While companies boast the effectiveness of traditional flea control methods for dogs, some reports indicate that they can be toxic, and in some cases cause hot spots, allergies, and compromised immune function. In rarer cases, these methods have been fatal.
As a result, more and more owners are looking to find safe and effective alternatives to flea shampoos, powders, collars, and the like. The following may help reduce the incidence of fleas for your dog.
1. General Diet. There’s a nutritional reason why your dog has fleas, and it could be in large part that your dog’s immune system may be compromised. A strong immune system and high nutrient levels naturally deter fleas and other insects. In particular, the levels of B complex, zinc, selenium and antioxidants in the body and bloodstream play a large role in immune function. By feeding your animals a high-quality, natural diet, free of additives and preservatives, you improve their health and dramatically increase their protection from fleas. A healthy animal does not taste or smell as good to fleas.
2. Dietary Supplements.
Garlic. 1-3 fresh garlic cloves-pulverized and mixed with food—may be administered daily.
Brewer’s Yeast/Thiamine. The potent nutrient found in brewer’s yeast is thiamine. One milligram (1 mg) of thiamine daily for each five pounds of your pet’s body weight is ideal. For a large dog, you might administer one tablespoon of brewer’s yeast supplemented with a B-complex vitamin pill. Brewer’s yeast can also be dusted on externally as a flea powder. (If your pet licks some off, there’s no harm done.)
Zinc. This mineral is essential for healthy skin, but is lacking in many pets’ diets. Use chelated (pronounced key-lated) zinc: 10 mg daily for small dogs; 20 mg for larger canines.
These dietary supplements will require close to a month to build up to flea-fighting levels in a pet’s skin. So start them in the spring before you find yourself in the midst of a severe flea invasion.
3. Vinegar—internal use. Take a gallon of water, add four to six teaspoons of organic white vinegar, and give it to your pets as their only drinking water. If they have a water dish outside, use this water for that as well. During the winter, you can use a smaller amount (~ 4 teaspoons), but you’ll want to use a more potent mixture (~ 6 teaspoons) during flea season.
4. Grooming. Combing your dog daily with a flea comb is an important part of flea control. Bathing animals regularly is also advised.
5. Bathing and Shampooing. There is no need to use chemical flea shampoos. A water bath with a gentle soap that won’t irritate their skin is sufficient to eliminate existing fleas. You can also use bentonite or terramin clay mixed with water into a thin paste. Wet your dog thoroughly, then in brush the clay into the fur and massage it in the skin for a few minutes. Then rinse off lightly.
6. Organic red or white vinegar as skin remedy. Vinegar is a naturally occurring germ killer and is one of the very first medicines known to man. It kills germs on contact and it contains bacteria which is unfriendly to infectious micro-organisms. It is a natural remedy and most of all, it is safe. For a full body treatment, add four cups of vinegar to the bath water. Be careful not to get the vinegar/water mixture in the ears and eyes. The vinegar/water rinses are a quick remedy to relieve minor skin irritations such as hives, chigger bites, other insect bites and rashes.
7. Neem Oil as skin remedy. The seeds, bark and leaves of the neem plant contain compounds with proven antiseptic, antiviral, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, and antifungal uses. For thousands of years, the Indian people have appreciated the medicinal and insect-repellent properties of neem leaves and seeds. Mix one ounce of pure neem oil with 2 or 3 ounces of organic white vinegar and 4 to 6 ounces of water. Before applying, hose your dog thoroughly with water. Shake the bottle well several times while applying the oil mixture on the entire body, including legs, feet, tail, etc. Then brush your dog to help disperse the neem oil futher on fur and skin. Do not rinse off. Neem oil repels flea immediately and help heal hotspots and promote a healthy skin.