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Friday, July 19, 2024

Natural ways to treat fleas and ticks on pets

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Fleas and ticks are not only a nuisance for pets but can also pose significant health risks. While conventional treatments are effective, they often come with concerns about toxicity for pets and the environment. Thus, many pet owners are seeking natural alternatives.

Understanding Fleas and Ticks

Fleas thrive in warm, humid conditions and can multiply rapidly. Mary Bay, in the article titled “Natural Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs,” says that a single flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, leading to significant infestations if not managed. Ticks, prevalent during summer and fall, are notorious for spreading multiple diseases with a single bite. Therefore, understanding their behavior and lifecycle is crucial for effective management.

A natural treatment against ticks and fleas is sprayed on a dog.(Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

Creating an Unfavorable Environment for Pests

Outdoor Measures

Yard Treatment: Maintaining a yard that discourages fleas and ticks involves regular maintenance and the use of natural deterrents. Essential oils like cedar can be used to create sprays that deter pests from breeding in your yard. Cedar mulch around gardens and homes acts as a natural barrier, says Bays, as fleas are known to detest cedar.

Lawn Care: Keeping the grass well-mowed but not too short can also help. Tall grass is a breeding ground for fleas and ticks, while very short grass might repel natural flea predators like ants and spiders.

Trimming and Clean-Up: Removing leaf litter and trimming shrubs and tree limbs allows sunlight to penetrate, reducing the damp, dark conditions that fleas and ticks prefer.

Indoor Measures

Diatomaceous Earth: This natural powder, made from fossilized algae, is highly effective against fleas. Sprinkling food-grade diatomaceous earth around windows, doors, baseboards, and pet bedding can kill fleas by dehydrating them. However, Bays says care must be taken to prevent pets from inhaling it, and it is advisable to vacuum treated areas after a few hours to remove dead fleas.

DIY Flea Traps: A simple yet effective method involves filling a shallow pan with soapy water and placing it under a lamp. Fleas are attracted to the heat and light, jumping into the water and getting trapped by the soap, according to Bays.

Natural Topical Treatments

Vinegar Shampoos: Combining water, white or apple cider vinegar, and baby shampoo creates a natural flea-repellent shampoo. This mixture, says Bays, can be used monthly to kill fleas and ticks on contact and prevent future infestations.

Lemon Wash: A mixture of lemon slices, salt, and boiling water can be steeped for a day and applied to a pet’s fur after bathing. Bays says this solution repels fleas and can be used daily.

This dog has ticks in the ear area. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

Essential Oils

Essential oils offer a natural and aromatic way to keep fleas and ticks at bay. However, it is crucial to use them correctly as some oils can be toxic to pets.

Lavender: Known for its soothing properties, lavender oil can also prevent tick eggs from hatching and repel fleas. Bays claims that adding a few drops to your pet’s shampoo can help keep these pests away.

Lemongrass: The active ingredients in lemongrass, citral, and geraniol, are natural flea repellents. A diluted lemongrass spray can be used on pets, carpets, and furniture.

Peppermint: This oil can relieve skin irritation and inflammation caused by flea bites and is also effective against flea larvae. Bays tells us it can be applied to affected areas or used in a diluted spray.

Rosemary and Cedar: Both oils are excellent for repelling fleas and ticks. They can be added to shampoos or carrier oils to protect pets naturally.

Dietary Supplements

Natural flea and tick control also involves improving the pet’s overall health through diet and supplements. Supplements such as neem, brewer’s yeast, fenugreek can make a pet’s skin less attractive to fleas and ticks as mentioned in the article titled, “How to Transition to Natural Flea and Tick Control” in The Neem Team Serendipity Herbals website.

Neem: Neem is highly effective against fleas and ticks both when applied externally and when included in the diet. It helps reduce tick burdens and improves skin health as the Neem Team claims.

Brewer’s Yeast: Rich in B vitamins, brewer’s yeast helps maintain healthy skin, making it less appealing to fleas.

Fenugreek: Known for its amino acids, fenugreek supports healthy skin and hair, enhancing the pet’s natural defense against pests according to the Neem Team.

Transitioning from Conventional to Natural Treatments

Transitioning to natural flea and tick control can be seamless and done concurrently with conventional treatments. Starting with dietary supplements can take 2 to 6 weeks to show full effects, during which conventional treatments can still be used for added protection, says The Neem Team. Regular checks for fleas and ticks are essential, and grooming practices may need to be adjusted to ensure the effectiveness of natural products.

Environmental Adjustments

Making small changes in the pet’s environment can significantly reduce the likelihood of flea and tick infestations according to The Neem Team. This includes:

Restricting Wildlife: Feeding wildlife away from the house reduces the risk of fleas and ticks being brought close to living areas.

Using Flea Combs: Regular use of flea combs helps detect and remove fleas before they become a significant problem.

Path Selection: During walks, staying on paths and avoiding tall grass areas can help minimize exposure to ticks.

Natural methods to prevent and treat fleas and ticks offer a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional treatments. By using a combination of yard maintenance, indoor treatments, natural shampoos, essential oils, and dietary supplements, pet owners can effectively manage and prevent flea and tick infestations. Regular monitoring and environmental adjustments further enhance these efforts, ensuring pets remain healthy and pest-free. Both Mary Bays’ and the Serendipity article highlight the importance of an integrated approach, combining various natural methods for optimal results.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist, writer, and tutor. She has been a solo parent for 17 years now because she is the wife of Jonas Burgos, a Filipino desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.

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