Essential Oils for Fleas & Ticks


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 Dr. Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason
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Essential Oils To Deter Fleas, Ticks (and other pests)

As the warmer weather creeps up, we dog lovers start to worry about those tough, relentless survivors called fleas.

Have you ever wondered why some dogs and cats have severe flea problems, while others are hardly bothered by the little pests? Fleas being present on your pet can be an indicator of the animal's general health. Parasites in general, and fleas in particular, are most attracted to the weak, unhealthy, or very young animal whose immune system is not functioning well. The best flea prevention is to reduce your pet's susceptibility to fleas by improving his/her health.

The biggest key to flea and tick prevention for your dog (or cat) is having a strong immune system - this begins with proper,species appropriate nutrition. A healthy diet of fresh foods (NOT processed kibble or canned foods) will do wonders to keep pests away.

The commonly used chemical based products used in over the counter and veterinary prescribed flea and tick collars or spray and even topical drops deterrents have been found to cause breathing problems, tremors, vomiting, skin irritations, permanent nerve damage and in some cases, even death. Some animals will experience hair loss and sores around the neck from flea collars or where the topical drops have been applied, plus the chemical fumes given off by these products can negatively affect you and your family as well.
Did you know that your dog's liver and kidneys are adversely affected by the use of commercial flea products such as Frontline and Advantage, chemical de-wormers and even heartworm drugs? The toxic chemicals in these products, often result in renal failure (kidney failure)and/or liver damage to the point of the liver no longer being able to filter the blood and then, complete liver failure. Contaminated blood circulating throughout the body day after day will most definitely contribute to other more complicated health issues, such as diabetes and arthritis to name two of the most common long term side effects of using these toxic chemicals.

These toxic drugs can also cause severe skin rashes, loss of hair, epileptic seizures, brain damage. The list of adverse side effects amazingly goes on and on. Still people continue to use these drugs because they don't know there is a better, simpler, less expensive, safer way.

There really is a safe effective alternative for your dog!

You can do it without chemicals!

Protection For the Animal

The presence of fleas (and/or any parasite) should be viewed as an indicator of an animal's overall, general health. Yes, you read that right ... Parasites in general, and fleas in particular, are most attracted to the weak, unhealthy, or very young animal whose immune system is not functioning properly. The long-term solution to a flea problem is quite simply to reduce your pet's susceptibility to fleas by improving his/her health.

Let's take a Wholestic approach here and begin with the foundation and cornerstone of good health.

Species Specific Nutrition
Good, proper nutrition from foods appropriate for the species (carnivore) can actually prevent disease by providing the proper nutrients to keep the immune system balanced and functioning at optimal levels.

The food you feed your pets should provide all of the nutritional components which are necessary for all organs and systems of a healthy body to perform in harmonious unison. In terms of finding the proper diet for our companions, this means learning to look beyond our own needs, opinions, and agendas to address the natural needs of the animals that we are responsible for by feeding and raising them according their species and nature. Dogs (and cats, are carnivores and need to be fed accordingly for optimal health.

One of the first things I recommend is researching and switching your dog (or cat) to a raw meat, organ and bone diet that their bodies are designed to eat and thrive on. (if you feeding raw meat and bones is a new concept for you, please request a consultation as there is a lot of conflicting and confusing information out there.)

Remember, flea problems do not stem from the presence of fleas, but from health related and environmental circumstances which enable to fleas to thrive and reproduce. They are opportunists, preying on the weak and unhealthy whose immune system is not balanced and functioning at full capacity. Dry flaky skin, constant shedding, scratching, chewing on its self reveals a general susceptibility in the animal's immune system which in turn, provides the perfect environment for parasites.

A great weapon in the battle with fleas is the Flea Comb. Removing and killing the adults (by drowning them in soapy water) can prevent a lot of future fleas being hatched. However, flea combing is best done on dogs with short hair and not a lot of undercoat. In that instance, bathing the dog and leaving the chemical free shampoo on the dog for up to 15 minutes before rinsing suffocates the fleas.

If you are dealing with ticks, the addition of particular therapeutic grade (Young Living) essential oils such as Palo Santo to a
chemical free shampoo such as Animal Scents and left on will kill the fleas and they will usually just fall off.

For repelling fleas and ticks, we recommend natural essential oils. Essential oils mixed with witch hazel or spring water and misted or sprayed on the dog, again, added to shampoo not only help repel fleas and ticks, but can also help soothe and heal irritated skin while boosting the immune system. . Another option for repelling fleas and ticks is an EasyDefense Flea Tag, which simply hang on your pet's collar and uses a revolutionary approach to repelling insects using the bioenergetic field around your pet.

For killing fleas and or ticks once they are on your pet, I recommend DE (diatomaceous earth) or Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy made from diatomaceous earth and herbs that is safe for use on dogs and cats, as well as around the home.

Treating the Home

Vacuuming and washing the hard floors often – daily during the height of flea season – is the least toxic way to control fleas in the house. This will remove most of the adults, and some eggs and larvae. Vacuum some DE or the Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy into the vacuum bag to kill any fleas in the bag, and ALWAYS remove the bag and discard it in a sealed plastic bag after use.

Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy, discussed above for use on your pets, can also be used on carpeting, on the pet’s bedding, on furniture and on hard floors. It is a very fine powder similar in consistency to talcum powder, so it gets into cracks and crevices on hardwood and linoleum floors easily. It acts more quickly than boric acid products – a difference in the flea population can be noticeable in 24–48 hours.

