Foolproof Natural Flea Control
Excerpted from Only Angels: How to Raise and aim the Perfect Sighthound
The more pesticides you use, the more fleas you get. There are four universal truths with regard to insects:
1. Bugs will eat.
2. You cannot eradicate every single insect.
3. Pesticides will ALWAYS ultimately backfire because the insects adapt.
4. Pesticides may be unhealthy to your dog, your children, and you.
Pesticides will sooner or later backfire on the user. They are effective when initially used, but over time their effectiveness dissipates and ultimately the bugs will develop stronger generations which are immune to them. This is because insects copy rapidly and have many offspring that have mutations resisting the insecticide. As this course of action occurs, the living insects will pass down their new genetic traits to the offspring and most of the new generation will be immune to the insecticides. We then have to keep coming up with newer, and stronger alternatives.
Pesticides have a major drawback-they are all dangerous.
Pesticides are also expensive. Ask anyone who uses the monthly identify-on products. Whenever you use pesticides on your dog you are also using them on yourself. Whether you use a few drops of a product, or a spray or a powder, every inhabitant of the house will be exposed. already professionally applied pesticides evaporate slightly and affect the people living in the house. It has been shown over and over that pesticides have very negative effects on pregnant or nursing women, infants, and small children in addition as cats, dogs and birds. I have never been a fan of toxic insecticides but when I learned that the anti-flea products applied monthly on the back are nerve gas derivatives, I knew I would never use them.
So what is the different? The natural approach. Why? Because it’s effective, inexpensive and it doesn’t damage you, your dog or the ecosystem. There are many methods used in natural flea control. Hand picking is very effective. Every time your dog comes in from outdoors, quickly run a thin toothed flea comb over him and wash the critters down the drain. This can be time consuming if you live in a multidog household, but fortunately there are other methods. Fleas live on plants in the outdoors. Adding kelp to the soil helps plants develop their own arsenal against pests. Kelp is an important and undervalued defensive weapon. When composted in the soil it adds many nutrients and plant enzymes which act as preventative against insect pests.
Two of my favorite natural-based weapons against fleas are diatomaceous earth (sometimes called diatom dust) and steam cleaning of carpets and dog bedding. Diatomaceous earth is a mined mineral product that consists of remains from fossilized one-celled diatoms that lived nearly thirty million years ago. It kills pests like fleas, worms or any hard-shelled insects because its sharp silica edges puncture their soft covering. consequently, insects cannot become immune to it. It is inexpensive and considered safe for humans and animals. It is already additional to some animal food to kill intestinal parasites and worms. It is also used on stored animal satisfy to deter pests. Animals such as birds that eat the bugs that are killed by diatomaceous earth particles will not be harmed. There is one information of caution when dealing with diatomaceous earth-there are two grades. One is the kind used for swimming pool filters and spreading around the garden, the other is food-grade and this is the only kind to use on your dogs or in your home. Why? Because it won’t damage lungs or eyes. It is difficult to find the food-grade kind, and my suppliers change regularly. When diatomaceous earth is not obtainable, a good different range of shampoos and sprays is made from Erigeron (Canadian fleabane) a scarce herb whose oils dissolve the shells of fleas and other insects without harming you or your pet. Erigeron is preferred over citrus-based natural flea-killers that can cause allergies in some dogs or burn sensitive skin.
There are many other options including a wide variety of natural sprays, shampoos and treatments but I have found the easiest and purest and most foolproof way to get rid of fleas – steam. Of all the natural flea control methods I have used, this one works the best:
STEAM YOUR FLEAS AWAY!
I purchased a small hand-held pressurized steamer unit (not the mop kind), which is comparatively inexpensive when compared with the current cost of pesticides. The steamer unit has a nozzle that allows the steam to be released as a pressurized stream at 212 degrees F. I treat my carpets, upholstery and dog bedding every month and voila – zero fleas! It also kills dust mites, and is great for sanitizing. It is easy. It is nontoxic. It is environmentally friendly. It works! I first used it weekly, but found that over time I could use it less and less and nevertheless be flea-free.
You can also use the unit to clean and sanitize other areas of your home. Steam kills E.coli and salmonella and it’s great for cleaning burned food off your oven or burner grates. Since I’ve been using it, I have noticed a real improvement in my dust mite allergies so I guess it must be killing the mites along with the fleas. There are probably other brands which work in addition. This just happens to be the one I use. If you choose to buy a steamer unit, make sure it has a pressure nozzle which will allow the steam to come out in a strong stream. Gentle steamer units for steaming clothing will not work to kill fleas unless they also come with a pressure nozzle.
WARNING: DO NOT USE THE STEAMER DIRECTLY ON YOUR DOGS AS THE STEAM COULD SCALD THEM. It hardly seems necessary to say that, but better safe than sorry.
Copyrighted, Cherie Feherman 1998 and 2010. All rights reserved.