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Alternatives to Toxic Flea & Tick Products
by Jill Breitner
Have no fear; there are alternatives to the typical toxic products. You can care for your pets in a healthier way, while caring for your family and the environment.
Buyer Beware! Just because the ingredients in flea and tick products are plant-based or "natural," they're not necessarily safe. Indeed, they are toxic to your pets, your family and the environment. In order to kill parasites, these products contain a synthetic chemical that may cause serious side effects, such as cancer, skin allergies, liver damage, etc.
Most of the recommended spot-on products are made from chemicals that are toxic to our pets. One spot-on flea control product is a class C carcinogen and enters systemically, (into the bloodstream) of your pets, while the others enter subcutaneously, (under the skin). The chemicals: fipronil (a class C carcinogen) selamectin, and imadocloprid are the chemical agents in these products, also in shampoos and sprays, and may very well be causing health problems for our pets. Most of these products are toxic to aquatic life, sickening fish, and harming wildlife that drinks from our polluted streams and rivers. So, you see that not only are we poisoning our pets, we are putting our own family and the whole environment at risk, for a problem that is very easily managed naturally and nontoxically.
Again, please don't be fooled by the word "natural." For example, Pyrethrin is an insecticide that comes from chrysanthemum, and d-Limonene comes from citrus -- but the final chemical agent made from these ingredients is toxic. Consider the following statements put on the labels of these so-called natural, safe flea and tick control products. "Avoid contact with skin." "Harmful or fatal if swallowed." "This product is toxic to fish, birds and other wildlife." "Harmful if absorbed through skin." "Harmful if inhaled." "Avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing." "Keep out of reach of children."
Does this sound like something you really want to put on your pets or be exposed to yourself? These products debilitate our pets' immune systems; meanwhile, fleas and ticks are becoming resistant to them, which provokes manufacturers to make even stronger products. The ripple effect of all this is toxic to our precious loved ones and mother earth.
By feeding our pets healthy foods and managing our homes in a safe, environmentally friendly way, we can keep our pets, children and planet free from toxic chemicals.
Diminishing the flea population inside, outside, and on our pets is another step toward healthier, longer-living pets and a healthier planet. Less-invasive methods may not be as convenient as traditional methods, but the cost of convenience may be the life of your pet. The inside of your home may be a breeding ground for fleas. If you have carpet or rugs in your home, fleas may be laying their eggs in your carpet. When they hatch, your pets are susceptible. Boric acid is a nontoxic product that kills fleas as soon as they hatch in your carpet. It lasts a full year and can be found online or in any pet stores. (Some common boric-acid flea products are Flea Stoppers and Flea Busters.) You can do it yourself, by simply dusting the carpeted areas in your home, with a broom. The more you vacuum, the finer the boric acid powder gets and increases its effectiveness. You can also hire a professional to handle this.
Fleas also live and hatch outside in grass. Nematodes are microscopic worms that eat the larvae in the grass, killing them naturally. Nematodes are safe for your pets and your family. You can find them at your local gardening-supply store or online at www.fleabusters.com. Using a flea comb daily, bathing your pet in a nontoxic shampoo monthly during flea season and treating your home with boric acid and nematodes are very viable alternatives. Hot spots usually come from fleas, and one flea can cause such an allergic reaction that hot spots can easily get out of control. If your dog gets a hot spot, you must shave or cut the hair around it and clean it well with a surgical scrub. Exposed to air, it will not become infected. The hot spot becomes infected when the dog licks himself and the fur gets wet with saliva and remains moist, creating an environment for bacteria growth. It will heal naturally, without harmful steroids -- the most common conventional treatment for hot spots.
Another area of concern is ticks. We've all heard horror stories about Lyme disease. I hike daily, with all of my dogs, and we do get our share of ticks. But I have never had a dog with Lyme disease. Vaccination for Lyme disease has not proven effective. I simply groom my dogs daily, checking for fleas and ticks, and removing any ticks I find. Ticks are easily pulled off with a tick tool, tweezers, or your fingers (my preferred method), and killed by flushing or crushing. Clean the area where the tick bite was with a little alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. (Cats rarely have ticks, and if they do get one, they are very good at removing it themselves.)
If you are diligent in your efforts to manage your home and your pet, you will keep the flea and tick population down. If we take the time now to keep our pets' naturally/organically healthy, we will not only enjoy them longer, we will be contributing to a healthier environment for the whole animal kingdom, and that is worth our every effort.
Jill Breitner, SheWhisperer, has a degree in Animal Science and has worked as a behavioral specialist/dog whisperer for 30 years. Learn more about Jill at: www.shewhisperer.com
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