Looking for safe, non-toxic alternatives to commercial flea and tick products? Natural pet care experts have great advice for dog and cat owners looking to go green. There are lots of interesting ideas for natural flea and tick protection. Just be sure to talk to your vet first, and carefully research any plant-based products. Certain plants and plant essences can be toxic or cause allergic reactions in pets, especially in large doses.
Here are some tips to get started:
An ounce of prevention…
Prevention is the key to effective flea and tick control. Regular grooming with a fine flea comb can catch any fleas before they latch on to your pet. It’s also important to vacuum rugs and furniture and wash pet bedding frequently. Look for lawn products that contain beneficial microorganisms called nematodes that eat flea and tick larvae. They’re safe for your lawn, your pets, and also for beneficial insects like ladybugs.
Make your yard less tick-friendly by keeping grass well-trimmed and removing piles of wood and debris. Monitor your pet’s activity in grassy and wooded areas. Ticks can take up to a day to attach to a host, so make a daily inspection of your pet’s fur (especially around the head, shoulders, and neck) after he spends time outside. Remove attached ticks by pulling straight out with tweezers or your fingers.
Did you know you can make a simple flea trap for when you’re away on vacation and the house is empty? Hang a light bulb 6-12 inches above a pan of soapy water or a board covered in sticky tape. With no warm bodies around, fleas will be attracted to the heat of the light and get caught in the trap.
Suspect that an area of your yard is infested with ticks? Make a tick drag by attaching a piece of white flannel to a stick. Sweep it around the area and the ticks will hop on to it. The white color makes them easier to see. Put the cloth in a bucket of soapy water to drown the ticks.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder composed of the fossils of diatoms, a hard-shelled algae. It is a natural insecticide that works by dehydrating the exoskeletons of insects. If you have a flea infestation, sprinkle it on the carpets in your house. To avoid inhalation, remove pets from the area and put on a mask. Let it sit for several hours, then vacuum.
Natural pet care experts say that common household items can act as natural tick repellants. Add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food or water to add acidity to his blood, which repels ticks. Steep a cut lemon in boiling water overnight. Put the citrus solution in a spray bottle and spritz on your dog before trips outside to ward off ticks.
Remember that natural flea and tick control is safe for your pet because it’s gentle. Natural prevention and control methods should be used in combination with each other for maximum effectiveness.
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