We all love our pets, but the parasites that they often pick up are not quite as welcome! One of the most common problems of pet ownership is that of fleas on your cat or dog. Often, it can seem that the only choice you have of tackling this problem is to use one of the many chemical preparations that are on the market, and whereas these are perfectly safe, many people do not like the idea of putting so many chemicals onto their pet. This can be of special concern if there are children in the household who are likely to stroke the animal.
If you would prefer not to use a chemical preparation to treat fleas, then there are non chemical methods available. As with most things, prevention is often better than cure, and this is true in the treatment of fleas, as once present, the lifecycle of a flea makes them very difficult to eradicate. A flea larvae can lie dormant for a few months, before hatching and re-infecting the pet.
Begin by making sure that you have a healthy animal, as this seems to have a bearing on how they deal with fleas. Animals that are sickly seem to have a greater disposition to harbouring flea infestations than those that are fit and healthy. Feed your pet a natural diet that is rich in yeast and garlic. For larger breed of dogs, use up to one clove of garlic in their food per day, as this seems to have a repellent effect on fleas.
Vigorous cleaning of the area that your pet uses in the house is essential. Vacuum floors and furniture on a regular basis, paying attention to nooks and crevices. Remember that you should also wash your pets bedding, using hot water with detergent at least once a week.
Bathe your dog once a week for prevention, or twice a week if they already have an infestation. Use an organic shampoo that contains citrus oils, and if possible, leave the shampoo on for as long as possible before rinsing it off. A good tip is to comb your dog while he stands in the bath using a flea comb. Make sure that you rinse any fleas off the comb with hot soapy water (not in the bath with the dog). Rinse the shampoo off your cat or dog thoroughly and finish the routine with a herbal rinse using one of the following herbs: pennyroyal, lavender, eucalyptus or lemon. It is easy to make your own herbal rinse by crushing the herbs and steeping them in one pint of boiling water. Leave this overnight, and when you use it, make sure that you rub it well into your pets coat. If you are treating a cat, then use eucalyptus or lemon in the rinse.
Dried herbs rubbed well into your pets dry fur are effective in repelling fleas. Use equal amounts of rosemary, eucalyptus, fennel, and yellow dock (or as many as you can find in a dried form), and rub them into dry fur once a week as a prevention, or twice a week if your pet already has fleas on their body.
If your pet is suffering from sore skin due to scratching from an infestation, then some homeopathic preparations often prove helpful in soothing the itch and the soreness. Try using ledum or caladium for flea bites, or sabadilla which has also been known to repel fleas as well as soothing sore skin.
Eradicating fleas without using chemicals requires patience and above all persistence. Make sure that you find a routine and stick to it even when it seems that all the fleas have disappeared. After six months or so, it should be possible to move onto a maintenance program that ensures that cleaning of furniture, carpets and pet bedding is carried out once a week, and that your pet is bathed using a citrus oil based shampoo. If the fleas return, then revert back to a fuller routine.