Fleas are such a pain! In some parts of the country, they are a horrible
and in others hardly a flea is around. Here in Kansas, we aren't overrun
do get our fair share. Ticks are quite numerous here too, but again not
as certain areas of the country. Since I would rather keep my animals'
own) exposure to chemicals as small as possible, I opt to prevent fleas
ticks in a natural way. Here are some good tips for keeping those pesky
critters at bay!
1. Good nutrition. This cannot be stressed enough. Study
after study has
shown that fleas and ticks are not as attracted to healthy animals like
to ill animals. Good nutrition means a natural diet of meat, bones, and
vegetables. Premium quality kibble (NOT Science Diet or Purina) is
some, but still can't compare to the quality of a homemade diet. Sugar
form in the diet should be avoided, because bugs like the taste of blood
lots of sugar in it. Grains behave the same way in the body, so avoiding
too is a good idea.
2. Garlic. Depending on weight, your pet can ingest
garlic and help repel bugs
of all kinds. My 40 pound dog gets about a clove of garlic a day and my
about 1/4 a clove. If you don't already know, the cloves of the garlic
smaller "pearls" inside the whole bulb of garlic. I wouldn't give garlic
3-5 times a week should suffice. Also, don't give garlic to your animal
if he or
she is anemic - it can thin the blood.
3. ACV, or Apple Cider Vinegar. A splash of ACV in the
water or in the daily
ration can do many things (like garlic), and just one of those is
helping keep the
bugs away. Organic unfiltered is the best ACV.
4. Essential Oil flea products. These include collars,
sprays, shampoos, etc.
Divine Dog Co. formulates all-natural flea and tick repellents with
as well. Their products are formulated for maximum safety and
by a certified Aromatherapist - an individual trained in the safe use of
oils. Divine Dog Co. only makes products for dogs, as essential oil use
is considered to be unsafe. Their website, http://www.divinedog.com is
information on how to use essential oils safely in dogs as well as how
potent substances work. Kristen Bell-Sprouse, Divine Dog Owner and
Aromatherapist can be emailed from their site for answers to specific
aromatherapy-related questions. You can also send a blank email to
[email protected] Natural Animal's Herbal Shoo and collar are also
good flea repelling products, although the essential oil mix does
Rosemary EO, which can induce seizures in those prone to having
Just because something is 100% natural doesn't always mean it is 100%
5. Vit B Complex. Bugs hate the taste of B1, or thiamin,
in the blood. B vits
are found in many dietary sources, but if you are feeding a commercial
may want to supplement with the entire B complex (supplementing with
one B can lead to deficiencies in other B's). B vitamins are
basically means it would be almost impossible to overdose on them. Small
amounts, in the neighborhood of 5 mg are fine for pets. B vitamins are
item that does so much more than just repel fleas - for further reading
I suggest Earl Mindell's Vitamin Bible. If you decide to get a
supplement, try to
get a source of B vits that is yeast and dairy free. Raw liver contains
a lotof B vits.
6. A clean house!! Regular vacuuming can work wonders
for picking up the eggs
of fleas. A chemical flea collar inserted in the vacuum bag will kill
eggs/larvae that the vacuum picks up. Remember to vacuum under the bed,
the couch cushions, etc. several times a week - daily if you can. Change
bag frequently (the chemical collars are good for months, so you
necessarily have to buy a new collar every time you change bags). Fleas
bloodmeal on your pet (or you!) then drop off of him/her and lay eggs,
take several weeks to hatch (usually in the carpet or in the blankets of
bed/dog bed). The hatchlings, until they are adults and can hop on their
animal, eat the excretia from the adults, called flea dirt. If you can
the cycle, you can be flea-free! Fleas will freeze outside, but unless
you let your
house freeze, they can remain cozy inside all year long. Frequent
any bedding or pillows that your pet likes to curl up on are a good idea
too - the
washing can remove them (or if washing with hot water, the hot water can
them). Try to time your flea eradicating together - one day take the dog
and spray him/her down with an herbal flea repellent and let him/her
for a while, so all fleas will jump off outside, rather than inside.
Then head inside
to throw all the laundry in and vacuum everything. Let the dog back in
hours later (another spray down outside couldn't hurt, just make sure
their eyes/ears/nose/mouth. Spraying a dog from the head to the tail,
opposed to spraying from the tail to the head is best, as the fleas will
migrating when you start spraying, and it is easier to remove them from
than it is from the head. A good flea comb is handy in removing fleas
7. Since ticks can carry diseases, there is a vaccine
now out for Lyme disease.
In my opinion (and in the opinion of MANY vets, allopathic or
vaccine is not only useless, but can cause major problems for your dog.
8. Herbs like fennel, peppermint, tansey or lemon balm
grown in the garden and
placed in the house (like under beds, in blankets pets like to lay on,
etc) are very
helpful too in repelling fleas.
9. Diatomaceous earth. I have mixed feelings about DE. I
personally don't use
it because of the harmful side effects, but some have used it with great
10. Beneficial nematodes. These are small worms that you
spread in your yard
to eat fleas. I haven't used them personally, but they are definitely
11. Ants. If you have ants in your house, they are
probably feasting on flea
eggs and larva. I am not saying you should encourage ants in your house
se, but maybe don't DIScourage them.
12. The salt method. Put all animals in crates or
carriers or take them to the
groomers for a bath. Next, take a container of ordinary table salt and
gleefully around sprinkling and spreading it liberally on everything:
under beds and other furniture, on all upholstery, soft chairs, under
sofa pillows -
everywhere a flea larvae could hide. Rub it into everything (except
black sofa). Let it sit on any surface you can't rub it into, leave
vacuum up the next day. Bring the pets back into the house (or out of
crates) after you have already vacuumed up the salt.
