When Fido or Mittens is assaulted by fleas, it's easy to run to the pet store and grab the first anti-flea treatment you can find. However, many commercial pest solutions are pumped so full of chemicals that they may do more harm than good. Why not try putting nature to work against nature instead? Here are some natural, healthy ways to eliminate or prevent pet pests.
To get rid of fleas, try sprinkling diatomaceous earth on your pet's coat, bedding, and even the floors of your home. Diatomaceous earth, a natural rock dust consisting of fossilized algae, contains microscopic particles that are sharp enough to penetrate a flea's exoskeleton and dehydrate it until it dies. The product is widely available at lawn-and-garden centers. As a preventive measure, try sprinkling your pet's coat with brewer's yeast. It's disagreeable to fleas and harmless if your pet licks it off.
Many of the same tricks that work with fleas can be used against ticks, since both pests feed on your pet's blood. For example, adding a little apple-cider vinegar to your pet's water helps make the animal less appealing to the unpleasant arachnids from the inside out. You can also try making an anti-tick citrus solution by placing a sliced lemon in boiling water and letting it steep overnight. Use a spray bottle to apply the solution to your pet's body. Be sure to spray in problem areas—behind your pet's ears, around the head, at the base of the tail, and in the armpits.
Mosquitoes pose a two-part problem: their bites not only leave an unpleasant itch but can also infect your pet with heartworm. Though you should keep your pet on a regular regimen of heartworm medication as prescribed by your vet, some additional topical solutions can help. For example, the vapors from Vicks VapoRub, when applied to your pet's coat, tend to keep mosquitoes at bay. There are also cedar oil sprays and shampoos sold in pet stores that function as natural insect repellents. Just be sure to use only the varieties designed for use on pets. Cedar insecticides intended for garden or outdoor use can be hazardous to your pet's health.
Until next time,
The Home Know-It-All