FLEAS AND TICKS
THE DREADFUL SUMMER MONTHS
As most of you know, just as the weather starts getting warmer and we can finally spend much of our time outside, the fleas and ticks come out. Unfortunately, the mild weather and high humidity create the perfect breeding environment for these pesky critters, causing their populations to explode. Of course, we want to get outside and go hiking and camping with our furry family members and not have the burden of worrying whether we’re about to bring home a swarm of pests. This is why we decided this was a very important issue to discuss since the most well-known preventatives and treatments out there contain harmful chemicals and we want to inform the public of the many, much safer options out there.
Fleas are those tiny, wingless jumping machines that love to hide in your pet’s fur, drink their blood and lay eggs – gross, we know. They can also make their way on to your furniture and other fabrics in your home, waiting for a dog or cat to jump on and set up camp. They can jump vertically up to 7 inches and horizontally up to 13 inches, classifying them as one of the best jumpers (for their size) in the animal kingdom. This would be the equivalent to a human jumping 49m high and 90m horizontally! If you can see a flea infestation on your dog or cat, it is important to keep in mind these are only 5% of the population and there are 10 times this many eggs waiting to hatch! Fleas can be incredibly frustrating to deal with, however with a little effort, they can easily be eradicated.
Ticks are small parasitic arachnids that must feed on the blood of a host to survive. They are able to find a host by sensing an animals’ breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Because they cannot jump or fly, they must hide in bushes and jump on their host when they brush by. Once on their host, they cut a hole in the skin, attach their mouths and begin sucking blood. Ticks should be removed in one piece as soon as possible to prevent infection or disease. The main concern with ticks is that they can carry Lyme disease. However here in the city, Lyme disease is fairly uncommon and is more of a concern in the interior or secluded forest areas.
Of course, it is much easier to prevent fleas and ticks before they happen than trying to get rid of them once they do happen. Conventional treatment involves placing a liquid chemical solution between the shoulder blades of your pet once monthly. This treatment must be placed in an area that cannot be licked as it is a poisonous substance and if ingested, your pet must be taken to the vet immediately. Not to mention, giving your pet the wrong dosage can also cause dangerous, adverse effects like seizures which can be life-threatening. It is for these reasons we and many other pet owners advise against the use of these methods of flea and tick prevention. Fortunately, there are a number of extremely safe options out there that we will further discuss.
- Diatomaceous earth is a finely ground silica powder made from the fossil remains of diatoms. It works by absorbing lipids from the waxy exoskeleton of insects and causing them to dehydrate. Because the insects are killed due to a mechanical process, no chemicals are needed to be used. All of our diatomaceous earth products are human food grade meaning they can be safely
consumed. In fact, diatomaceous earth is often taken internally to treat ailments such as intestinal parasites. This product works great for any hard-shelled insect, so it can also be used for other infestations such as ants and bedbugs. Diatomaceous earth is therefore great to use as a preventative and a treatment for an already existing infestation.
- Banana bark extract is an all natural repellent that works great for insects including fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and pretty much any bug except flies! It has no scent and does not stain, making it great to spray anywhere. We suggest spraying your dog’s body and furniture, and also spray it on yourself to protect yourself from pesky mosquitoes in the summer! Bring it with you camping and spray it on all your gear to have a comfortable, bite free trip. The banana bark product we carry also doubles as a disinfectant cleaner that is safe to use around pets! We use banana bark in our store as a disinfectant and have heard nothing but great things from our clients about its repellent properties!
Biologically Appropriate Raw Diet
- This one is quite simple, a dog or cat who eats a biologically appropriate raw diet is considered healthy. Fleas and ticks don’t generally go after healthy pets. To give you a better understanding, a commercial pet food is loaded with sugars and preservatives which causes your pet’s body to become alkaline. This is a flea/ticks dream – sugary alkaline blood to feed on. Whereas a raw fed pet’s diet contains very little or no starch at all and the dog or cats body is in its ideal acidic condition. Fleas and ticks simply aren’t a fan of an acidic pets’ blood! This isn’t to say that raw fed dogs will never get fleas or ticks but it does mean that you are one step further in the right direction toward prevention!
While fleas and ticks can be a huge pain, there are lots of easy and safe ways to get rid of them or prevent them before the infestation starts. We want to encourage everyone to try one of these safe, proven methods before choosing a toxic chemical that could potentially cause more harm than good to your dog or cat.
As always, if you have any questions or want to know more about our natural flea and tick solutions, we welcome you to call or come in and we would be happy to assist you!
Also, be sure to check out this awesome video by Dr. Karen Becker as she talks about the benefits of herbal repellents.