Boric acid products, such as Fleabusters and Fleago, work in a similar fashion to the diatomaceous earth by dehydrating the fleas. When applied correctly, they offer protection for up to a year or more as they remain deep in the carpet fibers. They may take up to 2 weeks or longer for results to be noticeable, however.

Treating the Yard

Rake up any leaves and keep the grass cut short. Watering can help drown the larvae as well. A majority of the fleas and larvae will be within 50 feet of your companion’s favorite spot to rest, so focus on those areas. Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy can be applied to grass to kill fleas in the yard by sprinkling the powder or applying with a hose sprayer. Beneficial Nematodes are another great way to control fleas in the yard. Beneficial nematodes are a flea parasite (mother nature always has a balancing mechanism). They are tiny little bugs that prey on both adult fleas and larvae, which may be purchased at a local nursery or greenhouse.

Plants produce essential oils as their own survival technique to repel bugs This makes essential oils great insect repellents for animals (and humans, too). Essential oils are all natural, mild and will leave your dog's coat healthy and vibrant while working at a cellular level to boost the immune system. For centuries, they have been used in a variety of ways to repel fleas, ticks and other biting insects. Essential oils are nature's own God given repellents. They ward off unwanted hitchhikers.

Some of the more common oils that act as flea and insect repellents are: lavender, citronella, cedar ,peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass.

A sweet-smelling, all-purpose insect repellent, lavender essential oil performed well in recent studies as both a tick deterrent and a method of preventing tick eggs from hatching. Additionally, Ohio State University recommends it for controlling fleas. A 2007 South African study found that formulas containing diluted lavender at rates of 10 to 20 percent lavender performed well as tick repellents when compared artificial DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) sprays.

Oil of citronella naturally repels insects such as mosquitoes, black flies, fleas and ticks, therefore, preventing bites. Citronella oil is a natural, non-toxic alternative to chemical insect repellents such as DEET , therefore, is usually the preferred choice. A combination of the citronella oil and cedarwood oil also helps to repel mosquitoes.

A wonderfully fragrant oil that provides a pheromone interruption agent that impairs the insects mental capacity and repels them.

An oil high in menthol - it repels fleas, spiders and even mice.

While better known for its anti bacterial properties it is a great natural pest deterrent as well.

Deters fleas but it especially works well to deter ticks. According to Ohio State University. Lemongrass oil contains a pleasing citrus scent that is useful in controlling oily scalps and skin conditions, making it suitable for use on dogs with skin conditions.

Please use ONLY therapeutic grade essential oils . I only recommend and personally use Young Living Essential oils and products as the are pure and safe enough to be taken internally - I don't know of any other essential oils that are as pure.

Essential oil formulations will need to be applied more frequently than synthetic pesticides, but the benefits far outweigh the exposure to harsh chemical smells and toxic side effects. They are great for misting your dog's legs (and your own) any time that you go out where fleas would be likely to be found.

Horses and flies I often am asked which essential oils repel flies for horses or around barns. Here is list of the oils that work specifically for detering flies:

Idaho Tansy Essential Oil
Geranium Essential Oil
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Lavender Essential Oil
Rosemary Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil

To make a safe, non-toxic fly spray for your horses (or larger dogs), I use a 32 oz spray bottle and put about 15 to 20 drops of the above oils to witch hazel or spring water. Be sure to shake well before each application as water and oil separate very quickly.

*please use glass bottles if you will be storing any left over oil mixtures.

Basic instructions for a flea, tick or mosquito spray for dogs:
Up to 15 drops or so of any of the insect repelling oils or combination of the same in a 14 oz spray bottle. Shake well and mist your dog daily. This may also be sprayed on bedding or around doorways and baseboards in your home to keep insects out.

* Mist the dog before going to training class and upon returning as well. You won't pick up fleas from other members of the training class.

* Spray the area where you set up your exercise pens and crates at the dog shows. Fleas will choose to go to the neighbors instead. The dogs themselves can be misted when you leave home and again before returning from the show.

* Set the squirt bottle near the door, so that you can mist the dog (and your own pants legs) when you take the dog for a walk. No hitchhikers will come home with your or your pet from public places.

* If you have a dog with flea allergies, it can get instant relief while you are ridding the environment of fleas.

*For dogs that are bothered by flies biting their ears, cover the eyes with your hand and mist the ear area. Flies will stay away and the ears can heal.

Personal Use

* Mist your own skin, hair and clothing when outside during mosquito season. The oils set up a very pleasant smelling barrier for you but not such a great smell for the pesky insects.

For longer term control, a few drops of essential oil may be placed on a cotton flea collar and put around the dog's neck. Renew the oil whenever the aroma starts to fade. You can also put a few drops of one or more of the oils into the palms of your hands, rub your palms together and apply to the dog's coat and skin starting at the neck and down the front legs, then down the back to the base of the tail and down the back legs in a petting fashion.

Caution: The ONLY essential oils I recommend are Young Living Essential Oils due to their high quality, purity and medicinal/therapeutic value!

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Copyright 2013 This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.

The information and articles contained on this web site are intended as education/information only. They are not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a qualified natural pet health professional. The Whole Dog, Dr Jeannie Thomason does not assume any legal responsibility.

A consultation is highly recommended before starting any preventative program or treatment. A consultation includes a personalized diet and holistic program suggestions that are custom-tailored to your own dog's individual and personal needs.