Fleas and Ticks, The Wholistic Truth
by Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason
As Spring comes on and the warmer weather creeps up, many of us start to worry about those tough, relentless little survivors we call fleas. When your dog (or cat)is not around, they will even eat each other to survive and wait for your part to become its new host!
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.
In the conventional veterinary industry, the fact that parasites (worms, heartworm, fleas, ticks, etc.) will attach themselves to a sick animal before they will attach to a healthy animal, is hardly ever made known to the pet loving public however, I want you to know the facts about fleas and ticks - the "wholistic" truth!
People that have dogs or cats with fleas, skin problems, allergies, digestive problems and behavioral problems are spending hundreds of dollars at the veterinarian on flea prevention, antibiotics, steroids, tranquilizers, and other medication.
The sad but all too truthful fact is that these toxic chemicals, antibiotics, steroids, and many other medications take a serious toll on the pet's internal organs and immune systems. The animal's problems become a never-ending circle of medication and sickness. Skin problems, allergies and flea infestations are in reality, just the obvious outward signs/symptoms of a nutritional deficiencies and toxic overload.
We are all bombarded with advertising on how to kill parasites/pests (fleas, ticks, heartworms, intestinal worms) with toxic, lethal chemicals of all types and strengths for all sizes and breeds of dogs or cats. More then likely, you have been using some of these chemicals that your veterinarian has prescribed and sold to you. You may even be one of the increasingly many that have even seen your dog go into an epileptic seizure almost immediately upon being administered one of the lethal chemicals sold to the unsuspecting public to "protect" their cherished little companion. Are you aware that there are some dogs and cats that are actually killed when these chemical products are administered to them?
You may be using these chemicals and maybe you are even troubled about it because your pet's health has taken a turn for the worse. You aren't sure why, but if you look back at what you have been using on your (or in your) pet to "prevent" fleas, ticks and even heartworm, you might realize that your dog's health began to decline some time after a foreign substance was applied to your dog's body or ingested. Be it a vaccination or be it a chemical to kill fleas, worms, ticks,or protozoa. Any time a chemical or something foreign to an animal is put into its body, there WILL be a reaction. Most of the time the reaction will happen internally and you may not be aware of it at the time of just how detrimental this foreign substance is. Imagine how extremely lethal a chemical has to be if it is administered only once a month or once a season and the label cautions you to wear gloves to apply it and not to allow the pet to come into contact with your children, furniture or bedding!
Common sense should tell us that if it is so dangerous that you have to wear gloves to administer it, that it has to be "bad news" not only for the fleas and ticks but to your poor pet whose blood stream and central nervous system these chemicals are now circulating through.
Did you know that your dog's liver and kidneys are adversely affected by the use of flea collars, topical drops, chemical de-wormers, heart worm drugs, etc.?
Some Things Your Veterinarian Never Told You About Pesticides (Flea and Tick and other parasite killers)
There is a list of side effects, written right in the PDR (Physicians Drug Reference- detail every drug any of the pharmaceutical companies manufacture) and the Owners hand out sheets (that should be given to you at the time the chemicals are dispensed for your pet. If you are not aware of these because your veterinarian does not give you one, ASK FOR ONE!
Fipronil, imidacloprid, methoprene, and permethrin are all considered highly toxic carcinogens, neurotoxins, teratogens and dermatogens, some of their known side effects are: lesions in the brain, lungs, liver and kidney damage, pulmonary edema, bone marrow ailments, and birth defects.
Pyriproxyfen and ethanol, both teratogens, cause damage to the reproductive system, causing miscarriages, smaller offspring and birth defects. Not only are your dogs and cats effected but when you pet or touch your dog (or cat) after applying these toxic chemicals, can cause reproductive damage in you and your children as well.
Carbitol is a neurotoxin, meaning it can cause damage to the nervous system, and it can cause serious organ damage to both your pets and your family as well.
Fipronil has the possibility of causing thyroid cancer in your pet and to anyone holding or petting the animal. It can cause loss of appetite, lethargy, convulsions, excessive barking, body twitches and tremors, stiffened limbs, unsteady gait, lack of coordination, labored breathing, hair loss, ulcerations, itching, and chewing.
Permethrin, which is the common denominator in most of these products, is a broad spectrum insecticide/pesticide, that works as an endocrine disruptor and a carcinogenic insecticide, causing lung cancer and liver tumors in laboratory animals. The manufactures, companies and veterinarians are made aware of this information before they buy, re-sell, prescribe, or apply it to your beloved pets. Do you think these flea and tick killers might just be part of the reason why 4 out of 5 dogs and cats in this country have cancer?
The toxic chemicals in these products can, over time result in seizures, chronic skin itching and infections, renal failure (kidney failure )and/or liver damage to the point of the liver becoming unable to filter the blood and in many cases, complete liver failure and many more dis-ease conditions.
Contaminated blood circulating throughout your pet's body day after day will most definitely contribute to other more complicated health issues, such as diabetes and arthritis to name just two of the most common long term side effects.
The side effects from these toxic chemicals are so bad that in many cases, pets can actually die within days of receiving these lethal doses of chemicals prescribed to kill a little bitty parasite.
Does your pet really need to be poisoned just to kill a little parasite that could is easily prevented or removed without any of these dangerous side effects listed above? Especially when it is a known fact that there are a whole variety of God given remedies in nature; that were placed on this earth by the Creator to keep His little creatures free of parasites if only "man" was intelligent enough to discover and use them?
