Herbal Healing for Pets

Herbal Healing for Pets

I will begin by stating that you should not attempt herbal healing for your pet unless you have a good understanding of what is ailing your pet. And a good understanding of the healing herbs. Don’t guess…..check with a veterinarian first! There are now a lot of holistic/natural vets out there – call around and see who you can find. This advice is not meant to replace the diagnosis and advice of a licensed veterinarian. That said, I will share with you the herbal treatments that we use on my ranch. Most are simple, safe, and effective.

Remember first and always that cats and dogs and other small creatures have much shorter digestive systems than us human caretakers. Fresh herbs are not digested as they are in humans. Therefore, the tincture form of an herb will work better for them. An acceptable alternative would be a stronger herbal tea than you would use for yourself. Doses need to be compatible with your pet’s weight – small amounts for small animals, larger amounts for large animals. When in doubt, consult a holistic or natural healing veterinarian. Administering several doses throughout the day, rather than one big dose once a day will speed the herbs into your pet’s system and boost the immune system much faster. And as with ourselves, no herb should be given to any animal on a continuous basis. Like us, their bodies will begin to build an immunity, and once that happens, that herb becomes useless medicinally.

A good rule of thumb for any herbal remedy for your pet is two weeks on, one week off. That gives the body time to work on its own, and gives you time to determine if the herbal treatment needs to be continued. There are exceptions to this rule, as with all rules, as in herbs that take a while to build up in the body to be effective. Don’t give herbs you wouldn’t take yourself, internally or externally. Just about any herbal remedy that you use for yourself can be adapted for use for your pet – just remember to use tinctures whenever possible, stronger teas when necessary.

For overall general good health, as with ourselves, you should of course look to diet. There are many natural diets being recommended today for all sorts of pets. Do a little research, or preferably a lot, into the natural dietary needs of your pet. Raw meat added to the diet of a cat or dog, natural carnivores, can often clear up a lot of mysterious ailments, as can the addition of fruits and vegetables. If you feed a commercial diet, feed the best you can afford, and add to it when you can. Years of healthy life can be added to your pet when diet is properly looked after!

When you are changing your pet’s diet, do so gradually. Add one new item at a time, and space out those additions. That way if there is a negative reaction, you can quickly pinpoint the culprit. Not every food agrees with every animal.

Sunlight is also necessary for the health of your pet. Sunlight helps the body convert the nutrients in the foods you feed into the necessities for their systems. In place of sunlight, use full-spectrum lighting, like Vita-Lites, or an equivalent. These are ideal for your indoor pets, such as birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Here are some herbal remedies for those common problems:

Eyes:

A strong tea of eyebright, used as a wash, is perfect for irritated eyes on all pets. Also administer orally to boost the internal mechanisms to fight infection from the inside. Alternatively, you can make a saline solution. Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt in 1/2 cup boiling water. Add 1 drop of goldenseal extract to 1 tablespoon of the saline solution, once cooled, when you are going to use it….it shrinks swollen tissues and disinfects.

Itching:

The common cause of itching is due to fleas and flea bites – some animals are actually allergic to the flea bites, compounding the problem. Brewer’s yeast is often recommended, 1 teaspoon or tablet per day, as a deterrent. A word of caution here – some animals are allergic to the brewer’s yeast, or react to it with dry patches of skin that itch just as bad as the fleas do. If you use brewer’s yeast, keep an eye out for these sorts of skin problems to develop, and discontinue the brewer’s yeast if necessary as soon as one of these symptoms appear. A good remedy for those dry itchy skin patches is tea tree oil, rubbed over the patch. The bitter taste will discourage the animal from digging at his skin, and the oil works well to heal the dryness. Do not use it near the eyes or genitals, however. Aloe is also good for those dry patches. Another method is to put a slice of raw cucumber over the “hot” spot, holding it there for a few minutes, and then rub aloe or tea tree oil over the area.

The shampoo you use, or the flea collar you use, may actually be causing the itching. Bathe the animal in an all natural shampoo, preferably something that has aloe in it, and find an alternative to that flea collar!! Would you wear chemicals around your neck? Neither should they!

