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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Scratching the Itch

It’s almost summer, and it seems the occupants of this house have been focused heavily on fleas and how to eradicate without topical or ingestible poison.

After spreading diatomaceous earth all over the deck, patio, under shrubs, along the fence, and basically throughout the yard, I realized that is the ingredient of my flea powder that made the Pugs scratch like crazy.

AWESOME! 

#fail

Thank God for the recent deluge that washed it all away.

I finally decided to just hire a mosquito service to come spray the yard every 3 weeks from now until October. Expensive, yes, but still cheaper than some of my vet bills.

The treatment is effective against mosquitos and fleas. Here’s hoping that approach, when paired with weekly baths, daily flea-combing, and boosted immune health will adequately address our issue on that front. I’ll keep you posted.

Even with all that, they have still been scratching incessantly, especially at 4am (which puts me in an especially bad mood).

What’s the prob?

I mean, I feed them raw, local honey daily, which should homeopathically address pollen allergies (I mean, it certainly has worked for me. First time in years that I’ve gone all spring without a sinus infection. Just sayin).

I feed them raw, fermented goats milk daily, which is a natural antihistamine.

They have a raw and grain-free diet, of course.

The diatomaceous earth is gone now.

What the deal-io?

I may never know for sure, but I’m not going to run to the vet for steroids or antibiotics that will only mask the symptoms and ultimately cause more harm than good over time.

As I was pulling on my hair and furrowing my brow over what to do, Dogs Naturally Magazine posted this article that gave me some options.

How fortuitous! Answered prayer, perhaps?

I read through it and realized I had most of the natural itch arresters right there in my pantry!

Being a throwback hippie is starting to pay off!

The most immediately effective thing I tried was coconut oil. I scooped some out, warmed it in my hands, and rubbed it into their skin where they seemed to be most bothered. They stopped scratching instantly, curled up and went to sleep.

DANG!

The next day, I pulled Basil and Oregano from my herb garden-window box and made a strong medicinal tea with it. I plucked about 2 tablespoons of each, boiled water, removed from heat, added the herbs and let it steep overnight. I then poured it over their meals.

Seems to be working. Not as instantly noticeable, but they’re not scratching quite as much, especially using the two together.

Then I dug around in my dried herbs and saw I had Calendula petals (Marigold) right there in a little bag in the fridge! I made a very strong medicinal tea with it, using the same method.

Boiled water first, removed it from heat, added the herb, and this time, I let it steep for 2 full days. It was very concentrated, so I got a big bowl with a lid, added almost a gallon of water to the concentrate, and stuck it in the fridge to use as a rinse after baths.

I bathed them and poured generous amounts over their coats as a final rinse, and let it air dry.

No. Scratching.

AND they smelled simply delightful! 🙂

Tip: Let the stuff come to room temp or close to it, unless it’s super hot outside, because it will be super cold fresh out of the fridge, and your dog may not love you that much after you freeze her tooter off.

I also have an arsenal of lemons and garlic at my disposal, and once the Calendula tea is finished, I can make a different rinse using them.

Options a-plenty! I encourage you to experiment with these if your dog is scratching the never-ending itch. Making the rinses will take a little bit of time and planning, but really, much much less expensive and a much healthier option than a trip to the vet. And if these methods absolutely fail, then you might have something else going on that does need medical attention.

pugs & kisses!

Time to Plant those Herbs!

After we finished laying the ground work for fame and glory on Saturday at Railroad Park, I decided it was time to plant an herb garden.

I’ve been talking about it for months. I don’t really know what I’m doing, though.

It is surprisingly difficult to get good quality, fresh, pesticide-free herbs in the grocery store.

I know you’re shocked. Try to calm down.

I’ve become quite fascinated with the healing power of herbs, my favorite being Basil.

I’ve tried all during the winter months to grow Basil in a glass on my kitchen counter, and I have failed again and again. It’s been quite discouraging.

But now that the weather has begun to warm, and Spring has officially sprung here in the ‘Ham, I decided to dig in the dirt.

It was therapeutic.

I have a window box on the front of my house that should be a perfect spot. Direct sun in the mornings, and protected from extreme heat by tall pines.

…But then I read on each little plastic spear that they all need FULL SUN…

Womp Womp!

I may have wasted my money. We’ll just have to see.

Here’s a poor shot of the fledgling collection of sage, arugula, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, peppermint and spearmint.

It was dark and about to pour rain by the time I finished. Here's hoping they don't die! Fingers crossed!
It was dark and about to pour rain by the time I finished. Here’s hoping they don’t die! Fingers crossed!

IF they grow, (and that’s a big IF) I’ll have my own stash that I know is grown organically, away from highway fumes, and without chemical pesticides. Perfect for incorporating into our diets. Perfect for use in herbal healing home remedies.

I’m so excited!

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,