Most pet owners provide flea repellent--whether it's a topical, powder, spray, collar or pill form--to their dogs. According to holistic veterinarians, however, this is not necessary or even good for your pet. A healthy animal, being fed a nutritious diet, getting enough exercise and with a strong immune system will not have a flea problem, according to those who practice holistic veterinary medicine. If your dog does have a flea issue, these veterinarians warn against using common flea preventatives, most of which contain insecticides. They say a homeopathic flea treatment is much safer for you and your dog.
Most homeopathic veterinarians practice holistic veterinary medicine. A holistic veterinarian considers all parts of the animal and his life when making a diagnosis and prescribing a treatment. These parts include "genetics, nutrition, family relationships, hygiene and stress," according to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. If an animal's illness is serious, holistic veterinarians often prescribe homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy is based on the idea that "like cures like" and homeopathic treatments are made from natural substances including plants, minerals, viruses and bacteria.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Levy, a homeopathic veterinarian, a dog's reaction to fleas is an indication of her health. "The long-term solution to a flea problem is to reduce your pet's susceptibility to fleas by improving his/her health," Dr. Levy stated. To improve your dog's health, most holistic veterinarians recommend changes to diet, supplements, cleaning indoors and outdoors and ensuring your dog is getting enough exercise. Some holistic veterinarians might also recommend a homeopathic detoxification for your dog.
Holistic veterinarians do not recommend feeding your dog commercial pet foods. Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn recommends homemade diets rich in iron, protein and Vitamin B-12 for dogs with fleas. Foods to include are human-grade beef liver and green vegetables. Adding brewers yeast to your dog's food each day will also help repel fleas, but it will be about a month before the treatment starts to work.
Your pet should be combed with a flea comb at least once a week or as often as twice a day, depending on how bad the fleas are. Work especially on your dog's lower back and belly, where fleas tend to concentrate. Drop fleas into a bowl of soapy water and they will drown. Bathe your dog no more than once per week, using a quality non-medicated pet shampoo. Work up a thick lather and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes to drown the fleas.
Treating the dog is not enough. You must also treat your dog's environment. Vacuuming frequently, both hard floors and carpeted areas, is your number one weapon in the war against fleas. Fleas will survive even in the vacuum bag. Either toss the bag, add a mothball to the bag, or put the bag in a sealed plastic container and place it in the freezer. Wash your dog's bed weekly in hot water and plain vinegar. Sprinkle eucalyptus leaves or pyrethrum flowers throughout the house and in your dog's bed.
The yard where your dog exercises is likely hopping with pests. To help control fleas outdoors, keep grass cut short and rake leaves. In areas where your dog spends a lot of time, periodically flood the area with your garden hose to drown fleas. Another way of naturally addressing fleas in your dog's outside environment is to introduce nematodes, small worms that live in the soil and eat flea larvae and cocoons.
Homeopathic flea treatments for dogs include the use of essential oils, extracts and herbs administered through sprays, powders, collars, dips and shampoos. Diatomaceous earth is a popular homeopathic choice for treating fleas. According to Dr. Levy, diatomaceous earth plugs up the pores through which fleas breathe; however, it leaves your dog's coat feeling gritty. Some nurseries sell diatomaceous earth as a product called "Earthguard." It can also be applied to your yard, carpet and furniture as a flea repellent. The chrysanthemum flower is also a natural flea repellent. Extracts are available in the forms of flea sprays, dips and shampoos.
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.