March 30, 2017 | Tips and Training
Along with Spring and Summer hikes and outdoor activities comes fleas and ticks. In addition to just being an annoyance they carry a number of diseases and illnesses. In North America the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick is the principle vector of Lyme disease as well as human granulocytic anaplasmosis and human babesiosis. Fleas transmit the plague bacteria and mosquitoes transmit West Nile Virus and other arboviruses within the United States.
The symptoms most commonly associated with flea infestation is itching. Fleas sustain themselves by feeding on the blood of their hosts, which leads to itchy and sometimes painful skin irritation. The average life span of a flea is just under a week, but in some environments colonies of fleas can survive for twice that long. Killing larva and pre-adult stage fleas kills the repetitive growth cycle. This is important because adult fleas can lay up to fifty eggs per day.
While there are a number of pesticides to treat and control these pests, they too can present a number of health issues for both humans and pets. In fact some have come under scrutiny for being linked to cancer, endocrine disruptions, neurological damage and childhood cancers.
But before you start having nightmares about fleas and ticks on your pets and children take a deep breath. There is good news! Dr. Becker from Mercola subscribes to a simple recipe with these three ingredients:
While there are numerous chemical based products on the market to kill fleas and ticks, some pets may react poorly to these chemicals suffering symptoms like skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. Also remember, some products that are safe for dogs may not be safe for cats. Read labels carefully. No pesticide is 100 percent safe – not even those that claim to be “natural”. However, opting for truly natural alternatives can help you avoid exposing your pets to chemical pesticides.
Natural oils can be diluted and used as sprays or in shampoos to keep pests at bay. You must be careful not to overdo it, because your pet’s sense of smell is much stronger than yours. Apply oils in well ventilated area. A little goes a long way. Never spray around your pets face or eyes. Lavender, peppermint, lemongrass and cedar oils work well but must be diluted in water or a carrier oil like olive or sweet almond oil before application. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to your favorite pet shampoo.
Rose geranium oil is safe enough to use full strength but you will only need a drop behind each shoulder and one at the base of the tail.
Vet’s Best – This is a brand of all natural flea and tick sprays using a unique blend of peppermint oil and clove extract to control and kill fleas, flea eggs and ticks on contact. It also repels mosquitoes.
Food grade Diatomaceous Earth can be sprinkled in the environment or on the pet. Be careful when using topically, as you don’t want your pet to inhale the dust. There is also an EPA labeled Crawling Insect Control Diatomaceous Earth which is best for outside use. It kills insects by PHYSICAL action – not chemical. Hundreds of the microscopic particles get all over the insects body. As the insects move, it scratches away the waxy coating off of their bodies and they dehydrate and die; because the particles are so small they don’t harm people or pets. It is a mineral –silica.
All Natural Flea Treats – these are a B vitamin complex, specially formulated for dogs and cats. They are flavored with real liver, given orally and take about two weeks before the body starts to repel fleas.
Cedar oil sprays are available to be used on your yard and in pet applications like Dr. Ben’s Paws and Claws products.
Please check out our retail inventory at all of our locations to find the product that best fits your needs. If you have on-going or extreme issues please consult your veterinarian. One last reminder – the cleaner your pet is, the harder it is for fleas and ticks to adhere to their coat. Comb or brush your pet daily and bathe on a regular schedule based on individual coat needs.
Wishing you a happy, healthy Spring and Summer!