Fleas and Ticks are one of the biggest complaints of dog owners.. especially if you are taking a natural approach instead of the toxic, potentially deadly chemical insecticides. Buy implementing these 6 things into your dog’s routine, you can enjoy a summer free of scratching and biting!!
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is the single most important thing we use in our fight against fleas for our pets. Diatomaceous Earth is tiny crushed up fossilized sea shells. DE kills fleas (and other insects) by puncturing the exoskeleton and absorbing lipids from their protective layer, causing them to dehydrate and die. We use it as a topical dust directly on their coat, applied routinely to bedding and sprinkle it on our carpet/upholstered furniture, weekly, prior to vacuuming. It is important to use food grade diatomaceous earth, not what is used for pool filtration. Additionally, routinely sprinkling DE on your pets food will help prevent/eliminate internal parasites! (Click HERE for the Diatomaceous Earth I use and Click HERE for the small duster I use to make application easier)
- Homemade Flea & Tick Repellant Collars can be easily made at home by simply adding a few drops of essential oils to your pet’s current fabric collar or with a decorative bandana. Lemongrass, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Cedarwood, Lavender, Tea Tree*, and Eucalyptus are all useful in repelling fleas and ticks (they make your pet smell nice too!) I don’t recommend mixing multiple essential oils or applying them directly to your pets skin, however applying several drops of a single essential oil to their collar or a bandana to wear around their neck is a great way to ward off pests. Each dog and their environment is unique and different essential oils will work differently. (Click HERE for the essential oil set that I have)
- Bathing your dog helps wash away fleas, flea eggs and encourages you to feel all over your dog’s body for any ticks that may be present (also for any other abnormalities) Regular bathing is a essential part of dog ownership, however too much can be disruptive to your dog’s skin, I recommend bathing no more that every 2 weeks (unless you have a genuine reason, like a messy accident in their crate or they rolled in something stinky) Like with bathing your own body, it’s important to make sure the shampoo you are using on your dog is non-toxic. I use the same brand soap/shampoo on my dog that I use on my own skin.. however I switch to a formulation containing tea tree* or peppermint essential oils, since they are also beneficial for fighting pests. (Click HERE for the tea tree shampoo* or Click HERE for the peppermint shampoo I use on my dog) And I always follow up with a diluted (50/50) rinse of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to help sooth his skin and also repel pests.
- Flea Traps are a chemical free way to lure and kill in any fleas that are present in the area. When I first stared using a lighted/sticky flea trap, I thought there was not way this would really work. After setting the trap near our dogs bedding for one night, we were shocked to see several fleas (and other pests) trapped by morning. (Click HERE for the Flea Trap I use) The color of the trap and the heat from the bulb attract the fleas, the sticky pad keeps them from leaving.
- Flea & Tick Repellant Spray is a great addition to your pest prevention arsenal. Before heading out to the woods for a hike or when we’ll be around other dogs that might be carrying fleas, I’m sure to give our dog a quick spritz of my homemade flea/tick repellant spray. Combine the following ingredients into a spray bottle and shake it up to mix:
- Flea Combs are only way to be sure that your pest control efforts are working. Weekly, I sit on the porch with our dog and groom him, going over him with a flea comb is part of our routine (along with nail trim, cleaning his ears, etc) Not only are you helping to release shedding hairs (that would end up in your house, on your furniture and on your clothing) you’re also seeing what’s going on at your dog’s skin level. If there are any fleas or tiny black specks of dirt looking stuff on your flea comb (Click HERE for the stainless steel flea comb I use) quickly dip your comb in a bowl of warm soapy water (it will kill the fleas and flea eggs). I use the same soap for my flea comb water as I do to bathe him in (Click HERE for the tea tree* shampoo or Click HERE for the peppermint shampoo I use on my dog)
*NOTE: some sources state that tea tree is toxic to dogs.. there is also a plethora of information where it is used without issue, as in our experience. I never advocate using ANY full strength essential oils directly on a dog’s skin for that specific reason. Here is a conversation thread where the use of Tea Tree Castile soap use on dogs is discussed (http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=187), read through it entirely for the tea tree references.
Update: 8/30/2014: We’ve kept our Dog Flea Free all summer without using ANY flea treatments. These 6 work great to treat your pet once they have fleas, but we didn’t use any of them this summer. Read more about how to naturally prevent fleas in your dog (hint: it’s all about what you feed your dog!) Click HERE to learn more.