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Flea treatments for pets and home

Expert: Shelley Davis
Date: 8/31/2007
Subject: My Dog has fleas

I am not sure if you can help me but it is worth a try. I found a couple of fleas on my dog last night so I went out and bought Hartz stuff that you put on once a month. What can I do to my house? I don't think that it is infested because we haven't seen any of us. How long will it take for that stuff to start working? Any help would be great. Thank you

Get the answer below

Hi Linda,

Thank you for writing to me about your dog's flea situation. Here are some approaches to the natural elimination of fleas:

Flutter Pooch Insect Repel Spray from It works and smells nice too.

"Icky Skin".

1 heaping teaspoon sage - dried
1 heaping teaspoon thyme - dried
1/4 teaspoon epsom salt
1 quart water

Add herbs and salt to water. Bring to boil; boil 5 minutes. Turn heat off; put the lid on the pot and let sit overnight. In the morning strain the herbs and chill. Use Mason jars and strain the liquid right into the jar; put the lid on and stick it in the fridge. Use
it straight from the fridge so it is nice and cold. I use a small towel dipped into the Icky Skin to "wash" the area that needs soothing. Make sure the area is nicely damp. Use it as ofton as you need to keep your furry one from itching.This is a great skin wash for any icky skin (hot spots, flea bites, dermatitis, etc.) It gives instant relief. Plus if they lick the area - it's not going to hurt them if they ingest this. This will also help to start to heal the skin. The sage and thyme have wonderful antiseptic qualities. (An itchy furry is not having fun itching. If need be you don't have to wait until it is cold to use it - you can use it immediately but it does work better once it sits and the has a chance
to "marinate").


Actually fleabusters is Boric Acid. It is very safe for any animals and humans. You put it in your house and leave for 24 hrs and then vacuum up.

Basics of Natural Flea Control
by Susan G Wynn, DVM
Fleas can reproduce with amazing speed; in one month 10 females can generate a population of over 267,000 offspring. Since they have been doing this for millions of years without our interference, fleas are tough to fight. The "war on fleas" must be approached with the idea
that the fight is ongoing; fleas will come back unless you adopt a maintenance system, all season long.
The secret to flea survival and to our control tactics is in the flea life cycle:
EGG ——> LARVA ——> PUPA ——> ADULT ——> EGG ——> etc
The adult flea spends almost all of its time on your dog or cat, but remember those hundreds of thousands of offspring? The female lays her eggs in warm dark places (like your carpet and sofa), and they are the reason that the strongest part of your flea defense must
involve the house and yard. The real problem is in the pupa stage; it is resistant to just about everything, so that even when you kill all the adults, eggs and larvae with conventional insecticides and growth regulators, you will have fleas again in about two weeks when the pupae hatch.

The basic protocol for flea control might look something like this:
The cornerstone of flea control is good overall health for the animal, and a high quality premium or balanced homemade diet is absolutely essential. When the animal is healthy, s/he does not "taste" or "smell" as good to the fleas. Garlic and brewers yeast nutritional supplements have been used for years in the fight against fleas, but in my experience, they do not work any better than simply
feeding a very good diet. They act as nutritional supplements, and definitely do help if the diet itself is poor.Bathe and dip weekly as needed. One good natural shampoo is Natural Animal, but fleas will die if they are simply immersed in the soap from sudsing up your dog, so you can use any shampoo that is safe for pets.

