Fleas, Ticks & Mosquitoes
Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are a problem in most areas. The suggested means of dealing with them are numerous and sometimes daunting. Some methods are not widely known but should be, so, following is a list of all the available means of pest control that I have found. They are not in any particular order except to be separated into chemical and natural. First, is the best description of pest life cycles that I have found, followed by a list of chemical controls and then natural controls.
In simple terms, fleas are tiny little parasites that live primarily on your pet and feed from their blood. They lay eggs on your pet which then fall off into your home. Treatment will have to happen on your pet, in your home and in your yard. You cannot attack this lazily or they will beat you. You know you have the beginnings of fleas by their waste which looks like dirt on your pet's skin. When wet it becomes rusty. The following web site gives a wonderful explanation of the flea and it's lifestyle.
Ticks are about four to five times the size of a flea and are rather disgusting. They are bred and raised out of doors which makes controlling them easier than the flea. They can be very dangerous for your pet because they are a cause of Lyme disease. Be sure to visit the following web site to help you understand them more. Understanding is the beginning of prevention.
Mosquitoes are going to be between the flea and the tick on the difficulty level for protection and prevention. As with the others, mosquitoes carry disease but some of them are close to fatal. I am sure most of you know how to recognize them and that they fly so most yard sprays, or treatments will not work. So far, your best bet is to make sure there is absolutely no standing water anywhere near your yard. This is always a perfect breeding spot. The following web site goes deeper and to be honest, I was surprised. Please know that you cannot cure heart worm with herbal or natural remedies; only the chemical treatment from your vet is strong enough to save your pet. *The following is a web site I stumbled upon that gives many basics of fleas and ticks. It explains how to use many of the natural pest preventatives that have been suggested and most pesticides on the market. It takes a little bit of weeding through but I feel it is well worth the read.
Like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes worms are found in most areas and affect most animals, including humans. It is important to catch worms early as the older they are, the harder and longer it take to kill them. Though heart worm is passed by mosquito, I will be explaining the worm, itself, further here. There are not many known methods for controlling worms as prevention is the best method. Pills and pastes are the most commonly accepted means of both prevention and control. Though I can list preventative methods, the only way to kill heart worm is the treatment available by your vet. There is no natural cure.
- Heart worm
- A worm that lives in the heart it is easy to prevent, but most likely to be fatal. As stated above, they are spread from mosquito bites through mosquitoes that have bit infested dogs. There are no symptoms before the worm becomes a big enough problem that death is inevitable. If you live in a high mosquito area, chemicals may be your only option, but you must still have your dog tested yearly. If mosquitoes do not pose as much of a threat there are several repellants and deterrents that will help to keep your dog heart worm free.
- Living in the intestines they are small and thin and hook onto the intestinal wall to suck blood. If untreated they can cause anemia, intestinal bleeding and death. They can be contracted before birth and while nursing. Hookworm cannot be seen so is diagnosed by a fecal exam and testing. Symptoms include bloody stool, weight loss, pale gums, diarrhea and lethargy.
- There are two types of roundworm. The most common lives in the intestines and causes bloated appearance. Infection can come from mother before birth or from nursing. They can also become infected after eating infected feces, eating the carcass of an infected animal or ingesting infected soil. The eggs can live in the environment for several years. They grow to 7 inches in length and look like flat spaghetti. If left without care, the worm will grow to an enormous site and block the intestines causing death. Other symptoms include weight loss, diarrhea and vomiting. Preventing roundworms is best accomplished by cleaning up feces in your yard and not allowing your dog near foreign feces, trash or dead animals.
- Just as it sounds it is very long and looks like white, flat tape. It also affects the intestines and can easily be seen as broken pieces of the worm are dispelled in their feces, around their bedding or sticking out their anus. Most often they are found to still move. Common symptoms include stomach pain, nervousness, anal itching, vomiting and weight loss. Tapeworm is contracted by ingesting fleas.