You can make an herbal dip for your pet as follows: 2 cups packed fresh peppermint, pennyroyal, or rosemary; 1 quart boiling water; 4 quarts warm water – – Prepare an infusion by pouring the boiling water over the herbs and allow it to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and dilute it with the warm water. Saturate the animal’s coat thoroughly with the solution, allowing it to air dry. Use at the first sign of flea activity. This remedy will need to be repeated everthree to four days, but it is totally safe.

If the itching persists, and fleas or poor diet are not the culprit, use a mixture of Licorice Root, Dandelion Root, and Cat’s Claw in equal drops of each tincture for two weeks. The licorice is a natural cortisone, and will help to jumpstart the immune system.

To get rid of fleas in your carpet, after removing pets from the room, sprinkle Borax over the carpet and rub it in. Wait a while, then vacuum as usual. This is a safe, non-chemical method of flea control. Reapply the Borax once a week until the problem is gone.

Cuts:

Fresh aloe is an excellent application for those strange cuts and scrapes we can never figure out how our pet got. It is a natural antiseptic, and will keep the area moist until the cut can heal. Alternatively, you can clean the wound with a wash of goldenseal, and apply aloe or other herbal treatments that are your favorites.

Abscesses:

First you must lance the abscess. I mix a betadine solution with water until it looks like tea, and then fill an eyedropper with the solution and squirt it into the hole. Do this several times per day, at least three. The important thing is to clip the fur away from the abscess and don’t cover it with any bandage, or it can’t drain properly. It has to heal from the inside out. If it is extremely deep, you may need a vet to put a drain in it. I also begin to administer antibiotic herbs orally, to help fight any infection that may occur. Another course of action is to use chamomile in the wound to prevent infection. I have had a lot of success with these methods, which my vet recommends. However, I also know that if it doesn’t begin to clear up within a week, I need professional help to combat the infection.

Carsickness:

Does your pet get carsick when you take him for trips? Try giving a few drops of ginger root extract prior to the trip to settle his tummy. If it is a long trip, you may want to administer the ginger again halfway through the trip.

Infections:

Give a tincture of equal drops of echinacea and goldenseal. If the illness persists after two weeks, try a combination of different herbal antibiotics after careful diagnosis by your vet. If the animal recovers quickly, continue giving the herbs for a few days after, to aid in healing completely.

I generally give a capsule of garlic oil in the food once per week. It helps keep the biting insect critters away, and helps keep the immune system healthy.

Dehydration:

When a pet is dehydrated, due to illness or injury, you can give them Pedialyte, available in the baby food section of any grocery store. Alternatively, you can substitute Gatorade. However, the sugar content in Gatorade is rather high, which is not good for long term use with our pets. If using it, cut it in half with plain water. There are also powdered electrolyte solutions available in most feed stores that work just as well, and are less expensive. Electrolyte solutions given in place of water for the first 24 hours will also help new pets that were shipped to deal with the stress of shipping. This is especially important with reptiles, amphibians, and birds of all types.

Ulcers:

If your pet is suffering from ulcers, give him two drops each of Calendula, Comfrey, Knotgrass, and Nettle twice per day. Couple this with a bland, easy to digest diet until the ulcer has healed.

Anxiety, Stress:

When your pet suffers from stress or anxiety, try a combination of the extracts of Oats, Valerian, and Chamomile. Rub a little lavendar oil near the animal’s muzzle, or place some on a cotton pad in the pet’s bed or in his sleeping area. And remember that if you are stressed, the animal will be too, so sniff a little of that calming lavendar for yourself as well.

