Use natural flea control
Before you break out the bug bomb, try these natural flea control methods. These insecticide alternatives will help prevent fleas from irritating your pet and taking up uninvited residence in your home.
How to use natural flea control
A natural flea control program starts with a clean pet, a regimen of healthy cat or dog food and a well-vacuumed house. Consider these tips recommended by Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats:
- Bathe your pet using natural dog grooming products: it's one of the safest and most effective methods of flea control. If your dog or cat has a severe flea problem, bathe your dog once every two weeks; your cat, once a month. Use a natural pet shampoo that contains flea-repelling herbs.
- Apply natural flea powders made from citronella, eucalyptus, or other aromatic herbs.
- Use a flea comb—a fine-tooth, metal comb that removes the fleas, which you can then drown in water.
- Buy a natural cotton flea collar that can be "recharged" with drops of oil containing a flea-repelling herb such as citronella.
- Wash your pet's bedding often in hot, soapy water.
- Vacuum your rugs and furniture every two to three days.
- Steam-clean your carpets which will kill flea eggs.
- Use diatomaceous earth on your pets, rugs, furniture, and pet bedding to kill fleas.
- Add garlic or brewer's yeast to your pet's diet.
Find it! Flea control products
Diatomaceous earth is the finely ground fossils of freshwater diatoms. It kills fleas, as well as cockroaches, ants, slugs, beetles and other crawling insects, and works indoors or out. This food-grade DE from Concern is 100 percent organic.
The Victor Ultimate Flea Trap captures fleas up to 30 feet away. Just place the trap in areas that pets frequent and plug it in—fleas don't stand a chance! Color, combined with heat and light from the product's bulb, lure fleas to a replaceable sticky disc.
Using natural flea control helps you go green because…
- It avoids the use of harmful synthetic chemical insecticides.
Insecticides, like those used for conventional flea treatments, break down when exposed to sunlight and moisture. This means that when Fido goes out to play, the chemicals in his recent flea treatment begin to break down and are spread to wildlife, water sources, and soil through airborne drift. Once in the soil, these chemicals are further broken down by microbes in the earth, harming or killing beneficial insects and plant life. In water, many of these chemicals can affect aquatic life at concentration levels far less than those that affect humans. Chemical runoff—partially from residential insecticide use—was found in 95 percent of streams sampled in the National Water Quality Assessment by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in 1999.
Related health issues
Commonly used flea control products for dogs and cats are a serious health threat to pets and pet owners, and are particularly harmful to children. According to a report issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), flea control products currently on the market may expose pet owners and groomers to toxic pesticides at levels 500 times higher—or 50,000 percent—the recommended safety level set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to Dr. David Wallinga, MD, co-author of the report, these products could cause acute poisoning, brain dysfunction, or cancer.
The most potentially harmful chemical flea treatments contain organophosphates, which are derived from nerve gas and interfere with nerve signal transmission. From 1992 to 1996, poison control centers recorded about 25,000 cases of children under the age of 6 who were exposed to organophosphate pesticides, and hundreds of children required hospitalization as the result of exposure.
Also harmful are chemicals called carbamates. Carbaryl and propoxur, the two carbabmates most often found in pet products, attack the nervous system in the same way as organophosphates. Organophosphates and carbamates are responsible for most pet deaths from insecticide poisoning.
- The Green Guide - Nontoxic Lawn Care: Products and How-To's
- Natural Resources Defense Council - Flea Control Products Threaten Pets and Children
- Pitcairn, Richard H. & Pitcairn, Susan Hubble (1982). Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press: 73