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Manage Fleas and Ticks Naturally

May 31, 2011 01:13PM ● By Jody Page

Fleas and ticks are seasonal in their outdoor activity. In northern Illinois, reports of ticks start as early as March. Fleas start later in the spring, peaking late in the summer, when heat and humidity are at their highest. Indoors, they can be active all year long.

Although some pets show no outward evidence of fleas, an animal that is allergic to them may scratch continuously from just one bite, leading to skin irritation, open sores and even fur loss. In northeastern Illinois, ticks are also a serious health concern. The bite can be irritating and may cause an allergic reaction, and could possibly transmit diseases such as Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Use of chemical-based collars and similar products may damage a pet’s vital organs, including the liver, kidney and thyroid. Some of the toxic ingredients may cause nausea, nervous disorders, sleeplessness and flaky skin. These products should never be used on a pet that is ill or has a compromised immune system.

Prevention is the best way to control fleas and ticks. The best time to start a natural prevention program is before the beginning of flea and tick season, but any time is good—don’t wait until you see the pests. Specialty pet stores carry natural treatments ranging from topical parasite dust to sprays and essential oils, as well as dietary supplements.

A powerful natural defense, garlic is a good natural repellent that can be added to your pet’s food bowl. Start with a pinch of dried granulated or fresh garlic, mixed into food daily. A non-toxic commercial product, Bug Off Garlic, is available at some pet stores.

A good diet helps maintain your pet’s immune system and overall health. Choose natural and organic feed, rotate the diet and supplement it with raw foods as much as possible. Avoid pet foods that contain fillers and artificial ingredients and pay special attention to treats and “cookies” that offer a yummy flavor, but are often laden with inferior ingredients and fillers.

Periodically inspect your pet as part of its health regimen. The best place to look for fleas on a cat or dog is on the back, by the base of the tail; on the abdomen, between the hind legs, where there is less fur; and inside the ears, where ticks love to hide.

Frequent grooming with a flea comb will discover any “flea dirt,” or droppings, present on your pet. If ticks or fleas are found, it’s important to treat the area where your pet relaxes or spends time, such as bedding. Blot the dirt with a wet paper towel; flea feces will turn red because of its content of digested blood. As a remedy, wash bedding in hot water and treat the area with a natural spray or dust.

Fleas and ticks will always exist in the wild. Prevention is the best medicine, but if pests affect your pet, turn to natural products to protect your pet from these parasites.

Jody Page is the owner of Page’s Healthy Paws, 249 N. Rand Rd. Lake Zurich. Page’s offers a wide variety of natural pet foods and supplements, as well as holistic pet care products. Call 847-550-1002 or visit