Fortunately, we have safe alternatives – effective, nontoxic methods to keep our companion animals and households free from fleas and their irritating and sometimes debilitating impacts. The safest and most effective way to eliminate fleas utilizes an approach called "integrated pest manage-ment" (IPM). |
In order to control a flea infestation with IPM techniques, it is necessary to treat not only your dog, but also the indoor and outdoor environments surrounding your dog.
The quickest and easiest way to rid your dog of fleas without going out and spending any money is by giving him or her a bath with any bar of soap or dish soap. Keep in mind the reason this works to flea control is not due to the chemicals but lack of oxygen for the fleas which of course sends them to their soapy death.
Improve the dog's health.
A healthy dog is less likely to be the target for fleas. Fleas seem to know which dogs are ill in a household. If you are not already feeding a raw meat, homemade diet or human-grade food, this is the time to shift gears. A healthy immune system will make your dog less tasty to a flea. Consult a holistic veterinarian to help boost the health of your dog's immune system. Some complementary therapies that are useful include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, homeopathy, and nutritional therapy.
There are numerous dietary additives reputed to be helpful in repelling fleas. Unfortunately, their effectiveness varies from dog to dog. Some people have found the following remedies to be effective for their dogs. If, after giving your dog any of these supplements for a month, you see no improvement in the flea population, consult your holistic veterinarian for further direction.
Garlic: One clove per day of crushed organic garlic for a large dog, half for a medium-sized dog, and a quarter for a small dog. Or, use a capsule of cold-pressed garlic oil; adjust the canine dosage from the human dosage on the label (assuming a 150 pound human dose).
Vitamin B complex (with vitamin B1): Use a plant-source vitamin B complex, and again, adjust the dose for your dog's weight. Some people simply add brewers yeast to the dog's diet for its vitamin B1. Note: Some dogs are allergic to brewers yeast.
OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENT Outdoor flea populations can be controlled quickly and easily. Again, the focus here is on the 99 percent of the flea population: the nonadult stages of the flea.
• Keep grass cut short, and rake leaves to prevent piles where flea eggs, larvae, and pupae can harbor.
• Apply a mixture of water and food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) – a calcium dust ground from single-cell, ocean organisms – to your lawns, walkways and planting beds (anywhere your dog frequents). In wet, humid climates, apply every other month; in drier climates, you can apply this less frequently. This application works as an abrasive and desiccant, physically drying out and destroying the adult fleas' breathing organs as well as drying out and killing flea larvae. This process is inexpensive, and the flea cannot develop resistance to DE. Use a mask whenever handling DE; the dust can irritate the lungs.
INDOOR ENVIRONMENT Indoor environment control is relatively simple, and like your outdoor pest control efforts, should focus on the largest part of the flea population – the nonadult stages.
• Wash floors frequently. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupae are attracted to cracks and joints in floors.
• Remove area rugs during the flea season. If you are considering a remodel or new construction, choose alternatives to wall-to-wall carpeting, such as cork, wood, ceramic, or linoleum (not vinyl) flooring.
• Vacuum carpeting daily during most intense infestation, cutting back to once or twice a week when it is under control. Seal the vacuum bag each time and put it in a freezer to kill the fleas before reusing.
• Wash your dog's bedding at least once a week in hot water and a mild detergent, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide (a whitening agent).
Sometimes the answer to our problem is very simple, but takes the one thing we seem to struggle with daily – time. Time to understand the full impacts of the flea product you are considering using, and time to create a healthy environment for your dog during the flea season, and year-round.
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