Natural Flea Control
And why I think it’s bunk.
Topical flea meds are a godsend. As a kid, I remember one of our dogs having a rip roaring flea allergy. This was pre-Frontline. We were pretty much powerless against the blood sucking vermin causing her so much discomfort. It was all baths, dips, and powders. All of them noxious. None of them helping. Nowadays a monthly squirt, and she’d have been fine. Those topicals are a big improvement over the days of yore.
They are also very small amounts of pesticides. Neurotoxins even. I say again, small amounts. But, on my dogs. Somehow that is less appealing.
So every year we have this debate: to flea or not to flea? That is the question.
I’m a proponent of natural solutions. The less chemicals in all our lives, the better. In general. The theory behind natural flea control goes something like this: Like any other parasite, fleas prey on the weak. The immune supressed, the eaters of inferior diets. Healthy dogs may get a bite or two, a temporary passenger, but if they are living in a clean environment and have robust constitutions, no significant flea problem should there be.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say my dogs fall into this category.
Beyond that, there are natural solutions to surpress the occasional fleas: Diatomaceous Earth, Borax, Brewers yeast, essential oils. This toolbox of goodies will dehydrate them, repel them, and generally make your dog an inhospitable host.
Let me also say, I’ve got all this stuff. All of it. Not only that, I’ve got virtually no carpet for the varmits to take up residence in. Over the years, I’ve made natural flea collars. I’ve spritzed my dogs with essential oil blends. I’ve dumped pounds and pounds of white powder onto floors and furniture. My raw fed, herb eating, holistic vet visiting dogs have no stinking excuse for more than the briefest of encounters with these creepy crawlies.
And yet. And yet, every stinking year. We have to have this long drawn out conversation. How many fleas do they have? Is it that bad? Apply the powders, wait a few days. Did that take care of it? Do we want to just use Frontline? Advantage? What about Revolution? Fleabusters, could that be an option. How much does THAT cost? This goes on and on. I ramp up the natural stuff. I add some extra vitamin B. We go on a cleaning rampage. We wait for the wave to subside.
Then we bust out the neurotoxins. Despite my diligence, my very best intentions, daily effort even, it never works. My dogs end up doing the itchy scratchy dance, I find fleas where I should not find fleas. Much too easily. I let it go on as long as I possibly can, waiting and waiting for it all to kick in. It doesn’t. I relent to the wonders of modern veterinary medicine, and cross my fingers that we will get through another year with no side effects from the convenient elimination of fleas. Side effects you hear tell of, like oh say paralysis. Very rare. Super scary, especially for older dogs, like most of mine. So Far. So Good. Trying not to jinx myself.
You may have gathered, I’m not a religious flea control user. Not in that format at least. We don’t have to deal with them year round, so I don’t treat year round. It’s a fringe benefit of this part of the country. That, and not having ticks. A random flea, doesn’t bother me. It typically ends up once, maybe twice a year, I spend a small fortune on pharmaceuticals I don’t exactly agree with to preserve the comfort of my dogs, and my own sanity.
I don’t like it. I wish their were a functional alternative. If my uber healthy dogs end up with fleas requiring meds, I think most dogs will. We will continue to limit their exposure to both bugs and chemicals, keep the succubus at bay every which way, and cross our fingers.
What do you do for flea control? Do you worry about the chemicals? Have you tried any natural alternatives?