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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Pest Free Pets, Naturally

Take the bite out of flea and tick season with natural pest control

Warmer weather brings many things to life, including fleas and ticks. As summer approaches, pet owners may dread another seasonal battle with these pests.

For years, flea and tick collars were used to control the problem. In 2000, a study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council indicated that the collars are poisoning far more than just fleas and ticks. The NRDC says that adults and children have suffered side effects from exposure to the collars’ toxic chemicals, while pets have suffered the most.

“It appears that hundreds and possibly thousands of pets have been injured or killed through exposure to pet products containing pesticides,” the report noted. “As with small children, pets cannot report when they’re being poisoned at low doses.”

Tracy Werner, founder and owner of Natural Pet Market in Wheaton, Illinois, says there are plenty of ways to battle the bugs without putting pets in danger. Healthy alternatives can include giving frequent baths, but Werner also recommends using essential oils on pets instead of commercial flea and tick treatments.

“There are a lot of good essential oils and sprays that are just as effective without the side effects,” she says.  Among the essential oils that can help combat fleas are eucalyptus, cedar, peppermint and lemongrass. Citrus can be used as well, but only on dogs.

Fighting pests from the inside out is often effective, too. Fleas dislike the flavor of garlic, for example, and will turn away from a pet whose blood tastes of it. Previously, the challenge was getting animals to eat garlic, but a new solution has emerged.

“Now you can get sprays for their food,” Werner says. “Sprays that are high in garlic will start providing a good internal defense for dogs against fleas and ticks.”

Raw garlic can be toxic to cats, however, and the medical community remains divided on whether or not it should be administered, even in small doses. A safer option for cats—and one that also works for dogs—is adding nutritional or brewer’s yeast to pet food, which makes their blood unpalatable to fleas. It’s not a universal solution, however, as some animals are yeast-intolerant. Watch for skin allergies and discontinue using the yeast if any skin disruptions occur.

Other natural repellants include thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, and apple cider vinegar, which can be added to the pet’s water each day.

“If you have questions, the Internet is always a great place to turn,” says Werner. “Get a holistic vet —they’ll be able to help. It’s the least we can do for the health and welfare of our companion animals, and for the earth in general.”

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Source: by Paula Felps

Date: 2007/04/27 01:05:00 GMT-7

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