The warmer weather is here and for cat and dog owners, this can mean flea infestations. Prevention is better than cure.
Food is medicine
- Fleas are attracted to pets with low immunity - they are much less likely to infest a healthy animal. Ensure you are providing an optimum diet of plenty of fresh meat and organs from a variety of protein sources and add in oily fish like sardines and mackerel which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. These help maintain a healthy coat and skin.
- As cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their nutritional requirements can only be met with a diet based on animal tissue, which includes high protein and fat. They have no requirement for carbohydrates (grains, vegetables, fruits etc).
- Dogs on the other hand will benefit from some fruit and veges added to their diet, in moderation, to boost antioxidants. Wild canines eat the gut contents of their prey and they also scavenge fruit, berries and other vegetable material.
- Consider lightly steamed broccoli and cabbage, capsicum and carrot. But avoid onions, legumes, macadamias and avocados, which can be toxic to dogs. Some of the best fruits to feed are blueberries, melon, banana and apple - again in moderation and try to ensure they’re organic to avoid chemicals.
Declaring war on fleas
So if the worst happens and you find a flea or two lurking around your pet’s ears, shoulders, armpits, base of the tail or belly, it’s time to take action.
- Dogs can be bathed with a natural shampoo enhanced with flea repellent oils or use a Neem soap bar. Follow up with an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse. This will help to balance your dog’s pH and fleas don’t like that. Mix a 50/50 solution of water to ACV and spray on your dog daily (avoid eyes and wounds).
- If you want to continue a loving relationship with your cat, then forget about bathing him/her. But you can spritz your cat with the 50/50 water/ACV solution and rub into its fur. Avoid eyes and nose. Ingesting a little diluted ACV during grooming will not harm your cat.
- Put a half to one teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar in your dog’s water bowl daily. Use quarter to half for cats - they may or may not accept it. This will make your pet’s blood inhospitable to fleas.
- Flea comb your pet regularly (remove and drop into soapy water and flush down the toilet).
- Diatomaceous Earth is a non-toxic powder made up of fossilized organisms called diatoms. They break apart flea eggs and dry them out before they can grow into adult fleas. Diatomaceous earth (DE) rubbed/brushed into the coat, smothers fleas and is non-toxic. Put on slowly so as not to create a cloud so neither you nor the animal breathe in the dust. Make sure you use human grade DE.
Natural home-made flea repellents
Citrus rinse flea spray for cats
To create a solution that is gentle enough for a cat with sensitive skin, bring one litre of water to the boil with one or two lemons (cut up/skin on). Take off heat and let the lemons steep in the water overnight. Then, strain all the lemon particles out of the mixture and pour into a spray bottle. Apply the liquid to the cat's skin, making sure to thoroughly dampen all fur. Take care not to get any of the lemon mixture in the cat's eyes. This can be repeated up to once a week. Can also be used on bedding.
Everyday flea repellent for dogs
Slice one organic lemon into thin rounds and place in a large stainless steel or glass bowl with 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, one sprig of lavender and one sprig of garden sage (Salvia officinalis). Add four cups of boiling water. Cover and steep overnight. Strain liquid into a spray bottle. It will last in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Use daily.
- Vacuum frequently.
- Wash all bedding once a week in very hot water – add a cup of lemon juice to get rid of any remaining fleas.
- Diatomaceous Earth can also be sprinkled on the carpet, left overnight and then vacuumed up. http://www.denz.co.nz/
- Alternatively you can use baking soda or even coarse salt on the carpet, leave overnight and then vacuum up. These will dry out the flea eggs and kill them.
Useful New Zealand products
Flee Flea is a NZ natural, nutritional supplement for cats and dogs. When sprinkled on food daily it helps deter fleas and may improve the health and wellbeing of small animals. Ingredients include Brewers Yeast, Garlic, Wheatgerm, Kelp, Dolomite, Ascorbic Acid, Lecithin, Wheat Bran and Sulphur. http://www.fleeflea.co.nz/prod...i
Organic Neem shampoo/soap bar/spray: