Spring is here! So what does that mean for our pets? Longer days, more walks and time spent outdoors, so pretty much all around happiness for everyone, right?! Well, there are some dangers lurking with the warmer, sunnier days that are now here. Depending on where you live, there is a high chance that your pet may encounter those nasty ticks and fleas that can become a burden to get rid of. Not only can fleas infest your house, but both fleas and ticks can carry nasty diseases, like tularemia and lyme, that can make your pet sick short term and long term. If your pet is prone to developing spring time allergies, fleas can make this even worse, sending your pet into a scratching and itching frenzy that leads to skin infections and trips to the vet for antibiotics and medications!
So what can we do to prevent fleas and ticks from taking over?
Keep your pets inside and do NOT let them outside! No, I am just kidding! However, even if your pet doesn’t really go anywhere, they can still pick up flea infestations from going out in the yard to go to the bathroom! Ok, so what can you do?
1. Feed a whole food, species-appropriate diet.
Your best defense for your pet against fleas and ticks is to keep them healthy by supporting their immune system with real food. There are lots of diets out on the market now which can make it hard to know what to feed your pet. The closer we can get to feeding our pets real food, the healthier they will be! Now keep in mind, this doesn’t mean just giving them meat and saying they’re good! It needs to be well-balanced. The worst diet is a home-made diet that is unbalanced. One of my favorite and easiest resources for pet parents to make a home-made diet is to head to www.balanceIT.com and you can put in the proteins and veggies you would like to use for your pet’s food. You can use their supplements they sell or we can work together on an optimal nutritional plan for your pet!
2. Avoid toxins in your pet’s environment
Make sure you are not using toxic house cleaners for your pet’s sake but also for yours! Many household cleaners are quite toxic and can actually increase the risk of cancer for your pets. There are instances of floor cleaners leading to elevated liver values and making pets deathly ill. With all the natural cleaning products that are now around, why even think of using the traditional household cleaners? I love my Young Living Thieves cleaner! The bottle lasts forever because I dilute the concentrate in water, my house smells AMAZING, and I know my pets are safe when I use the products (and I’m safe too)!
Now is the time of year that everyone is getting their yards in shape too. I just saw tons of pesticides being sprayed around our neighborhood the other day. Here’s my advice about this: DON’T DO IT!!! There is too much evidence coming out now that is showing that the chemicals and pesticides that are being sprayed on our lawns and properties are now increasing the risk of bladder cancer in our pets. I know I am seeing an increase in my patients from when I first started practicing ten years ago. I would rather have my yard be a little more brown or patchy than expose my dog to all those chemicals.
3. Minimize vaccines and pharmaceuticals
Spring is a common time of year for your pet to need their vaccines updated. I believe there is a place for vaccines, but I believe that how we are administering vaccines now is not appropriate. We should be checking titers for vaccines to see if our pets truly need the vaccine or if they are still protected. Every animal’s immune system is different and there are pets who lose their protection faster than others. There are also pets who receive one vaccine and have protective antibodies for life! We need to be smarter about how we are vaccinating. Overloading our pets with 7 different vaccines all at one time is not appropriate. Prevention goes a long way, and it makes me sad to see those pets who contract distemper or parvovirus and never received a protective vaccine. Make sure you are asking your veterinarian for a vaccine titer during your wellness appointments.
Spring can also bring a lot of allergies for pets, which can mean antibiotics, steroids or apoquel. These drugs when needed can help, but they can greatly affect your pet’s immune system. By bolstering your pet’s immune system through nutrition and minimizing access to toxins, their allergies will be less severe and less frequent avoiding the need for these pharmaceuticals.
4. Use food-grade diatomaceous earth
This is a great product for sprinkling through your pet’s fur to prevent flea and tick infestations. You can also sprinkle this through your carpet. There is nothing worse than having one flea turn into millions within a matter of days in your house, and now you are having to flea bomb your entire house and expose everyone to harmful chemicals.
5. Using essential oils to repel fleas and ticks
Rather than using potentially toxic topical treatments, why not use essential oils?! This is my favorite method! Remember it is very, very important to make sure that the essential oils are 100% pure, therapeutic grade so they do not harm your pet. I love my Young Living oils and have been using them for years around my dogs and cats. Keep in mind that I only use these recipes on dogs only, because cats can be more sensitive. You are ok to diffuse these around cats, as long as you are using safe essential oil brands.
Here are some awesome recipes courtesy of Jessica Peralta at dogsnaturallymagazine.com that can help keep your dog free of fleas and ticks. I recommend using one recipe for fleas in the morning and the tick repellant recipe in the evening so you are not using too many essential oils at once. However, if your pet is very healthy, you may find that you do not need to use these recipes every day. Coupled with diatomaceous earth, this combo can have a powerful impact in keeping nasty fleas and ticks off of your pet!
Combining all of the above tactics will help keep your pet safe and healthy this Spring from those nasty fleas and ticks! Remember that the foundation of health always rests with nutrition first, so if we don‘t improve that for our pets, we will always be fighting an uphill battle! Now get out and enjoy the beautiful weather with your pets – it’s nature’s medicine for both you and them!
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*Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. The information contained in thenaturalpetdoctor.com is strictly for educational purposes. Therefore, if you wish to apply ideas contained in thenaturalpetdoctor.com, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. Please consult your veterinarian for medical advice for your own pets. Dr. Katie Woodley cannot answer specific questions about your pet’s medical issues or make medical recommendations for your pet without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.