13. Avon Skin-So-Soft - Mix together a cup of SSS, 1
Teaspoon of the oil of
citronella or eucalyptus or geranium, 2 cups white vinegar and 2 cups
Apply from spray bottle, taking care not to get in eyes or mouth. Also
repel flies. Shake well before each use. Since our animal friends have a
more sensitive nose than ours, go easy on the oils for animals. If it
strong to you, it is too strong for the animal and should be diluted
with a carrier
oil or water. This goes for any recipe involving oils.
14. Natural flea/tick dip - 2 cups, packed, of fresh
rosemary and/or peppermint
(can use 50/50 of each); 1 quart boiling water; 4 quarts warm water.
just boiled water over the fresh herbs and let steep, covered, for 30
Strain and add liquid to the 4 quarts of warm water, then saturate the
Air dry. Note - dried herbs may be substituted.
15. Use magnets. Placed in four corner of your house,
they can really repel
fleas and ticks and other unwanted bugs. Call (in the states)
These are good for several years.
16. Try these essential oil (EO) recipes for dabbing on
yourself or your animals
(don't ingest or get near eyes). A couple drops of citronella, lavender,
peppermint, clary sage, lemon or lemongrass in a spray bottle filled with pure
works well. If you add some vodka or vegetable glycerin to the water it
the essential oils to emulsify better. EO's do not mix with water, so
well is necessary. Or add this to 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle -
drops of each EO - tea tree, Atlas cedarwood (it must be Atlas cedarwood
it can be toxic to animals), peppermint, sweet orange, eucalyptus and
(You can start out with 2 and add others if you need some extra
Or try mixing 10 drops of lavender, 10 drops orange, 5 drops of
drops of citronella, 10 drops of neem in a base of 50 ml apricot or
(use a lighter oil like coconut or grapeseed for your furry friends).
on exposed areas (human) - dabbing on or spritzing on with a spray
water. Lemon grass candles in the evening act as repellents too. Another
recipe is to take 5 drops of Lavender off. and 5 drops of Eucalyptus
4 oz of purified water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray over
coat. If this
doesn't get rid of all the fleas, try adding 2 drops peppermint to it.
recipe is - 15 drops Eucalyptus EO, 15 drops Atlas cedarwood EO, 10
tea tree EO, 10 drops geranium EO, and 2 oz carrier oil. Don't forget to
it seems strong.
17. Try this non-toxic treatment for your carpets (if
you think you have an
infestation, can be used in conjunction with washing everything
at #6). Mix one cup cornstarch, one cup baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of
repellent oils (listed above). Mix together and let sit for 30 minutes.
into carpets and let sit another 30 minutes. Leave your doors and
if possible so that the fleas can leave. Vacuum up and notice the lovely
your house will have!
18. For an inexpensive, non-toxic way to get rid of
fleas and ticks (or whatever
insects you are concerned about) head over to
under the "Classical Homeopathy" section. There is a great article
written by a
homeopathic doc about making your own cure.
19. Here is a nice skin wash for any icky skin -
1 quart water
1 heaping tsp dried sage
1 heaping tsp thyme
1/4 tsp Epsom salt
Boil everything together ~ 5 minutes and then let it sit
off herbs and refrigerate. Dab onto skin. Can add to shampoo to make a
"medicated" shampoo. Thanks to Karen Perdue for this great recipe.
Notice that all these methods work at REPELLING fleas
and ticks, not at killing
WARNING - Essential oils can be very detrimental to bird
and cats. Never have
essential oils around a bird - this includes diffusing them, candle with
topical applications, etc. Cats are VERY sensitive too - they should
same guidelines as birds, although essential oil *hydrosols* are ok to
use as the
percent of EO in the hydrosols is very small. The product you buy must
HYDROSOL and not a floral water though. No oil should be used on cats
topically either, as they have very sensitive and thin skin, which
very quickly. Only the highest quality oils should be used because in
versions there might be adulteration and often synthetic chemicals are
If you have any questions about aromatherapy that are not answered by
document, you can email Kristen Bell-Sprouse, who has worked with
oils with dogs for the past 6 years anD pose your question to her- http://www.divinedog.com.
If you already have some bug bites, try wetting some
baking soda and making a
paste and putting it on the bite - it will really soothe! Also you can
try 1 teaspoon meat tenderizer (basically a source of enzymes) in 1/8 cup water,
dissolve, then put on bite - same thing happens as the baking soda.
To pull out a tick, take your fingernails or tweezers
and grasp at the base (head
area). Slowly pull straight out. Put tick in jar of rubbing alcohol to
die and also
to preserve in case it ever needs to be tested for Lyme or Ehrlichia (a
also be good to put on the jar). Ticks will feed for a very long time -
if you pull
the tick off before 18-24 hours, you are basically home free, as the
that cause Lyme reside in the gut of the tick and won't be introduced
animal until 18-24 hours go by - when the tick starts regurgitating
have no anus). So a daily tick check is really important.
Thanks goes out to Leah Knipp, for her timely and
welcome tips and for her help
in revising, as well as Kristen for helping me with the aromatherapy
The overall basics are to keep healthy and keep clean.
Common sense tells us
that if we are healthy and clean, we are less likely to have bugs, be
external or internal.
Go on to Vegetarian
Return to 14 July 1999 Issue
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