View Full Version : Herbal remedies for fleas
06-22-2000, 01:27 PM
My dog is allergic to fleas. Her fur starts falling out even if she only has a couple, so I started buying commercial flea treatments. I can get tablets, where I feel I'm poisoning her, or I can buy stuff you dot on the back of the neck, but I don't like putting chemicals on her skin either. Or, I can bath her after every walk (which isn't an option.)
Mint seems to keep fleas away, at least it keeps them out of the yard, but I would like to know if there is any lasting herbal treatment I can use to keep fleas off (or at least not biting) my dog.
06-22-2000, 01:31 PM
Do your dog a favor and get the chemicals. I've heard good things about the back of the neck one. Chemicals aren't inherently evil and herbs aren't necessarily safe (or effective.)
06-22-2000, 01:36 PM
I do use the chemicals, but the label has warnings to wear gloves and not to let it get into contact with your skin. Now, thats probably so the manufacturer doesn't get sued if you have a reaction to them, but I still don't like the idea of putting it on my dogs skin. I was just wondering if there were any other options, thats all.
06-22-2000, 01:44 PM
I think you need to reconsider your position that pills are "poisoning her", and that you don't want her exposed to "chemicals". Even if there are side-effects from these (which is doubtful), your dog is definitely being hurt more by the fleas. Not to mention being made miserable.
You're looking for herbs that have chemicals harmful to fleas (or at least repellent). Herbs have a great variation in the chemicals they contain, plus they can have other chemicals that could have who-knows-what effect on your dog. Stop being cruel to your dog and give her something that comes in known doses, is very effective, and has been throroughly tested on dogs.
06-22-2000, 01:58 PM
You can try an internet search on this. My impression is that herbal repellents are either ineffective or so strong that they pose a greater danger to you and your dog than the stuff you are already using. There are some citrus based shampoos that do some good, but I wouldn't use them on a dog with allergies--you want something that kills fleas, not just discourages them.
Keep the mint in the yard, though.
06-22-2000, 02:43 PM
I probably should have been more specific in what I am interested in, because there seems to be a bit of confusion. I do not want to feed my dog herbs. I want a non-toxic herbal kind of thing that I can put on her skin that will stop fleas from biting her. I have tried flea collars, which kill the fleas after they have bitten her, so she still has an allergic reaction. The vet told me tablets were not a good idea because they have the same effect, and also that he doesn't recommend treating an external problem internally. I am currenly using the dot on the back of the neck stuff which has the advantage of being waterproof and easy to use but I have noticed some drawbacks to it. One is that you can't mix it with certain ingredients which are in a lot of pet shampoos and soaps. Another is that it wears off slightly before the period in which you can reapply it has passed, so if I take her to the park for exercise in that time, she gets fleas again. Shes a very active dog and I don't want to keep her at home for a week waiting to reapply the stuff.
With regards to chemicals, I don't have that much of a problem with them. The shampoo I use has chemicals, as does my dishwashing liquid etc. I don't like the idea of putting something on my dogs skin that comes with lots of warnings about how bad it can be for me to have contact with it because I can't be sure that its very good for her. I know a couple of people who have dogs that had them bathed in a "Hydrobath" which had some sort of flea deterrent in it and the dogs became ill, so I don't have any faith that flea products are well regulated and I don't want my dog to develop any health problems from prolonged use.
I have searched the internet and I didn't like any of the other alternatives, so I am continuing to use the dot on the neck stuff, but I am still interested in knowing if there are any other ways to get rid of fleas.
06-22-2000, 02:57 PM
I can get tablets, where I feel I'm poisoning her, or I can buy stuff you dot
on the back of the neck, but I don't like putting chemicals on her skin either.
Herbs contain chemicals as well. In fact, everything does. Poison ivy is a plant, but I'd feel much safe bathing in the man-made flea repellant than naturally derived poison ivy urushiol extract. Do you know for certain what goes into the flea repellant? It could very well be herbally derived already. It's much easier for a chemical, found to be effective in one application, to be manufacted in a laboratory setting than it is to seperate it from other chemicals in said "herb" that may have undesired effects.
As to finding a chemical that will act as a flea repellent but is entirely unharmful to anything else, well you can't have your cake and eat it too. All flea repellants (herbally derived or not) are poisons. It's a question of concentration. The flea has a body mass a few magnitudes smaller than your dog, so a concentration powerful enough to kill a flea several times over is perfectly safe for you and your pet. I wouldn't worry about that.
If you're asking for a remedy that neither has to be ingested nor applied to the animal's skin, well, if you find a magic wand, let me know how well that works.
