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Question from Brenda:
 Is there a non-chemical alternative to Frontline, Advantage or  Revolution for fleas control for cats?
 
 I've heard so much about convulsions and chemical reactions, that I'm  not sure I want to use a product on my cat that requires me to use  gloves.
 

Dr Randy Kidd’s response:

Of course there are many, many alternatives to the potentially toxic flea control products.  Problem is – I’ve not found one that is effective … at least here on my KS “tick and chigger” farm.  (For some reason, we don’t seem to have much problem with fleas out here, but folks in town sure do).  As they say, “I share your pain” – I’d love to not have to use the toxic stuff.  Heck I sometimes get the idea that our ticks actually relish the herbs I try.   

 

Here’s some suggestions: 

1)  First – be sure you have a problem.  Do you see fleas, ticks??  We’ve been on this farm for more than five years now with two different dogs and an assortment of cats.  I have yet to see a flea, but starting in about mid-April I’ve had to pick at least a half dozen ticks off Pokey after each and every walk in the woods – which was often several times a day.  

 

2)     Do all you can to eliminate fleas in the environment – run the vacuum often, brush all pets often – use the combs that catch fleas and drop them in soapy water.  If fleas are an in-house problem consider having the professional “Flea Busters” de-flea your house. 

 

3)      Improve your cat’s immune system.  I typically see most or all the fleas on only one of the pets in the household – the one with the poorest immune system.  Immune boosters include natural foods; minimizing vaccines; minimizing toxins and stress; exercise; herbs such as Echinacea; etc.

 

4)     Try some of the natural products – most of them contain a combination of herbs, and they come as powders, dips or sprays.  You may have more luck with them than I have.     

 

5)     Know the enemy.  Check with your local vets and/or extension agents:  When are the fleas active in your area?  Is there typically a winter or summer kill off?  Concentrate on the times of the year when the problem is at its worst. 

 

6)     If last comes to last and you do need to use one of the chemical products, use it as minimally as you can.  For example, the ticks are alive year round in my area, but they are not much of a problem from mid Oct. to mid April.  So I can get by using the chemicals April thru Sept.  If the label says the product lasts 30 days, see if you can make it last 45 to 60 to 90 days.  Ie keep checking, and use it only when necessary.  I really hate to recommend any product because they keep changing them, seemingly every week or so.  I don’t like the oral or injectable ones and the products that use cholinesterase inhibitors have always been toxic.  I’ve not had much luck with collars of any brand or kind.  The newer spot on products that are spread through the sebaceous glands seem to be working so far, in a check with local vets seem to have very low toxicity problems … but we haven’t used them long enough to really judge how safe AND efficacious they will prove to be.    

 

7)      Finally check with your nearest holistic vets “altvetmed.com” and see if they have had any success with natural products IN YOUR AREA. 

 

Dr Rose DiLeva’s response:
Oh yes, the ever present question of the flea. There are over 2,000
species of flea!  One adult flea can produce over 250,000 offspring in a period of
4 weeks. Just how rapidly they reproduce depends on environmental factors such as temperature and dampness. The flea goes through several stages in its life cycle: the egg, larva, pupa and adult. The pupa stage is particularly
resistant. All stages can be present on your pet and in your environment
simultaneously. This is why the focus of treatment needs to include both. Many different natural remedies exist for handling this type of problem, but most times you need to be doing more than one at a time. Herbal products do not last as long as the more potent and more toxic products on the market, but they are generally safe and can be used more frequently.

Of course, the healthy pet is the pet that will best be able to defend themselves against fleas.  Give those antioxidants. Garlic and brewers yeast have been helpful in some cases. PetGuard has a brewers yeast and garlic tablet for both dogs and cats that is very palatable and easy to crush. This combination has yet to be proven as a means of flea control.

 

A healthy diet is also imperative. Pets on all natural or raw diets are less attractive to fleas. Fleas tend to choose compromised pets over healthy ones to feed on.

Use a flea comb daily. Dip the comb in a bowel of soapy water to kill the fleas.

 

Vacuum carpet, dog/cat bedding and furniture.  This is about as nontoxic as you can get. Do this frequently and then throw out the bag. You will undoubtedly pick up eggs, larva and adults. Leaving the bag on the vacuum will just give those fleas another place to breed.

Machine wash all the fabrics that your pet touches, such as bedding and bed covers, once a week.

Bathe your pets. Fleas can suck a lot of blood from a pet, and, in large numbers, can make a dog or cat anemic. This is especially true of small or young pups & kittens. Products such as Natural Animal's Shampoo or Cloud Nine's Herbal Dip are good choices. I like Halo's Cloud Nine Dip because it can be mixed with pet shampoo or diluted with water and sprayed on your pet.

There are also herbal flea collars for cats that contain oil of pennyroyal, oil of eucalyptus, oil of cedarwood, oil of rosemary and oil of citronella.

 Flea Busters is a product that contains sodium perborate. Neem is an ayurvedic herb that comes in a shampoo or spray that can kill adult fleas.

 

Simmer two cups of fresh peppermint leaves in a quart of boiling water for 30-40 minutes. Mix this with a gallon of warm water. Let the mixture cool.  Sponge this onto your pet every couple of weeks. Let air dry. Keep the mixture out of your pet's eyes.

 

Another thing some people have tried is to take a lime, lemon or orange and slice it thinly. Then rub it against the grain of the fur. Fleas supposedly dislike citrus and will be repelled.
Good Luck!