We live on a River... That means water, tall grasses, woods, and BUGS!!! With 5 dogs, we have not used traditional chemical flea and tick medications for over 4 years! And...our dogs are NOT covered in fleas and ticks!
Natural flea and tick prevention is not easy. Don't get me wrong. But, many people are dedicated to the fact that they do not want to use potentially damaging chemicals on their dogs. For successful natural prevention, it will take some work and commitment on your part. But to me, it really is easy once you get into the habit, and the rewards are high!
There are many different scenarios to fleas and ticks. We live in Minnesota, which will certainly be a very different environment than Florida! So, the region of the world you live in, can dictate how aggressive of flea and tick control you need.
Next - we consider if your animal has fleas currently, how bad of an infestation it is, or if you are just trying to prevent fleas on a normal and healthy dog. Prevention is always best. And the healthier your dog is, the easier flea prevention becomes. Dogs with more health problems, seem to attract insects more than healthy dogs - so holistically, I will always focus on good diet, good water, whole food supplements, digestive enzymes, and omega fatty acids - as a full part of any flea and tick prevention protocol.
Obviously, I could write an entire newsletter on each scenario. So, I likely will have to! For this newsletter - I will focus on DOGS only. Some information on cats can be found by CLICKING HERE, but I will write a separate newsletter soon, specifically for felines. You can also read our past newsletter on KittyBoost for cats (which helps with fleas and ticks) - by CLICKING HERE. I am also going to focus on HEALTHY DOGS, who are NOT infested with fleas, nor do you have a continual flea problem. The dogs in this newsletter are mainly in good health, eat a good diet, likely get supplements, and are not loaded with fleas. Normal, active dogs, who need a natural preventive.
My dogs do not have fleas, although because we do have a feline rescue, we have upwards of 30 outdoor cats! We have a 15 acre farm, and even though our cats are mainly tame and live in 3 different "cat houses" on our property, they are allowed an outdoor life, and other stray cats tend to migrate to our food, shelter, and heated water dishes in the winter! So, our risk for potential flea exposure is quite high. We treat as many cats as we can (depending on if they let us) - with the KittyBoost regularly, and this helps us prevent them from bringing in "new friends". But, we'll talk about what we do for the dogs to layer their protection specifically in this newsletter.
Besides a good, species appropriate diet along with supplements, we use various oils to help prevent fleas and ticks. Of course, nothing is 100%. But, we have 5 dogs, and over 4 seasons without using any traditional chemical, we have picked off less ticks than we have fingers on our hands! We are starting our 5th season of no chemicals, and every year, we improve our protocols.
Currently - here is what we do for our dogs, and how often...
Four of our dogs are between 35-65 pounds, and one dog is 13 pounds. In general, all of the dogs can have the same things done to them, however our 13 pounder tends to get less drops. The first part of my prevention protocol is the AromaBoost RTU. Click on the name to read more about the AromaBoost and why it is so helpful. But, many of the oils within the AromaBoost are not only "anti-bug" - but they are also immune supportive. So, by enhancing good health for our dogs, we can keep more parasites off of them!
I give my dogs an AromaBoost RTU at least once a month, but during really bad bug times (we have a week or two when there are SO MANY bugs, we think paper training the dogs might be a better plan!) - I may actually give an AromaBoost RTU every day! This usually doesn't last for long, and typically I give it every 3 days during these "bad times"... but it is nice to know that I can "Boost" them every day if needed. Of course, I already know how my dogs do with oils, and have a good track record of them being able to handle daily "Boosts." If your dog is a "newbie" to oils, then you want to start out very lightly with oils, sometimes even with a KittyBoost for a more sensitive type of dog!
The other thing I do during "the hatching", is to also rub some of the AromaBoost RTU down each leg after I stroke it onto their back. (Again, visit the AromaBoost page on our website for more instructions, and even a little video!) I might put an extra drop or two in my hand, rub them together, then stroke that residue down each leg, around the neck area, and any other areas that fleas and ticks might want to start their "hitchhiking" adventure! By having these oils around the ankles of our dogs, we really find an additional layer of protection is added.
The AromaBoost RTU is designed to be easy, fast to apply, and well accepted by most animals. For 5 dogs, this little procedure takes less than 20 minutes for us to complete. When we used to use Frontline, we could take just as long in application time - trying to prevent them from rubbing off the product, or to stay in a sit or down stay and prevent shaking off the product. Then, we always tried to have the kids avoid touching and petting them for 12 hours or more. That was a difficult feat!
