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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Flea Season is Here: What's a Pup to Do?

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
No Itching Going on Here
Tanner Sleeps Peacefully After a
Trip to the Dog Park
Itchy. Itchy. They feel twitchy. Scratch! Scratch! Scratch! Oh the poor pups. It is Spring, and with Spring comes fleas. Those frozen eggs have begun to hatch and I'm hearing from readers that they need solutions.

Well, scratch no more. Organic and all-natural flea prevention and repellents have solved my problems that plagued poor 12-year-old Xena for so many years. I use a 4 part treatment to assure success; you can pick what you like:
  1. As I told a friend, just today, I honestly feel that the most important change I have made was to switch to organic lawn care. No more chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to cause her skin problems. Her prior skin issues were often 2-3 times per year, until we implemented this change. Now, for a whole year, she has had nothing but itch-free bliss. If you're interested in this option, check out my organic blog at Organic Journey Online. There is a search box at the top which will allow you to pull up all the articles on "organic lawn care".
  2. As for on-the-dog flea prevention, I am using the following products, with great success: Neem Protect Shampoo and Neem Protect Spray (or other Neem Oil products) from Ark Naturals is a wonderfully soothing botanical that has helped Xena's hot spots calm down many times in the past, even before I went the organic route. You can spray it right on over an open area and it doesn't burn or sting. No concerns about licking or any danger to your pet. The mild scent is pleasant and doesn't seem to cause her any concern, whereas some of the veterinary preparations had no apparent effect and the smells bothered her. She continued to chew and pester the affected areas, as well.
  3. A preventative or repellent is useful when you're planning an outing to the dog park or other wooded area for play. I like NaturVet's Herbal Flea Spray, which is made of Cedar oil and Rosemary. My indoor organic pest control provider tells me that he uses Cedar Oil also. It smells fabulous, making me want to snuggle my guys all day. Best of all, I can't help but notice that when I apply this before we go to the park, we have little problem with itchiness afterwards. That's got to be a good sign. You can pick up this product through Amazon, right here on my site for a little more than $6 a bottle. One bottle has lasted me about 9 months, with 3 dogs. We go to the dog park 3-4 times a week, so that should give you a good idea of how far it goes. I think that's a bargain compared to the vet products, which can run well over $20 a month. I spray their undersides, chest and the base of their tails each time we go "parking." I just ordered more today through this ad:

  4. My organic lawn care specialist advised me to use DE, or Diatomaceous Earth, on the dogs. You may be thinking, "this is a pool filtering agent", and you are right. It is basically ground up seashells. For flea treatment, it is made into a food grade powder, which is safe if licked or ingested by your pet. The powder, ever so soft, acts like tiny shards of glass on fleas, killing them on contact. I buy Para Clear in a 3 lb. container, manufactured by Azmira, a holistic animal products company. All of their products are made in the USA, so think of this as your economic stimulus contribution. It is available at Azmira Greatland, for $15.50. This will last you a long time! If you're a bargain shopper, I will tell you I found it for as little as $14 on other sites. The problem was those sites did not have the kind of security I can recommend. I suppose you could call your order in. If you like this option, try a Google search. It's your choice.

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
My Flea Prevention and Treatment Products

Then I keep a small amount in a shaker bottle and treat the dogs as needed. One tip: Place your dog on top of a sheet or old shower curtain, so you can collect the powder that falls off as you apply it. Rub into the fur, concentrating on the areas where fleas congregate--base of the tail, neck and shoulders, armpits and inner thighs. You can also sprinkle in on their bedding and around their crates or beds.
If, like Tanner, your dogs swims daily, you'll need to reapply it whenever going into the great outdoors. Any access to grass, trees and parks will necessitate an application to prevent attacks.

Repeated applications may dry some dog's skin out a bit, although Tanner has had no such effect over 9 months of use. One holistic professional who writes on this topic suggests that you can alternate with a re-moisturizing treatment or Neem Oil to soothe the dryness and any itching that comes with it.

I will be honest with you that this white powder will not make your black dog look great. It sort of dulls their shine. I tend to use more of the other products on Xena, my black Retriever mix, and I use the DE powder on her bedding and areas of carpet she likes to lay on. This has worked well as an alternative to powdering her beautiful black coat.

DE is a safe indoor flea treatment, as well. If you get an indoor infestation, simply sprinkle it over the carpet. Rake or sweep it in with a stiff broom and leave for several hours. Vacuum it up to revive your carpet and collect the dead fleas. This procedure will also help prevent an infestation. If you notice fleas in your yard, it is time to be proactive.

If you have found fleas in your home, I suggest you apply a second treatment in a couple of weeks and vacuum furniture and bedding well. This will take care of eggs and hatchlings that have appeared after your first treatment. Another tip would be to wash any bedspreads or rugs in hot water, if possible.

I hope this will give you all some options for an itch-free Spring. It works for my dogs, and no more Fipronil. My research on that stuff finds that it is a known carcinogen. I've had cancer myself. I couldn't bear to knowingly put my dogs through that. That's why we're an organic family now. Got questions? Concerns? Drop me a comment at the link below or write me at .


Marisa Herrera said...

Great post, Carrie! It's good to know the specific non-toxic products you use.

Chuck said...

The natural remedies are better for your pet, better for the environment, and better for you. Often times cheaper as a bonus...

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