06-22-2000, 02:58 PM
Take her to her vet, who can test her for an allergic reaction to the "nape of the neck" stuff. It's what I did with my dog.
06-22-2000, 03:05 PM
Hmmm, tricky. I wonder if there is some repellent you could use that would work just for the times when you know the back-of-the-neck stuff is wearing off. Or just for trips to the park.
One site I looked at recommended that Avon lotion that repels mosquitos. I'm not sure how you'd apply it to the dog though. Maybe as a rinse.
Some friends of ours swore by garlic pills, but I've heard mixed opinions on this. And their dogs smelled like garlic. (Which was pretty funny, since they were Dachshunds.)
06-22-2000, 03:32 PM
I have heard that brewer's yeast (which you can get in pill form--my dog and my cat love them) will make an animal less attractive to fleas. They also come with garlic added, so you could cover that base as well.
However, I seem to recall someone saying that fleas get turned off on a brwer's-yeast-eating animal after getting a taste. So fleas don't stay around, but it doesn't prevent them doing that first bite. Which isn't going to help a dog who is allergic.
Nematodes on the lawn helps, too. Eats the larva and/or eggs.
Sometimes, as others say, the "chemical" solution may be the better of the two evils. If the alternative is a mierable itchy hairless dog, I'd say pass the chemicals.
06-22-2000, 05:11 PM
We always gave our dogs brewer's yeast. For our small (20-pounder) dog, it was one tablet per day. For the big one (100 pounds), it was 4 a day. We just put it in their food like a treat. They loved it.
You can get it in the grocery store or drug store, where the vitamins are.
I seem to recall it being pretty cheap. IIRC, a big (maybe 500-count?) bottle for a couple bucks. We never had a flea problem.
oh, rats, there is no dog smilie!
06-22-2000, 06:10 PM
Get small pan or bowl of soapy water. Put it on the floor with a light over it. At night the fleas jump into it & the soap surface tension keeps them in the dish.
06-22-2000, 07:05 PM
You could always rub your dog all over with hemlock. That's herbal, isn't it?
06-22-2000, 07:18 PM
My experience with Garlic/Yeast tablets are that they are useless.
Take the animal to the vet, and get "Advantage". It is applied by rubbing it on the back of the neck. Very effective, 100% for my cats.
If you want to try the herbal route, you will need to put a flea collar in the vacuum, and steam clean everything, and wash everything. The flea eggs can remain dormant for 2 years, and when the temp gets over 55, the fleas are born.
Vibrations from a vacuum cleaner can also set the flea larvae to growing.
I've heard of using Nematodes to control the fleas in the yard.
The better route is to use a good product such as Advantage, the effect lasts for at least 30 days, and after all flea infestation is gone, you can discontinue it.
06-22-2000, 07:29 PM
Our vet said that the yeast tabs probably wouldn't do any good, but they seemed to work with our dogs. The smaller one (35#) got about 4 or 5 per day, and the larger one (55#) got about 7 or 8.
06-22-2000, 10:11 PM
There was an article in CAT FANCY several years ago on how to control fleas, and I made copies of it.
They are rather labour intensive, and a lot of work, but I will look for it and post the answers to you, if you like.
The thing it, a lot of the herbal things listed are also poisonous in varying amounts, so getting the right doseage can be tricky.
The "Advantage" gel works instantly, and kills adult fleas, and stops the larvae from developing, I do like that one.
Anyway, having fleas can give the pet a heart murmur or anemia, so my vet says.
My cats have been on Advantage since last August, and so far, not one flea has shown up.
06-23-2000, 11:00 AM
I like the soap dish idea because if you feed your pets things they aren't used to, they can fart all day.
06-23-2000, 01:24 PM
You know how when you're peeling an orange, there's that "juice" that always manages to squirt right into your eyes? (it's not the same as ordinary orange juice) Deadly to fleas. I think that the active ingredient is the citric acid, which is actually healthy for mammals. Unfortunately, it doesn't work until after the first bite, and I don't recall how to exctract it in large quantities.
Many of the flea dips that were popular 20 or so years ago turned out to be vicious carcinogens... Yes, you've got to look at relative suffering, fleas vs. meds, but I doubt that the fleas could be much worse than cancer. Advantage is supposed to be safe, but I'm not sure if it's been around long enough to say anything about the long-term effects. Anyone know of any studies?
I've also heard that washing a pet too frequently can exasperate a flea problem, by washing away certian natural oils in the fur which apparently have some benefit against fleas. Take this with a grain of salt.
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