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Monday, April 21, 2014

Try safer natural solutions to get rid of fleas

By Terri Bennett
McClatchy Newspapers

It’s tough to watch our dog or cat doing battle with fleas. With temperatures rising, flea season is here.

The last thing you want to do is to put a toxic flea collar or topical treatment on them. They usually contain pesticides that can rub off on your pet as well as the people taking care of them. Instead, find natural solutions that work just as well.

Prevention is always the best place to begin. Washing your pet’s bedding in hot, soapy water regularly will help prevent fleas. Regular cleaning with a vacuum is important, too.

One way to see if your flea prevention techniques are working is to use a flea comb. Not only can you drown the fleas you find in hot, soapy water, you will see how bad your pet’s flea problem really is.

When it comes to flea-fighting shampoos, harsh chemical-based ones aren’t your only options. There are eco-friendly shampoos that contain essential oils like lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary or thyme. All of these are nontoxic and effective.

GreenPaws.org has a guide to the safest flea shampoos on the market.

Once fleas are off your pet, you’ll need to tackle the fleas that could be hiding in your carpets and rugs. There are a couple of natural methods that are extremely effective.

One is to use all-natural borax, which is found in the laundry aisle. Just sprinkle it on and let it sit for an hour before vacuuming. Keep pets and children away from the area during treatment.

While you’ve probably heard of borax, you may not have heard of this next powdery solution: All-natural food grade diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled on carpets, bedding and pet crates. Just let it sit on the affected areas overnight and vacuum or wipe away in the morning.

It’s a cost-effective solution that can be found at most home improvement stores and garden centers.

If you find that you still need a stronger solution, ask your veterinarian about oral medications to prevent fleas. It usually involves giving your pet a pill once a month during flea season.

It’s the time of year when fleas can easily find their way onto our pets and into our homes.

Finding flea solutions that are safe and effective is an important way to do your part for your family, your pets and our planet.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living.”

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