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Natural remedies for prevention
Fleas, ticks and lice are surface dwelling parasites. Fleas are small dark insects that run through the fur rapidly. Lice are tiny grey insects that move slowly and tend to form clusters around the earflaps. Ticks look like grey warts, they are immobile as the fix their mouthparts into the skin.

Pets will show signs of infestation by grooming and scratching excessively, some pets will show signs of hypersensitivity to flee bites (the saliva) with raised red bumps on the skin.

Adult fleas live 3-4 months laying tiny white eggs constantly. These hatch into larvae, which live in cracks and crevices, carpets, upholstery, blankets and even earth and sand, living on the dried blood from the droppings of the adult fleas. 1-2 weeks later they turn into pupa and 2 weeks later hatch and hop onto the nearest warm body to feed and multiply.

This cycle can take anything from 2 to 20 weeks to complete depending on the temperature of the environment; it only takes approximately 2 weeks in the summer months.

Poor Health Attracts Fleas
There are a few natural remedies for the prevention of fleas and also for flea control, BUT a healthy lifestyle, including a good natural diet and exercise can help to prevent fleas. Parasites are attracted to animals with ‘tasty’ blood, therefore feeding a lesser quantity of a high quality food such as Burns may avoid the build up of toxic waste in the system which attract the parasites.

Cleanliness in the pet and home is paramount to keeping fleas at bay. Vacuum around the house at least weekly, paying attention to cracks and crevices. Empty the vacuum straight away as the fleas could breed quite rapidly amongst the dust and debris in the bag. Launder your pets’ bed weekly in hot soapy water. Heat will kill fleas, larvae and eggs, so if possible dry the bedding using as high a heat as possible.

If your pet is infested, bathing may help using a gentle natural shampoo, containing flea and insect repellent. You could make your own adding Pennyroyal or Eucalyptus to a bottle of natural shampoo. Wet and lather around the neck first to prevent the fleas escaping up to the head and then do the same over the whole body, rinse lightly and shampoo again, keeping the shampoo on your pet for 5 minutes if that is possible. Rinse with a homemade rosemary infusion (1tsp dried or 1 tblsp fresh rosemary to 1 pint of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes) pour over the pet and towel dry.

Herbal flea powders can be used or again make one up using one part each of as many of the following powdered herbs as possible: Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Fennel, Yellow Dock, Wormwood and Rue. Apply sparingly to the base of the hairs paying attention to the neck, back and belly.

Regularly grooming your pet using a flea comb will also eliminate a lot of fleas, dip the comb in hot soapy water as this will kill the fleas.

A natural skin tonic for your pet can be made by thinly slicing 1 lemon and adding to 1 pint of boiling water, let it steep overnight. Sponge onto the animal and let it dry. Lemons contain a natural flea killing substance called d-limonene.

Garlic can be offered as a flea repellent either daily or every other day in small quantities (large amounts can cause anaemia). Brewers yeast either taken internally or again on the skin can also help.

Fleas can build up a resistance to any remedy and also to the chemicals we use to control them, so it may be wise to use different methods if possible.

Natural Healthcare for Pets by Richard Allport -Publisher: Element Books Ltd (March 2002)
Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats ( Rodale Press )

Dogs - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Burns Pet Nutrition

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