Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flea prevention options

Since our Gretchen was approaching the big "10" last year, I really started to think seriously about the way her body metabolizes chemicals and drugs at this age. Actually, I've always had concerns with regard to what is used in, on and around my pets. Especially with the frequency of use with lawn care products and cleaning supplies, I've opted to go the natural route whenever I can.

In my knowledge of herbs and naturally based components, I know that there things that help to address fleas, and have employed products and homemade formulations through the years. (I should note that just because something is natural, it does not always mean that it is safe to use on every species of animal. As an example, tea tree oil is an effective all purpose ingredient, but it should never be used on cats. Due to its phenolic activity, it is toxic to them.) Neem oil works well in addressing fleas, and is safe. It's especially great for chemically sensitive pets. However there is one caveat - it smells horrible. I do use a great shampoo made for pets that contains neem oil and the smell is agreeable. It's safe for frequent use, if necessary.

Raw neem oil is available at local natural markets and health food stores. You can add it to your favorite pet shampoo.

After taking our crew in for their annual checkup with Dr. Critchfield of Chelsea Animal Hospital last year, we discussed flea/tick prevention, naturally. I expressed concern with all of the pets, but primarily Gretchen and her age, and inquired about a more natural approach to prevention. The Dr. offered that there was a option that works great, has little or no side effects and uses a naturally occurring bacteria, found in soil. I was thrilled. Since that time, Comfortis has been our preference to addressing fleas on our dogs. One of the best things about it - it's a once monthly pill, so it's easy to administer - no messy topicals! Two caveats with the product, though. It is not indicated for ticks, and is not approved for use in cats.

We look forward to another great year without fleas, and doing it in a safe manner.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She has extensive experience with animals including dogs, amphibians, exotic birds and cats. Contact her at

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