- Long and thin they live in the colon and are not visible. They attach themselves to the intestinal wall and cause intestinal bleeding. Symptoms include anemia, weight loss, gas, diarrhea and bloody or mucus filled stool. This is the hardest kill kill of all the parasitic worms dogs can get. You can prevent infection by keeping feces cleaned from your yard and keeping your dog from foreign feces.
Included on this page are both homeopathic and chemical strategies, products on the market and also links to web sites for information and purchasing if the product is hard to find. Don't expect the first thing you try to work, as I am sure most of you already realize. In really horrible cases you may need to use many at a time. I will add my recommendations to the treatments I use, and why, as well as treatments I have used in the past. I bring up many items that your vet may be telling you are vital for your dogs health or you already feel that they are. My policy on this page is the same for any of my other pages. You are the only one who can make the right decisions for your pet and therefore it is your responsibility to educate yourself before making any decisions. Happy Hunting!
Chemical Pest Control
Flea & Tick Carpet Powders
Carpet powders will definitely kill all stages of fleas and will kill the ticks but will not protect your dog from them when they go outside so your dog still has chances of being bit. This is a product I am familiar with. The only brand I will use is Adams and it definitely works. When you apply to your carpet you have to brush it deep into the fibers or it will not work and you need to leave it in for 24 hours. Make sure your animals will not come into contact during that time and do not let anyone walk around barefoot. It is a pesticide and will harm your skin and it is toxic to breathe. These powders will settle in the air during application and you will breathe it in so I suggest application with no fans on and open your windows.
Flea & Tick Shampoos
On this particular method I am very adept. I have tried many different flea/tick shampoos and preferred any brand that had a base of oatmeal to protect the animal's skin from drying (it did not help with dry skin, but helped to keep the other chemicals from irritating). This will remove fleas from the body, but will not repel; regardless of what the bottle states. Some say they may be used on nursing pets or puppies, but I seriously do not recommend it. Other safer methods include regular shampoo, oil and dish soap; explained under natural pest control. As for ticks, the chemicals will not start to work for at least three days so you will need to pull out your gloves before grooming and daily pick them off your pet and drown them in rubbing alcohol.
Flea & Tick Dips
I have a problem with using dips as they are harmful to yours and your pet's skin, harsh on their coat and toxic if they swallow it. They are also extremely hard on the environment. They do kill all stages of the fleas if you use it exactly as the box recommends. If you do not you will find you have wasted your time. Regardless of what the box says do not go near it with any dog or cat under the age of 12 weeks. I used this many years ago and after two tries gave up on them completely. Now I want you to realize that products on the market and changing continually. If you happen to know of a new product that you have used that does not cause the skin irritations and is less dangerous or is not more natural please let me know.
Flea & Tick Topical/Liquid/Pill Treatments
I have tried all the products on the market and some may work somewhat but there were none that I could depend on. There are many people who swear by them and say they really work. I just am warning you not to expect miracles from any product because there is not one available that will work for everyone and every situation. There is also word that the cheaper shelf brands are highly dangerous to your pet (as if the other chemicals aren't toxic themselves). How they work is by absorbing into you pets bloodstream and supposedly killing fleas and ticks when they feed. I would say the process was comparable to swallowing those very same chemicals. Which they do make available; imagine that. Now I am being sarcastic and for those of you who really believe in them, I ask you to forgive me. But I do have a problem with feeding my pets chemicals that have serious health risks. If you choose to do this at least stick with the vet recommended brands because the other products are a waste of money. Whatever you do, do not ever treat a breeding female or a puppy under the age of 12 weeks. The puppy may end up with brain damage and the next time you breed your female you will find either dead puppies upon delivery or she will just miscarry them and not be able to breed again for up to 2 years.
