By Dr. Stephen Blake DVM
Dogs Naturally Magazine
If you’re tempted to reach for spot-on flea treatments, then here’s why you’ll want to be one of the 1% of people who never touch them!
It can be tempting to use toxic chemical products to eliminate fleas … but it can be done using natural methods and a little persistence.
A Healthy Foundation
The most important factor in preventing fleas from taking over your home is your dog’s overall health and immune system. A healthy dog will naturally repel parasites and fleas will seek weaker animals who are easier targets.
Always feed a natural diet and never vaccinate or use drugs or chemicals on your canine friend, either internally or externally. Also avoid chemical cleaners in your home and never use pesticides or herbicides in your yard, as these products will also impact your pet’s immune system.
There are some simple remedies that will help to maximize your dog’s immune system as well. These include:
A Healthy Environment
The second part of the puzzle is the environment.
If the energy of your home has any disharmony in it, this too can make your dog anxious and weaken the immune system. Try to make sure everyone in your household is as content as they can be; encourage your family members to be open with each other so your dog doesn’t stress over his concern for you.
I often have my clients make a mixture of the Bach flower essences walnut, crab apple, holly, wild rose and wild oat.
Spray it around the house to help detoxify negative energy from the environment.
The Flea Life Cycle
Fleas are highly productive; a pair may produce 20,000 fleas in three months.
Eggs hatch after two to 12 days into larvae that feed in the environment – generally on digested blood from adult fleas and other food matter. The food required at this stage is microscopic, and even clean carpets often offer plenty of food to the larvae.
The larvae are little wiggles about three or four millimeters long; you may see some if you inspect your pet’s bedding carefully. Larvae molt twice within two to 200 days and the older larvae spin a cocoon in which they remain for one week to one year. When in this cocoon stage the young flea is invulnerable to any kind of insecticide and to low, even freezing, temperatures. Only sufficient warmth and the presence of a host can cause them to emerge. This long cocooning period explains why fleas are so difficult to eradicate.
To get rid of fleas in your house, you must break this cycle.
As a practical matter, this means you’ll almost certainly have to repeat your flea elimination efforts a few weeks apart to catch the fleas from the larvae that didn’t get destroyed the first time around. This is also why it is essential to address the problem of the eggs and larvae as well as the adult fleas.
It’s not enough just to rid your dog of fleas. Fleas don’t spend all their time on your dog, but will hop on when they need a meal.
The eggs can be shed anywhere your dog spends time – including your own bed, if you share it! Your house and yard must also be treated to prevent reinfestation.
Deflea-ing Your Dog
To get rid of fleas on your dog, a soapy bath with any natural shampoo will kill them on contact. You can also place several drops of lavender and frankincense essential oils into a chemical free shampoo to prevent and kill fleas (as well as ticks). I have even used natural dish soap and find it kills them as well as anything. There are recipes on my Recipe Page.
I also recommend using a flea comb soaked in soapy water several times per day after the initial bath, until your friend is flea free.
Once your dog has dried off after his bath, spray him with a mixture containing one drop each of the essential oils lemongrass, lemon, cedar and RC (a Young Living blend) per ounce of water.
You can also spray him with this solution to repel pests any time he’s going into an area that is flea, tick or mosquito infested.
In The Yard
Use a yard hose sprayer with two ounces of dish soap and 10 drops each of neem oil and cedarwood oil to kill adult fleas in your grass and areas where your dog plays or lies. I recommend doing this once per week during the flea season. Do not spray succulent plants with this mixture because it may harm them. You can also order Wondercide, which makes cedar oil products for use on your yard, as well as your dog and home.
In Your Home
In my experience, steam cleaning a rug will kill all of the adult fleas immediately. When the carpets are completely dry, put a mixture of one part Borax salts to three parts table salt and rake it into all carpeted areas of the house. Leave for a week and then vacuum very thoroughly. Pay attention to cracks in the floor where eggs may have been laid. Dispose of the vacuum contents by burning or placing them in a closed plastic bag in the outdoor trash so that the eggs don’t hatch in your broom closet!
Wash your dog’s bedding (and your own, if he spends time on it) and dry in a hot dryer if the fabric will stand it. It’s helpful to follow up with food grade diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle it on bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets and other surfaces in your home; work it in with a broom and leave it down for a few hours or overnight; then vacuum thoroughly. (You can also sprinkle the food grade DE on your dog’s skin to prevent or get rid of fleas. Be careful not to get DE in the eyes, nose and mouth.)
