Spring is here! That brings joy to our hearts to have longer days, flowers and trees blooming but with that come the fleas, ticks and mosquito’s which are all challenges for our pets.
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You can check it out from the link in the picture or here.
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Here is more information for people dealing with Fleas & Ticks on their pets. There is more information on the PWC Blog under the categories of Fleas and Ticks to help you get relief for your pets from these pesky creatures.
By Dr. Karen Becker
As temperatures rise and your pet spends her days happily sniffing out a new trail on your morning walk or rolling around in your backyard grass, she’s a prime target for hungry fleas and ticks.
It’s a subject many pet owners would rather not think about, but it’s far better to be proactive in preventing such pest exposures than it is to find yourself with an infestation of fleas or a pet with a tick-borne illness.
This does not mean you need to douse your pet in chemical flea and tick preventatives. In fact, I typically discourage pet owners from applying harsh chemicals to their pets for this purpose.
Spot-on and similar pest-repellent products may lead to problems ranging from skin irritation to seizures and paralysis.
If you apply too much to a small dog — or apply a product meant for dogs to cats — the result can even be deadly. The other issue is that many pests are becoming resistant to these widely used chemicals, which means applying one is not a guarantee of safety.
One happy medium is to use natural methods to repel fleas and ticks from your dog, including the options, compiled by PetMD, below.1
Natural Ways to Repel Fleas and Ticks
Citrus Juice: fleas dislike citrus, so try sprinkling some fresh-squeezed lemon, orange or grapefruit juice on your dog’s fur (being careful to avoid her eyes) — and remember lemon juice can lighten dark hair.
Take a Bath: fleas do not hold on to your pet’s hair, so a dip in warm tub of water will cause many fleas to fall off into the water.
After the bath, use a flea comb to remove any remaining fleas.
Place your pet on a light-colored towel to catch any fleas that fall off and dip the comb into a bowl of soapy water after each swipe.
Bathing your dog regularly is also important, as fleas are less attracted to clean animals.
Consider peppermint or neem shampoo for an added anti-parasite kick.
Essential Oils: geranium, lemongrass and other essential oils (neem and catnip oil) may help deter mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and other pests from attacking your dog or cat.
Clean Your Home Thoroughly and Regularly: one of the key strategies to controlling fleas and ticks involves making your home less hospitable to such pests.
To do so, vacuum your home often (carpets, floors, furniture, etc.) and empty the vacuum canister immediately if fleas are present.
Wash bed linens, pet bedding and throw rugs frequently.
Add Natural Predators: nematodes are a type of beneficial microscopic roundworm that eats flea larvae.
You can find them at garden centers and pet stores.
Add them to your backyard and you’ll likely notice a reduction in flea populations within two days.
Ladybugs are another natural predator of fleas and can also be found at garden stores.
It’s More Than Just the ‘Ick’ Factor
If pests attach to your dog or cat, they can easily be carried indoors and infiltrate your home. A flea infestation or a tick on your wall is more than simply unpleasant, however, as such pests are capable of transmitting disease.
The biggest risk of ticks is not that they will take over your home, but their propensity for feeding on many different animals, from mice and deer to opossums.
They also like to take their time when they eat, feeding for long periods of time that makes them perfectly suited for acquiring and transmitting disease. It takes only one bite from a tick to transmit multiple tick-borne diseases, including:
Fleas, on the other hand, breed quickly and can be difficult to get under control once they find their way into your home. However, even one or two fleas can lead to uncomfortable itching if your dog has flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), which is sensitivity (allergy) to flea saliva (and is very common in dogs).
Aside from FAD, fleas can also transmit tapeworms, cause cat scratch disease and may even cause severe cases of anemia, especially in young animals. So taking steps to prevent both flea and tick bites is about more than just removing the “ick” factor; it’s a health issue.
Don’t Give Your Pet Antibiotics After a Tick Bite Before Doing This
If you find a tick on your pet, she may have been exposed to tick-borne pathogens, but exposure is not the same thing as infection. This is an important distinction, because many veterinarians unnecessarily prescribe antibiotics when a dog’s blood shows exposure has occurred.