Flea & Tick Yard Chemicals
Whether or not this works depends only upon where you live. I hired a professional exterminator for my yard in Arizona and asked for flea and tick treatments to be added. Some companies only do this if you ask so always ask. This worked for me in the west but when I moved to the east I found it to be very ineffective and a waste of time and money (whether a professional or do- it- yourself products). For either a professional or home products be sure to buy enough to cover your area and check that it will kill fleas and ticks. If you want a professional make sure that they come once a month. Here in the southeast I have come across many who have said that you only need them out once every quarter. Take it from me, they are wrong. Find a company who will come monthly and will offer a discount if they work under a contract.
Heart Worm Pills
I am not a fan of heart worm medication. I will tell you all now that in many states it is completely unnecessary. In hot and dry climates there will not be a mosquito problem and therefore treating your pet for something they do not have is not recommended. For everyone else who do have to worry about heart worm, veterinarians are really only recommending one brand which is Heart Guard. I have yet to hear about any others but I am sure they are out there. Make sure that you trust the vet you are going to for information and ask them why they believe their recommended brand is the right one. Your pet is safest when you don't blindly take what you are given and instead practice your right to ask all about that product and the right to refuse should you feel it. My suggestion is to lay off the insecticides (which is exactly what heart worm medication is). Remember, Heart Guard is only for prevention. Make sure that if your pet tests positive for heart worms that you use a prescription to treat existing heart worms. Heart worm medication is very dangerous for the health of puppies so make sure your female is clear.
Flea & Tick Collars
Like most over- the- counter products, I have never known these to work. Even if they claim to be all natural. For the most part they dry out and irritate your pets neck and only work on fleas or ticks if they try to move for the head. They aren't as stupid as all that and will be happy to settle in areas away from it.
This is another product I have used before. Of all the available methods this is the most obnoxious. It will kill all stages of fleas and all ticks that are indoors but only after two applications. I have never known them to work in one. Be aware that whenever you treat the house you have to treat outdoors and your pet. If this seems to be your last line of defense then you will have to suffer through it and I suggest Adams again for this method as it is the only one that works, unless you are lucky enough to find a product called DeFlea which I mention again under sprays but it is incredibly hard to find, even on the internet. The first step is to fog your vehicle and then when the box recommends, roll down your windows and air out. Then put enough carriers in your car to carry all your pets. Next bathe each of your animals with whatever bathing method you choose and once dry, carry them immediately to their carrier in the car and move on to the next pet. Once you are done you will have to leave your home for at least an hour and then return to open all your windows and doors to ventilate and then leave with your pets again for three more hours before you can return home. When you are back home you will have to leave your pets in the car while you clean up the cans and towels from the application and then scrub all hard surfaces of residue and wash all pet bedding. Next vacuum all the rest of your floors to pick up anything killed. Sound like fun? I wish you luck. I will never go through that again and it took me five applications to come to that decision.
Flea & Tick Topical/Carpet Sprays
This does work. It will not last for long but it does work. There are many sprays on the market and most of them are formulated for use on pets and surfaces. There are both chemical and natural products but the one I highly recommend is called DeFlea. They make many other flea and tick treatments as well but you may not be able to find all of them in your area. DeFlea is wonderful as it always works and there is no limit to the amount of times you can use it and no age or medical restrictions. As always be sure not to apply to a nursing female's nipples. It is, however, not healthy for cats to ingest so after application you will have to wash your cat because of her grooming habits.
Many companies make specific vacuum powders that will kill fleas and ticks but I have tried all of them and found none of the relief they all promise. Not to mention it is highly toxic. Hmmm.. toxic and does not work. Easy math. In exchange mothballs, borax, borate crystals, and natural carpet powders will all do the trick.
Vaccinations play a key part in your pet’s overall health. How much vaccinating your pet needs depends on you, but keeping your pet in the best of health will naturally repel pests. My suggestion is to always complete your core puppy vaccinations. New veterinary recommendations for vaccinating are found at Vaccines. I have defined all the types of available vaccines, manufacturers, explanations of the disease and their vaccines as well as recommended vaccinating schedules. You have to be aware that if you travel many airlines, cruise ships, and trains will only allow pets on board if the vaccinations they require are current. Vet offices and kennels are the same so in some situations you will have to do as you are told.
