[ PAWS for Pest Control  ] ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company
[ PAWS for Pest Control  ] ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company
We want the best for our fur-friends. Giving boatloads of love and nutritious food comes easy, but providing protection from pests that can compromise your pets comfort as well as invite Lyme and other diseases is a bit more challenging.

Fortunately, there are simple and effective natural solutions to deter fleas and ticks from hitching a ride on your four-legged companion. Bonus for going green: You’ll spend a lot less green, too.

[ PAWS for Pest Control  - DOGGONE DANGEROUS ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

doggone dangerous

Conventional flea and tick products often produce side effects, such as burned skin, hair loss and allergic reactions. Worse, some of the chemicals found in these products are associated with more significant health risks, including neurotoxicity and cancer. Keep in mind, too, that regular exposure to these chemicals extends these risks to humans, especially children.

Flea collars, for instance, typically contain tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), an insecticide that has been linked to an increased incidence of ADHA and neurological disorders in children and a 47% increase in the risk of. Other common but questionable ingredients in flea-and-tick repelling products include imidacloprid, fipronil, permethrin and pyrethrins. Although they are derived from chrysanthemum flowers, the latter duo are extremely toxic to cats. Another common ingredient, propoxur, is a known carcinogen classified as a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning that it binds to cholinesterase in the body and prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in motor function, learning and memory. This results in elevated levels of acetylcholine and the overstimulation of muscles, glands and the central nervous system, and may even cause fatal convulsions. It is toxic to people, as well as birds and fish.

[ PAWS for Pest Control  - KEEPING AN EYE ON THE BALL ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

watchdogs keep an eye on the ball

Your veterinarian is always your best resource when it comes to the health of your pet. However, he or she may not be fully educated about the risks of conventional pest control products. For one thing, even though these products are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is an apparent lack of adequate safety standards in this area that gives various consumer advocacy groups a bone to pick. Most notable is the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), which has sued to EPA over this issue.

Case in point: Two types of insecticides, organophosphates and carbamates (i.e., propoxur), are banned from use in agriculture and in residential lawn care products due to a link to learning disabilities in children, yet they exist in Fluffy’s flea collar and Fido’s spot treatment. According to a 2009 study conducted by the NRDC, these products can leave pesticide residue on pet fur that exceed up to 1,000 times EPA “safe” levels. As a result of this finding, and ongoing litigation, the EPA is now considering a ban on TCVP, at least, although the wheels of meaningful regulation turn very slowly.

[ PAWS for Pest Control - MORE CAUTIONARY TALES ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

more cautionary tales

Be aware that claims like “natural” and “non-toxic” are permitted to appear on product packaging but, because there are no regulatory definitions in place for these words, they’re just marketing terms used in a tactic known as greenwashing. But because you are now an informed consumer, you will be able to make better choices when it comes to flea and tick products. So, just like with pet food, ignore the advertising on the front of the package and read the ingredient label on the back.

Also be aware that even truly natural ingredients, namely essential oils and botanical extracts, can also damage skin or trigger allergic reactions in both pets and people. First, less is more in this department. In other words, don’t over saturate a cloth collar with essential oil thinking that will make it more effective. It won’t, but it is bound to irritate your pet’s sensitive nose and neck.

In addition, certain herbs are considered toxic to pets when used incorrectly or ingested. For example, essential oils that contain phenols (clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, thyme) can cause liver damage in cats, while oils containing ketones (clove, lavender, citronella, thyme, cedar) can produce neurological symptoms, if ingested.

[ PAWS for Pest Control - FETCH THE GOOD STUFF ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

fetch the good stuff

There are several herbal allies that effectively and safely repel or eliminate fleas and ticks. One of the most effective, and best studied, is geraniol, an alcohol obtained from the essential oil of geranium, although it is also found in the essential oils of lemongrass, rose, lemon and citronella. Research from the University of Florida over a 17-year period starting in the late 1990s demonstrates that this fragrance and flavoring agent is as effective as diethyltoluamide (DEET) in repelling a variety of insects, including mosquitoes, flies, gnats, dog ticks and fleas.

Some essential oils, such as cinnamon and peppermint, work by blocking the activity of an insect neurotransmitter called octopamine at receptor sites. This action negatively impacts the insect’s central nervous system, heart rate and metabolism. However, because birds, fish and mammals, including people, lack octopamine receptors, they are not affected.

Pet Friendly Flea and Tick Fighting Header

Some DIY Pest Control Text

Flea Tick Spray Section Icon

Spray lightly on your dog’s fur before going outside to help prevent biting critters from latching on.

1 cup distilled water
2 tablespoons organic witch hazel extract
6 drops cinnamon essential oil
4 drops peppermint essential oil
4 drops clove essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake before each use. Take care to avoid the face. Do not use on cats.

Flea Powder Section Icon

This powder is safe to use on and around dogs and cats. Use on bedding and directly on your pet, working it down to the skin in small amounts at a time to prevent inhalation. This powder is especially helpful if an infestation of fleas is already underway.

1 ½ cups food grade diatomaceous earth
½ cup powdered neem leaf
½ cup powdered peppermint leaf
½ cup powdered lavender flowers

Combine all ingredients in a container with a shaker top (an empty Parmesan cheese container is perfect!), Store in a cool, dark place.

Flea Collar Section Icon

This flea collar is easy and economical to make. Safe for both cats and dogs.

1 cloth collar
1 tablespoon gin or vodka, unflavored
2 drops rosemary essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil

Lay the collar out flat on a towel. Mix together the alcohol and essential oils in a small bowl. Using a small brush, moisten the collar with the infused liquid. Allow the collar to dry completely before putting it on your pet. Refresh the collar with this formula every 4-6 weeks.

Skin Coat Treatment Section Icon

Some dogs experience dry, itchy skin in warm weather, and bathing with soap and water often seems to make it worse. This treatment will clean and condition skin and fur, while the chamomile tea and essential oils exert anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits.

1 ½ cups strong chamomile tea
2 tablespoons organic witch hazel extract
1 tablespoon vegetable glycerin
1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
6 drops lavender essential oil
6 drops rosemary essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well before using. To use, spray lightly onto pet’s fur along the back and neck, working it into the undercoat and down to the skin. Brush through to distribute oils. Repeat weekly, if needed.

Boo Boo Salve Section Icon

This salve performs double duty as a flea repellent and a hot spot treatment. Safe for both dogs and cats.

1 cup sweet almond oil
1 ounce beeswax grated
1 tablespoon shea butter
8 drops thuja (cedar leaf) essential oil
3 drops rosemary essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil

Combine the almond oil, beeswax and shea butter in the top of a double boiler. Heat over low heat until all are completely melted, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in the essential oils. Pour into clean tins. Let cool for several hours or overnight before capping and labeling. Store in a cool, dark place.

To use, rub a small amount into the skin behind the ears, base of neck, at mid-back and just above the tail. For hot spots and minor wounds, apply a small amount directly to skin with fingertips. The salve will melt on contact.

1. Rotkin-Ellman, Miram, et al., Toxic Chemicals in Flea and Tick Collars ; Natural Resources Defense Council Issue Paper; April 2009

2. Cox, Carolyn; Plant-Based Mosquito Repellents: Making a Careful Choice ; Journal of Pesticide Reform; Fall 2005