Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You and Me and Fleas

Well, it is that time of year. When the little fleas and ticks really come out and want to take up residence on me. Just this morning, Jenn removed a tick from inside my earflap. Uggh. Is no place safe? Our first topic is fleas. Just look at that thing! Gross. Then we're going to talk about ticks too!Jenn's been concerned about how to keep us all protected without using pesticides that might cause long term health problems. With a 16 year old dog like Big Sandy, whose immunity may be compromised and a four month old puppy with a developing brain like our Jet, we have to be careful that the preventions we use aren't making us sick and don't contain neurotoxins.

Sure, the spot on products seem convenient, but there are also lots of pets getting sick from their use, as seen on ABC News.

Check out this Whole Dog Journal article on the dangers of spot on flea and tick products.

And Jenn has talked with lots of people who use spot on pesticides and still have flea infestations. Yuck! Could fleas and ticks be building immunity to these products? Is that why these companies are always coming out with stronger chemicals? Scary. So we're going to talk about flea control options that are more holistic for pets and for people.

Jenn's approach is based on Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a non-toxic approach to controlling insect populations. What's the number one thing you can do for fleas? Keep the environment inside and outside your home inhospitable to them. So, first we vacuum inside.
It is amazing how this simple task can control the fleas in your home. Jenn also washes our dog beds in the washer/dryer, which keeps the populations down where we sleep. Fleas breed most where animals sleep. Outside, we keep the grass mowed short. Tall grass is a breeding ground for fleas.OK, next Jenn treats all our floor and carpets with FleaBusters powder. It is a super fine Borate powder that gets down in cracks, crevaces, and carpet fiber. With pets out of the house, you spread the stuff around. Let is sit for a bit and vacuum it up. She does this once every two years. That's right, so it is really not a big deal. But if a flea egg, larvae, or adult falls onto the crevices in the floor, it is dessicated by Fleabusters. Poof!
Check out Fleabusters!

Next, we talk about products to spray on that will repel fleas and ticks from jumping on us in the first place. There are several great holistic flea/tick sprays with essential oils. A new product Jenn got is Best Yet, a spray made with cedar oil that repels ticks, fleas, chiggers, and the aptly named no-see-ums. You just spritz it on your dog's feet, chest and belly before going out and about. The best thing about Best Yet, is that Jenn can use it too. She sprays it on her feet, shoes, and pants legs to repel ticks. She can also spray our dog beds and other stuff around the house with it. It smells like cedar chips and feels light (not greasy at all).
Check out Best Yet
Jenn has also used Bug OFF Garlic. This is basically just powdered garlic that you can sprinkle on food. Small amounts of garlic can lots of benefits and can repel nasty critters too.

Check out Bug Off Garlic

Lastly, and I guess it goes without saying, that no matter what critter prevention methods you use, you still have to check yourself and your pets everyday, especially for ticks. The topic of ticks is coming up next...

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