17 February 2010

flee fleas!

My dog has suddenly become infested with fleas and ticks. I think ticks are the lesser of the two evils as they are easy to pick out and easy to kill. Fleas jump, don't die easily and cause my poor pup to constantly itch. In addition to his woes, he also has a bad case of doggy dandruff. The idea of using strong chemicals does not appeal to me for many reasons. First, his infestation is not so bad that it warrants the need of pesticides. Once before, I did use a chemical pesticide on him and he went into shock shortly afterwards which was a scary experience that I don't want to go through again. Second, I think it will make the dandruff worse. Third, most ecto-parasites are utterly immune to strong chemicals that it seems pointless to put him through the risk. The active ingredients in these solutions include chemicals such as imidacloprid, fipronil, permethrin, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen, all of which have caused serious health problems in animals in laboratories. Other forms of flea control - powders, collars, and sprays are no less harmful.

So with my arsenal of fighting tools reduced to the bare minimum, I began intensive internet searches for best possible herbal remedies. There were several things suggested among which:
  • Rub aromatic oils like eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, tea tree oil mixed with an almond oil base directly onto the animal if infestation is bad
  • If infestation is mild to moderate then dilute these essential oils and spray onto the animal or use as an oil bath and spray its bedding etc
  • Using a citrus repellent which involves cutting lemon into quarters and steeping in boiling water, cooling and then spraying onto the pet as well as its living areas
  • Feed animal with garlic, brewer's yeast tablets, apple cider vinegar as fleas don't like the smell of these
  • Using diatomaceous earth
  • Herbal flea and tick powders
So today I gave my dog a bath with herbal, chemical-free, human anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo contained aloe vera and tea-tree oil in a creamy base. His last rinse consisted of a few drops of pure tea-tree oil in the bath water to take care of the dandruff. Once he was thoroughly dry, I rubbed a mix of turmeric and water into places where he itched the worse then dusted him all over with herbal flea and tick powder. After that, I let him sit for a couple of hours and I sprayed him and his bedding area with a mix of citronella and eucalyptus oil - I spray his bedding everyday anyway, in order to prevent mosquitoes from biting him. Essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil can be used only for dogs and not cats. Although these are good for control of flea infestation, prolonged use may result in lethargy and nausea.

I'm going to wait a week and see if this helps. In the meantime, I will continue with the spraying, dusting and watching for nausea. My next step will be rubbing him with eucalyptus and almond oil and perhaps the lemon spray. I have also been giving him vitamins to help with the dandruff. Perhaps, I will also try the garlic if he actually eats it. I have no idea where to buy diatomaceous earth so will skip that for now.

Previously, I have used a paste of neem leaves and orange peel for ticks post-bath which was very effective. He did look like a sad alien-type dog for a day until the pack fell off though. What I like most about herbal remedies is that even if he does end up biting himself, he won't be ingesting something that is harmful. The added eco-benefit is a big selling point.

Products used:
  1. Himalaya anti-dandruff shampoo
  2. Himalaya Protein Conditioner
  3. Himalaya Erina-EP Powder
Himalaya is an Indian herbal drug company that makes herbal products for both animal and human use. Would love to hear from you about herbal remedies that do and don't work. Leave me your thoughts!


Ramesh said...

Whoa - this is a treatise on treating pets with fleas. I am petignoramus; so no clue, but am amazed at both your research and the intense care.

I am in China and Blogger is blocked here; so coming through proxies I can't see photos. Couldn't see your pup, but he must be one lucky guy to have you take care of him .

Akhila Vijayaraghavan said...

It's not a photo of my dog - you're not missing much. It's only a cartoon.