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,

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,

Doo-Doo-Run-Run: What do you do when the doo-doo runs? (Part 3)

(Continued from Part 2)

I emailed Dr. Natalie to make an appointment for all natural deworming. I’ll let you know how that goes.

And after watching Dr. Karen Becker’s video (which can be found at healthypets.mercola.com, keyword “diarrhea”), I sprang into action.

Dr. Becker suggested a bland diet of cooked, drained ground turkey meat mixed either with pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling. Plain pumpkin) or sweet potato, and a dose of Slippery Elm until the poops return to normal.

Cool. I’ve got this.

Turkey is already very lean, but cooking renders the excess fat. The fat can cause additional upset to an already upset tummy.

Mixing it with the fiber of the pumpkin or sweet potato will, oddly enough, help right the irritable bowel.

Also, putting something warm in the belly is comforting until the irritation subsides.

Y’all know what Slippery Elm is, right?

I didn’t. Not really.

It was listed in my book. I know it’s an herb. But where to get it? How to use it?

TO THE GOLDEN TEMPLE!

Birmingham’s Southside (Autocorrect wants that to be two words. Shut up, Autocorrect. You don’t know Alabama) is blessed to have The Golden Temple — all natural grocery/cafe/yoga studio. Everything you need to live your holistic/spiritual/alternative existence. It is so groovy. I love it.

They had a big jug of Slippery Elm powder. I had no idea how much to buy, so I just got an ounce and a half hoping that would do. I didn’t know whether to mix it dry into their food, or mix it with water first. But an older woman checking out ahead of me had a large quantity of it, and explained to me all the delightful uses of Slippery Elm. She mixes it with warm water and drinks it for sore throat, diarrhea, and bladder infections, among other things. There was my “real world” verification. Thanks, lady!

(She told me with great confidence that I should drink it myself. Just ‘cuz…Thanks. I’ll pass for now).

TO THE HOUSE!

I cooked ground turkey, and mixed it with a baked sweet potato. Equal parts. 50-50. One and a half ounces of each for a total of 3oz of food in the bowl. (You really need a kitchen scale). For these 25lb pups, it’s enough. Trust me.

I heated some water on the stove and mixed about a teaspoon of the powder in about 3oz. I then added 2 teaspoons of the mixture to their food. (When the water cools, the elm powder becomes slimy. Note: Slippery Elm is a better name than Slimy Elm). We repeated the same thing the next day for both meals.

Both dogs showed immediate improvement. The pooping stopped for the next 48 hours.

Then, NORMAL POOPS!

It worked. Really well.

Then I researched what to do about those pesky worms…

Ground pumpkin seeds…hmmm….

…to be continued…