Dips are usually pyrethrin or limonene based, which are both derived from natural sources—just read the label. Another option involves herbal extract oils like Shoo oil from Natural Animal or Cloud Nine herbal oil from Halo. These oil combinations can be diluted in water like a dip (15-20 drops in a gallon of water, then left on the animal to dry), or apply directly to the fur over the tail, feet and between shoulder blades every 2-3 days as needed (this method has rarely caused skin irritation, so do a test patch first). Between baths, which serve mainly to clean up flea dirt and decimate at least a part of the adult population, you should treat your pet with a powder or spray. Diatomaceous earth and pyrethrum dust from Natural Animal (I like a combination of half and half), or the herbal sprays like Natural Animal's Coat Enhancer Spray work well, but only if used often, since they begin to break down within hours. You may need to apply these coat treatments every day or two during flea season! Remember that herbal repellants don't last long once exposed to air, but they are also safe to use frequently.
Don't forget the value of a simple flea comb. Using these special combs every day not only rids your pet of the adults that happen to live on him or her, but will keep you informed of how serious the problem is on a day to day basis.With the advent of the new products, Frontline and Advantage, flea control is certainly less labor intensive than using daily powders and sprays. We have rarely seen problems with these products, although the rare animal has shown skin reactions or acted unwell for a few days after treatment. If your pet has serious skin problems and discomfort from fleas, it may well be worth using these products until general environmental control can be achieved. Be aware though, flea resistance to these products appears to be occurring, so it's time to get into practice treating your pet and house naturally!

Recall that the secret to flea control is in the FREQUENCY of your flea treatments. The conventional sprays and foggers, and especially those of commercial pest control services, are not safe to use more than about once a month, yet you should be attacking the new adult fleas every 2 weeks or so—this is why the conventional treatments, even with a growth regulator, may fail. If you use a conventional spray (no foggers please), use one with pyrethrins AND methoprene, and use as often as the label allows, up to every 2 weeks.

The more natural alternatives include using diatomaceous earth or borax in your carpets, but these treatments are fairly messy for the frequency with which you will have to use them. The one best natural flea treatment is Rx for Fleas, also known as Fleabusters. This is a form of borax that lasts for up to one year in your carpet/upholstry, which is tantamount to treating for fleas EVERY DAY. This product will lighten your work load considerably—it absolutely changed my life!

Remember to pay special attention to areas where your pet hangs out or sleeps. For dogs, cedar beds may help a great deal.

Some people have had some luck with flea traps, but these only address the small proportion of fleas that happen to be adult, and I do not believe that they will make a difference if used alone.

Control in the yard is sometimes the most difficult and expensive, especially if your animal roams a great deal. Just remember that the areas where s/he spends the most time are the most important. Natural treatments that have been used include diatomaceous earth, pyrethrum dust and "beneficial nematodes".

These beneficial organisms are sold under individual brand names like Interrupt, Lawn Patrol and Guardian. Apparently these nematodes attack and kill the larvae of fleas, as well as those of over 250 other harmful insects like peach tree borers, roaches and possibly termites. These nematodes are said to be harmless to beneficial insects, birds and mammals. Look for them in garden centers and pet stores.

Flea control is a season long, coordinated attack that must be maintained whether you use conventional or natural products. The advantage to natural flea products is that they are safer to use in the frequent manner required. By doing the two most important jobs in controlling fleas on your pet—feeding a great diet and using a product like Fleabusters in the house, you will find that natural
flea control works fairly well and you will have a happier pet by the end of the season!

Directions on Frontline say to wear rubber gloves - does that make anyone wonder what damage it's doing to your pet?

There may be a link between pyrethrum powder and brain cancer.

Pyrethrum is VERY toxic and you should not even use it on a dog that hobnobs with a cat. It's more toxic for cats than dogs. You don't have to use any of those. Don't spray essential oils on the furniture if you have cats. Just get some food grade DE, sprinkle it on the carpet, furniture and the animals (just be careful of you or them breathing it). Actually unless you have a huge infestation, you could just comb them a couple of times a day and that would do the trick! You could also do the pan of soapy water with a light hanging over it at night and if you have them in your carpet, they will jump in and die!! There are lots of things to do without using oils or chemicals.

Diatinacious earth is fine for birds. They dust them in it. You can even get it from Avian Medicine Chest.


> Apple cider vinegar can be used to brig your dog's skin pH back to normal, with no conditioning rinse.

Lice, mite, fleas, ticks, etc., are parasites. They do
not survive in healthy environment. They are attracted to sick animals. Bath in insecticidal shampoo, or any other type of bath, invest your money in a consultation with a good Homeopath that will address the CAUSE of the problem, which is the mistunement of your dog's lifeforce and the opportunity this chronic disease has created for the imbalance between lice and health!

