Are you prepared to defend against these critters?
I think it's great that there seems to be more interest in using repellents that are non-toxic. Yet I have seen many natural repellents that do not work which understandably causes frustration and leads to people going back to the chemical products.
If you are determined to be rid of toxic products for good keep reading!
When you are able to avoid using toxic repellents you will avoid all the negative health consequences that are associated with these products. Another issue is that the parasites are developing a resistance to many of the poisonous products that have been used against them. When the toxic products don't work effectively and successive treatments are given, it's the pet that ends up suffering for it. The long term solution to parasite prevention lies in achieving true health. While you are working your way towards that goal you can rely upon the power of plants to assist you.
But before we even think about a repellent to apply to our pets and ourselves I want to first go over what OTHER steps we can take to minimize these annoying critters!
The first and best prevention is to achieve a state of vibrant health including a robust immune system. Why? Because parasites are attracted to hosts that have high amounts of toxins built up in their bodies.
Parasites thrive when they team up with a toxic host.
Do you have any thoughts on why that is?
What would you say if I told you that parasites offer their toxic hosts a very valuable benefit?
Internal (and possibly external) parasites are able to take on some of the hosts toxic load unto themselves. They do in fact help their host to detox. Nature is truly amazing!
But when parasites die they release neurotoxins, heavy metals, viruses, and other toxins. Supporting detoxification pathways while working on eliminating parasites is advised.
Providing a wholesome fresh diet, minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins, minimizing stress and getting a moderate amount of exercise are the fundamentals of building great health. When our pets are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle parasites will be less interested in them. Because our environment is sadly quite toxic, regular detoxification is very much needed for most pets (and their humans) to maintain great health.
While we are addressing these fundamentals, and perhaps making changes to improve our pet's lifestyle so that they will be naturally unattractive to parasites we can employ some other strategies to keep the critters at bay.
Help for the home and yard
There are several ways to discourage fleas and ticks from taking up residence in both our indoor and outdoor spaces. Ticks prefer woodlands and area's with tall grass. Make sure to keep your grass trimmed short and prune back shrubs around walkways. Do not leave piles of leaves, sticks or pulled up weeds laying around. Keeping the grass nice and short will also reduce the numbers of mosquito's. Of course we all know to get rid of any standing water when possible as well.
Fleas prefer warm, shady and humid spots. Only a small percentage of the total flea population will be on the animal at any given time, so to successfully eradicate them from your space you will need to address the whole population. Vacuuming, washing bedding often and dusting diatomaceous earth in corners, along baseboards, on carpets and on cloth surfaces will go a long way to stopping the flea life cycle. There are also non-toxic flea "traps" that involve a pan with soapy water to catch and drown the fleas with some type of light source to attract them (lamp, night light, candle, etc).
Another option when you have fleas in outdoor area's is to apply nematodes to the soil. Nematodes are microscopic worms that love to dine on fleas. Bonus - they also like to chow down on cut worms, Japanese beetle larvae, weevils and more, plus they are not harmful to mammals or plants! You can find them at garden stores or order online.
For larger properties, you might look into getting some guinea fowl, chickens or ducks (they all like to eat ticks!).
Make your outdoor spaces uninviting to pests by growing plants that they dislike such as:
Sweet grass, Marigold, Citronella, Lavender, Catmint, Catnip, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Geranium, Peppermint, Garlic and Lemonbalm.
Lastly, you can treat your outdoor spaces with a non-toxic repellent. Two that I personally like are Cedarcide and Mosquito Barrier.
Ticks take between 12 and 24 hours to start feeding, so checking your pet regularly is very effective to prevent the transmission of tick born disease. Use a fine-tooth tick comb to groom your pet, with extra attention given to the undersides of the body and tail, the head and behind the ears. You can use the same process to brush fleas out of the coat.
There are both oral and topical substances that can provide some sensory camouflage, masking you or your pet's scent that these pesky critters find attractive.
Ingesting garlic orally (daily moderate amounts of raw garlic are safe for dogs) and apple cider vinegar can be of benefit.
Homeopathic remedies can also be used orally for prevention. I do recommend Mozi-Q, I have found it helps to minimize the number of mosquito bites.
Though I have not personally used them, I have heard a lot of very good feedback about Ambertick collars. I would gladly try them if they came in a large enough neck size for my crew!
You can also make your own natural spray repellent. One of the benefits of making your own is that you can customize the ingredients to repel specific bugs.
You can use Cedarcide as a base and add in essential oils or you can make it completely from scratch. Since water and oil do not mix, it is advisable to add a natural emulsifier to your repellent. An emulsifying agent is a substance that can bind together two un-mixable liquids such as oil and water. Aloe vera gel and witch hazel are both natural emulsifiers along with helping to support healthy skin.
To make up a 100 ml spray bottle:
Select a variety of essential oils for the particular bugs you want to repel. I like to have about 40 drops of essential oil for every 100 ml's. Then add in 2 tbsp of Aloe vera gel, 2 tbsp of Neem oil, 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and fill the bottle to about 2 thirds with witch hazel. Top off with distilled water. Shake well before using.
Please only use 100% pure essential oils with pets! If you require guidance you can receive that here.
(Use caution with Neem oil in pregnant or nursing animals, or on male animals that are actively breeding as it has the potential to affect fertility in larger doses). Keep in mind that virtually all substances have the potential to cause some toxic reactions, it's all dependent on the dose and how they are used.
Using a multi pronged approach for keeping parasites at bay will set you up for success and allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Now go and enjoy the outdoors!
Author - Jennifer Lee
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