Winning the War on Fleas

You may recall the early terror attacks by pre-season fleas that I battled in the Spring.

Like a dog with a bone, I have been determined to find a healthy, effective solution.

The first layer of my counter-attack was to hire a mosquito service for my yard. Now, I understand that sounds like an extravagance, and I was very hesitant to try it. But on balance, better to dose the yard than to dose the dogs.

Mosquito Squad comes while I’m at work and the dogs are safely inside. After just a few minutes, everyone can go outside, but that’s never an issue because of the timing.

IT WORKS.

Not only has it eliminated mosquitos, but it works on fleas & ticks as well. And the cost is actually about $80 less than a year’s worth of flea, tick & heartworm prevention for 2 dogs. Highly recommend.

Second layer of counter-attack was flea collars. Yep. Good, old fashioned flea collars.

The first one I tried was the Seresto collar. They run about $40 each and last 8 months. The collar contains similar chemicals to many of the topical treatments, but at least it’s not touching the skin in a concentrated form that seeps into the bloodstream. Collars only go on when we go outside, or board at the kennel. Otherwise, they’re on the hook with the leashes. You can’t do that with a topical.

The Seresto worked very well, but Chester (cat) was extremely sensitive to it. He lost the hair on his neck and broke out in a rash.

#garbage.

After that happened, I started to worry about the dogs. They didn’t break out like Chester, but still. Although a better alternative than topical or pills, the collar is permeated with pesticide, and the toxicity concerned me.

THEN, my hero, Dr. Karen Becker, posted an article about the herbal flea collars, spray, and topical that she developed for Dr. Mercola. SOLD!

herbal flea tick remedy
The small collar fits dogs with necks up to 21′.

Each collar contains Geraniol, which is a primary component of citronella oil, and a very effective flea, tick and mosquito repellent. The collars also contain wintergreen oil, which makes them smell like Pepto-Bismal. At $12 each, an extremely reasonable price point. Extremely safe ingredients. And, so far, extremely effective.

Buy it here.

If you live in a highly infested area, like near the woods, you might consider the three-pronged approach of spray, topical and collar. I bought the collars, and have the spray on hand just in case.

I feel much better about NOT forcing my dogs to ingest pesticides (have you smelled a Trifexis?) or to directly apply pesticides on their skin. I know that what I’m doing is much safer, easier on the pocketbook, and it works.

In Alabama, flea season is August – October. Give Dr. Becker’s collar a try.

pugs & kisses,

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Frickin Fleas. The struggle is real.

Y’all. The fleas are winning. And it’s not even flea season yet.

“Flea season” in Alabama is August – October, technically.

Somebody needs to tell that to the fleas.

They are already everywhere, and it’s totally pissing me off. I’ve tried many, many approaches to avoid putting chemicals on my dogs, and I am having no measurable success.

Back in the Fall, I told y’all about this product that you add to food to control fleas, ticks & mosquitos from the inside out. I hung a great deal of hope on it. But Pearl couldn’t tolerate it in the recommended amount, and lesser doses failed to achieve the goal.

Awesome.

Remember when I boasted about making my own flea powder? 10-year supply & whatnot?

It worked! but it was such a fine powder, it dried their skin out and all they did was scratch, which kept all of us up at night (which is just so. much. fun.). Paranoid the scratching was from fleas, I harassed them with the flea comb, which ultimately produced narry a one.

So, it is definitely effective against fleas, yes. But the incessant scratching drove us MAD.

Mad, I say!

So I quit using it. (Still have like a 10 year supply, so if you want to give it a try, holla back. It may work for you.).

Weekly baths and nightly combing had become our new routine.

But then, every morning at 4 am, the scratching begins, and the flea comb has been terribly productive, even in my pre-dawn fumbling, pissed off, bleary-eyed state, 2-3 fleas on each dog every damn day.

Curses!

So then I bought Vet’s Best all natural flea & tick spray, which smells absolutely delightful, and has ingredients that make me feel all warm & fuzzy, but I couldn’t get enough of it on them to work.

Hopes dashed. #sads

What to do? I feel like I’ve tried everything.

Everybody’s like,

“Just spray your yard.”

“Use a topical.”

“Quit being such a hippie.”

(Ppl are so helpful).

I walk my dogs down the street and in a park. Spraying my yard won’t get us where we need to be. But, hey. Thanks for the thought.

Resorting to a topical makes me feel defeated. I don’t want to shorten my dogs’ lives by toxifying (made-up word. Just go with it) their little bodies because of frickin fleas.

I kept getting warned about an infestation, which legit freaked me out. The specter of a bed full of fleas and the resulting destruction of my chem-free purpose by having to fog the house gave me night terrors.

I really really didn’t want to resort to that…

These F’ers already too tough tho, and it’s not even close to peak flea time. So with tears in my eyes (from frustration, fatigue, and failure at 4am), I reached for the topical.