To help eliminate the eggs, add one teaspoon of wintergreen essential oil to a quart of hot water in a mist sprayer. Then mist carpets, upholstered furniture, pillows and other places where flea eggs can hatch. The mist will not kill fleas but it will kill the eggs. Spray about three times a year. The odor goes away in a few days and you are safe for months without the danger of pesticides.
Since oil of wintergreen is used on babies, I do not believe it can hurt cats or dogs when used like this in their environment (and not directly on the animal).
Remember that carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture are the prime places for depositing flea eggs. It’s a drastic measure, but some people have success ridding their home of fleas by removing their carpets and replacing with tile or hardwood floors.
Another very old, safe method of removing fleas is soapy water under a light bulb. Hang a light bulb one foot above a low container about a foot wide and two to three inches deep. Add at least an inch of soapy water to it. The fleas will jump to the light and fall in the soapy water. You will need to move it around about five feet a day or have several traps in the areas where your dog hangs out and sleeps. You can use these traps indoors, as well as outdoors in damp or shaded areas where fleas proliferate – under porches, decks, carports, at the edges of woods and especially in places where your pets lie down outdoors.
by Dogs Naturally Magazine in Holistic Care
Does your dog have itchy skin? Recurrent hot spots or gunky ears? Does she lick and chew at her feet?
This doesn’t necessarily mean she has allergies …
Yeast: The Allergy Imitator
Not all skin issues are caused by allergies and in many cases, the cause of your dog’s itchy skin can be found in her gut.
Yeast is a form of fungus and is found in all dogs (and people) as a normal part of their flora. Yeast lives on your dog’s skin and inside her gut, where it normally lives with other healthy flora, as part of the balanced immune system. But when the immune system is stressed, yeast can begin to over-populate the gut. You dog’s skin is the largest organ in her body, and when yeast populations grow out of control in the gut, the body will attempt to rid itself of this fungus and this is when you will start to see the effects in your pet.
This is called a yeast infection.
How To Tell The Difference Between Yeast Infections And Allergies
There are a few telltale signs that will help you figure out where your dog’s problems are coming from. Here is a list of symptoms that are typical of yeast infections:
· Chewing or licking the feet, and dark rusty-red hair between the toes. The hair is often red or rusty-colored because of the yeast, not because of the licking.
· Scratching the ears, or head shaking. Ear mites also cause intense itching in the ears. Your vet should be able to tell the difference. Make sure he or she actually tests for mites, bacteria and fungus before prescribing meds.
· Cyclic manifestation of symptoms (appearing in the spring and “going away” in the fall), which is often confused with “grass allergies” and other spring and summer symptoms.
· Hair loss on the tail and upper back.
· Speckles (like tiny black dots) on the underbelly or grayish or rust-coloration around the genitals. Regular grooming should reveal this early indicator of yeast.
· A foul, funky smell and greasy hair (seborrhea), often accompanied by heavy dandruff. This is an active fungal infection of the hair follicles.
· Any black skin, especially if associated with hair loss.
The longer your dog’s yeast infection goes untreated, the harder it will be to treat, so it’s important to look for these early signs.
Treating Your Dog’s Yeast Infection
Since yeast infections start in the gut, one of the first steps in treating yeast is to look at your dog’s diet.
In order to grow, yeast needs to eat. And its food of choice is sugar.
While you’re dog might not be eating candy and drinking soda, she’s likely still feeding the yeast in her gut if her food contains any type of starch or carbohydrate.
Carbohydrates (found in corn, potatoes, rice, peas, sweet potatoes, oats and other starchy foods), are complex chains made up of sugars. When they’re eaten by your dog, her body converts them into sugars and this feeds her yeast.
Try this experiment at home. Take a slice of bread, which is made of carbohydrates), bite off a piece and hold it in your mouth for a half a minute. You’ll notice that it starts to taste sweet. That’s because the amylase in your saliva is breaking that starch down into sugar. The same thing happens in your dog’s gut and that sugar feeds her yeast.
In the wild, the foods that your dog’s ancestors ate (and the foods that our ancestors ate), contained about 4% starch.
Most commercial pet foods have ten times that amount! Even the grain-free foods (which are usually full of potatoes or sweet potatoes).
The solution is to feed your dog a food low in starches. Here is the diet we recommend to keep yeast at bay.
Supporting The Gut
There are other things you can do to help prevent or treat yeast infections in your dog, and once again, these involve the gut.
First, limit antibiotic use. Antibiotics will destroy the balance in the gut and allow yeast to bloom.
