Pet owners will try just about anything to rid their pets – and their homes – of fleas. But flea-prevention medications can cost a bundle, as well as irritate pets’ and their owners’ skin. In fact, most flea treatments are accompanied with cautions to avoid contact with skin and clothing, keep out of reach of children and apply in a well-ventilated room. Who, then, really wants to put those same toxins on their beloved furry friends? Still, thousands of pets may become sick or even die each year as a result of chronic low-dose exposure to insecticides through their flea and tick collars. But while there are countless stories of pets, and even people, who have suffered the ill effects of flea treatments, finding alternatives can be a problem for most people.
Fleas are Practically Indestructible
Fleas are similar to cockroaches in that they adapt to their environment. They become stronger and more immune to the popular commercial flea-control chemicals with each generation. Plus, most of the fleas are living in your pet’s environment, rather than in its fur. For every flea found on your pet, there are probably about 30 more living in your home, and a single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day. The lifespan of a flea is about 90 days, but the hibernating cocoon can survive up to year without feeding. While controlling fleas does require some effort, there are safe and effective ways to control them than by using chemical-based commercial flea control products.
Make Your Own Homeopathic Flea Powder
This homemade flea powder is composed of diatom flour, neem powder, yarrow powder and eucalyptus oil. All four ingredients are traditionally used as very effective insect repellents and recommend by many holistic vets as a successful flea and insect killer and repellent. You can even use this flea powder it in your yard to repel and kill fleas, ticks, spiders, ants, mosquitoes, etc. The ingredients can be purchased at any health-food store, and enough to treat pets for at least a year can usually be purchased for less than $20.
1 cup Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
1/2 cup Neem Powder
1/2 cup Yarrow Powder
20 Drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil (except when used on cats)
Mix all ingredients together and put in a shaker top container, such as a mason jar with holes punched into the lid. Apply the powder from head to tail along your pet’s spine in dry conditions. Brush your pet’s fur going the opposite direction so the powder comes in contact with the skin, avoiding the eyes and nose. Rub the powder on the belly and legs, and try to get the flea powder on as much skin as you can.
How Often Should You Use the Powder?
To use the flea powder as a general repellent, simply apply it once a month during active flea season. If the pet gets a bath or gets wet, the powder will need to be reapplied. If, however, you are fighting a flea infestation, you will need to apply it more often, depending on how bad of an infestation you are dealing with. You might only need to apply it once a week, or you may need to apply it as frequently as every other day. If you have a flea infestation, you will also need to apply this flea powder to your floors, windowsills, door sills, pet bedding, sofa, etc. Focus your efforts where your pet spends the most amount of time, since fleas and their eggs will be the most concentrated in those areas. Just apply a light dusting to the areas in your house and leave it there overnight. Vacuum in the morning or sometime the next day. Do this once a week for 4 weeks if you have a flea infestation. Even if you’re diligent, it could still take as long as four weeks to rid your home and pets of infestation.
How Does It Work?
Diatomaceous Earth is soft powder made up of fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Under a microscope, diatom flour is very sharp, allowing it to puncture the exoskeleton of insects and causing them death by dehydration. Diatomaceous Earth kills insects by physical action, not chemical. And DE particles are so small it feels like a fine baby powder to humans and pets.
Neem is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for centuries as a very effective herbal insect repellent, repelling fleas, ticks, lice, mites, ants and mosquitoes. Neem has a few natural active ingredients that make it effective, including Azadirachtin, which disrupts the metamorphosis of insect larvae. Azadirachtin is so repulsive to insects that they would rather starve to death than touch anything with traces of neem. Neem also has many moisturizing properties and helps get rid of excess dryness and scaling. It helps soothe irritated skin. The anti-bacterial properties of neem prevent development of any further skin infection. Because Diatomaceous Earth can by very drying, Neem helps protect your pet from excess dry skin.
Yarrow’s most ancient and well-known use in herbal medicine is as a natural wound healer. Yarrow is a great anti-inflammatory for skin conditions and soothes irritated skin. It is also anti-microbial and has pain-relieving properties. Because pets with fleas tend to get secondary infections from flea bites, yarrow protects them from those secondary infections and also helps soothe red, irritated skin.
Eucalyptus is a natural bug and insect repellent. There is evidence that the components in eucalyptus oil are as effective and sometimes more effective than DEET. Eucalptus oil also has antiseptic properties for healing after bites.
Have you ever battled fleas in your home and on your pets? What worked best for you?