The AromaBoost RTU is one layer of bug protection, but at the same time, it supports the health and healthy immune system function that we want for our dogs! A win, win situation. Next, we use Away blend from animalEO. We also use this in a variety of ways, and a variety of strengths - tailored for our specific needs, dogs' characteristics, and "bug load"... It is important to start light, and see how your dog does with essential oils. Away blend can be a bit strong for some dogs, and then there are dogs like mine, who likely could have an entire bottle dumped onto them, and they wouldn't mind!
For our dogs - we routinely mist them with Away made into a water spray. So, in a 4 ounce bottle of distilled or reverse osmosis water, we will place between 4 to 60 drops of Away. That is a pretty large range, and likely, we could even make it stronger than that! The point is, start with a light amount. If it works well for your bug prevention, and your dog handles the concentration well - use that strength! You can always add a few more drops into your spray bottle if a trip outdoors reveals that you do not have enough protection! But, once applied or dripped into your bottle - you cannot subtract what you have used! Ideally, start using oils with your dogs before you need them! Then, you can see how they do with oils first, and gradually increase the amounts that they are exposed to. It is never ideal to "all of a sudden" use oils to prevent an "emergency bug attack." My dogs have had an AromaBoost RTU month, after month, after month before I ever increased it to a daily procedure. This is a more ideal method, however, there are times when we will use the AromaBoost daily on certain dogs, even if they are brand new to oils. But, in general, fleas and ticks are not a life threatening emergency. Gross yes, and the "creepy crawlies" make it feel like a true emergency, but you do have some time to properly introduce your dog to oils!
We keep a bottle of Away SPRAY by our front door. Please understand, the Away SPRAY is something that you make yourself at home, from your bottle of Away essential oil blend. We will be selling the individual labels (as shown on this bottle) soon on the animalEO website - so stayed tuned for that. But, the Away SPRAY is not something that is available to purchase as a ready made product. You will need to add the Away to water all by yourself - I think you can handle it! Just remember to shake the bottle before each use, and use a glass bottle as shown.
Now is a good time to let you know that our spray bottles from animalEO will not be available for a while. In talking with our suppliers, the best trigger sprayer is apparently made in China, and they have had horrible floods and train track damage and derailments, that prevent most goods from being shipped to the states. So, wait we must. Although I have been looking for an alternative source, I have not been happy with the quality I have found. Either "drippy" when sprayed, or not of a high enough quality plastic to be used with essential oils, and the mechanism gets damaged. They are anticipated to be available in August, but let's hope they return sooner!
Back to our Away SPRAY. Currently, we have 60 drops in a 4 ounce spray bottle (but it is very likely you may need less!). We shake well, and mist it onto the dogs before each outing during "the time"... We especially focus on spritzing the areas that bugs bother. So again, ankle areas, over the back, and around the neck. Sometimes we need to spritz their tummies, as the gnats love to attack there, and cause those funny little red bullseye bug bites.
Especially at dusk, if we do not mist our dogs with the Away SPRAY, they can be covered in mosquitoes when they come back inside the house, and then WE are covered with mosquitoes for the night! NO THANK YOU! Brushing off every mosquito from 5 dogs before they come into the house, is an exercise in futility. While you brush them off one dog, the next dog gets coated in mosquitoes, as well as yourself. So, preventive spraying BEFORE going outside, really preserves our sanity!
You guessed it, we do not end there. I am not joking when I say that our bugs are present in HUGE numbers. Some days, I contemplate moving to another state, even for a few weeks! When an additional layer of protection is needed, we "pet" the Away onto the dogs as well. You can read more about Petting Techniques by CLICKING HERE. So, I place 1-3 drops (sometimes more) into my hands, rub them together, then stroke my dogs. Again, focusing on areas that may need more protection.
The Water Misting is a nice way to get an even and "light" layer of essential oils all over a wide surface of your dog. You can even mist your dog's face, and they will blink nicely, while getting a layer of protection over that delicate area. Remember, some dogs may not like being sprayed. This is mainly a training issue I find, but if your dog is fearful, or has learned that misting might be a scary event, please do not use this method with them. Use only Petting, or another method that seems well suited to your dog.
