|Biting Back Against Fleas|
By: Robert S. and Susan J. Goldstein
There are many ways to wipe out fleas and ticks, but only a few are good for your dog or cat.
At least once a day at the Healing Center for Animals we get a call from someone who wants our opinion on a new or popular flea and tick control product - Advantage, Front Line, Program, and the like. Of course, the calls come more often at this time of year, when flea and tick infestations are at their worst.
These products work either by inhibiting the pest's growth and reproductive cycle, or by interfering with its nervous system, thereby killing it. The manufacturers claim to have clinical proof that these formulations are safe and have no long-range side effects. But the bottom line is that we don't know the long-term effects, because these products are so new on the market. There is no way of knowing that chemicals aren't being absorbed in low levels by your dog or cat and accumulating in his or her tissues, contributing to the onset of disease years from now.
So we respond to these questions with one of our own: Do you want to use your dog or cat as a delivery system to kill fleas and ticks? The answer, generally, is no. And then, after a short pause, another question follows: What are the alternatives?
Whether you are controlling fleas and ticks with chemical pesticides and insecticides, pharmaceuticals, foods and supplements, herbs, or homeopathic remedies, consider your long-term goal for your best friend - which, undoubtedly, is a long and healthy life. The direction you take for pest control should be consistent with this goal.
We're sure that true health and wellness is your objective, and we're confident that if you take a stand against pesticides and pharmaceuticals your dog or cat will thank you by living to a ripe old age. Educate yourself about foods, supplements, herbs, and homeopathic remedies. In doing so, you should have peace of mind, knowing that the course you are taking can only have a positive effect on your animal's health.
This approach, by the way, is applicable to all the health care decisions you make concerning your animal, regardless of the category - be it fleas and ticks, foods, supplements, vaccines, medications, or anything else.
Food- and plant-derived substances are a healthy substitute for chemical-based products. But are they strong enough to control fleas and ticks? Consider the barbeque scenario: You've no doubt been to a cookout where some of the guests are chewed alive by mosquitoes while others are left alone. There's a nutritional reason for this, and it has to do with the strength of each person's immune system and the levels of B complex, zinc, selenium, and antioxidants in the body and bloodstream. A strong immune system and high nutrient levels help repel insects.
In the same way, you can make your dog or cat less of a target by adding a few simple ingredients to his or her food and water, some of which may be growing in your backyard or sitting on your kitchen shelf. These include organic apple cider vinegar, fresh garlic, and brewer's yeast. The vinegar strengthens immunity, the garlic gives blood a bad taste, and the yeast is high in B vitamins - all powerful munitions in the war against fleas and ticks. Use one teaspoon of vinegar per quart of water and a clove of garlic daily in food. Supplement with a daily vitamin rich in antioxidants.
Be aware that some animals are yeast intolerant and will react with a skin allergy. Discontinue use if this occurs. If your animal can handle brewer's yeast, choose a high-quality one - not all yeasts are created equal. You may also consider using a product that combines herbs, vitamins, and minerals to make the yeast work more efficiently. Ask the shop owner for a recommendation. Combine the yeast with the garlic in your animal's food, and double the recommended dosage during peak season. If your animal recoils at the taste, try adding some plain organic yogurt to the mix.
If your pet has a history of flea or tick infestation, consider having your veterinarian perform a nutritional evaluation to find out why your animal's immune system is compromised and which nutrients can trigger a stronger defense.
If you are dealing with a new animal whose background is questionable, work with a team of herbal products that support the nutritional program. Add an herbal collar or spray during peak season or until your pet's immune system toughens up.
Remember, the choices you make now may have an important effect on your dog or cat in the years to come. Be sure to make healthy ones.
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