Orphans:

To raise an orphan, first find some goat milk – the fresher the better – to use as the replacement for mother’s milk. Goat milk is high in butterfat content, and is infinitely better to use than those powdered replacements found in stores, and miles ahead of cow’s milk. This applies for human babies, as well. Many a colicky baby has had their stomach soothed with goat milk…..and goat milk is usually easily used by those considered lactose-intolerant. Goat milk can be found in your health food store, and often in your grocery store, but the very best source is of course directly from the goat. Find a dairy goat farmer in your area. The prices will be better, too! We have raised everything from puppies and kittens to colts and calves on goat’s milk, and have observed or experienced none of the weight-gain problems or vitamin deficiency or immune deficiencies that occur often when using substitutes. Remember to feed the milk warmed. For puppies and kittens, it is often helpful to rub the face and anal area with a warm swab, to stimulate their system, much as the mother does after the baby feeds from her. Once per day, add a little spirulina (powdered) to the milk. It boosts the immune system, so needed in orphaned babies, and provides many necessary vitamins and nutrients.

Pregnancy:

Raspberry leaf administered daily throughout a pet’s pregnancy (mammals) will help tone the uterus and aid in the healing of the uterus after birth, as well as help to stimulate milk production in the mammaries.

Diarrhea, vomiting:

Powdered slippery elm bark is useful for treating diarrhea, vomiting, and sensitive stomachs for pets.

Shiny Coats:

One teaspoon (less for very small animals, such as ferrets) of cod liver oil dribbled over the pet’s food once or twice per week will give a thick, shiny coat, as well as provide many nutrients needed by your pet’s body.

Bee Pollen:

1/4 teaspoon for every 15 pounds of animal, given two to three times weekly, helps to slow the aging process. It will also restore hormone balances, regulate the digestive tract, and calm the symptoms of common allergies. Give bee pollen daily during times of stress, illness, or disease to give a boost to the body.

Vitamin C:

Giving 1000 mg to 2000 mg per day for three months to puppies from large breeds can help prevent hip dysplacia. Give 500 mg to 1000 mg daily to ease arthritis in dogs and cats. 500 mg each day can prevent urinary tract symptoms and problems for cats.

A WORD OF CAUTION:

Do not give white willow to cats or kittens. Many felines are allergic to salycin, the active ingredient in both white willow and the drug that is derived from it, aspirin. Substitute meadowsweet as a pain reliever instead.

 

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Natural Flea Control (Well, you will at least have this for Spring!)

Natural Flea Control

By Diane Downs

Natural Flea Control Methods for Pets

For all our modern accomplishments, we are still searching for natural flea control methods, a safe, effective means to control fleas. Unfortunately, many flea products on the market contain ingredients such as carbaryl (Sevin), a nerve-paralyzing chemical that is endowed with a host of other side effects. DDVP (dimethyl dichlorovinyl phosphate), which is found in plastic flea collars, numbs an insect’s nervous system and sometimes has the same effect on a susceptible pet. Or there is that increasingly familiar synergist, piperonyl butoxide, recently used extensively as a booster in most all the new pyrethrum products. It has been associated with liver disorders. On the other hand, if fleas get out of control, your pet—particularly if it is very young, old or unwell—can die of flea-induced anemia.

Flea Control Alternatives

When an adult flea lays an egg, this whitish speck drops into a carpet, a crack in a wood floor, the upholstery or a dusty corner. After a period of time (which varies according to species), the egg develops into a larva which feeds on tiny amounts of dust, debris or other organic matter. Outdoors, this larva takes up residence in the yard, usually in a shady spot, where it feeds on vegetable or animal matter. The hairy, legless larva then spins a cocoon and eventually emerges as a hungry adult, ready to jump on the nearest warm body for a meal of blood.

Because the egg, larva and cocoon stages are of various lengths in various flea species (the general range from egg to adult is 28 to 42 days), your initial attack should consist of a conscientious three- to five-week program. In this way, you’ll gradually get ahead of the massive number of fleas and eggs now sharing your pet and probably your home. If your pets stay outdoors, you can probably follow only the instructions concerning the yard, the animals and their living quarters.

The first step in natural flea control—and one you will repeat often initially—is to vacuum your house thoroughly. Not just the carpets, but under throw rugs, all floors, corners, upholstery, pillows, sofa cushions, under couches, mattresses—the works! (And don’t forget the basement.) Then either immediately burn the vacuum bag or seal it securely inside a plastic bag and dispose of it. Remember, all that dust inside the bag makes a fast-food feast for larvae. After patting yourself on the back for already cleaning up hundreds, maybe thousands, of fleas, eggs and larvae, wash all throw rugs, pets’ bedding and your bedding in water as hot as the fabric allows.