This is by far the only chemical treatment I whole heartedly recommend. There are products on the market that you spray on your dog while they are outside and like human sprays, will ward off mosquitoes but do not leave a nasty smell. I was so excited to hear about this that I cannot wait to try it out. It is widely available at major pet stores so be sure to ask. Keep in mind that it is possible for your pet to have an allergic reaction to the spray so watch your pet closely for any signs of a reaction then discontinue and choose a natural method. Also be sure to read the directions for how long the spray is expected to work and reapply as necessary.
Natural Pest Control
Vacuum & Cleaning
A good preventive method is to put down towels everywhere your pet normally lies and then wash those towels once a week. Deposited flea eggs are therefore cleaned out regularly. You may also catch a tick or two that has not attached itself to your pet yet. Regular vacuuming and emptying of the vacuum bag also helps. It will take care of all the stages of fleas and adult ticks but may not pick up every flea egg or larva. Vacuum at least once a week but I recommend once a day. By adding flea powder, borate crystals, or moth balls to the bag you kill the fleas and ticks and cut down on bag replacement. If you put nothing in your bag you will have to replace the bag every time you vacuum. Fleas and ticks are very hard wearing and will climb through your vacuum components to get back out and they will do it very quickly. Having your carpets professionally cleaned WILL NOT get rid of the fleas, unless they use something that is meant to kill fleas. However, it will remove much of the eggs, larvae and the food that the larvae feeds on, so it can be useful in conjunction with other methods. Not much is said for ticks so you will want to ask the company you choose.
Shampoo, Oil & Dawn
In truth, you do not need a chemical shampoo to kill fleas. Most shampoos on the market will kill as well as Dawn dish soap (a favorite of rescue organizations) and all oils. To test your shampoo take a flea off your pet and put it into a mix of water and shampoo then wait. If the flea jumps out then the shampoo won't kill it. The dish soap will not need to be tested, it works immediately. The oil will also not need to be tested, but it does not kill on contact; it smothers the nasty critters. To kill with shampoo apply as normal, working it into skin very thoroughly then sitting for 5 minutes. If you do not wait you will not kill all the fleas. Rinse and condition as normal. Dawn dish soap does not need to sit, it will kill on contact, but it will dry out the skin and require a really good conditioner applied twice. To kill with oil (any oil) massage very thoroughly into dry coat all the way to the skin. Get it every where!! Cover in an old towel and sit for 5 minutes. Wash twice and condition as usual. As for ticks, even the chemicals will not start to work for at least three days so you will need to pull out your gloves before grooming and daily pick them off your pet and drown them in rubbing alcohol. Repellents and deterrents are your best friends with ticks.
Lavender Soap & Lemon Juice
This is another method I am very adept at. The lavender soap is very hard to come by but the good news is that the lemon juice works beautifully! It will not kill anything that I have noticed, but it is the best repellant I have ever come across for fleas and mosquitoes. I have not dealt with ticks in ages so if you have a tick problem please tell me if it repels ticks! The other great plus is that you can use it for pregnant, nursing (keep it off the nipples!), young, or sick animals. You will want to make sure that your pet has no scratches or abrasions and be sure to keep it away from their eyes and ears as the lemon juice will cause some serious discomfort! To apply, dilute pure lemon juice with water 50/50. After you have shampooed and conditioned your pet and rinsed, pour on the lemon and rub it into the skin and hair. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinse. Be sure to reapply weekly. As with the shampoos I do not recommend you use this on puppies under 16 weeks as they will get sick sitting there wet while waiting for the soap or juice to work.
This is something I have not tried yet but trust me that I think it worth a try. It is a very old method for cutting down on yard pests that I am told has been used in Louisiana for ever. It works by drying up a flea or tick that comes in contact. Add them to your vacuum bag to kill any fleas or ticks you pick up when you clean or sprinkle them in your yard to dry up any flea or tick that comes in contact. Lay them out whole and when you mow the mower will shred them and disperse them as you go. just be sure not to use your bag. This will not work on all stages of fleas and ticks as not all stages move, nor will it kill every flea or tick in your yard but it can help. If you have an outdoor dog be sure to avoid this method. Most puppies will eat anything they can that looks interesting and many adults have been known to chew on grass and you do not want them ingesting these.
