Just as more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of toxic and harmful chemicals that they apply to their skin, so the same awareness is dawning on pet owners too. Cats, dogs and other pets can be just as vulnerable as we are to synthetic and harsh products. Of course these products can be very damaging to your pets but also to your children, your home and to the environment in general. Instead of going straight for a regular, commercial product when you have a pet problem to resolve, think about changing to more natural home remedies.
What can happen to your pet's skin?
Just as with ourselves, anything you put on your pet's skin will be absorbed into that skin and beyond into the tissues and even the organs. Any toxicity can build up over time and even lead to permanent damage. The flea drops we commonly use are poisonous and actually dangerous but oh dear, we all hate the thought of fleas. These small, flat-bodied insects no bigger than a pinhead are found just about everywhere, are tough to kill and can leap many times their body length. They live off the blood of warm-blooded animals, but they prefer the higher body temperature of dogs and cats over humans, reproducing quickly. Their eggs can survive in the environment for long periods of time.
Cats and dogs with fleas will usually scratch a lot and some pets can even be allergic and end up with an itchy rash or skin infection.
Here are some natural tips to use instead of the usual toxic products
- Bath your dog in a totally natural pet shampoo that has flea repellent herbs and wash his bedding every week in hot soapy water. Remember that too much bathing can lead to dry skin and allergies as you may be getting rid of your dog's natural oils.
- More difficult is bathing a cat. Use an herbal shampoo that contains a combination of any of the following: pine cedar, bergamot, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, citronella, juniper or geranium. First of all you need to stop fleas escaping to higher ground (namely your cat's head) so pour a thick layer of the shampoo all around the head and neck area; as close to the top of the head and underneath the chin area as you can get. Pour small amounts of water with your hand onto the soapy area and spend some time building up a thick, soapy barrier that will kill the fleas that attempt to pass through it. Proceed by wetting down and lathering up the rest of the animal's body while frequently returning to massage and re-lather the neck area. Fleas are very difficult to kill and it is better for your pet if you can handle the problem with one good bath rather than several of them, so be sure to leave the shampoo on for at least 15 minutes or more while continuing to massage the soap deep into the animal's fur. Rinse the animal thoroughly and dry it off well, especially during cold weather.
- You can dust some natural powder (with herbs such as rosemary, wormwood, rue, eucalyptus and sometimes tobacco powder to repel fleas) into your dog or cat's bedding and anywhere he tends to lie as well as his fur.
- Add garlic and brewer's yeast to your pet's daily diet. Garlic has been used for centuries as a natural antibiotic and to repel parasites, mosquitoes and fleas. Another natural substance to try is Aloe bitters which has also been found to be very effective.
In addition to flea tips, here are some general ones
- If you find any ticks, pull them out using your fingers. Grab the tick as close to your pet's skin as possible, twist and pull gradually.
- If you notice any stickers, use a stainless steel comb with wide teeth to pull these out from the fur before matting begins. If necessary, you can use your fingers to pull them out. If you find the sticker deep inside the ear, making it difficult to remove, put some warm vegetable or mineral oil in the ear to soften it and take your pet to the vet.
- If you happen to notice something that looks like coffee grounds in your cat's or dog's ears, there's a good possibility that he is infested with ear mites as this common parasite lives in ear canals. Mix ½ ounce of almond oil and vitamin E. Put a dropper or two in each ear and massage it well. Let your pet shake its head and clean out the opening with cotton swabs. The oily mixture smothers the mites and helps healing. Refrigerate the mixture between uses, warming it before use.
If you go online, you will find that there is a growing band of natural vets who will offer a more holistic, natural solution to the care of your pets. So think about changing to such a vet so you can work together for a healthier pet and a safer environment for you and your family.