At this point you’ve made encouraging progress, but unless the next steps are taken, you’ll soon lose ground. To kill the tiny pests the vacuuming missed, sprinkle garden-grade diatomaceous earth in rugs, under sofa cushions, under mattresses and in your animal’s bedding. After three to four days, repeat the vacuum-and-wash cycle (again destroying the vacuum bag) and reapply diatomaceous earth.

While all this activity is taking place, your canine or feline friend needs some immediate attention too. Cat or dog, a bath is in order, followed by a rinse water cooled to lukewarm—and you could add a few drops of a safe herbal flea repellent oil to that rinse. When your pet is dry, a thorough brushing, combing or even vacuuming (if the process is not too terrifying to Puff or Fido) is in order. (Pick up a special flea comb from a pet store. It not only removes fleas, but helps monitor the extent of your flea problem.)

Combating Fleas Outside the House

To permanently eradicate outdoor fleas requires both immediate and long-term activities. First, sprinkle garden-grade diatomaceous earth over the lawn, under bushes and in shady areas. The effectiveness of this natural product (made from the shells of tiny sea creatures called diatoms) comes from its ability to scratch the fleas’ exoskeletons and cause the insects to dehydrate and die. Reapply seven to 10 days later.

Other Weapons in the Flea War

Over the years, MOTHER’S readers have offered their own nontoxic means of flea control. Here are some popular remedies.

Feed your dog or cat one clove of garlic a day. In addition to discouraging fleas, it will prevent some types of worms. Don’t, however, give garlic to pregnant pets, because it sometimes causes spontaneous abortion.

Brewer’s yeast (also called nutritional yeast) is available at most health food stores. Give large dogs one tablespoon once a day mixed into, or sprinkled on top of, their food. Try one teaspoon for cats and small dogs. Some animals love it. Others take a while to develop a taste for the yeast, but most end up begging for it.

A touch of vinegar in your pet’s water is touted as a control for both fleas and mange. With all of the above, however, it’s best to start such dietary programs long before the flea season hits.

You can also try a saltwater dip to discourage fleas. If you live near the sea, your dog might learn to love swimming in the ocean. Some especially energetic dog owners go so far as to provide small saltwater pools for their dogs to romp in.

Finally, our readers recommended putting a light six inches over a bowl of water containing a little dishwashing detergent. The heat attracts the fleas, which fall in the water and drown.

Since fleas are such persistent and prolific creatures, we recommend you combine all these natural remedies in your war against them.

 

MotherEarthNews.com

Natural Pet Care for Fleas, Ticks, Bath Time and More

Natural Pet Care for Fleas, Ticks, Bath Time and  More

Our human lives are full of choices. We often obsess over the ingredients in  the lotions we buy and search for the safest cleaning products for our home. Our  pets, on the other hand, live a largely choice-less existence. Whether you shine  your floors with chemical cleaner or use a non-toxic vinegar and lemon solution  is not a choice our cat makes. In fact, she doesn’t get a choice when flea  season rolls around and the collars and ointments come out, either. And her  favorite bubble bath solution is left unknown as well. In the end, the choices  that affect your pets’ health are up to you, and many pet owners make  health-damaging mistakes.

For example, flea collars often contain tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) or propoxur,  which can jeopardize your pet’s immune  system and leave damaging lifelong effects. Flea collars that contain  these chemicals can damage the nervous system, negatively affect the brain and  even lead to cancer. These chemicals are especially damaging for children who  may be in regular contact with your dog or cat.

You can avoid toxic chemicals by taking the following natural and  preventive measures:

  • Give your pet regular baths.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding and clean the areas where your pet sleeps, such as  sofas or rugs. Clean these surfaces the same day as you wash your pet.
  • Use a flea comb in between baths.
  • Do not neglect your pet’s oral hygiene. Regular brushing is necessary not just for you, but them,  too.
  • If you have carpet, vacuum regularly and clean area rugs.
  • Boost your pet’s immune system with herbs.
  • Create a natural flea and tick rinse with rosemary, wormwood, southernwood,  lavender, pennyroyal or eucalyptus.

