“As little as ten years ago, despite an average of a billion dollars a year spent on flea remedies in this country, misery reigned—animals were suffering, fleas were thriving, homes reeked of toxic pesticides, and the liver, kidneys, lungs and nervous systems of every exposed animal (not to mention his or her human family members) struggled to survive under the weight of those toxins. Nobody benefited but the chemical companies and, frankly, the fleas, which were only too happy to engage in a war they were preprogrammed to win.”
(From The Goldstein’s Wellness & Longevity Program: Natural Care for Dogs and Cats)
Happily, things have changed and the description above of the war on fleas no longer has to be played out in your home. There are multiple options that are healthier for you, your pet and your family. Here are a few of my favorites:
Start with your lawn and garden.
Chris Baliko, owner of Growing Solutions in Ridgefield, Connecticut (www.growso.com), offers his clients a five step program for tick control in their yards, all designed to minimize exposure to pesticides and harmful chemicals.
Step One: Reduce the tick habitat naturally. Ticks like moist and shady areas, so letting in the sun is key to success. If there are many trees, it’s possible to thin their crowns to let more sunlight reach the ground. Clearing away leaf debris (a favorite tick home) is important, as is cleaning up along stone walls and keeping them free of branches, weeds and other plant debris.
Step Two: Establish a Tick Border. A Tick Border is a three to four foot wide woodchip border that is established between the woody edges of your property and your lawn. Ticks are loath to cross the sunny, plant free zone.
Step Three: Put up deer fencing to keep “tick buses” (aka deer) from entering your property. A single deer can be host to more than 200 ticks, so by removing their hosts, you reduce the number of ticks.
Step Four: Move children’s play equipment out of the shade and into the sun. Don’t forget the kids’ sunscreen!
Step Five: Use an organic tick spray only in the areas where ticks are likely to live. Growing Solutions uses two different kinds of tick products, both plant based and created from essential oils. One is based on oil from the chrysanthemum plant, and the other is a blend of essential oils from peppermint, wintergreen and rosemary plants: it works against ticks, and smells wonderful! All of their products are approved by the Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI) for health and safety. A three time yearly program, applied in spring, summer and fall, has proven very effective in maintaining tick-free surroundings.
Chris said, “As landscapers, we’re responsible for what we do. We’re supposed to be taking care of the earth, and not using so many chemicals to do it. We’ve gotten complacent with chemicals because they’re so easy to use.”
He continued, “It’s important to remember that an organic pesticide is still a pesticide. It kills things. There is some toxicity to it.” That’s why Growing Solutions only uses organic sprays, only when necessary, and only in limited areas. Chris and his partner Paul began their organic approach years ago after recognizing the dangers of synthetic products, and taking courses from the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA). Once they had a safer method to use, they began converting their landscape customers, sharing the health wherever they could.
Use a Natural Flea and Tick Control Method on Your Companion Animals
Earth Animal offers a three step process for natural flea and tick control. One of my favorite retail stores, there’s more information about them here.
Step One: Earth Animal products are designed to boost your animal’s own flea-fighting immune strength with a dietary program of basic nutrients, supplements, and “superfoods” to fight pests from the inside out. When the immune system of the target victim is strong, pests find him to be less appetizing, and they move on to tastier prey. Earth Animal’s program starts with feeding a natural, nutrient dense food, then supplementing each meal with a powder made of brewer’s yeast and herbs, which changes the odor and chemistry of the animal’s blood.
Step Two: During peak flea and tick season, add No More Tick or No More Flea drops everyday to your dog or cat’s water, mouth or food.
Step Three: Spray Earth Animal’s Organic Bug Spray on your dog’s belly and paws, and mist the exterior skin and coat daily during spring, summer or fall, or when you travel into tick infested areas. It’s safe and effective for humans, too!
Investigate Other Natural Options
• Another safe, environmentally friendly product I use is Damminix Tick Tubes. Since Lyme Disease begins with mice, not deer, Tick Tubes rely on the natural nesting instincts of mice to fight the battle. Placed on your property in areas where mice frolic, the biodegradable, cardboard tubes are filled with permethrin treated cotton balls. Mice collect the cotton to build nests in their burrows. Young ticks feeding on the mice are killed by the mild insecticide before they can spread Lyme Disease to you and your family. It is important to use this only on the perimeter of your property, in safe places that are not accessible to pets or children. Even mild insecticides are poisons, and must be used carefully and responsibly.
• Buck Mountain Parasite Dust, available only through veterinarians and pet stores, can be used to rid animals, gardens and buildings of flies, fleas, ticks, mites, ants and more. Its active insecticide is a chemical derived from the Neem tree, which is both a repellant and provides disinfectant and healing properties. You can sprinkle the dust on your pet’s back from head to tail, and brush against the hair to bring the dust into contact with the skin. A teaspoon of the dust can also be placed on a window sill to eliminate fleas, flies and other bugs in your home. It is safe for use in your garden as well.
Whatever methods you choose, remember that the toxic chemical industry is alive and well due to consumers not knowing there are other, healthier choices. As more people choose nonchemical alternatives, the health of our animal companions, our homes, our gardens and our families will continue to flourish for years to come.
Help spread the word!