The calendar says it’s late autumn but in many parts of the country — my dogs’ hometown of New York City among them — the unseasonably balmy weather says Indian summer. And that means it’s still flea season. In fact, the little demons are biting with a bigger vengeance than usual.
If, like me, you’d rather not introduce toxic pesticides into your dogs’ bloodstream, you will need to take extra precautions right now to ensure that fleas don’t make your K9’s life a living hell.
One way to kill fleas safely is by liberally applying diatomaceous earth (aka diatom flour) to your dog’s coat, reapplying whenever the dog becomes wet, and to any areas in and around your home you suspect to be attractive to fleas. It’s one of the least toxic options available for natural, chemical-free pest control, and it works on roaches as well as fleas. (Read more about that here.)
Another way is to kill and prevent fleas is by bathing your dog regularly with a pet shampoo containing the brilliant biopesticide neem oil, which repels and kills fleas. My favorite brand is TheraNeem Pet Shampoo by Organix South (to which I add several drops of Neem Oil, for extra potency. (Read more about neem, including supplements you can administer orally, here.)
For extra armor against those horrible biting pests,try a cool new, all-natural product called Flea Flicker. Its diatomaceous earth base is souped up with numerous botanical ingredients: feverfew flowers, mullein flowers, parsley, rosemary, yarrow flowers, eucalyptus, chrysanthemums, and sweet orange essential oil.
“I chose the ingredients I did(as I do in each of my formulas) because each ingredient will address the variety of issues/challenges owners and their pets are faced with regarding fleas,” says Cindy Wenger of Peaceable Kingdom Essentials, maker of Flea Flicker.
Feverfew and chrysanthemums contain certain compounds known as pyrethrins which have a paralytic effect on fleas, Wenger explains. Feverfew also repels biting and stinging insects, and that repellent property helps keep nasty fleas from even approaching your dog.
“Mullein flowers applied externally are a good wound healer and also contain the flea-killing compound rotenone,” Wenger adds. “Limonene is a volatile oil found in citrus and parsley that is also a flea-killing compound. Yarrow has insect-repellent qualities, while fleas(and flies and mosquitoes) hate the smell of the eucalyptus. Rosemary, on the other hand, is a powerful antioxidant (and also a fly repellent).”
Incidentally, even the rosemary plant repels mosquitos so consider keeping some potted rosemary around; its lovely, piny flavor is a great addition to many recipes. There’s a fringe benefit to using Flea Flicker, Wenger adds ‘it smells great! “Fortunately, the scented oils fleas dislike happen to have pleasant scents,” she explains.”Peppermint, lavender, citronella, cedar, rosemary, lemon, and orange essential oils chase fleas away without smelling noxious to people or animals.” In fact, they smell lovely — alone and in combination.
“Peaceable Kingdom Essentials is a great alternative for the pet owner who wants to protect their pet, but who also doesn’t want to endanger their health through the application of poison and other chemicals,” Wenger concludes.
Amen to that.