Here is another trick I have yet to try. My reason for not using it is purely financial. Nematodes are microscopic worms that infect many different kinds of bugs and lay their eggs in the corpse. They are absolutely harmless for all animals and humans and wipe out many different kinds of bugs quickly, depending on the type of nematode you release. Application is easy but must be done immediately and will not survive in all climates. They prefer warm and moist temperatures and must have plenty of rain or watering. If they will survive in your climate you can be sure they will wipe out most pests including fleas and ticks. Note that they only kill ticks that are on the ground and do nothing for those in the trees. For the most part they must be ordered and shipped and it can be somewhat expensive as they have to be shipped next day air. Then you need to be prepared to water them into your lawn within 24 hours of receipt to keep them alive. If your winters get cold you will have to reapply in the spring but in many cases a mild winter will not stop them. The following link will lead you to a company in Tucson that seems to know the most about their nematodes and offer the best prices.
I started using these with my daughter when she was an infant during mosquito season and, as far as I could tell, did work if you keep the batteries in good shape. I believe they work on all mosquitoes and will not bother your dogs and cats but may bother your smaller pets. If you want to try this you can buy them pretty small and clip them to you pet's collar when they go out. If your pet seems bothered by it then remove it. I have not tried it on my pets but I feel it is worth trying. You can also purchase these for your home, it does work and will keep your home completely pest free. My parents have only seen the rare, tiny spider once some seasons.
There are way too many of these to mention here, many herbal deterrents are available via internet. Heart worm is caused by mosquitoes and breeding females passing it to their puppies. If you can prevent the mosquitoes from biting then you can prevent the use of insecticides. The most effective I have heard of is dryer sheets. I would suggest tying a sheet to the metal tag loop on your pets collar, not in direct contact with their skin, before sending them outside during peek mosquito seasons. If you do have a worm problem then the treatments vets prescribe for current worm invasion should be used and then you will need to detoxify your pet. Also be aware that the natural deterrents for fleas and ticks will also work for mosquitoes!
Herbal Worm Control
I have recently used one form of worm control that I find actually works. It is recommended that you retreat your dog after 6 months and the treatment is extensive, but safe and effective. I have had no luck with the commercial herbal wormers. The type I use is a crushed herb mixture that you sprinkle on your dogs food. If he will not eat it this way, the site owner has a recipe for peanut butter balls that your dog will eat. The site is just below. Both formula 1 and 2 are necessary. Give 1 tsp of formula 1 daily for 3 days. Then give 1 tsp of formula 2 once a week for 8 weeks. Repeat in 6-12 months. Depending on where you live and severity of original worm infection.
Brewers Yeast, Garlic & Linoleic
Another Method I have tried and I am still using. I started in May of 2005 and noticed that it may not have repelled the fleas but it kept them from biting. It is a pill given to your pet once a day and I recommend two pills each day unless you have an infestation then double the dose. As I said before, I do not have ticks but I have a friend in another part of Georgia who says they are keeping the ticks from burrowing as well. You can buy this in most health stores but I recommend ordering from the link below as they are the only company to offer it in the right dosage and they are the cheapest. Be sure to buy the formula with Linoleic to help cure your pets coat from any pest attack.
Flea & Tick Combs
The available combs are specific to the removal of fleas and ticks. They work very well and keep your hands off the pests. They do not keep them from coming back or kill them. They just simply remove them. Once off, drop fleas into a shampoo and water mixture and ticks into rubbing alcohol.
