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Essential Oil Flea Control

   

Many people are learning that essential oil flea control is a great way to treat their dogs for those pesky critters. Most commercial flea powders, sprays and shampoos are toxic - not a good thing for Fido or his owner. Here are some ideas to improve your pet's quality of life naturally without worrying about the dangers of applying poisons.


Flea Facts - An adult female flea will lay 20-30 eggs at a time, up to 400 in her short lifetime. Because of this, it doesn't take long to have a full blown infestation. After hatching, the larva feeds on hair, debris and vegetation, then spins a cocoon. Depending on environmental conditions, this stage of the flea life cycle can last anywhere from 7 days to a year! The one flea fact that most people don't realize is that fleas spend 80% of their lives off of the pet. Although they feed on blood, one feeding can last up to 2 months. For this reason it is just as important to treat the pet's living environment as it is to treat the pet.

Prevention

Taking steps to prevent a flea infestation is much better than trying to get rid of the bothersome bugs once they have taken up residence. Following these recommendations will go a long way in keeping your pet flea free (try saying THAT fast 3 times!).

Health and Nutrition - A healthy dog is less likely to attract fleas, because healthy skin is not as easy for a flea to draw blood from as unhealthy skin. For this reason it is important to keep your animal in good physical condition through good balanced nutrition and regular exercise.

Diet - Some people feel that adding garlic or brewer's yeast to a pet's diet will prevent fleas from making their home on your animal's back. Feeding 1-2 garlic cloves a day is supposed to make the blood taste bad to a flea (though it could be dangerous for pregnant animals). Some studies dispute the effectiveness of this method, but it may be worth a try if you can stand the bad breath!

Grooming - Keeping your pet's coat healthy through regular bathing and brushing will make it an unattractive place for fleas. A flea comb can be purchased at your local pet supply store and will help remove any of the parasites and their eggs.

Environment - Regular vacuuming of any indoor area that your pet frequents is very important. This includes furniture (including underneath and below the cushions), carpet, rugs, bedding, etc. Dog beds filled with cedar chips are said to discourage fleas from settling in.

Flea Collar - Don't buy a poisonous flea collar and expose your pet, your children and yourself to the toxic ingredients it contains. Try making one yourself that is safe, natural and works! First, decide what material you want to make it from. A piece of cotton rope or loose webbing material will work well. A cotton cloth that is sewn into a tube shape or even a bandanna will also work. If your dog is very active you might want to fasten the collar with a length of elastic in case the collar gets caught on something, the animal can pull it off his head and not get choked.

After making the collar, essential oil flea control can be accomplished by applying a few drops. Of course lavender works well, but you could also try eucalyptus, tea tree, citronella, or geranium. Since the oil will eventually evaporate, plan on refreshing the collar with a few more drops each week. Since essential oils often work better when combined, here is a recipe you can mix and try on your dog's collar:

Combine 1/2 teaspoon of alcohol with

1 drop lavender oil
1 drop cedarwood or white cedar oil
1 drop citronella oil
1 drop peppermint oil

2 garlic capsules

Break the garlic capsules and mix with the other ingredients, then pour over the collar.

Diagnosis

Are you sure your dog has fleas? Obviously you will know if you catch the critters crawling around, but when you bathe your animal the fleas will move toward the head where they are easier to see. When grooming your pet, remove the hair from the brush or comb with a damp paper towel. If you find dark brown specs that make a reddish brown spot on the towel, these are flea feces and the reddish color is digested blood. More evidence of the fleas inhabiting Fido might be little white specs, which would be eggs of the fleas.

Treatment

Commercial flea treatments are toxic, and even though many are effective at killing fleas, they are also not very healthful for your pet, you, or your family. For this reason, essential oil flea control in combination with some common sense practices can be a great alternative for treating your dog.

Caution - Routine treatment of cats with essential oils is not advised. Some of the components of essential oils are not processed effectively by a cat's metabolism and can build to unhealthy levels.

Bath - If you know that your dog has fleas, start the treatment with a bath. Use a mild pet shampoo or even baby shampoo. Add 3-5 drops of Lemongrass oil or Citronella oil per cup of shampoo. Another alternative would be to add a few drops of lavender oil or tea tree oil to the rinse water (the lavender oil will smell much better). Not only will this tend to drown the fleas, but will also begin the repellent treatment.

Grooming - When your pet is dry after the bath, or if he won't tolerate a bath, spend some time grooming his coat. Actually, if he has a very thick coat, you might want to groom before AND after the bath. Rinse the comb or brush regularly in a bowl of warm water with 2-3 drops of cedarwood oil or white cedar oil and 3-4 drops of lavender oil.

Bites - If you find flea bites on your dog's skin while grooming, treat them by applying a drop of lavender oil directly to the bite. This will soothe the irritation and act as an antiseptic.

Repellent - Once Fido is free of the nasty bugs, keep them away with essential oil flea control. Mix up the following repellent solution and brush it into his coat a few drops at a time.

1 tablespoon of almond oil for a carrier
14 drops of lavender oil
7 drops of cedarwood oil or white cedar oil

Environment - Since 80% of the flea's life is spent somewhere other than your pet, it is not adequate to only treat your pet for fleas, it is important to also treat the animal's environment. Here are some things you can do to ensure that you dog doesn't get reinfected after treatment:

Wash your pet's bedding in hot water, and put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the rinse.

Thoroughly vacuum all areas that Fido frequents, but make sure to properly treat the bag to destroy any fleas, larvae and eggs that are collected, or the bag will become a feast for the larvae and your problem could become worse. Put diatomaceous earth, or a mothball inside the bag, or tightly seal it and put in your freezer overnight.

Spray your house with oil of oregano or oil of bay leaf (a few drops to a cup of water), paying particular attention to areas where your pet spends his time.

Spreading diatomaceous earth on carpet and bedding and areas outdoors will effectively treat those areas.

Planting the herb pennyroyal on your yard will keep the fleas from congregating in that area.

With some effort, essential oil flea control can be an essential (pun intended) part of keeping your dog healthy in a natural way.

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