Up to 90 percent of dogs may have exposure to these tick-borne pathogens, but most dogs' immune systems fight off these infections all on their own. If your pet tests positive for exposure, it's important to follow up with the Quantitative C6 (QC6) test, which differentiates exposure from infection.
I see dozens of dogs each year unnecessarily treated with extensive antibiotic therapy because their veterinarian panicked after seeing a positive exposure. Please don't let your vet do this!
Another important point is that most tick-borne diseases take many hours to be transmitted to your pets, so removing ticks soon after they attach may help prevent illness. This is why it’s so important to inspect your dog for ticks regularly, especially after you’ve been to a high-risk area like a forest preserve.
If You Live in an Area With Ticks, Test Your Pet for Tick-Borne Pathogens Every 6 Months
In the case of tick-borne disease, early treatment is critical to prevent chronic disease. If you live in a tick-endemic area or know your pet tends to get bit by multiple ticks each year, I recommended testing for infection every six months. The simplest way to do this is to ask your vet to replace the standard heartworm test with a more comprehensive annual blood test that identifies several tick-borne potential pathogens long before dogs show symptoms.
I recommend the SNAP 4Dx Plus and the Accuplex4 tests, which screen for heartworm, Lyme disease, and two strains each of ehrlichia and anaplasma, for dogs in tick-endemic areas.
Completing this simple blood test every six to 12 months is the best way to avoid unnecessary chemical application, identify infections before chronic disease occurs and prevent overlooking cases of dogs infected because of pesticide resistance (a growing problem in veterinary medicine).
I also recommend that pets living in tick-infested areas who test positive on the SNAP 4Dx Plus or the Accuplex4 also be screened for Babesia exposure. The best way to detect exposure to this parasite is with a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that checks for the presence of Babesia DNA.
A Healthy Pet Is the Best Pest Preventive There Is
It’s extremely important to feed your pet a balanced, species-appropriate fresh-food diet that will help keep her immune system functioning optimally. Fleas are not likely to be attracted to a healthy pet, and in the case of ticks, a robust immune response will help fight off any tick-borne pathogens your pet is exposed to.
You can further bolster your pet’s immune system by providing pure drinking water and limiting her exposure to unnecessary vaccines and medications, environmental chemicals (including lawn chemicals) and electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Finally, the following tips will further help to protect your pet from pests naturally:
Tiny amounts of fresh garlic may be given to dogs and cats to help prevent internal as well as external parasites
Apply a light dusting of food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) on your carpets, bare floors, and pet bedding, as well as down your pet’s spine (avoid her head), to kill fleas
Keep your lawn mowed and clear brush, leaves, tall grass and weeds from your yard and areas your pet frequents
Keep stacked wood off the ground and away from your house
After the growing season, clear perennial plants and other brush from your garden
If you’re tempted to reach for spot-on flea treatments, then here’s why you’ll want to be one of the 1% of people who never touch them!
It can be tempting to use toxic chemical products to eliminate fleas … but it can be done using natural methods and a little persistence.
A Healthy Foundation
The most important factor in preventing fleas from taking over your home is your dog’s overall health and immune system. A healthy dog will naturally repel parasites and fleas will seek weaker animals who are easier targets.
Always feed a natural diet and never vaccinate or use drugs or chemicals on your canine friend, either internally or externally. Also avoid chemical cleaners in your home and never use pesticides or herbicides in your yard, as these products will also impact your pet’s immune system.
There are some simple remedies that will help to maximize your dog’s immune system as well. These include:
A Healthy Environment
The second part of the puzzle is the environment.
If the energy of your home has any disharmony in it, this too can make your dog anxious and weaken the immune system. Try to make sure everyone in your household is as content as they can be; encourage your family members to be open with each other so your dog doesn’t stress over his concern for you.
I often have my clients make a mixture of the Bach flower essences walnut, crab apple, holly, wild rose and wild oat.
Spray it around the house to help detoxify negative energy from the environment.
The Flea Life Cycle
Fleas are highly productive; a pair may produce 20,000 fleas in three months.
Eggs hatch after two to 12 days into larvae that feed in the environment – generally on digested blood from adult fleas and other food matter. The food required at this stage is microscopic, and even clean carpets often offer plenty of food to the larvae.
