It was early in the morning, and the sun was already up. My border collie puppies and I had just been outside for their morning routine walk, their tiny feet wet from the heavy morning dew. Another day of hot weather was in the making. The steady hum of local insects were beginning to swarm around the flowerbeds and garden area. As I nonchalantly observed Mother Nature in progress, I saw my dogs scratching from one end to another, with an age-old problem that had not yet shown its ugly head this season. Fleas.
Probably more than my dogs, I hate fleas with a passion. Once they have started their cycle, it is a continuous battle until the first freeze outside. This famous irritable parasite has a reputation that is known to have killed more victims than those who have died in all the world wars. The bubonic plague, which caused the deaths of more than 200 million people in the 14th century, is just one of the many win-win situations caused by this little creature.
The Result of Modern Pollution
Under “Pet-Grub.com” there was article about a Native Canadian woman who stated her forefathers never had a problem with the flea, because “it was basically a result of modern pollution and damage to the environment.” Her tribe was from an area that bordered B.C., Alaska and the Yukon border, and the author of the article was interested in why this woman’s forefathers survived in insect heaven in their early days. The author of the article, along with myself, was very surprised at the answer as most of the world today prides themselves on their cleanliness and sanitary living. Guess we were wrong.
Nevertheless, individuals who are in continuous contact with the environment and natural living are not surprised by her answer. After many years of raising and training dogs professionally, along with living with dogs my whole life, I have become an excellent “knowledgeable source” about our friend the flea, both physically and academically! Personally, I have found out that traditional medicine is not strong enough to remove the flea over long periods of time, nor is accidental over-usages of the medicine completely healthy for the dog. It actually does wear down the immune system, and eventually illness and fleas become more prevalent, as does the need for medicine. But many dog owners, that are not breeders with several dogs, find that traditional flea control works just fine.
What works best traditionally
I have researched many flea controls, and one of the best traditional flea controls is Lufenuron, which is a pill given orally to the dog. What is good about it is that it works by sterilizing female fleas that are biting into the dog. It prevents them from hatching their eggs, which in turn breaks down the life cycle of the flea within two months. But in order for it to work, the flea must bite into the dog…not that it would be a problem!
Flea eggs, when inside the cocoon, will not be effected by the pesticide you are using, regardless of what it is. Vacuum the floor first, as this will stimulate the flea eggs to emerge from the cocoon. Then apply the pesticide, making sure it includes a growth inhibitor, so the small fleas will not become adults. The people need to stay out of the area until the product dries, then they have to vacuum the rug every 14 days, throwing the bag outside in the trash every day. Treat the pets at the same intervals.
Another good flea control is Frontline, which contains fipronil, and is safe enough to give to puppies as young as ten weeks of age, and also to dogs that are on medication. Dogs who are bathed frequently find this works well, as it collects in the skin’s oil-producing glands.
Natural resources for flea removal
The least toxic flea control products are those which contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids, fast-acting products that do not last long enough to do damage to the dog or the environment.
But more natural ingredients, such as citronella, tansy, peppermint and garlic are just as effective:
A natural repellent and dip for fleas that is safe for dogs and humans is:
- 2 cups, packed of fresh rosemary and/or peppermint
- 1 quart boiling water poured over the fresh herbs, letting it steep, covered, for about 30 minutes
- Strain, adding 4 quarts warm water to the strained liquid, and saturate the dog.
- Air dry the dog.
A flea spray of herbs:
- Prepare an infusion of one tea bag of chamomile, valerian, and licorice.
- When it is cold, mix with witch hazel.
- Spray on dog until it is saturated
Plant densely grown fennel and basil around the pet area, placing some of the fresh herbs in and around their kennels, beds, floor, etc.
There used to be an excellent spray by Origins, the natural cosmetics company, which is a natural spray and smells delicious (to me if not the dogs) and is non-aerosol. Unfortunately I'm not sure if they still do it. Which is a shame as it did a marvellous job on a severe case of nits in my step-daughter when all over-the-counter remedies were failing to resolve the problem...
Also - change the diet to a healthy, all natural diet, which can be raw food or mixed diets of vegetables and fresh chicken or lamb. Their immune system will improve, and the fleas will not be such as issue.
Many breeders suggest putting mothballs in the vacuum bag, as they will kill the fleas and eggs in the bag when they are picked up. If you can stand the smell of mothballs, feel free. Otherwise, they will be picked up and then get out, back into the environment and finding your dog…again!