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Can you fight fleas without chemicals?

Posted June 15, 2009

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— As pet owners battle fleas and ticks, many are shying away from chemicals and embracing more natural ways of keeping pests off their pets.

Getting rid of fleas without chemicals? Getting rid of fleas without chemicals?

Jill Currin, of Raleigh, said she has a simple method to keep fleas off her three dogs, Hank, Belle and Allie: Wash them in natural soap and feed them garlic.

"It worked magnificently," Currin said. "I don't like putting pyrethrins and toxic chemicals on them, especially if I'm going to brush them and they're going to be in my house."

There are legitimate fears about flea-and-tick shampoos, said Dr. Page Wages, a veterinarian in Raleigh. Over-the-counter collars can harm small animals, and the less expensive shampoos aren't always effective, she said.

"They don't work. They'll get the live fleas off, but they won't kill the babies, so a lot of people will see fleas the day after," Wages said.

Large doses of garlic, along with onions and chives, can be harmful or poisonous for dogs and cats, the American Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Animals warns. Check with your veterinarian before beginning any new treatment.

Wages recommended a chemical product such as Advantix or Frontline as the safest, cheapest and most effective way to combat fleas.

"This is actually the same product that's on your fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, so it's very safe," she said.

Talk with your veterinarian about products, because advertising claiming that products are "green" can be misleading, Wages said.

"'Natural' is a very loose term. In the pet world, it's not regulated, so anyone can put 'natural' on a product," Wages said.

Currin said she's sticking to the chemical-free pet-care regime that she's found that works.

"They're our babies, so we want to give them the best and take care of them the best that we are able," Currin said.

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  • withnailharrison Jun 15, 2009

    CrAsH628-
    Pesticides do not conveniently stay exclusively on the peel of a fruit or vegatable, ready to be washed off when you get them home from the store. The chemicals are also absorbed into the flesh as the fruit grows. Washing is not necessarily a magic cure all.

    Once again, I'll take a 1 in a million shot at a rat leg in my can of pinto beans over a daily dose of chemicals in my daily fruit and vegatables.

  • Here kitty kitty Jun 15, 2009

    No problem with my dog...how do I keep them off ME? I have had more tick bites the last 2 months than I have had in the last 20 years and this is NO exaggeration! I have 4 bite marks on my stomach now. The ticks are horrible this year. Can anyone give an explanation?

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Jun 15, 2009

    "This is actually the same product that's on your fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, so it's very safe," she said"

    If this statement concerns you... don't ever eat processed foods. They are ALLOWED to have rat droppings, bug parts, and other non-labeled things in there. At least you can wash pesticides off, it's not like you can rinse off rat parts out of your canned beans.

  • ImaBee Jun 15, 2009

    withnailharrison--

    Its called fipronil. It is used in many insecticides. In fact it is the best thing out there that kills termites. Most houses are treated with a fipronil product around the outside of their house. And usually is reapplied between 5 to 10 years. I rather my fruits and vegetables of a low concentration of fipronil sprayed on them than a bug or some other insect all over them spreding their diseases or either horse $h!t as organic farmers do.

  • withnailharrison Jun 15, 2009

    Wages recommended a chemical product such as Advantix or Frontline as the safest, cheapest and most effective way to combat fleas.

    "This is actually the same product that's on your fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, so it's very safe," she said.

    Eh, really? Are you sure about this? What are this person's credentials again? I DON'T think I'll drizzling my apple with Frontline anytime soon, thanks though.

  • itsmyownopinion Jun 15, 2009

    Wow, TechRescue, I thought it was bad here, but I can't top that. So far this year I found one attached on my arm on May 13. The spot is still visible, but it only looks like a pimple, not the bull's eye rash. It gives me the creeps just thinking about it. I'm sure you already know that NC leads in deaths from Rocky Mountain spotted fever, at least that's what I understand. :( Good luck.

  • ImaBee Jun 15, 2009

    Question: Can you fight fleas without chemicals?

    Answer: Not a chance. Garlic, "washing the with a natural soap", vinegar and any other way that people have said that they used to get rid of them involves chemicals. By the way in case you didn't know there are a lot of chemicals in your body that keep you alive. Chemicals are everywhere.

  • Bentley05 Jun 15, 2009

    If you give a dog garlic or vinegar to get rid of fleas you are still producing some sort of chemical reaction or process. Most "mean chemical companies" make it easy for you by bypassing the old fashioned way of overfeeding and target the reactions that causes it to work to begin with.

    Also, when organic agriculture has the sustainability and low prices to feed the entire world population then we'll talk. Don't see to many "fresh markets/trader joe's/whole foods" in Africa.

  • WF Zookeeper Jun 15, 2009

    Our vet said processed garlic is OK for dogs, never never fresh garlic though! Also - Borateem sprinkled on the carpets once a year, unless you steam clean - gets rid of the fleas! With 8+ pets in our house, amazing this works - and safe! Just don't vacuum for a couple days afterwards so it gets down in the matting. Haven't had a flea problem in 15 years!

  • ohmygosh Jun 15, 2009

    Another solution: get rid of the cats and dogs.

    This only works if your house isn't infested with fleas. If so, chemicals are the way to go else wait about a year.

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