Flea season is here and it’s back with a vengeance! In our home it’s a constant battle when it comes to fleas especially when the summer time rolls around. Zoey is usually the one who starts itching and scratching and then the cats follow not long afterwards, creating this vicious cycle between all three pets in which fleas are just jumping from one to another!
I’ve tried a number of products in an effort to rid my home of fleas and some have worked for a time, others haven’t worked at all and others still have had negative effects on my pets. We used to use Frontline religiously on both Zoey and the cats but found that it stopped being as effective after a few months. I’m not sure if the fleas became immune but it just didn’t work anymore for them. We then tried Advantage and had the same results as we did with the Frontline. It got to the point where I was so fed up with spending so much money on these products and having them not work as well as realizing that they probably weren’t the best solutions anyway that I started exploring other options, holistic options, in an effort to keep my animals from scratching themselves to death and driving me insane!
The following are a list of natural products that I’ve used within the last few years and either concocted myself or have purchased and have found to be effective in deterring or riding my pets of fleas!
(***) Indicates that it’s ok to use on cats
1. Diatomaceous Earth
D/E was a life saver for me when I first began transitioning out of using pesticide products like Frontline and Advantage to more natural/holistic products. D/E are microscopic remains of fossilized diatoms, which is an algae, and is similar to flour or talc in appearance although much more fine. It’s great for use on pets because it slices and dices the exoskeleton of fleas and mites essentially drying them out and killing them.
The method in which I used D/E on my pets was by directly applying it to their coats. Being that it’s safe to use on dogs and cats I wasn’t concerned about my cats grooming and potentially getting sick from ingesting it. I also went nuts powdering all of the carpets in the house and letting it sit for a few days before vacuuming it up. In addition I also sprinkled a good amount onto Zoey’s bed and a few of the places the cats like to sleep or hide in as a precaution. You can never be too careful when it comes to fleas, they’ll hide and breed anywhere!
* Note: D/E is very powdery so be sure to wear some sort of mask as it will irritate your throat and/or lungs also beware of using this around TVs or any other electronics, books or pretty much anything you don’t want covered in a film of white. My husband particularly hated the stuff because it would settle on the flatscreen tv and his XBOX!
2. Brewer’s Yeast & Garlic
Brewer’s Yeast comes in tablet and powder form and contains, as the name would imply, yeast and a good amount of garlic. The theory behind brewer’s yeast is that fleas hate the smell and taste of it so they’ll typically hop off your pet and find another one to torment!
The brand I used for my pets is this one and I would give my dog two doses: five tablets in the am with breakfast and then another five in the pm with her dinner. For the cats I’d give them two tablets either in the morning or at night and during the summer I would double their amount and give them 3-4 tablets. I typically used brewer’s yeast in conjunction with something else, for example with D/E or a neem oil spray but never alone as I found it wasn’t very effective.
There are some that are concerned about feeding their pets garlic, especially cats, as it can be toxic to them but as with everything moderation is key. If you follow the dosage instructions, which in this case is two tabs per 10#, then your pet should be ok. There are some pets who are sensitive when it comes to yeast so I would monitor your pet and make sure that they aren’t experiencing any allergic reaction if this is the first time you’re using it.
3. Neem Oil
If you’re looking for an essential oil to use as opposed to a powder or pill Neem oil is a great alternative. It’s derived from the neem tree which is found in large quantities in India, the natives there love the stuff and use it for pretty much everything as it has antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral properties!
I typically add a few drops of neem oil on my palms, rub together and then massage through Zoey’s fur and onto her skin. I do this once or twice a week depending on how bad she’s itching, usually more frequently in the summer. This oil is not only great in repelling fleas but also ticks and serves as a great moisturizer for dogs with dry, flaky or itchy skin as well as dogs who suffer from allergies all of which my dog has. For a while I was using a neem oil shampoo on Zoey, we’d recently found out that she was allergic to grass and was breaking out in hives and rashes, and this greatly improved the look and feel of her coat. She went from having red, raw and balding patches on her paws, legs and stomach to a shiny, thick coat!
* Note: Neem oil has a very strong odor which reminded me of tree bark. I wasn’t a fan of the smell at all but it did the trick for our dog.
Have you tried any natural flea remedies for your pup or kitty? If so, what have you tried that’s worked for them?