Healthy animals are not overtaken by lice at any point of their lives, no matter how much they come in contact with lice or other dogs who have it. This is an issue of chronic disease, of the immune system not being able to maintain the tunement of health and until this mistunement is addressed, things will NEVER get better and will continue to deteriorate more and more!


You can feed brewers yeast to dogs and cats as a flea deterent. ! teaspoon each for the dogs and a 1/2 tsp for cats. This has to be fed daily.Just mixed in with their food. You can also rub into the fur.


• Bathe pets regularly. While fleas are still waterlogged and
slow, use tweezers to pick off fleas and mash. Use specialized flea comb. You may want to regularly vacuum your pets using special pet grooming attachments.
• Wash pet's bedding regularly.
• NATURAL FLEA COLLARS for pets available at Health Food
Stores. These collars use herbs to repel fleas.
• Feed pet BREWERS YEAST. The B1 in the yeast produces an odor that repels fleas.
• PENNYROYAL, SASSAFRAS, CAMELLIA, or EUCALYPTUS mixed with oils can be used in cracks and crevices where fleas lay eggs.
• Soak rope in PENNYROYAL OIL or EUCALYPTUS OIL and place on pet's neck.
• DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (non heat-treated) - Spread carefully.
Must use face mask when applying. Available at swimming pool supply store (obstructs breathing).


1. Place shallow dish of water containing dishwashing detergent on floor. (Remove pets from room.)
2. Put gooseneck lamp next to dish with light 6" above dish. When you retire for the evening, turn off all other lights. Leave only gooseneck lamp on.
3. Pests will leap toward lamp and fall into water. Due to detergent, fleas sink and drown.
4. Use continuously for at least one month.
• HANG NON-CHEMICAL FLY RIBBONS low from tables and door
frames. More enticing if hung above a saucer of blood. Fleas will jump and stick to fly paper.
• Vacuum floor & furniture frequently and throw away vacuum bag to prevent hatching in house.


Flea and Tick Control in Your Home
Time : Less than one Hour

Materials : Salt

Tools : Blender Broom

Tips : In Florida they charge a fortune for this treatment, an the only difference is they add boric acid to the salt.

First you'll need one or two boxes of salt for a small carpeted area. You'll need four to five boxes for a large area. Then put the salt into your blender, and blend until you have a fine powder.
Once you have the fine powder salt, find some type of shaker the best is a large salt shaker or a cheese shaker. Then shake the fine salt powder all over your carpet, under stove, refrigerator, dish washer.
Once you've applied the salt take your broom and work the powder down into the nap of the carpet. This is where the fleas egg hatch. Under kitchen appliances for roach control.
Don't vacuum for a few days and allow the powdered salt to work it's way completely down into the napping of the carpet. You only need to apply this treatment twice a year, or after you shampoo your carpet. The reason this pest control works, it dehydrates the insects and they died.

: I have one modification to this approach. Originally, a friend introduced me to the effectiveness of VERY EXPENSIVE Boric Acid Powder.
: The Blender approach to make powder came to mind, but then a simpler idea was sought to make really fine powder.
: Instead of the mechanical process of grinding the powder, I disolved some boric acid roach tablets in water and applied a fine mist (with a spray bottle) to the necessary areas. The water dries leaving a residue of boric acid (or in this case salt and borax).
: I love spray bottles, they are good for applying so many things.

Getting Rid of Fleas ... Holistically
By Christie Keith
The number one question I used to be asked at my online holistic pet chat was, "What do I do about fleas?" It is often very frustrating to newcomers to holistic pet care when they don't get an immediate, simple answer. Usually, they are concerned about harsh chemicals and drugs, and are hoping to find an herbal, natural, or at least, gentler, solution. But holistic pet care isn't like that. Holistic itself means getting to the ROOT of the problem. It's not "holistic" to just switch to an herb from a chemical, because looking at things holistically means looking at the big picture.

