Friday, March 12, 2010
Dear Lola: My dog Rocky has fleas, but do not want to use harsh commercial flea medication. We have bathed him and done all we know to get rid of them. What natural solutions do you suggest?
Sincerely, Flea Circus
Dear Flea Circus: Nothing spoils a day with my owners then unwanted guest, fleas that is. But amidst the great outdoors lies enemy lines. These tiny buggers hitch a ride indoors on your unsuspecting dog who just arrived home after a long fun day of fetch. Those pesky fleas (aka bloodsuckers) see that invisible lighted neon sign on our forehead that says "Open for Business" and "Eat up" . Making us canine civilians the latest bitten, itchy & scratchy casualty. Its time to wage war in this flea eat dog world, but sometimes it may seem like a never-ending battle bath after bath. As always you and your dog strategize your plan of attack, the tactic being the element of surprise and operation quarantine.
So for you & Rocky fighting the battle may seem hopeless, especially when you have front row seats at the flea circus. But don’t wave your natural white flag of surrender. Or in Rocky's case throw in your boxing gloves, there is hope. Because no dog likes being an all you can eat buffet or smorgasbord for Mothers Natures most tail biting insects. Nor having their home be the vacation resort for a family of fleas, who by the way enjoys breakfast in bed. Because take it from me, no dog or human for that matter wants to sleep with the enemy.
There are natural alternatives that are effective and safer for you, your dog’s health and the environment. Don't let your dog suffer from being chewed on by a swarm of fleas or being used as the battleground to wage chemical warfare. Keep in mind that commercial flea repellents can be just as harmful as to your dog as the fleas that plague them; sure they may get to the bite of the problems & work fast. But the down side is that commercial flea repellents contain chemicals and insecticides, which are toxic to your dog and can cause serious illness. This is especially true for sensitive dogs like myself who sometimes suffer from skin irritations and allergic reactions. Therefore, it is important for me to take heed and consider not only what I put in my mouth but also on my head of fur.
Luckily for you, there are a lot of holistic, nontoxic flea fighting solutions out there. Many of these flea treatments can be found right in your pantry or cupboards. If your dog or cat is suffering from fleas, make a "tea" of lemon peel and water, and let it steep overnight. Citrus naturally repels fleas—if you sponge the tea on your flea-infested pet, the fleas will die instantly.
Here is an all natural Citrus Peel Extract Rub recipe which aids in killing all life stages of those pesky biters. Start with a small amount to make sure your dog can tolerate the smell. Do keep in mind that this should not be used around cats or if your family has asthma problems.
What you do?
1. Slice up 4 lemons and simmer them for one hour in 1 quart of water, adding more water as it evaporates.
2. Cool the mixture, strain and massage in to your dogs coat.
You can also tweak this recipe and use it around the house as a de-fleeing solution on your floors, pet bedding & furniture. For your floors all you need is ¼ cup of citrus peel extracts in 1-2 gallons of water. As for your pets bedding spray with a mixture of 2 teaspoons citrus peel extracts and 2 cups of water in spray bottle.
Since I have such a keen sense of smell, this flea remedy does not overwhelm my snout. The best part is that it contains no pesticides or poisons so if licked it is not harmful. So all you fleas and bugs out there prepare to do battle and lose, you are about to hear the famous phrase "Asta la vista baby". This product will have your dog ready for any showdown leaving him or her barking "Go ahead bugs, make my day". No it does not repel annoying neighbors.
Here is another natural flea control recipe.
1. Combine one part of as many of the following powdered herbs as possible. Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Fennel, Yellow Dock, Wormwood, Rue.
2. Put mixture in shaker-top jar
3. Apply the flea powder to your dog’s fur by brushing backwards and sprinkling it into the base of the hair (especially focus on the neck, back and belly).
4. Immediately take your dog outside so the vacating fleas don’t wind up on your floor.
5. Use this natural flea control recipe as frequently as necessary, up to many times per week for more serious infestations.
So what is the trick to bathing an infested dog that key is a good herbal shampoo and technique. Purchase a herbal shampoo that contains all natural ingredients like pine cedar, bergamot, rosemary, lavender, citronella, juniper or geranium. Like humans stuck in a rainstorm or flood, fleas will flee to higher drier ground (in this case your dogs head and neck or jump ship). For this reason lather your dog first with shampoo before wetting him, the shampoo will create a barrier to trap the fleas so they can’t flea the scene. Apply a thick layer of shampoo over Rocky’s head and neck (keep away from eyes) and spend time re-lathering & wetting your dog. Leave the shampoo on your dog for more then 15 minutes while continuing to massage. Hey! Take it from me, no dog can resist a full body fur massage. Then afterward rinse thoroughly and dry well.
Like anything prevention is key. Besides using these wonderful remedy here are some other natural preventive measures you can take to guard you, your dog and home from flea infestation. Firstly, it is important to remember that fleas prey on the weak so keeping your dog’s immune system healthy is key. Secondly, bathing your dog in an all-natural flea shampoo can help. Thirdly, don't let the "Welcome" mat out for those pesky bitters. Guard your home from being infiltrated by the enemy by cleaning house. Steam cleaning your carpets and vacuuming often and thoroughly will help keep fleas at bay. Also, wash blankets, dog beds, bed linen, throw pillows, throw rugs and other washable items that your pet may lie on in hot water in your washer & drier.
Lastly, my parents and I choose to take an all-natural flea preventive approach by fighting nature with nature. Before I go for my daily stroll or romp at the park I get spritz with Flea the Scene. This has proven to have good results for my life. Please keep in mind that every dog's circumstances is different so always check with your vet.
So, Rocky don't go down for the count. Get up and go another round in the ring against those fleas. Because within your inner dog lies a champion and you will win the battle!! Please keep us posted on your progress. As always if this outbreak persist please seek the advice of a vet.
Lola the eco dog
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