Fight Fleas Naturally
Fight Fleas Naturally
March 2007 All rights reserved
In the battle against fleas it seems the only ones who win are the big drug companies. Millions up on millions of dollars are spent on chemicals to kill these little blood sucking disease carrying pests. People ask me all the time how do I deal with the little nasties on our organic farm. The answer is with herbs.
Much of our time on the farm is spent creating or maintaining balance, balanced diets for the animals that live here, balanced soils for the plants, a balance of plants, and so on. Through all this I have come to realize that fighting fleas is much the same approach. It involves finding and feeding the balanced natural organic diet best for your individual dog, keeping your dog clean and when you do find that occasional flea after a trial or show, taking care of it with a flea comb and bottle of alcohol. Healthy dogs rarely have problems with fleas, and since I feed a natural diet I feel they are even more resilient to flea bites and perhaps even less attractive. Our dogs just do not seem bothered by them. Regular bathing helps to control the problem too, as does keeping the kennel area clean. There will be times however when fleas present themselves in numbers sufficient to make you take stronger actions.
I have tried two herbal formulas that I like and they both seem effective against fleas. The first is a rinse (from the kind folks at Brookby Herbs) to use after you shampoo your dog in a good homemade organic herbal shampoo or equivalent store bought variety. For this recipe you should purchase or use from your garden fresh herbs or freshly dried herbs. I found it best to take a piece of cheesecloth, tie the herbs up in a ball, and then place in the boiling water to seep. For ourLabradorswith their dense coats, I found 1 cup = 1 part works well. If you are using this volume of herbs, you will need a large soup kettle to make the tea. Add at least 1 gallon of the boiling water. More herbs or less water makes a stronger rinse, just don’t get carried away and make it too strong, as this will dry the dog’s coat and skin too much.
Herbal Flea Rinse
1 part feverfew flowers
1 part mullein flowers
1 part yarrow flowers, leaves and stems
1 part celery seeds (freshly ground)
3 parts calendula flowers
Make a tea rinse of herbs by covering the mixture with boiling water and allowing to stand until cooled. For extra strength, you can also add 6-10 drops of Bitter Orange essential oil to each 8 ounces of rinse. Do not wash this out of the coat.
This next recipe, also from Brookby, is good for sprinkling on the ground or in bedding too. If I am sprinkling on the ground around the kennel, I double the Diatomaceous earth.
Herbal Flea Repellent Powder
1 part diatomaceous earth
2 parts feverfew flowers
2 parts mullein flowers
2 parts yarrow flowers, leaves and stems
1 part sage or thyme
Combine the above ingredients, making sure they are as fresh as possible. You can use a mortar and pestle to grind ingredients. Make in small, fresh batches. Sprinkle and brush into your animal’s coat daily. (Although flea powders aren’t as effective as herbal rinses, they are an easy method for when you are busy).
Speaking of kennels, if fleas and ticks are a problem in your area be sure to have profuse plantings around the kennel of the three M’s: mint, marigolds and mums. Fleas and flowers do mix, the strong aroma repels them nicely. For humans however it is an attractant, not to mention they add a nice touch to the kennels.