The larvae are little wiggles about three or four millimeters long; you may see some if you inspect your pet’s bedding carefully. Larvae molt twice within two to 200 days and the older larvae spin a cocoon in which they remain for one week to one year. When in this cocoon stage the young flea is invulnerable to any kind of insecticide and to low, even freezing, temperatures. Only sufficient warmth and the presence of a host can cause them to emerge. This long cocooning period explains why fleas are so difficult to eradicate.
To get rid of fleas in your house, you must break this cycle.
As a practical matter, this means you’ll almost certainly have to repeat your flea elimination efforts a few weeks apart to catch the fleas from the larvae that didn’t get destroyed the first time around. This is also why it is essential to address the problem of the eggs and larvae as well as the adult fleas.
It’s not enough just to rid your dog of fleas. Fleas don’t spend all their time on your dog, but will hop on when they need a meal.
The eggs can be shed anywhere your dog spends time – including your own bed, if you share it! Your house and yard must also be treated to prevent reinfestation.
Deflea-ing Your Dog
To get rid of fleas on your dog, a soapy bath with any natural shampoo will kill them on contact. You can also place several drops of lavender and frankincense essential oils into a chemical free shampoo to prevent and kill fleas (as well as ticks). I have even used natural dish soap and find it kills them as well as anything. There are recipes on my Recipe Page.
I also recommend using a flea comb soaked in soapy water several times per day after the initial bath, until your friend is flea free.
Once your dog has dried off after his bath, spray him with a mixture containing one drop each of the essential oils lemongrass, lemon, cedar and RC (a Young Living blend) per ounce of water.
You can also spray him with this solution to repel pests any time he’s going into an area that is flea, tick or mosquito infested.
In The Yard
Use a yard hose sprayer with two ounces of dish soap and 10 drops each of neem oil and cedarwood oil to kill adult fleas in your grass and areas where your dog plays or lies. I recommend doing this once per week during the flea season. Do not spray succulent plants with this mixture because it may harm them. You can also order Wondercide, which makes cedar oil products for use on your yard, as well as your dog and home.
In Your Home
In my experience, steam cleaning a rug will kill all of the adult fleas immediately. When the carpets are completely dry, put a mixture of one part Borax salts to three parts table salt and rake it into all carpeted areas of the house. Leave for a week and then vacuum very thoroughly. Pay attention to cracks in the floor where eggs may have been laid. Dispose of the vacuum contents by burning or placing them in a closed plastic bag in the outdoor trash so that the eggs don’t hatch in your broom closet!
Wash your dog’s bedding (and your own, if he spends time on it) and dry in a hot dryer if the fabric will stand it. It’s helpful to follow up with food grade diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle it on bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets and other surfaces in your home; work it in with a broom and leave it down for a few hours or overnight; then vacuum thoroughly. (You can also sprinkle the food grade DE on your dog’s skin to prevent or get rid of fleas. Be careful not to get DE in the eyes, nose and mouth.)
To help eliminate the eggs, add one teaspoon of wintergreen essential oil to a quart of hot water in a mist sprayer. Then mist carpets, upholstered furniture, pillows and other places where flea eggs can hatch. The mist will not kill fleas but it will kill the eggs. Spray about three times a year. The odor goes away in a few days and you are safe for months without the danger of pesticides.
Since oil of wintergreen is used on babies, I do not believe it can hurt cats or dogs when used like this in their environment (and not directly on the animal).
Remember that carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture are the prime places for depositing flea eggs. It’s a drastic measure, but some people have success ridding their home of fleas by removing their carpets and replacing with tile or hardwood floors.
Another very old, safe method of removing fleas is soapy water under a light bulb. Hang a light bulb one foot above a low container about a foot wide and two to three inches deep. Add at least an inch of soapy water to it. The fleas will jump to the light and fall in the soapy water. You will need to move it around about five feet a day or have several traps in the areas where your dog hangs out and sleeps. You can use these traps indoors, as well as outdoors in damp or shaded areas where fleas proliferate – under porches, decks, carports, at the edges of woods and especially in places where your pets lie down outdoors.
Another plus to feeding a raw diet.
by Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM
Conventional flea products are known for serious side effects, such as seizures. Sadly, with almost every chemically based product, there are reports of fatalities. This is one reason why so many dog lovers look for safer natural alternatives, and why I often get this question: "Can feeding a raw, natural diet prevent fleas?"
