Is your furry friend itchy and scratchy? They may have picked up some unwanted friends from having a romp outside. Having survived a tick infestation in my home (it was horrible!), I have learned a thing or two with the main lesson being prevention. Once you have discovered pests such as, fleas and ticks in your home, it’s already too late and you will have to bring out the big guns, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. When I found ticks on my pooch, I despaired at the notion of putting harsh chemical prevention products on him so I buckled down and researched natural prevention strategies.
It all comes down to prevention.
By just taking some simple steps, you can help prevent the migraine of an infestation. Fleas and ticks multiply at rapid rates, making it darn well near impossible to get rid of them once they start laying eggs (for example, a tick can lay up to 3,000 eggs at one time!). To keep your pets happy and healthy and to avoid using harsh chemicals, check out these simple prevention strategies.
1. Keep your house clean. Vacuum and disinfect your pet’s living spaces on a regular basis. Make sure to frequently launder bedding to get rid of fleas and their eggs.
2. Always, always, always check pets after playing in the woods or tall grass. I can not stress this enough. This is where ticks love to hide and wait to find a new host. After latching on, they can gorge themselves to three times their size, fall off and lay a bunch of eggs in your home. The places they like to hide on your pet are in their paws, armpits, and tails. If you find a tick make sure you remove it correctly.
3. Spread diatomaceous earth around your yard and in areas of your house where your pests hang out. Made from tiny, microscopic skeletons of marine phytoplankton, it is an effective pest control tool. When fleas and ticks crawl through the fine dust, it cuts up their exoskeleton and dehydrates them. I know it doesn’t sound very friendly, but this is a good resort if you already have an infestation.
4. Give your pets regular baths with warm water and mild soap. Fleas cannot survive water and will drown. You can buy specialty flea shampoos but a regular shampoo works too.
5. Invite bug eating friends into your back yard. Thought about have some backyard chickens as friends? They are awesome at eating up those pesky intruders.
6. Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water. It is thought that apple cider vinegar makes your dog’s skin unpalatable and will actually repel fleas and ticks. But don’t treat your cats orally since their systems are so sensitive. You can also make a topical spray of half ACV and half water and spray on your pet’s fur, avoiding the face and eyes of course.
7. Plant a pest repelling garden. Lavender, mint and lemongrass are highly versatile plants that are great not only for pest prevention but for your various culinary adventures as well. There is also a plant that is actually called Fleabane Daisy that will not only repel fleas and ticks, but works at repelling flies, gnats, and mosquitos.
8. Use a dab of pest repelling essential oil on your pet’s collar. Lavender and lemongrass are effective against both fleas and ticks. You can also put a dab in between your pet’s shoulder blades for more protection. My dad swears by cedar spray, which is also very good against fleas.
9. Make your own bug repellant. This is a very simple recipe and fairly effective. Cut 6 lemons in have and place in a quart of boiling water. Steep for several hours and strain into a spray bottle. Spray onto your pet avoiding the face and eyes.
10. There are also some gentle commercial products that will get the job done. Miss. Sarah’s Botanicals makes a nice product from essential oils and no harsh chemicals.
Also by Krystle: 10 Awesome Staycation Ideas
Related: Getting Rid of Fleas Naturally
Photo: Dustin Ginetz via Flickr; Hiroyuki Takeda via Flickr; K. Troia-Alvarado