Managing Fleas Naturally
Fleas have been on my radar ever since my stray cat, Gremlin, moved in six years ago. As Prudence, my Mini-Bull Terrier puppy is atopic fleas and biting bugs make her erupt. Any dog that lives with a cat will be prone as the most common flea in the UK Ctenocephalides felis - the cat flea. It causes 95% of infestations in the UK. Unlike other fleas like dog fleas or hedgehog fleas cat fleas thrive on any warm-blooded host. A dog flea will only live on a canine.
Milder and wetter winters mean fleas are considered an all year round pesky problem that’s on the increase. Fleas are ‘sugar junkies’. High carbohydrate kibble diets cause severe spikes in blood glucose levels, which attracts fleas.
Dogs and cats fed on a raw diet such as Natural Instinct might get bitten, but they’re less likely to erupt into an allergic reaction than dogs fed only on processed foods. Arguably raw fed dogs have their immune systems boosted by nutritionally dense ingredients, contributing to balanced health that fights any allergic reaction naturally. Molly never reacted to fleas, which was likely down to her raw diet. Gremlin flared up, and arguably I paid the price for delaying in applying a spot-on (anti-flea treatment).
Spot-on treatments do contain insecticides like fiprinol and imidacloprid. In my study I learnt that the dose in one treatment maybe non-toxic, but studies show that overtime an accumulative effect can be carcinogenic. It’s a risk to benefit situation where the benefit of a controlling a flea infestation outweighs the risk. Fleas take hold very quickly; and it’s prudent to minimise the bite potential! Although a flea can still bite after a spot-on application, that flea will only bite the once! Prudence’s reaction to a fleabite drove her to distraction. She pulled her hair out in clumps, creating unsightly itchy bald patches. She looked moth-eaten.
Prudent with her flea lotions and potions
How to get rid of Fleas
As only 5% of any flea population will be living on your pet, the remaining 95% will be nesting in carpets and furnishings in the home. They also thrive in shrubs, grasses and undergrowth in your garden. The only way to banish fleas is to rigorously treat your home with intensive vacuuming and steaming every other day for six weeks; the average timeframe to eradicate an infestation. Silicon based spray products provide a more naturopathic alternative to insecticide sprays. They suffocate adult fleas, eggs, and the larvae without any chemicals. Diatomaceous earth is a great all round natural flea powder that’s cost effective and chemical free. I use an organic food grade variety that effectively kills nasty biting bugs, including ticks and fleas, by dehydrating them. Perfect to keep the garden ‘clean’ I dig it into the soil, scatter it liberally around shrubs, onto decking and crazy paving. Indoors I sprinkle it on bedding and rub it into Prudence’s coat every week or so, just to keep on top of bugs.
What I use on Prudence the pup
Prudence has a cupboard full of natural herbal-based lotions and potions. She got fed up with regular bathes and sprays, but Neem oil works a treat to soothe and repel critters, despite making Prudence smell of ‘old socks’! She also has two breathable, super soft ‘bodysuits’ that protect her from self-harming. Acting as a barrier they stop her over scratching and prevent her itchy skin being further irritated.
Prudence in her special summer suit