Taking the time to consider natural pet care choices is worth it for the  furry friends we love. Natural pet care is easier than you think and creates a  cleaner, greener environment for every member of your household.

Flea Prevention & Holistic Treatments for Cats

Flea Prevention & Holistic Treatments for Cats

by Celeste Yarnall

There’s so much that is done to our cats that is accepted and mediocre—so  much so that few ever challenge it, especially Western trained veterinarians.  But some of these habitual protocols done so mindlessly and often have turned  out to be quite harmful for our cats. One of those is the routine use of  chemical flea products. Let’s look at what we see advertised today  routinely.

Flea collars (whether herbal or insecticidal) don’t work! 

They don’t kill fleas, and they don’t even particularly repel them, except  for the area right around the collar. The grocery/pet store variety contains  concentrated toxic chemicals, and the herbal ones are irritating to  odor-sensitive cats. Topical (spot-on or pour-on) flea preventatives are  associated with liver disease and other adverse effects in cats. Permethrin,  pyrethrin, or pyrethroid-containing products intended for dogs are extremely  toxic to cats and have caused many feline deaths. Putting a dog flea product on  a cat causes neurological signs (twitching, disorientation, seizures) that  ultimately kill about 10 percent of cats.

Healthy cats eating a balanced, properly supplemented raw meat and raw bone diet are much  less susceptible to fleas and other parasites. If your cat is experiencing a  flea problem, work on improving your cat’s overall health and deal with the  immediate parasite situation. This is a “holistic” approach in the truest sense  of the word!

The conventional thinking that fleas are the problem is like saying  “flies cause garbage” just because the two are often found together. It is the  unhealthy state of the animal that attracts the parasites, just like garbage  attracts flies.

Fleas, those nasty little blood suckers, are tough, highly evolved parasites  that, once entrenched, are not easily eliminated. Fleas are attracted to warmth,  moving shadows, and the vibrations from foot (or paw) steps. When dealing with  fleas, you need to protect your cat and reach fleas and larvae hiding in carpets  and yards. Even exclusively indoor cats can get fleas, which travel in on  peoples shoes and clothing. (Keeping your cat indoors, however, will eliminate  the risk of ticks.) And removing shoes at your front door keeps fleas out and  helps keep other germs out as well.

Adult fleas spend most of their time on the cat, where they feed on blood  several times a day. Flea eggs are slippery and quickly fall off the cat and  onto the cat’s resting areas, floors, rugs, bedding, and furniture. The eggs  hatch and go through several intermediate stages before emerging as adults in as  little as two weeks, but they may remain dormant for months. That’s why even if  you get rid of the fleas on your cat, reinfestation is a common and very  frustrating phenomenon.

A Three-Pronged Approach to Treating Fleas

Try this one-two-three punch to eradicate fleas from your—and your cat’s—life.

ON YOUR CAT:

Use an ultra-fine-tooth flea comb daily. Pay particular attention to the neck, tummy, and base of the tail, which are favorite flea hangouts. Have a glass or bowl full of warm, soapy water at hand to drown any fleas that turn up.

Bathe your cat. Bathing your cat will drown a lot of fleas, but apply soap around the ears and neck first to keep the fleas from rushing up to the cat’s head and face. The herb Erigeron Canadensis (Canadian fleabane), found in some herbal shampoos, will help kill fleas. Bathe no more than once a week.

IN YOUR HOME:

Floor/carpet treatments such as diatomaceous earth (the fossilized shells of one-celled organisms called diatoms) and boric acid–derived powders will kill flea larvae, primarily through dessication (drying). Exterminators use borates; you can either hire professionals to treat your home or do it yourself. For a serious flea problem, it may be worth paying a professional since their work is guaranteed. Vacuuming is very effective against flea eggs and might even catch a few adults. To keep the eggs from hatching or the fleas from escaping, discard the bag immediately or use a flea spray in the vacuum bag or container, (not on the cat) either before or right after you vacuum.