I caved.

CAVED!

Like the Clairmont Sinkhole.

To mitigate the damage, I divided the dose for a single dog and applied a half dose to each dog.

I’ve continued with the weekly baths, and the flea comb is never out of reach. I’ve used my homemade flea powder on rugs and at doorways to avoid spraying chemicals inside.

I also added a clove of garlic to their breakfast smoothies.

Hold up. Garlic is on the WNTF list!

Excessive amounts can result in Heinz body syndrome (red blood cell destruction). But, in small doses, garlic is actually quite good for your dog. But like avocados, some dogs are hyper-sensitive and cannot tolerate it. The Raw Roundup folks swear by its efficacy on fleas, as well as overall benefits to immune health. Dr. Pitcairn (The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats) recommends 1 clove of fresh garlic for a dog weighing 20-40 lbs.

So I began adding a single clove per 8oz smoothie (which I divide between the 2 25-lb dogs), and that amount is well-tolerated. My hope is that over time, it will make Pearl and Truman unpalatable to fleas in the hood. I’m also hopeful that as their immune systems continue to grow stronger through their proper non-kibble, raw diet, fleas will ultimately not be a concern.

In the meantime, it’s half a dose of topical and extra attention on the liver support with things like milk thistle seed, basil, broccoli & fermented raw goats milk.

Fingers crossed! I’ll keep you posted.

pugs & kisses,

SMOOTHIES!!!

Berry smoothie for dogs

You too can make your HOL dog a smoothie that he will LOVE.

Basically, any fruit will do, and the recipe is largely the same except for the fruit. You could drink it yourself, except that the Answers raw, fermented goats milk I use in all of them is not for human consumption b/c it’s not pasteurized. So, here’s you some options to get you started. All recipes are for a 50lb dog. Adjust according to your dog’s size.

SMOOTH AWAY!

Straw-Monkey

  • 1 whole banana, peeled (duh) and broken into pieces
  • 5 strawberries, topped
  • 1 kiwi, peeled
  • small bunch of fresh mint leaves without the stems
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon or turmeric
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup raw, fermented goats milk.

WHIRRRRR in the blender till smooth. Makes 8 oz.

Berry Blitz

  • 2 oz Blueberries
  • 2 oz Raspberries
  • 2 oz Strawberries
  • small bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon or turmeric
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup raw, fermented goats milk.

WHIRRRR in the blender till smooth. Makes 8 oz.

Orange Crush

  • 3-4 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric or cinnamon
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup raw, fermented goats milk.

WHIRRRR in the blender till smooth. Makes 8 oz.

Green Goblin

  • 1 small avocado, pitted and peeled
  • small bunch of mint and basil, stems removed
  • 1 tsp dried kelp
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup raw, fermented goats milk

WHIRRRR in the blender till smooth. Makes 8oz.

I make an 8oz smoothie every morning and divide it between Pearl and Truman. That is their breakfast. They get their meat meal at night.

The goats milk provides them with protein, as well as probiotics to start their day. The cinnamon or turmeric act as natural anti-inflammatories, as well as digestive aids (among other things–enough to fill their own blog post). The garlic is for flea & tick avoidance. Such a small amount should not bother your dog, but some dogs may be hyper-sensitive to garlic. So try a little and see how your dog reacts. If he doesn’t have a reaction, go with it. If he does, please use your brain and quit giving it to him. The raw, local honey is an antimicrobial, contains wonderful phytonutrients, and helps keep seasonal allergies in check.

Give them a try! Simple as pie!

pugs & kisses,

In Anticipation of Flea Season

I’m trying to get ahead of the fleas this year, and hopefully avoid using a spot treatment. I’m currently experimenting with a combo of:

  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Powdered Neem
  • Yarrow

Here’s a pic:

I over-bought. This very well could be a 10-year supply. I'm not sure.
I over-bought. This very well could be a 10-year supply. I’m not sure.

I bought a fancy stainless steel shaker with a mesh top. I am all excited about this.

I do hope it works. It should.

Everything in it repels pests, including fleas and ticks.

I really don’t like the idea of dosing my dogs with chemicals since I’ve worked so hard to boost their health in a natural way.

I shook a little down the spine of each dog, and worked it into their coats. They’re not crazy about it. I don’t know if I used enough or too much. Their fur now feels like my hair does when I use that nasty dry shampoo. But it doesn’t stink–at least it doesn’t to me. I hope it smells positively putrid to fleas & ticks.

We’ll have to see how it goes. It’s currently a balmy 28 degrees out, so we’re not likely to encounter any fleas this week. But maybe it’ll keep them at bay when the weather warms up and they start rolling in the grass.

I’ll keep you posted.

pugs & kisses,