People are increasingly interested in trying to avoid monthly pharmaceutical use to keep away the fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes that are so prevalent in our area.  It is difficult in our climate, but I’ve put together some information that may help if you are serious about not slathering your best friend in toxic mystery oil every month.

The first step is to determine if your dog has fleas already, and if they do, how bad they are.
To determine if your dog has fleas, part the hair and examine the skin at the base of the tail and on the belly. You may see actual fleas or “flea dirt,” small black specks that turn red when wet. This “dirt” is actually flea excrement which, of course, is the dog’s digested blood, hence its turning red when wet.
Your dog could also have Flea Allergy Dermatitis, an allergic reaction to the flea bites that results in red, scaly, inflamed skin.
If your pet does not have fleas already, you can add garlic and/or yeast (brewer’s or nutritional) to your dog’s food. You will find mixed reviews about how well this method works to counteract fleas, but many owners feel that it is an ideal approach for healthy dogs.  Also you can discourage fleas from the start by bathing and grooming your dog regularly.

Besides actually being ON your dog, fleas can hang out in carpets, and bedding (that includes your bed should they sleep there ick!)

The following herbs and oils are considered to be natural flea repellents that can be used in their areas:
• Eucalyptus
• Garlic oil
• Lemongrass
• Peppermint
• Rosemary
• Sage
• Fennel
• Lavender.

Fleas will also make themselves at home outside of your home, in the yard, especially wooded areas, under porches and decks, etc.
To treat your yard:
• Mow your lawn often to allow for sunlight and heat to kill flea larvae
• Water your lawn periodically to block fleas
• Promote ants, or maybe at the least don’t make an effort to eliminate all of them by means of pesticides, since they serve as a natural flea control.

Also, you can apply diatomaceous earth to the premises, which kills hard-shelled insects. Twice per year, sprinkle D/E everywhere you cannot clean. It is safe for children, dogs, and cats, but kills fleas by dehydrating them.

Unfortunately, if your pet already has fleas, you will probably end up having to use one of the popular toxic concoctions to eliminate them completely. Dawn dish soap will kill fleas just as well as pesticidal shampoos will if applied thoroughly and left to sit on the coat for 5 minutes, but will not prevent the fleas from jumping back on your pet from their yard or bedding, which is why owners often have to resort to solutions like Comfortis or Trifexis to resolve the problem completely.  Hopefully a combination of the tips here will work in your family to keep your companion comfortably flea-free.  Good Luck!

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