Anyone who knows me knows I don't use the commercial topical flea solutions. Just read my post The Flea War and you'll understand why we use the most natural products we can find to be safe. For quite some time now we have been using a neem oil shampoo and botanical spray. Kirby very much disliked the spray because of the strong cinnamon smell but it worked so he was forced to suffer through it. It did dissipate after ten minutes or so. He is three years old and we have never had a flea problem until this year.
Kirby has been itching and biting almost constantly for the past few weeks driving me crazy! If I can't take the constant scratching and itching I can only imagine how miserable Kirby must be!
First, I came across this natural flea dip. I have a large rosemary shrub growing in my backyard (doesn't everyone?) so I gave it a try.
- Steep 2 cups fresh rosemary in boiling water for 30 minutes
- Strain the liquid and discard the leaves
- Add up to a gallon of warm water depending on size of dog
- Let cool until tepid
- Pour over dog being sure to soak every inch avoiding eyes
- Allow dog to air dry naturally
This worked temporarily. Kirby found relief for almost a full night so it's a keeper in my book! One batch was enough for two dips for a dog Kirby's size.
This was another remedy I came across so I sprinkled salt (it's cheap) on all of my rugs, then vacuumed a few days later. I don't think this worked at all. Maybe at best it will bring me good luck - that throw some salt over your shoulder myth.
I did consider a lemon spray recipe I found but citrus oils can be toxic to dogs. Another remedy I discovered is placing a few drops of oil (lavender - also repels ticks and Mosquitoes, peppermint, lemongrass - repels ticks and Mosquitoes, citronella, rosemary) on a bandana, rope collar, or between the dog's shoulder blades. The spray I had been using had a mixture of oils so I didn't think this would really help.
Finally, after reading several positive reviews, I purchased Ark Naturals Neem Protect Shampoo and Ark Naturals Neem Protect spray. The shampoo lathered up very nicely and didn't bother Kirby's eyes. He didn't mind the 5 minute wait before rinsing as long as I was massaging his back. Looked like doggie heaven to me! Once he had naturally dried I could honestly say he had a nice scent and his coat was soft and shiny. Next I applied the spray which had a light citronella smell Kirby didn't seem to mind. What I liked most was that the spray says it repels for up to seven days. Again Kirby had relief for a few days. Then the itching started back. I started using the spray every day with little to no results. Can fleas become immune to these oils? Is Mississippi just the perfect humid habitat for fleas?
Over this time period I removed several fleas from him with a flea comb. Tiny little black bugs that were having a feast on my miserable little guy. Sunday came around again and, out of desperation, I broke down and purchased a flea collar. Kirby showed his dissatisfaction by constantly laying his head on the floor. Monday morning I went to work where I worried all day about the poison from the flea collar spreading over his body slowly killing him. I rushed home to remove and throw that horrid collar in the garbage.
More googling brought me to diatomaceous earth which consists of the skeletons of microscopic algae. The food grade kind was recommended with a warning not to purchase the glassified type which is used in swimming pool filters. Instructions said to apply it weekly during flea season being sure to put it in the cracks and crevices, then vacuuming 3 days after applying. I also read that not only do many people eat it ??? but that it was perfectly safe to dust your dog or cat with it. I purchased a large container for $14.00 at the co-op. I rubbed the dirt all through Kirby's coat and liberally spread it throughout my house. I washed all of the rugs save the large one in the living room in hot water and changed my linens.
I also purchased a bottle of Nutri-Vet chewable Brewer's Yeast with Garlic for dogs. It has only been helpful to some dogs but it's chock full of B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants so I don't think it can hurt.
Poor Kirbs must have thought I lost my mind! He gets a bath every week and here I was rubbing dirt all over him. I'm holding my breath but it seems to be working. He's scratching much less and I see signs of his skin healing from all the scratching. I have to wait a few days to vacuum up the dirt and then dust the house again with the diatomaceous earth. It has a chalky smell and feel. Kirby's coat isn't quite as shiny as usual. My house looks like I haven't swept or vacuumed in years. Yet if it rids us of the fleas I will be a very happy pawparent and homeowner!
I really have reached my wit's end! If anyone has a remedy that works without pesticides or chemicals please tell me what it is!