Fleas are ectoparasites, which means that they live on the skin surface, similar to lice or ticks. As a holistic veterinarian, I have seen a marked improvement in the overall flea infestation of my patients after they switch to a balanced raw diet and essential natural supplements.
So, is a raw diet a cure-all, including for fleas? Of course not. A good diet is the fuel for your dog's body, but it would be a mistake to think that a raw diet can prevent flea infestation completely. It happens less often, but it still happens!
Fleas: Smelly, Dog-Loving Sugar Junkies
There are two main reasons why dogs that eat processed food have higher rates of flea infestation.
The first is that fleas love sugar highs, and kibble diets cause severe spikes in blood glucose levels, which attracts fleas. This phenomenon can be compared to some people attracting mosquitoes more than others. It is the skin and body chemistry that makes a difference.
The second reason is that fleas are attracted to animals with stronger odours and less healthy skin. Everyone who feeds a raw or homemade cooked diet will agree that the "doggy smell" disappears in the vast majority of dogs after a few weeks of eating wholesome food.
This means that raw food is an important part of flea prevention, but it does not prevent fleas in all cases.
The Power is in Numbers
As I said above, some dog lovers worry that their dog is sick when they find fleas, but this is not always the case.
A few years ago, my dog Skai and I visited an old family friend. One of the reasons for our visit was to comfort her over the loss of her canine companion. We had a lovely visit, except that it was not only my friend who missed her dog. The dog's fleas missed him, too, and they were HUNGRY!
Within 24 hours of our stay, I found at least 50 fleas. There was no way that Skai's immune system could fend off such a flea army. At that time, our all-natural flea control* for dogs was not available, and I had to use a conventional product. It was also one of the reasons why we created an all-natural alternative for fleas.
This example suggests that, in some situations, your dog is bound to get fleas regardless, even if he is super healthy and getting raw food or all-natural supplements.
To summarize, dogs are less prone to fleas and other parasites if they are healthy; however, there is a certain tipping point where even a healthy dog will get fleas, and you will need to deal with the infestation.
A brain-damaging chemical lurks in popular flea collar products.
By LEAH ZERBE
In a blow to pets and the families that love them, the Environmental Protection Agency will continue to allow pet product companies to use a hazardous neurotoxin called tetrachlovinphos (TCVP) in flea-control products. TCVP residues have been found to lurk on pets' fur in unsafe levels, putting people who live with them at risk.
Despite concerning pesticide residue findings, EPA today denied Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) 2009 petition seeking to cancel all pet uses of the toxic chemical TCVP because of the risks to kids. "Brain and nervous system-harming chemicals, like TCVP, are too dangerous to have in our homes, on our pets, and around our kids," says Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist with (NRDC). "Allowing them to stay on the market based on shoddy assessments is irresponsible. Families shouldn't have to worry about the products available at their local pet store. EPA's failure to protect kids is unacceptable."
More From Rodale News: The No. 1 Canine Health Problem
Residue levels detected in a previous study were found to be high enough to pose serious risks to the neurological system of children at levels that greatly exceed EPA's acceptable levels. Although largely banned in other household items due to cancer and brain development risks, TCVP and similar chemicals can sneak into the home via toxic flea collars. NRDC says kids are particularly at risk because their bodies are more vulnerable and their activities, like putting their hands in their mouths after petting animals or playing, increase the amount pesticides that get in their bodies.
Avoiding the Worst Flea Products
• Rotkin-Ellman says if you do need to use a chemical flea-control product, the safest options are generally those dispensed as a pill. These usually contain the least toxic chemicals, and they don't leave a residue on your pet or in your home.
• NRDC notes that if you do need to buy an off-the-shelf flea and tick product, avoid flea collars that list tetrachlorvinphos or propoxur as active ingredients. Other products to avoid include permethrin-based products and tick-control products containing amitraz or carbaryl.
• Instead, opt for safer products whose labels list lufenuron, spinosad, methoprene, or pyriproxyfen. These are common and effective insect growth regulators (Learn more about safer products at NRDC's Green Paws product guide.)
