1). Select truly natural products
Unfortunately, there are manufacturers that utilize popular terms, like “natural”, in order to lure you to their products; after all that is the purpose of marketing. It is important that consumers read labels because what is marketed as natural may not be entirely that when you read the ingredient panel. If you don’t know what an ingredient is do a quick internet search to see what comes up. Purchasing from a trusted retailer that focuses on natural products can make selecting the best product much easier.
2). Avoid gimmicky products
As the market for natural products grows, so does the number of those looking to grab their share. Look at herbal flea collars, or any flea collar for that matter. Do you think an odor located at the front of a dog or cat is going to keep a flea off the tail area? In addition, a dog’s sense of smell is estimated to be 1000 times or more that of a human. The strong odor from a flea collar located just under a dog’s nose 24 hours a day must be maddening!
3). Treat the outside of your pet
Apply natural and organic powders or sprays to help repel fleas and ticks. Sprays with essential oils will help repel insects for walks in the woods or during playtime at the dog park, while powders with ingredients such as diatom flour will help desiccate and kill fleas and ticks. Products containing concentrated essential oils should not be used on cats.
4). Fortify the inside of your pet
Parasites, like fleas, will prey on weaker hosts. So, it can be very helpful to strengthen your pet’s resistance to them by using natural supplements with ingredients that cleanse the blood, support circulation, improve skin structure and reduce allergic response. You can also effectively make your dog or cat less "tasty" by using ingredients like garlic in moderation during flea and tick season.
5). Don’t over-shampoo
Generally speaking, all-natural flea shampoos are much more gentle than their commercial counterparts. However, over-doing anything can be counter productive. Too much shampooing can damage the skin’s delicate balance making it more sensitive to things like flea bites that can result in a dermatitis skin condition with the associated itching and scrathing.
6). Practice good housekeeping
Many pet parents focus on treating their animals to eliminate fleas. However, 80% of a flea’s lifespan and 95% of a flea population exists in your animal’s environment. A better option is to vacuum regularly and periodically wash pet beds and blankets. Also, brush natural flea powders into carpets and other areas where fleas could be hiding. Treating your outdoor property with beneficial nematodes that hunt and kill flea larvae is also a very effective natural control and much safer for your family than lawn pesticide applications.
7). Fortify your pet’s immune system
While what we talked about in #4 above can help here as well, you can go a step further. Herbs such as Echinacea (E. purpurea or E. angustifolia) boost white blood cell activity and can help eliminate pathogens that enter the body due to external parasites (you can use it prophylactically in a regimen of 5 days on and 2 days off during flea and tick season). In addition, a product like Sovereign Silver, which is a colloidal silver hydrosol, can offer safe immune system support as a preventative (such as after a tick bite) and for acute or chronic infections.
8). Don’t get discouraged
Even when we do everything right, our pet can still get the occasional flea and tick. Depending on where you live this can be a constant battle. However, if you follow the suggestions offered here your problems should be eliminated, or at the very least greatly reduced, safely and fairly easily. For animals whose resistance to external parasites has been diminished due to a poor diet or health concern, getting them built back up and strengthened may take a little time, but stick with it. Avoiding the long-term consequences of the use of chemicals to your family’s health (it is not just your pet that comes into contact with these toxins) is worth the effort!
9). Don’t be susceptible to fear mongering
Many veterinarians make up to 40% or more of their income from the sale of products like topical flea and tick pesticides. If they stopped selling these products many would go out of business. Perhaps there are those vets that actually believe that the use of these products out-ways the dangers of not using them, or they really believe that natural products are ineffective. Whatever the case is, you may get a strong sales pitch for these types of products at your local vet’s office. Your vet may tell you that your pet may contract Lyme Disease or some other horrible illness if you don’t apply that topical pesticide product. But the truth is that a flea or tick can survive on your pet for 48 hours or more before the topical pesticide kills them; that leaves plenty of opportunity for a flea or tick to bite during this period of time. In addition, more than one holistic vet has mentioned that they see no difference in the number of animals that contract a parasite related infection between those that have been treated with a topical pesticide product and those that haven’t. We feel it is best to follow the guidelines that have been outlined here and avoid any chemical usage whether it is on your pet or around your home.
10). Improve your pet’s diet
Generally, when it comes to flea and tick control, more often than not, pet parents think about applying something to their animal’s fur like a spot-on product, flea dip or shampoo. They also sometimes consider a “quick fix” such as garlic powder to make their animal less tasteful to biting insects. We talked a little bit about supplementation in #4 above, however, what is too often not considered, to the degree it should be, is diet. Feeding a biologically appropriate diet forms the foundation of your pet’s health and to accomplish this we recommend a raw food diet or a home-prepared diet formulated by a person knowledgeable in that area. At the very minimum the diet should be free of processed grains and fillers (it does not have to be whole-grain free) that are typically found in commercial kibble pet foods and can make your animal “sweet” and more attractive to fleas. Highly processed and heavily grain-based diets also promote inflammation and do not provide the immune system with all the nourishment it requires to protect your pet.