IN THE YARD:

Beneficial nematodes eat flea eggs and will help control flea populations outdoors.

Garden-grade diatomaceous earth is very effective. Concentrate on areas under shrubs and decks and other cool shady spots where animals (such as rodents, raccoons, and outdoor and feral cats) have access.

Be very careful about the so-called natural approaches to flea treatment such as the use of essential oils topically or internally for cats.

Remember essential oils can be very toxic to cats even though they are highly touted by so-called holistic pet experts. Do keep in mind that:

Cats’ livers do not have the necessary enzymes to break down and excrete certain chemical compounds in essential oils. The chemical compounds accumulate in a cat’s body and are sometimes toxic to the point of death. Cats are very sensitive to morphine, certain sulfanomides, salicylic acid (aspirin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), allyl propyl disulfide (onions) and compounds containing bezene (benzyl alcohol preservative). Avoid all of the following oils around cats:

Wintergreen and birch oils contain methyl salicylate, the same chemical compound in aspirin.

Phenol-containing oils: oregano, thyme, cinnamon (cassia), clove, savory, cedar, birch, and melaleuca (tea tree oil)

Ketones, such as sage

Monoterpene hydrocarbons pinene and limonene, most commonly found in the citrus and pine oils: lemon, orange, tangerine, mandarin, grapefruit, lime, bergamot, pine, spruce, and any fir oil. Many household cleaners and even pet products have these latter substances in them to make them smell nice to the owners.

Hydrosols are the appropriate form of essential oils to use in cats. Regardless, the cat should always be given a choice as to whether to “partake.” Forcing a cat to ingest oils that have not been tested for safety in their species seems most unwise and many essential oil people will do their best to tell you it is ok. However do not ever attempt this without a vet’s supervision at best.

Let’s only use foods and supplements that are safe and proven to be safe and effective for cats. The best oils for cats come from animal sources such as those that possess anti-inlammatory benefits such as Omega-3s from marine lipids which also help treat flea bite dermatitis.

For more holistic protocols for cats and information see The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care, An Illustrated Guide by Celeste Yarnall, PhD and Jean Hofve, DVM.

Flea Prevention & Holistic Treatments for Cats

By Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D

There’s so much that is done to our cats that is accepted and mediocre—so much so that few ever challenge it, especially Western trained veterinarians. But some of these habitual protocols done so mindlessly and often have turned out to be quite harmful for our cats. One of those is the routine use of chemical flea products. Let’s look at what we see advertised today routinely.

Flea collars (whether herbal or insecticidal) don’t work!

They don’t kill fleas, and they don’t even particularly repel them, except for the area right around the collar. The grocery/pet store variety contains concentrated toxic chemicals, and the herbal ones are irritating to odor-sensitive cats. Topical (spot-on or pour-on) flea preventatives are associated with liver disease and other adverse effects in cats. Permethrin, pyrethrin, or pyrethroid-containing products intended for dogs are extremely toxic to cats and have caused many feline deaths. Putting a dog flea product on a cat causes neurological signs (twitching, disorientation, seizures) that ultimately kill about 10 percent of cats.

Healthy cats eating a balanced, properly supplemented raw meat and raw bone diet are much less susceptible to fleas and other parasites. If your cat is experiencing a flea problem, work on improving your cat’s overall health and deal with the immediate parasite situation. This is a “holistic” approach in the truest sense of the word!

The conventional thinking that fleas are the problem is like saying “flies cause garbage” just because the two are often found together. It is the unhealthy state of the animal that attracts the parasites, just like garbage attracts flies.

Fleas, those nasty little blood suckers, are tough, highly evolved parasites that, once entrenched, are not easily eliminated. Fleas are attracted to warmth, moving shadows, and the vibrations from foot (or paw) steps. When dealing with fleas, you need to protect your cat and reach fleas and larvae hiding in carpets and yards. Even exclusively indoor cats can get fleas, which travel in on peoples shoes and clothing. (Keeping your cat indoors, however, will eliminate the risk of ticks.) And removing shoes at your front door keeps fleas out and helps keep other germs out as well.