How to Deal With Fleas
We turned to the book Paleo Dog for more tips on battling fleas in a less harmful way:
On Your Dog
• Use an ultrafine flea comb daily on dogs with amenable coats. The neck, tummy, and base of the tail are favorite flea hangouts. Have a glass full of warm, soapy water at hand to drown any fleas you catch in the comb.
• Bathing your dog will drown a lot of fleas, but soap up around the ears and neck first to keep them from rushing up to the dog's head and face. The herb erigeron (fleabane), found in some herbal shampoos, will help kill fleas (Too-frequent bathing or harsh soaps can dry the skin, so use caution.)
Bathing with essential oils will also help kill fleas. It is easy to make your own natural Pet shampoo without any chemicals or harmful products. This shampoo has great ingredients to fortify your pets skin and fur. Contact me for details.
More From Rodale News: Think Twice Before Giving Your Dog These Popular Treats
In Your Home
• Vacuuming is very effective against flea eggs and might even catch a few adults. To keep them from hatching or escaping, carefully apply flea spray into the vacuum bag or container and immediately discard the bag or empty the canister when you're done.
• Wash bedding (whatever the dog sleeps on) at least weekly. Putting a towel or fleece in favored areas will help confine the pests. Pick it up by the corners to prevent flea eggs from falling out.
• You can treat your home with a product containing borates or hire an exterminator like Fleabusters or Flea Stoppers. If you have a serious flea problem, it's worth paying professionals since they guarantee their work.
You can also make your own flea power and save the cost of Fleabusters which isn’t cheap and that product still isn’t that great for your dog’s skin to be near. Here are some essential oils that are good for fleas: Repellent Blend, Peppermint, Cleansing Blend, Geranium & Cedarwood. Contact me for more details.
In the Yard
• Beneficial, predatory nematodes eat flea eggs and will help control flea populations outdoors.
• Garden-grade diatomaceous earth will cut and desiccate flea larvae and eggs. Spread the powder liberally on the ground throughout areas under shrubs, decks, and other cool, shady spots where animals (such as raccoons, skunks, and outdoor and feral cats) are most likely to hang out. (Note, this will also kill many beneficial insects, too.)
Dog flea Spray
This is made with plant extract oils with fractionted coconut oil and warm water as a carrier.
You can use melaleuca, lavender, eucalyptus, or citronella oil—10 drops/each of all or any of the oils.
Mix the oils with 1 cup of warm water and 1 Tablespoon of fractionated coconut oil or castor oil. This makes about 1 cup so you can double the amounts for more. Mix and store in a spray bottle.
Shake the mixture and spray on the animal. I used a combination of melaleuca, lavender and eucalyptus oils and rosemary oil for some dogs don’t like the smell of citronella oil.
I have used this for other small bugs also.
The supplement CoQ10 is also good for building the dog’s immune system to prevent the fleas from wanting to attack the animal. Usually the animal is affected by the flea bites when their immune system is weakened. The bite can cause the animal to lick or bite the area to cause a "hot spot". There is a product sold online or in pet stores called Vetrycin that can help calm the hot spot. Aloe Vera gel from the plant can also help hot spots. The Aloe Vera plant should be freshly cut to get the gel at each application. I have more information on my site for hot spots.
Dog flea Spray
This is made with plant extract oils with castor oil and warm water as a carrier.
You can use melaleuca, lavender, eucalyptus, or citronella oil—10 drops/each of all or any of the oils.
Mix the oils with 1 cup of warm water and 1 Tablespoon of castor oil. This makes about 1 cup so you can double the amounts for more. Mix and store in a spray bottle.
Shake the mixture and spray on the animal. I used a combination of melaleuca, lavender and eucalyptus oils for some dogs don’t like the smell of citronella oil.
I have used this for other small bugs also.
The supplement CoQ10 is also good for building the dog’s immune system to prevent the fleas from wanting to attack the animal. Usually the animal is affected by the flea bites when their immune system is weakened. The bite can cause the animal to lick or bite the area to cause a "hot spot". There is a product sold online or in pet stores called Vetrycin that can help calm the hot spot. Aloe Vera gel from the plant can also help hot spots. The Aloe Vera plant should be freshly cut to get the gel at each application.