As a veterinarian in South Florida, I have see more than my share of flea problems. I am very often asked what can be done naturally to eliminate flea problems. What I am about to tell you will probably come as a shock. HEALTHY PETS DO NOT HAVE PROBLEMS WITH FLEAS. Notice I said "do not have problems" not "do not have any". Fleas have co-existed with their hosts for thousands of years. In nature, an animal such as a wolf can have some fleas without a problem. If an animal is not optimally healthy, it's immune system is more likely to react improperly to the flea's bite and produce symptoms of itching, eruptions, etc. The "flea allergy" is an abnormal response of the body to the flea. It has nothing to do with the flea, itself. Otherwise, every animal bitten by the same flea would have a similar reaction and that simply does not happen. I also find that healthy pets only attract a few fleas. What this all means is that if your pet has a lot of fleas or is oversensitive to them, there is a problem within the pet. The flea is just a symptom. Think about this. A pet has too many fleas or is "allergic". This means that it is not as healthy as it should be. How do we treat this problem? Spray, bathe, dip, apply or give internally PESTICIDES. Does this make any sense? Administering poison to an animal to make it healthier? While this will often eliminate the symptom, it does nothing for the deeper health problem the pet has.
What are the alternatives? First of all, we need to recognize that a deeper problem exists. Once we have done that, we can begin to strengthen the pet's system. We start by feeding anaturaldiet. I have had many clients tell me that after switching to a natural diet that their flea problems disappeared without any other intervention. If diet isn't enough, homeopathic treatment of the pet can resolve the problem.
There are some non-toxic methods of reducing the number of fleas on the pet in order to provide some relief. The flea comb is a very good way of removing fleas. It requires a little patience. Comb your pet after every walk, before entering your house. Before taking your pet outside, you can apply one of the products made of essential oils such as citronella, eucalyptus, etc. Use according to directions. Some people find that diatomaceous earth is effective as a "flea powder". Others find that garlic in the food or as a supplement helps.
If the problem is very severe, there are some virtually non-toxic ways to treat the environment to reduce the flea population. This gives the pet some relief without poisoning the body further and allows us some time to get the pet's health back on track. I like to use these two items. In the yard, I prefer a biological control agent. There is a nematode (microscopic worm) that is applied to your lawn with a simple garden sprayer. The worms develop, feed on and kill immature fleas. When the food supply is exhausted, the worms die. This product is non-toxic to the environment and animal life. For the indoor environment, I usually recommend a borax type product. There are a number of these available specifically for flea treatment and I find they are very effective. Use a product specifically designed for this purpose and follow directions.
While all of this is more time consuming that simply giving your pet a pill or putting a few drops on the skin, it is safe and will actually improve the overall health of your pet. Generally, as the pet gets healthier, most of these procedures can be eliminated. All too many times we have heard how safe some new medication is only to have the truth come out years later. Please consider what I have said today before resorting to some pill, drop or pesticide program for your pet.
Russell Swift, DVM,HMC