Nobody wants to find fleas on their pet, but don’t risk your pet’s health with dangerous pesticides.
The health ramifications from topical and oral pesticide medications can be serious, damaging the body over time and sometimes causing immediate reactions – even if your pet has had these medications before without visible side effects.
These products are sold as “preventatives” but it’s important to understand that they are killers -whether your pet has these pests or not, regardless of their risk of exposure. Products marketed to “protect against” multiple species (fleas, ticks, mosquitos, intestinal worms, heartworms) are the most dangerous of all.
Is it worth the risk? Is your pet being exposed to all of these parasites? (Have you found fleas? Are you visiting tick-endemic areas?) What are the health risks of the pests you are finding? What are the options?
While the options we propose are not as easy as a once-a-month pill, the peace of mind is worth it.
Feeding a raw food diet and the right herbal supplements is the foundation on which to build a flea-free program.
The first thing to know is that parasites such as fleas are less attracted to healthy animals. Animals that look outwardly healthy to us may actually be suffering from a variety of sub-clinical issues that make them more vulnerable to parasites.
Learn more about Raw Food Diet Basics from our Pet Health Guide, and talk with our expert staff about what the best choices are for your pet.
Nupro & Flea Away Supplements
Your pet may need specific herbal formulas for their particular health needs, but these two stand out for providing ingredients that are especially disliked by fleas. Available for both dogs and cats, they help deter fleas with B-vitamins, plus garlic and other beneficials in the Nupro, giving your pet’s body a scent that fleas don’t like. The other great thing about these two supplements is that they taste great – both include liver for flavoring. They do need to be used consistently to be effective, and it takes 3-6 weeks to integrate them fully into your pet’s system, so you will not see an instantaneous effect when you start, but they are 100% safe and beneficial to feed long-term.
Omega-3 EFAs should be included in the food daily. Omega-3 fatty acids help fight inflammation, making your pet’s skin less attractive to fleas as well as reducing reactions to flea bites. If you also add digestive enzymes to their meal you’ll increase the absorption of these EFAs by 70%. We have several options for Omega-3 supplements from companies such as Grizzly, Nordic Naturals, and Four Leaf Rover.
Homeopet Skin & Itch Relief
This easy-to-use liquid provides symptomatic relief for animals that are hypersensitive to flea bites, or are just driving you (and themselves) crazy with frequent scratching. If your pet suffers from an allergic reaction to flea bites you should also feed supplements that help the body react less, like colostrum and Beta-Thym.
Sustenance Herbs Liver/Detox Formula and Animal Essentials Detox Blend
These excellent herbal products will help ensure that your pet’s liver is functioning well, which helps to keep their skin healthy and reduces abnormal inflammatory reactions. Use these for a few weeks in early spring, then again in the autumn, for ongoing care. If you’re wondering why your pet would need this kind of care, just think about the the chemical exposures that happen in cities every day, and remind yourself that your pets are walking around barefoot and naked, then grooming themselves – this isn’t even counting what’s in the home, or what medications you might be giving.
If you choose to use monthly pesticides, whether internally or topically, it’s essential to use one of these formulas every month too, to help mitigate the damaging effects of the drugs. Give it for one week, right after you’ve applied or fed the medicine.
Now that you’re supporting your pet’s health from the inside, it’s time to gather your tools and techniques to prevent and get rid of pests that have arrived.
These are essential grooming tools for all dogs and cats. They’re are also a convenient way to check for ticks after a trail hike. Just comb through next to the skin, trap the fleas on the comb with your fingers and wipe them off into a small amount of soapy water (any soap kills fleas, dish soap is a good choice). Don’t dip the comb in the soap or you’ll have to dry it thoroughly before recombing. If your pet has a thick undercoat you can still use it on the thinner areas on the belly, etc (fleas seem to prefer these zones too). Spending a minute a day on this easy grooming task will help keep fleas in check.
Having a tick removal tool on hand means you can get those suckers out in a timely and careful manner. Never use the crazy ideas you find on the internet to get ticks to “let go,” (they don’t work) just quickly remove them with the proper tool. Be sure to dispose of it properly, or check locally about how to send it in for testing if you’re concerned about Lymes, Erlichiosis, or other tick-borne infections.
Natural Flea & Tick Sprays
Natural deterrent sprays made with essential oils are an important addition to your arsenal. Spray them on before heading out to the lagoon or trail to deter fleas and ticks from hitching a ride. Be sure not to spray near the face. A better way to apply these hear the head, or with small dogs, is to spray onto your hands or cloth and then apply thoroughly (including the legs and tail). We have cat-specific ones too, because essential oils can be harmful to cats, so please use those labeled as safe for cats. They are not long-lasting, and need to be used daily if there are fleas in your home.
Natural Flea & Tick Shampoos
Herbal Shampoos can be more effective than some other shampoos at killing fleas on your pet, but truly any soap kills fleas, so please don’t resort to pesticide dips (if it says “avoid skin contact” for your safety, please don’t apply it to your pet). Many pet shampoos with essential oils designed to fight fleas are also helpful in dealing with inflamed bites from insects. Unfortunately if you find a tick you’ll still need to remove it and dispose of it, no shampoo can take care of that for you.
What about your house and yard?
Simple Cleaning Routines can help keep down fleas. Fleas reproduce every 3 weeks, so be sure to wash all pet bedding frequently (every week is best). Use throws (mats, blankets, or towels) on furniture or carpeted areas where your pet hangs out so you can clean those more easily by washing the throw.
Wondercide Yard Spray or Vet’s Best Yard Spray
These can be applied outdoors to kill & deter fleas and destroy flea eggs. Fleas like areas under decks and porches, so pay particular attention to those. Follow instructions to repeat applications for the best results.
This is a product that kills fleas and flea eggs on contact without harming your pet. The spray can be used on pet bedding and on household furniture (under the couch cushions for example), and directly on your cat or dog (over 12 weeks of age). The formula uses dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate to soften the shell, and undecylenic acid (an extract of castor beans) to kill the fleas, larvae, and eggs. This product does not deter fleas and does not have residual benefits, but it can help short–circuit the reproduction cycle in your home.
Diatomaceous Earth or Boric Acid Powder
These are most effective and safe when used under cushions, under baseboards, and deep in carpets, where they can continue to work for many months. These products should be used according to product directions for safety, and are not intended for topical use.
These are available online or through your local natural landscape business and provide long-term benefits in your yard. Easily sprayed into your lawn, they eat flea larvae before the fleas get your pet. Best of all they won’t harm any beneficial insects, bees, or lizards.