Adult fleas spend most of their time on the cat, where they feed on blood several times a day. Flea eggs are slippery and quickly fall off the cat and onto the cat’s resting areas, floors, rugs, bedding, and furniture. The eggs hatch and go through several intermediate stages before emerging as adults in as little as two weeks, but they may remain dormant for months. That’s why even if you get rid of the fleas on your cat, reinfestation is a common and very frustrating phenomenon.

A Three-Pronged Approach to Treating Fleas
Try this one-two-three punch to eradicate fleas from your—and your cat’s—life.

ON YOUR CAT:

Use an ultra-fine-tooth flea comb daily. Pay particular attention to the neck, tummy, and base of the tail, which are favorite flea hangouts. Have a glass or bowl full of warm, soapy water at hand to drown any fleas that turn up.

Bathe your cat. Bathing your cat will drown a lot of fleas, but apply soap around the ears and neck first to keep the fleas from rushing up to the cat’s head and face. The herb Erigeron Canadensis (Canadian fleabane), found in some herbal shampoos, will help kill fleas. Bathe no more than once a week. See CelestialPets.com for erigeron shampoo.

IN YOUR HOME:

Floor/carpet treatments such as diatomaceous earth (the fossilized shells of one-celled organisms called diatoms) and boric acid–derived powders will kill flea larvae, primarily through dessication (drying). Exterminators use borates; you can either hire professionals to treat your home or do it yourself. For a serious flea problem, it may be worth paying a professional since their work is guaranteed. Vacuuming is very effective against flea eggs and might even catch a few adults. To keep the eggs from hatching or the fleas from escaping, discard the bag immediately or use a flea spray in the vacuum bag or container, (not on the cat) either before or right after you vacuum.

IN THE YARD:

Beneficial nematodes eat flea eggs and will help control flea populations outdoors.

Garden-grade diatomaceous earth is very effective. Concentrate on areas under shrubs and decks and other cool shady spots where animals (such as rodents, raccoons, and outdoor and feral cats) have access.

Be very careful about the so-called natural approaches to flea treatment such as the use of essential oils topically or internally for cats.

Remember essential oils can be very toxic to cats even though they are highly touted by so-called holistic pet experts. Do keep in mind that:

Cats’ livers do not have the necessary enzymes to break down and excrete certain chemical compounds in essential oils. The chemical compounds accumulate in a cat’s body and are sometimes toxic to the point of death. Cats are very sensitive to morphine, certain sulfanomides, salicylic acid (aspirin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), allyl propyl disulfide (onions) and compounds containing bezene (benzyl alcohol preservative). Avoid all of the following oils around cats:

  • Wintergreen and birch oils contain methyl salicylate, the same chemical compound in aspirin.
  • Phenol-containing oils: oregano, thyme, cinnamon (cassia), clove, savory, cedar, birch, and melaleuca (tea tree oil)
  • Ketones, such as sage
  • Monoterpene hydrocarbons pinene and limonene, most commonly found in the citrus and pine oils: lemon, orange, tangerine, mandarin, grapefruit, lime, bergamot, pine, spruce, and any fir oil. Many household cleaners and even pet products have these latter substances in them to make them smell nice to the owners.

Hydrosols are the appropriate form of essential oils to use in cats. Regardless, the cat should always be given a choice as to whether to “partake.” Forcing a cat to ingest oils that have not been tested for safety in their species seems most unwise and many essential oil people will do their best to tell you it is ok. However do not ever attempt this without a vet’s supervision at best.

Let’s only use foods and supplements that are safe and proven to be safe and effective for cats. The best oils for cats come from animal sources such as those that possess anti-inlammatory benefits such as Omega-3s from marine lipids which also help treat flea bite dermatitis.

For more holistic protocols for cats and information see The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care, An Illustrated Guide by Celeste Yarnall, PhD and Jean Hofve, DVM.