What do you mean by holistic?
In 1986, I was browsing in a pet store's book section when I came across a book called Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. As I flipped through the pages, I saw that this was not just another book on what herb to use for itchy skin, or what special diet to give a diabetic cat. Pitcairn was challenging his readers to change the way they perceived health, not just the substances they used to effect health. He said, "We need to look at the whole picture of an illness and find
therapies that will work with the whole body- not against it- in the healing process. To me, that is what constitutes a true cure. I often use the term 'holistic' to describe this approach to medicine. Unlike many who use the word, I do not equate it with 'natural', for it is certainly possible to use natural methods such as herbs, vitamins, and exercise but still fail to see the overall picture of what is happening."

What is really needed, he said, "Is an entirely new understanding, not just the substitution of a vitamin for an antibiotic, or a mineral for a hormone."

So how do you fight fleas holistically?
The first step is to ask why your pet has fleas. Is your home infested with fleas? Your yard? The park where your pet plays? Do all your pets suffer from fleas, or only a particular pet? Fleas, like all parasites, prey on the weak, sick, and malnourished. An animal infested with fleas is an unhealthy animal, and while the fleas certainly worsen this ill health, they do not cause it. Poor-
quality, inappropriate diets cause parasite infestations, as do unsanitary conditions and all forms of stress. By knocking out the flea, whether with insecticides, nematodes, or hormones, you have done nothing to solve the root problem of ill health.

The first and most essential step is to improve your animals' health and vitality. The single best way to do this is to feed them a diet based on nature, rather than a highly processed commercial food. This single step is 99 percent of the battle, and yet is the one most people don't want to consider when looking for an alternative to pesticides.

To discover more about how to feed your animal a diet based on nature, some good books are Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard Pitcairn DVM PhD and Susan Hubble Pitcairn.

Two others are Give Your Dog a Bone and Grow Your Pups with Bones by Ian Billinghurst.
For cats, I like The New Natural Cat: A Complete Guide for Finicky Owners, by Anitra Frazier.
After boosting your pets' basic health, the next steps involve getting rid of the fleas that are already around, and then preventing more from hatching. In the house, the cycle can be broken non-toxically in two primary ways: one, by the application of a flea hormone which keeps the fleas in the adolescent, non-biting, non-breeding state; and two, by the application of dehydrating powders that dry out and kill fleas. (The fleas on the pet can be controlled pretty easily by flea combing, bathing, or the use of herbal flea powders. Soap and water kill fleas on your pet, and there is absolutely no reason to use insecticidal shampoos or persistent topicals.) After bathing or flea combing your pets and vacuuming the house, spray the house with a product containing only the flea hormone methoprene, which is commonly known as Precor and is available as a concentrate (made by Zodiac) that you can apply with a plant mister. The flea hormone is harmless to fleas, serving only to keep them from maturing into biting, reproducing adults. Stores which sell Zodiac products but don't carry this one can order it for you, and Zodiac is widely available in pet supply stores. I don't recommend any of their other products.

In addition to the hormone spray, I strongly recommend the use of a carpet powder such as that used by Fleabusters. Similar powders are often available at pet and feed stores. Whether you opt for the do-it-yourself approach or have Fleabusters come in and treat your home, the principal is the same. The powder, which is guaranteed effective for one year, dehydrates and kills fleas without actually being a poison or insecticide. Any fleas that are brought into the home die when they come in contact with the powder. It can be used on carpets, upholstery, and even in the cracks of wood floors! As long as the outdoors is infested with fleas, flea prevention in the home is only half the battle. It used to be that those who wanted to treat their yards had to rely on dangerous pesticide sprays or ineffective herbal repellants. Even relatively benign treatments such as diatomaceous earth and pyrethrums are toxic to beneficial insects and earthworms.

With the marketing of the flea nematode, those days are gone. Pet owners can now buy a do-it-yourself product marketed as Interrupt, BioFlea Halt, or BioSafe. The nematodes are available at many vet offices, garden centers, and pet stores, and can also be purchased in
bulk from organic farm and gardening supply catalogues (one source is Peaceful Valley Farm Supply). The nematodes can be applied easily with a hose end sprayer or through an irrigation system. Remember, fleas are a symptom. The key to dealing with parasites is to make your animal undesirable to them, and to take steps to prevent an infestation. A healthy dog or cat should not be troubled by an occasional flea.

