Local News

Can you fight fleas without chemicals?

Posted June 15, 2009 6:45 a.m. EDT
Updated June 15, 2009 2:06 p.m. EDT

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

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.