty critters for your pet, but too much raw garlic can be equally damaging for your pet.
Keep in mind that natural flea control does not kill fleas or their eggs, it only repels them. When using any natural control, administer outside where the fleas can vacate your pet away from the cracks and crevices of your home.
As with any flea control, your pet's environment also needs to be kept clean. A thorough daily vacuuming will help keep fleas in check as well as remove any eggs. Make sure to vacuum the furniture too, and wash your pet's bedding regularly.
Read more articles by Linda Cole