July, 2006 Issue
Home Almanac: You and Your Pet
Keeping bothersome parasites away from beloved pets is a challenge. Here’s how to make it easier.
There is clinical evidence to suggest that some topical insecticides can lead to liver problems and seizures. “Innocently, we try to help our pets remain free of parasites and inadvertently end up putting multiple toxins in their body,” says noted veterinarian and author
Dr. Allen M. Schoen.
Conventional insect control does nothing to repel parasites such as fleas. To be exterminated, blood suckers must take a bite out of your best friend, turning pets into pest bait. What’s more, once bitten, many animals experience an allergic reaction to flea saliva, suffering painful itching. Happily, there are nontoxic repellent options, including brewer’s yeast and garlic mixed into food to make pets’ blood unpalatable; but the most potent natural flea and mosquito repellent is oil extracted from the neem tree (Azadirachta Indica), used for centuries in India as a medicinal salve. “Absorbed by the dermis, neem oil discourages insects by making the blood unattractive to them,” explains Dr. John Fudens, D.V.M., H.M.C., of Affinity Holistic Clinic in Clearwater, Fla. Using poison to kill insects in a pet’s home environment is risky; according to the ASPCA, thousands of pets needlessly suffer and many die each year by accidental ingestion of household poisons, especially pesticides. Instead, try organic diatomaceous earth; it’s nontoxic to mammals, causes no harm to pets if licked or ingested, and effectively kills insects by desiccation (available at arbico-organics.com). “It works like a charm,” Dr. Fudens says, and may be sprinkled on an animal’s bedding, in rugs, and along baseboards. The downside: It produces a fine dust. For use whenever dust is undesirable, BUGS ‘R’ DONE
(bugsrdone.com) is a spray made of orange-peel oil (d-Limonene) that kills fleas, mosquitoes, roaches, ants, and flies by dissolving the lining of the insects’ breathing passages; its key ingredients are labeled Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Still, use caution when spraying—ventilate the area—and never apply directly to pets or their bedding.
Article by: Julia Szabo