Copyright 1999 by Christie Keith

1) Get the food grade DE. Order 10 pounds and used half of it.

2) Bath the cats. (Or dogs, or both!) Not always fun, but helpful.
Use Baby Shampoofor their faces, and Dawn or Joy for their bodies. Leaving the soap on for 20 minwill sufficate most of the fleas on your critter.

3) Dry your cats with the hair dryer, a cat harness might be needed. Get them good and dry.

4) As you start to comfort your cats, and they are all dry, start rubbing in the DE, backwards into their coats. (Backwards = against the way their fur grows.
You want the DE on their skin.)

5) The house! Put the DE in bottles that you can use to sprinkle the floors. Sprinkle DE on all your carpets ect. Don't rub it in like you would with "flea powder" because it will get ALL in the air and ALL over EVERYTHING you own.
Just sprinkle it heavily. It is sort of sticky so you can cover the carpets just fine this way.

6) Get a big bowl, and a lamp with a 60 watt or higher light bulb.
The bowl you fill up with water, then add some Joy or Dawn...dishwashing soap.
Don't stir it up, and don't add the soap before the water! You don't want suds. Put the bowls or pans of soapy water under the lights on the floor. The fleas will hop in the water and drown as they hop to get away from the DE. LOTS of dead drowned fleas.

7) Should you wind up vaccuming a spot that is hopping with fleas and suck up the DE, put it back down. You are going to need the DE on the floors for 2-4 weeks...depending on how many fleas you have in the house.

At first you just notice that your cat is, well, dusty. With dogs they seem to shake it out of their coats more, but my dogs didn't get these fleas, just my cats and our house!!!

8) Skin-So-Soft, sprayed on your ankles or clothes helps keep the flea bites off of you.


2. Baths - I found that foaming them up for 10 minutes drowned the buggers, so you may not need to go to the torture of 20 min. Any soap/shampoo that foams seems to work.
4. It's very important to get the DE down to the skin, so take your time. If you can do this outside, it's a lot easier on your lungs.
5. You need to sprinkle anything they can possibly live on with
DE. They are opportunists and will find everything you miss to start reproducing. You gotta think like a flea: "where can I hide where the DE or vacuum won't get me". I found a shaker used for powdered sugar was very easy and effective to spread the DE around.
It's wide-mouthed, so easy to refill and the holes good size to get coverage without causing too much dust. For you parents, the idea of fleas having sex in your kids clothes should give them incentive to pick them up rather than leaving on the floor. Worked for my slob-son.
7. Do a thorough vacuum first to get the majority of fleas. Put down DE, leave for a few days and revacuum to get what has hatched since the 1st vacuum. Then you can leave it down for several weeks without vacuuming. Make sure you do not leave the vaccuum bag in a place they can reproduce and cause a reinfestation. If full, put in
a ziplock before you put in garbage. If not full, I would put in ziplock and freeze until the next time. Freezing quickly kills them.
8. It's important to keep applying to pets fur. If you feel you have won the battle, keep doing for another week.
10. Support systems are important, along with a sense of humor.

And a few more:
1. Comb pets frequently. I find a double rowed flea comb is much more effective than a single. Make sure you kill the fleas you comb off either by drowning in soapy water and then flush, or by putting fur/fleas in ziplock, freeze until dead and then chuck out.
2. Wash bedding or other high flea items frequently in hot water and dry on high. Heat kills them.
3. If house is humid, consider a dehumidifier. Fleas reproduce slower with drier air.
4. If pets go in/out and you live where the ground is not frozen, spread nematodes liberally outside. This was MY biggest mistake. Since my problem got real bad in late August, and I live in New England, I thought we would get our first good frost which would kill the outdoor fleas, at the same time the nematodes starting working. So, I didn't bother to go through the expense and work of spreading nematodes. Big mistake. I was killing the inside buggers
and those on the pets, but everytime the critters went out, they brought in a new batch of live fleas ready to start reproducing in my house. As soon as the cold killed the outside fleas, my indoor fleas were also history.
5. If you see the problem decline, don't get lazy and think you won the battle. Keep combing, DE'ing, vacuuming, etc for a few weeks after you "think" they are dead