Any pet owner knows that one of the big responsibilities you have towards your pet is keeping them clean and free of pests like ticks, mites, fleas, and other creepy-crawlies. Unfortunately, every pet owner also knows that the commercially available solutions to these problems (various sprays, powders, and drops) usually have a lot of harsh chemicals in them. So what's a pet lover to do if they want to stay all-natural?
Kelly from Primally Inspired faced a similar conundrum not too long ago, and after doing a lot of research, she found a solution.
Kelly's dog, Bentley, had gone five whole years without any fleas.
Unfortunately, shortly after Bentley turned five, the family moved to a house deep in the woods of Pennsylvania and quickly discovered that their new home was seriously infested with fleas!
Kelly had to watch as her poor dog was scratching himself raw after getting bitten so much, but she was reluctant to use the commercial flea treatments because they are one of the leading causes of pet poisoning. These products even have huge warnings for people not to let them come into contact with skin, but it's ok to put these on our beloved furry friends? I call shenanigans.
Unable to see her dog suffer any longer, Kelly started doing some research on holistic pet care, and also contacted a friend who is a holistic veterinarian. Eventually, she developed her own recipe for the non-toxic, homemade flea powder you'll see below.
Ingredients, And What They Do:
Food Grade Diatom Flour:
Also known as Diatomaceous Earth or DE, this substance is composed of fine, fossilized remains of aquatic organisms called diatoms. Diatoms are one of the most commonly found phytoplanktons in aquatic environments. Due to diatoms being silica-based, these DE particles are very sharp on a microscopic level. This lets them puncture an insect's exoskeleton and cause death by dehydration. For humans and pets, however, DE particles feel like a fine baby powder and the food grade, freshwater variety of DE is harmless to them.
NOTE: Make sure the DE you get is "Food Grade." Other varieties like Crystallized or Filter Grade DE can cause lung damage if breathed in over long periods of time. Food Grade DE, however, is processed differently and is safe for human consumption. That being said, if you foresee yourself using it for a long period of time (like on your yard), it's probably best to wear a dust mask.
Neem is an herb that has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It's a highly effective insect repellant and contains many compounds that affect insects negatively. For instance, the active ingredient Azadirachtin inhibits the metamorphosis of insect larvae, which means larvae never get to develop into the next generation of fleas. Another compound, called salannin, has been shown to be as effective at repelling biting insects as DEET.
Yarrow powder has been used by herbalists to treat wounds since ancient times. Many cultures regard it as sacred due to its healing properties. Yarrow is especially effective at treating skin inflammations, as well as having antimicrobial and pain relieving properties. Pets with flea bites often get secondary infections, and yarrow helps to ward off germs while soothing irritated skin.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil:
Eucalyptus is a natural bug repellant and, like neem, has also shown itself to be as effective as DEET when it comes to repelling insects. It's also antiseptic properties to heal after being bitten.
Homemade Flea Powder Recipe:
- Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth - 1 cup (purchase here)
- Neem Powder - 1/2 cup (purchase here)
- Yarrow Powder - 1/2 cup (purchase here)
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil* - 20 drops *omit if making for cats (purchase here)
Mix the ingredients together and put into a container with a shaker top. Apply from head to tail along your pet's spine (pet must be dry). Brush your pet's fur opposite to its natural flow so that the powder can make contact with the skin. Rub on belly and legs as well, but avoid contact with the eyes and nose. The key here is to get as much powder directly on the skin as possible.
According to Kelly, brushing the fur in the opposite direction and applying the powder using a cosmetic powder puff yields great results. Additionally, she advises that fleas seem to like congregating near the tail, the belly, and the groin area, so pay particular attention to those.
As a general repellent, this powder can be used once a month during flea season (late spring and summer). If your pets get significantly wet/take a bath/go swimming, it'll need to be reapplied once they're dry.
For Serious Infestations:
Depending on just how severe the infestation is, you'll have to reapply a lot more often. Kelly started off with applying every other day until she saw no more fleas. Now, she uses it mostly for maintenance as advised above. Some people will see success with applying it weekly, others will need to apply almost daily. It really depends on how bad the situation is. Just remember to reapply it anytime your pet gets wet: this is critical.
In the case of a serious infestation, you'll need to apply the powder to the floors, pet bedding, sofa, doorways, etc. where your pet spends a lot of time as well. Simply dust the area with powder, let sit overnight, and vacuum in the morning. Repeat weekly for four weeks.
Although this powder is highly effective, it cannot cure major infestations overnight. You have to be consistent with your application of the powder to your pet and you home in order for at least a few weeks before you'll be rid of those pesky fleas, but it'll be worth it to have done so naturally.
This powder can also be used to repel other types of insects, and can also be placed around doorways and windows to prevent bugs coming in.
Don't forget to SHARE this natural pet remedy with your friends and family.
H/T: Healthy Holistic Living