Marli's Chi's - AKC Longcoat Chihuahuas
of San Jose, California
Non-Toxic Flea Control
Okay everybody, spring is coming and you know what that means: fleas. People do different things to control fleas and get different results.
Now what I do for flea control is I treat the environment, not the dogs, and I don't use *any* toxic products, chemicals or medications. I dislike using chemicals of any kind on myself or my dogs if I can get the same result using natural products. I just feel that it is safer and healthier. I am very allergic/sensitive to the poisons used in flea sprays, powders, shampoos, etc. I am also aware of a few instances where these products have made adult Chihuahuas deathly ill, and in one instance the dog died. This was taken from the Dirt Works website:
"Insecticides Associated with Bladder Cancer in
Dogs - A statistically significant association between exposure to
topical flea and tick dips, and the occurrence of bladder cancer in dogs
has been found. The risk of bladder cancer was increased further in dogs
living in proximity to areas sprayed regularly with insecticides for
mosquitoes. An increased rate of bladder cancer in humans has recently
been reported (Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 1989(28):
What about flea sprays and shampoo?
Excerpt from Catherine O'Driscoll's writing
"Did you know that many flea collars contain carbaryl? Do you know what carbaryl has been shown to do to animals in laboratories? It causes cancer, mutates cells, and causes birth defects. How safe is it for your dog to wear a flea collar around his neck for up to four months? And why do the manufacturers tell us to stop our children touching the collar? And the flea sprays - read the instructions. Are you told not to breathe in whilst spraying your dog? Can you tell your dog not to breathe? And what's in all the flea killing shampoos? One of them, at least, contains a chemical that has been shown to cause cancer if taken in through the skin!"
Okay, so now that I have done my little tirade against the products I don't use and why I don't use them, what do I use?
For flea control outdoors, in spring I order Grub-Away beneficial nematodes and put them in the yard. These are microscopic little harmless critters that eat flea larvae and other pests. These parasitic nematodes are the safe, effective, non-chemical answer to flea control. I think they're the best outdoor natural flea controls available. Just mix with water and spray around the yard. You can order them at http://www.gardensalive.com/. Another source of nematodes is Dirt Works at http://www.dirtworks.net/Nematodes.html .
For flea control indoors, I use diatomaceous earth. Whole Foods Market carries a product called Flea Away. It's a powder designed for flea control, diatomaceous earth based, and non-toxic. Another source is Dirt Works at http://www.dirtworks.net/Pet_Supplies.html. Diatomaceous earth can also be used outdoors but needs to be reapplied after rain so I don't use it outdoors, I prefer the nematodes. I know people in desert climates who do use it outdoors with excellent success.
Putting plants in your yard that repel fleas and ticks can also be helpful. Plants such as: lavender, pennyroyal, rosemary, fennel, catnip, lemongrass, or eucalyptus have flea or tick repellant properties. This is not a complete listing.
With this combination of products my home stays flea free, even when my dogs pick up fleas at the vet, park, dog show, etc. and bring them home. Even with flea carrying critters like squirrels, cats, raccoons, possum, etc. wandering through my yard. I suppose if I was taking one of my dogs into an area that I knew was heavily flea infested, I might additionally use a topical natural flea repellent like eucalyptus or citronella oil and possibly bathe them (with a normal shampoo, not a flea shampoo) when we got home to drown and wash away any fleas they might have picked up. Medications and topical flea poisons never made sense to me because in order for them to work the flea actually has to be on the dog and I try to stop the fleas before that. I hope this information will help you to keep your own home SAFELY flea free!