Second, avoid toxins that will stress the immune system. This includes any unnecessary vaccines, drugs and chemicals. These all interfere with your dog’s ability to keep her intestinal flora in balance.
Focus on building good health and supporting your dog’s immune system.
Here are two additions to your dog’s diet to help boost his immune system:
· Astragalus supports the liver and helps it to its job: ridding the body of toxins. Herbalist Greg Tilford recommends up to 10 drops extract per 10 pounds of body weight, up to twice daily.
· Milk Thistle Seed will prevent and repair damage to the liver and kidneys. Give your dog a quarter teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight. Milk thistle shouldn’t be used as a daily supplement, but only when the liver will be stressed. Think about using milk thistle if your dog is vaccinated, on heartworm meds or dewormers, flea or tick meds or sprays, drugs, has recently had surgery or when your dog is under stress (kenneling or a change in home). Even if your dog isn’t exposed to these toxins, there are pesticides and heavy metals in the environment, so a regular detox with milk thistle is a good idea.
Fighting Yeast On The Surface
Apple cider vinegar is a great solution for yeast, especially for dogs who love the water (because yeast loves water and moist, damp skin).
Fill a squeeze bottle (the kind with a long pointy end like ketchup bottles at a diner) with Organic Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar. You can also make the mixture by using 50% Organic Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar and 50% Witch Hazel. Stick it in your dog’s fur and squeeze. Massage it around and on the belly too.
This will help restore your dog’s healthy pH levels and discourage yeast.
Then, once a week, or more if needed, massage yeasty areas with this Apple Cider mixture.
You can also make a mixture with extra virgin organic coconut oil. Melt in a small glass bottle – about 8 ounces of it. Add 10 drops of lavender oil and 2 drops of lemon essential oil. Shake to mix and massage it into your dog’s skin.
This coconut oil mix will last several months. Store it in a dark place.
Itchy Pet – Adelia Ritchie PhD Dogs Naturally Magazine July 2013
A Bulletproof Jacket For Your Dog Rodney Habib Dogs Naturally Magazine March 2015
Home Remedies for Yeast Infection
A yeast infection, also known as Candida, is basically caused by a group of microscopic fungi or yeast called Candida albicans. It generally affects the vaginal area but can also develop around dentures, under the breasts, lower abdomen, nail beds, and beneath skin folds.
Factors that can increase the risk of getting a yeast infection are stress, chronic health conditions, diabetes, use of steroids and antibiotics.
Some of the signs of a yeast infection are itching, burning or swelling in and around the affected area. If it is a vaginal yeast infection, there will be pain or discomfort in the vagina during sex, a burning feeling when urinating, and odorless vaginal discharge. There are many simple home remedies that can eliminate the infection in a relatively short time.
Here are some home remedies for yeast infections.
1. Kefir Lactobacillus acidophilus, a “friendly” strain of bacteria present in kefir, can control the growth of infection in the body. For treating a yeast infection, only use plain, unsweetened goat milk kefir.
2. Coconut Oil Organic unrefined coconut oil has effective antifungal properties that can kill the fungi responsible for yeast infections.
· Externally apply the organic coconut oil on the affected areas three times a day.
· You can also make a mixture of equal amounts of coconut oil and a few drops of either Melaleuca essential oil, protective blend essential oil or Cinnamon essential oil. Apply it on the affected skin area to control the growth of the infection. For information on the how to get the certified pure essential oils contact us.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Organic Apple cider vinegar contain some distinctive components that can control a yeast infection and get rid of the fungi causing it. Use organic apple cider vinegar with the pet.
· Mix two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar (apple cider vinegar should be murky brown in color) and put it on the dogs food twice daily for a few days. (Most dogs don’t mind.)
· Make a natural dog shampoo with apple cider vinegar. Soon the skin irritation and itching will lessen. The recipe is on my site in the recipe section.
· You can dilute apple cider vinegar with plain water and then apply it externally on the affected skin area. Leave it on for half an hour and then rinse it off with water.
4. Cranberries Cranberries contain both antibacterial and antifungal properties and can be used to fight the fungi responsible for yeast infections. It can also treat urinary tract or any other kind of bladder infections.
· You can take cranberry tablets two or three times a day. Cranberry tablets are readily available at a natural health store or at your holistic veterinarian’s office.
I am a Subtle Energy Animal Practitioner & Healing Touch for Animals Practitioner. I am P4EO Certified in using Essential Oils with animals.