Natural Flea Control

Many people don't want to risk endangering the environment (or themselves) by using chemical means for flea control. Some people have sensitivities to certain chemicals, others just don't want to do it. Ideally, you should compare flea control products to natural methods - sometimes the health risks to pets from having fleas are worth using a flea collar, powder bath, or other chemical methods. This page will give you some useful tips for getting rid of fleas holistically.

   

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    First, it's important to note that fleas will survive the winter. You can't rely on the weather - fleas don't die off even in deep freezes. They won't bug you for a few months, but they'll be back to bite you again in the spring. You'll have to take more active measures to deal with them. There are a number that have been suggested.

Garlic - Many people swear by introducing garlic into their pet's food as a means of getting rid of fleas. It is known to strengthen the immune system in humans, so many advocates of natural methods have suggested using it in pets as well. I do NOT recommend doing this - there is substantial research suggesting that garlic, in dogs and cats, can cause serious problems, even death in some animals. First, garlic has been demonstrated to cause anemia in some dogs and cats. This is a serious blood illness, and it's just not worth the risk to get rid of fleas. Second, garlic is extremely bad for your pet if it happens to be diabetic. Yes, many pets are diabetic - just like with humans, only their diet often keeps it from being a problem. Garlic, however, will aggravate insulin problems and may well kill your dog or cat if it happens to be one with a hidden diabetes problem. This is just too dangerous to do as a remedy without consulting your vet. At any rate, the risk from chemicals in a flea powder is far lower than that of garlic.

Environmental Control - One way that doesn't rely on doing anything to your pet is to control the environment. There are a lot of ways to do this - first and foremost, don't let your cat or dog outside. Cat fleas and dog fleas can only come from other animals - if your pet is an indoor animal, it likely won't have a flea problem. Prevention is the best method, and for cats at least, you shouldn't be letting them outdoors anyway. For large dogs, this won't be an option - you need to walk them, and they need to get out into the yard to play. But you don't have to let other dogs into your yard - that alone will go a long way towards getting rid of fleas.

You can also use various products that are designed to get rid of fleas without chemicals. For instance, one new product is a freeze-dried worm or nematode that eats flea eggs. Some people may be uncomfortable with modifying the environment in this way, but chemicals may be even worse. Talk to your veterinarian about this (as with all methods), there are several brands such as Intervention that can help you out without you really having to do anything actively.

Grooming - Regular grooming can also eliminate fleas without chemicals. Use a fine comb and go through your pet's hair - you can easily get rid of fleas this way naturally, and while it won't get them all, you'll spend quality time with your pet. With some pets, it may actually be a good idea to trim their fur. You can get a grooming kit that comes with clippers designed to cut fur to various lengths. Why do this? Because if you're only going to rely on natural ways to control fleas, then if you have a long-haired pet, it is harder to get the fleas out when bathing them or grooming them. Keep in mind though that it's only helpful to trim their fur if you're going to have the discipline to personally bathe and comb them. Trimming the fur only makes it easier for you to find and kill the fleas yourself - it doesn't do anything to get rid of them other than that. One of the weirder inventions I've seen recently is the flea zapper comb. This is a comb with a mild electrical charge that is supposed to kill off fleas as you comb your pet, but will be too mild to affect you or the animal. I haven't tried it and can't find any discussion of whether it works or not online, but it's pretty cheap so if you're going natural for environmental reasons or if you're a gadget junky you might check it out.

Herbal flea collars - There are many herbal flea collars designed to use various scents to drive away fleas. I am a little ambivalent about these, but they could be worth a try. Just check out the specific brand with a vet and make sure there is nothing to worry about with anything in it. The only one I've found easily available online is Petguard, which is designed to be environmentally friendly.

Diatomaceous earth - This is basically a non-chemical kind of soil designed to kill insects. It doesn't have any chemicals - it relies on tiny, sharp edges on the dirt that do damage to the exoskeleton of a flea or other pests. The fleas will then die of dehydration - they essentially leak water, and they can't replace it fast enough. It's a non-chemical means of flea control, but it can be rather messy to use. It's made mainly of fossils from water plants, so there isn't much risk in using it. It might not mesh well with your current soil though, and you should be careful if you have plants or gardens that it might affect negatively. If you're using it in the yard, get one of the larger bags so you can repeat the dusting if it rains, etc. However, one of the good things about it is that it's safe to use around your pet's bedding or other areas - you'll have to clean it up later, but it can be much better than setting off a flea bomb or a flea bath. Unfortunately, there's not much this will do about flea eggs, which could remain dormant for awhile. You can go with smaller bags of the earth if you're just using it indoors.

Vacuuming - One safe, natural method to get rid of fleas is to vacuum frequently. Unfortunately it's usually not 100% effective, which means while it will reduce the flea population it will rarely eliminate it. You can read up more here on getting rid of fleas with a vacuum cleaner.

Flea Traps - Basically these are more advanced versions of the little pads of glue you'd use for roaches. Because they have to be left out in the open, they have a grid over the glue that the fleas fall through. You can read more about flea traps here.

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