Still people continue to use toxic chemicals and drugs because they don't know there is a better, simpler, less expensive, SAFER way.
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 (and dare I say the word?) "Cure" 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. A properly functioning body does an amazing job at preventing disease and healing itself, however it requires the energies and nutrients of a species appropriate diet. 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, are carnivores and need to be fed accordingly for optimal health.
One of the first things I recommend is researching for yourself and then switching your dog (or cat) to a raw meat, organ and bone diet that their bodies are designed to digest and thrive on. (if you feeding raw meat and bones is a new concept for you and you would like guidance you may be interested in Dr. Jeannie's DIY Total Wellness For Pets program or a one on one consultation as there is a lot of conflicting and confusing information out there for the newbie feeding a raw diet to their pets.
Please take the time to find out about the many benefits of a raw, species appropriate diet and the dangers of feeding processed food (kibble and canned food) to your carnivore pets. Yes, dogs as well as cats are carnivores!
Probiotics and digestive enzymes are highly recommended to aid the animal's immune system come into balance. By assisting the transport of nutrients through the body and aiding in the breakdown and removal of waste products, probiotics and digestive-enzymes help alleviate allergy symptoms brought on by lack of proper nutrition and toxic overload.
EPA/DHA - Wild Salmon or fish Oil Wild fish oil (beware of farmed fish containing GMOs, antibiotis, etc. in them) contains linolenic acid, which is broken down into the fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). When the immune system is activated by infection or injury, inflammation occurs, which can be evident by redness, swelling or pain. EPA and DHA fatty acids found in wild fish oil can modify the immune system response by decreasing inflammation.
Read more: about the benefits of fish oil for your pets Here
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. All parasites are opportunists, preying on the weak and unhealthy whose immune systems are 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.
Safe, Natural Aids While Building Your Pet's Immune System
A great weapon in the battle with fleas is the inexpensive Flea Comb. Combing though the hair down near the skin, 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.
Another option for deterring fleas and ticks is an EasyDefense Flea Tag, which simply hangs on your pet's collar and uses a revolutionary approach to repelling insects using the bioenergetic field around your pet.
For addressing fleas and/ or ticks once they are already on your pet, I recommend DE (diatomaceous earth) or Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy made from diatomaceous earth and herbs that are safe for use on dogs and cats, as well as around the home.
Treating the Home
Vacuuming and washing the hard floors often and daily (with a chemical/toxin free cleaner) 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 boraic acid products - a difference in the flea population can be noticeable in 24 to 48 hours.
Any kind of very fine salt. Just sprinkle a thin layer on to and if possible down into nap of your carpets with a broom or dry mop. Also sprinkle it around base boards and under furniture and dog beds. Leave it on and in your carpet for at least 24 hours, if your home is infested, I would leave on for a few days and then vacuum it up. You will see dead fleas in your vacuum canister!
Boaric acid products, such as 20 Mule Team Borax, Fleabusters and Fleago, work in a similar fashion to the diatomaceous earth by dehydrating the fleas. They may take up to 2 weeks or longer for results to be noticeable but they do work!
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.
Encourage a natural environment in your yard. Spiders, ants, ground beetles, frogs, lizards and snakes all EAT fleas. All of these animals are natural predators of fleas. A home surrounded by these animals – with heavily wooded yards, for example – is likely to have fewer fleas than a home that does not. If chemicals are used to kill these flea predators, especially spiders and ants, then the flea population can dramatically increase. Many of these predators eat flea eggs as well, which decreases the flea population before the fleas are even born.
DE - Diatomecious Earth
DE contains Diatoms which are one celled microscopic algae whose walls consist of two parts and contain a mineral called silica. Under a very strong microscope, diatoms have very sharp edges. When a flea, ant, spider, etc comes into contact with the remaining sharp edges of the diatoms, they lacerate the waxy exoskeleton of the bug and the powder DE (diatomaceous earth) absorbs the body fluids causing death by dehydration.
NOTE: Be sure to use only food grade DE. The kind used in swimming pool and pond filters is too highly refined and can be dangerous to breathe or ingest.
Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy which contains DE 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 deter bugs. Therapeutic grade essential oils* are all natural, mild and will leave your dog's coat healthy and vibrant while working at a cellular level to enhance the immune system. For centuries, they have been used in a variety of ways to deter fleas, ticks and other biting insects. Essential oils are nature's own God given gifts that aid in warding off the unwanted hitchhikers of the insect world.
They also work at a vibrational frequency level to boost the immune system and create a internal environment that is not ideal or friendly to pests and parasites.
*CAUTION: Use ONLY therapeutic grade essential around our companion animals. I personally use Young Living Essential oils and products only.
Be Aware: Some Essential Oils are not well tolerated by cats. Please only use 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils (Young Living) and only in very diluted and in small amounts with the with cats.
To learn more about using therapeutic grade essential oils with pets, you may be interested in the book I co-authored with fellow animal naturopaths - Essential Oils In Animal Care - A Naturopathic Approach To order Young Living Essential Oils, call 800-371-2928 and use the Referral/Sponsor number 719671 OR join my team online HERE Copyright 2006 - 2015 The Whole Dog, Dr Jeannie Thomason, All rights reserved.
No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author/Publisher. All the articles at The Whole Dog.org.
This article is intended to be educational. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a qualified animal health professional. Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason, The Whole Dog, does not assume any legal responsibility for misuse of the products discussed in this article.