Good Health & Diet
Many homeopathic vets have said that most healthy pets repel fleas and ticks on their own. From what I have noticed with my pets I agree. If one of my pets has less energy than the others, or is pregnant, they tend to have more of a pest problem. Plenty of the recommended exercise amount per breed is essential. For breeds, like the shih tzu that do not require walks, be sure that they spend plenty of time outside of their cage playing with you. Next make sure that you are feeding them a healthy diet. Some vets and owners swear by brands only found in vet offices. If you choose to try one of these ask if your vet uses it themselves because chances are they are only being paid to advertise it. If you prefer store brands I have seen nothing wrong with Iams/Eukanuba, Pedigree or Science Diet but I have noticed that I had less of a pest problem when I switched to an all natural pet food. If you feel you are already feeding your pet the best diet for your pet then keep doing it. Do not switch your pet's diet just because someone tells you. Do your research. It is also suggested that a raw diet is best. For some pet owners this is an expensive way to feed your pet but if you are capable I have known many animals to benefit from it. I only suggest you keep it raw and not feed your pet processed meats or cheeses. The first three links are dry food websites that are all natural. They deliver if they are in your area or will ship in some cases. My pets all swear by them both. The next link is a web site that explains the benefits and how- tos of a raw diet as well as what to feed.
I am afraid I know very little about this. I have included a couple of links that explain what it is and how to use it. It is not on my list of things to try but like I have said before, some methods work in some climates and for some people and not for others. Plus it is also a good idea to combat pests in as many ways as possible to keep your pets safe.
Crystal borate powders kill fleas, larvae, and eggs through abrasion. The edges of the crystals scratch the exterior coating of the fleas, causing leakage of body fluids and death by dehydration. The crystals are simple to apply, non toxic to people, pets, or plants as long as it is not ingested. If your home is not constantly clean and your puppy not watched like a hawk, I would not try this. It can take two to three weeks for fleas to completely disappear. I am in the process of trying this myself as "20 Mule Team Borax" is cheap and easy to purchase in any grocery store. The goal is to vacuum very well and then sprinkle the crystals all over carpeted areas and then work into the carpet using a broom. Keep your home ventilated. There is no odor but you really should not be breathing this in. Borax only works inside, as moisture in any way ruins it, so keep from getting your carpet wet. Leave in for at least two weeks, do not vacuum in this time, and then vacuum thoroughly. Remember to remove you pets while putting into the carpet and when removing it. You do not want your pets breathing the dust either.
Sorry everyone but my knowledge on nosodes is pretty slim. From what I understand they are an alternative to vaccines. Some people swear by them and others feel they are very dangerous. I have to leave this one up to you to decide.
Not too knowledgeable on echinacea either. I have never used it, but I have followed other advice given from the same source in which I originally found this method. Echinacea root is toxic to mosquito larvae, but it is also an immunity booster. There is very little information available on the dosage, but it can betaken internally as well as grown to deter fleas. The best info I could find was at EHow which stated to open a capsule and sprinkle onto food. Capsules come in 400 mg if you would rather grow and harvest yourself. Available in liquid or powder if you are purchasing.
This is one method I recommend. The formula is found at the web address below. I suggest making a washable and hard wearing pillow with a zipper opening and add the mixed herbs to cedar chips inside the bag. Replace it every two months to be sure it remains potent enough to keep fleas away. If you are not much for sewing you can shop for a cedar bag that allows you to replace the filling when necessary. Since the herbs used are toxic to dogs adding it to bedding is much safer than making a bag to hang around the home or from your dogs collar.
Naturally effective in repelling fleas and other pests from dog bedding. Safe for them to chew on and easy to find in many forms from chips to shredded. Check out the info on Herbal bags above to increase the deterring power.
A bottle of mixed herbs in liquid form that can be diluted with water to make a topical spray. Harmful if your dog is a licker, but will work well to deter fleas if he can keep his tongue inside his mouth. The formula can be purchased from the website below.
This is a simple method that can be used with any other in deterring or repelling pests. If your dog or cat can produce a medium to long length coat, the coat will help to deter pests. This is not a sure-fire method and if not used with other methods will not repel anything for very long.