Can you believe it? I have another trick up my sleeve? Of course! I told you, we live in "bug central". Sometimes there are things we can do to "spike" our preventive measures. I find that a rotational use of other "anti-bug" oils, can be a really helpful thing to perfecting insect control for your particular region of the world. Let's face it, not every state has mosquitoes (can I come live with you?) - and some areas have more biting flies or gnats. Each bug seems to have an oil that it responds to slightly better. However, we do find that every year, a slightly different approach may be needed. One year, the AromaBoost may seem like the really helpful factor. While this year, the Away SPRAY for the dogs is working really well for mosquitoes. However, oddly enough, the Away SPRAY is not being as effective for us humans. I have to "pet" the Away onto myself neat (undiluted) for me to keep the skeeters at bay. But, it is working! And thank goodness! When I forget to apply, I look like I have the measles!
What's that next trick? Happy Cat! What? You want me to find a cat? That is happy? And rub it on my dog? (Sorry, couldn't resist!) Happy Cat is catnip oil diluted in Coconut Oil. This makes cats pretty darn happy, but catnip (which is also in the Away) is also researched for being more effective than DEET. Read more about it by CLICKING HERE. But, I do find that sometimes, just plain catnip in coconut oil (trust and BELIEVE ME when I tell you, you DO NOT want to use neat catnip oil!!!) is a very effective insect repellent. You may have cats flocking to you, and rolling at your feet - but at least the bugs won't be biting you! So - just to mix things up, sometimes I use the Petting Techniques with the Happy Cat for my dogs, and pet around their ankles and other places that are being attacked.
So, if we are going into the deepest part of our woods, or on a walk somewhere I know ticks will be high - I usually pet the Happy Cat onto the ankles of my dogs as well. Or some days I may use Happy Cat, and the next day I use Away. The nice thing is that you can do either or both. Or all three things. It just depends on your needs (and how your dog handles it).
What if you have a small dog or puppy you ask? I really do the same things - only with a lighter touch. The AromaBoost RTU may be applied with only 3 drops. Or, I may elect to use the KittyBoost instead. The Away SPRAY may have less drops in it. And, I will "pet" less drops onto the smaller dog as well. We have used oils, even with day old puppies - and although for pups this young I would probably select the KittyBoost instead of the AromaBoost - oils can be very helpful indeed.
Essential oils do not last as long as the chemicals we have found to be so convenient. But, what price do we pay for that convenience? My neighbor's dog has a seizure from Frontline applications. I have seen an entire Koi pond die when a dog with Advantix applied took a swim with those fish (that product is toxic to fish and cats!). And that is just the beginning. Many of my patients and clients came to me for alternatives to traditional medicines that were causing harm to their animal friend. There are products which I refer to as "the least toxic, of the toxins"... but they are still toxic. And, with all of the "new" products being released onto the market every year, it gets scarier and scarier. I wouldn't touch some of these treatments with a 10 foot pole! But yet, you are supposed to apply it to your dog who sleeps in your bed with you every night. No thank you!
So, is natural protection perfect. No, but nothing is! However, applying essential oils to my dogs, only makes them HEALTHIER! You can't say that about the other 100 harmful products on the market, that also are not 100% effective! If you are dedicated to applying the essential oils, tweaking your applications with the "bug load," and not "giving up" if you find one tick - you will really love using essential oils for your dogs. And, as another side benefit...your dog will never smell better!
If you are new to our newsletter, and would like a bit more background information about animalEO - please view this past newsletter to answer some common questions - by CLICKING HERE. Remember, this is a past newsletter, so it will have some old links for Facebook groups within it - so please only use it for informational purposes only. The links within this newsletter, are all up to date. But, please do read this past newsletter before emailing me with a question - the majority of answers are there!
Please visit www.animalEO.info - and read more about our products, order a few to try out, and come back often for new information, products, and educational experiences! Make sure you are on our mailing list to be updated on all the new happenings.
You can also visit my website www.OilyVet.com for information on classes, links to past newsletters, to purchase books on using Essential Oils in animals, to view You Tube Videos, and more!
And remember, I only recommend the use of what I term, "veterinary grade essential oils" for use with animals (or humans for that matter). The use of essential oils that have not been evaluated and proven safe for use in animals, is not recommended, and may prove dangerous for your animals. Through research, case studies, and retrospective studies - I am documenting the difference in qualities of essential oils in my veterinary hospital - and we are continually striving to provide more information to everyone who desires to use essential oils for their animals.
Until Next Time!
Melissa Shelton DVM
Disclaimer: This information was provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat any illness. If you or your animal have a health concern, you are encouraged to seek the counsel of a health care professional who is knowledgeable in your area of interest.