And this from the EPA itself:
U.S. and Canada to Increase Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Pet Products
DC – April 16, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is
intensifying its evaluation of spot-on pesticide products for flea and
tick control for pets due to recent increases in the number of reported
incidents. Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as
skin irritation tomore serious effects such as seizures and, in some cases, the death of pets.(emphasis mine) . . .
Incidents with flea and tick products can involve the use of spot-on treatments, sprays, collars and shampoos.
the majority of the incidents reported to EPA are related to flea and
tick treatments with EPA-registered spot-on products. (emphasis mine)(To read the complete EPA news release, click here.)
good news is that there are effective, safe, non-toxic ways to address
the flea population where it counts and not make everyone sick in doing
There are two main areas to address the major segments of the flea population, the eggs and larvae (remember, they’re 85% of the population).
start with the outdoor environment first. If your animals spend a fair
amount of time in a grassy yard, there is a biological control that can
be used to prey on the flea larvae in the soil. A nematode, which is a
tiny worm, is applied via lawn sprayer, and, within 24 hours, brings
about a 90% decrease in the number of flea larvae.
there’s ANTidote, which preys on fire ants as well as fleas! (A real
boon here in Texas.) They’re sold through pet stores and garden
suppliers, like The Natural Gardener.
have no adverse affect on anything but the pest, and they have the side
benefit of helping in the garden against cutworms and grubs. As with
all biological controls, the predators need to be reintroduced
periodically, because they eat all the prey species and die off for lack
of food. Follow the label instructions, which usually recommend wetting
the soil well before application, to give the nematodes a good start.
In the household, we have two choices for non-toxic flea control, depending on the type of flooring.
Mostly carpet: In
this case, you can do a very inexpensive treatment that gets to the
larvae quite effectively without much risk of resistance developing and
without significant toxicity to people or pets. There are a number of
boric acid products on the market that are variously marketed as flea
controllers or carpet deodorizers. They work by putting a powder in the
carpet that remains there even after vacuuming (because of the fine
Flea larvae are killed by contacting the borate
power, yet the mammals in the house are safe due to its extremely low
toxicity. One of the best products is Fleago Natural Flea Control. I also have good reports of people applying good ‘ole 20 Mule Team Borax (sold as a detergent booster for washing clothes)!
products are applied by shaking the powder on the carpet until it turns
lightly white, brushing it in with a broom, and then vacuuming the
carpet. Most applications are good for a year. It’s best not to inhale
the dust as you are working it in, so wearing a mask is advised, as is
removing the animals during application. If you shampoo your carpet,
you’ll of course have to repeat the application.
Mostly bare floors: There is a very safe chemical called Nylar,
which is a flea growth regulator. This is sprayed on floors, kennels,
bedding, and any furniture that is commonly used as a resting place for
the pet. Its action is to prevent eggs from hatching and larvae from
molting to adults. It does this by mimicking a juvenile hormone in the
insect, and keeps the young from ever becoming adults.
As you remember, this is the goal of successful flea control: no more biting flea adults!
application should be sufficient in most cases, unless floors or
kennels are washed or exposed to rain. It is difficult to find this
chemical alone. It is often combined with adulticides (read: poisons).
So it becomes imperative for consumers to be label detectives.
The folks at DoMyOwnPestControl.com have what I used to sell in my office, a product called NyGuard EZ1, which is an ounce concentrate that treats 1500 square feet, and is free of adulticides.
Yo! Eggs! Larvae! Where are You? I’m Comin’ for You!
key indoors seems to be thinking of all the places where your pet
rests. These are all places where flea eggs, laid on the pet by the
feeding female, roll off and try to get a new generation started. If the
sofa is a dog bed, the cushions need to be pulled and the crack between
back and seat treated with borates or Nylar. If your cat climbs into
bed with you, normal washing of bedding in hot water and drying in the
dryer is sufficient to prevent this area from becoming a breeding
If you’re still seeing fleas after applying these
non-toxic flea control methods, think of all the places your pet rests.
Are they treated in ways that prevent fleas from growing to the next
But What About My Flea-ridden Animal??
For those adult fleas bothering your pet, a good flea comb is
your best tool while you wait for the control to begin to work. Adult
fleas may live many weeks, and you may get some new ones born on
occasion from the pupae that are awaiting proper conditions to hatch, so
there needs to be some attention paid here, as well as a certain amount
Typically, this safer approach takes about a month
to show a noticeable decrease in the flea population. Use the flea comb
over all of the animal on a daily basis, and as you catch fleas, dunk
the comb into a glass of soapy water to drown them.
Did you know that a bath with
anything that makes lather will drown fleas? It’s true! Just leave the
lather on for 3-5 minutes, and no toxic chemicals need be used.
I don’t recommend bathing as a means of flea control routinely, as
bathing dries out the skin. And it certainly won’t control fleas alone.
But, if you’re in a tight spot and the fleas have exploded, it can be a
quick solution to get you some sanity. And if you add a dropper or two
of essential oils (lavender, citronella, pennyroyal, eucalyptus, etc.)
to the bath, you’ll have a pretty good repellent to discourage the next
wave from jumping on your pal.
Also note: this is really not a cat recommendation,
as the cat can be quite sensitive to essential oils and get sick from
them. Best to stick to the dogs for this one, or at least be very
careful with the dose in cats.
What About Garlic and Yeast?
it can help to feed garlic and yeast to dogs and cats. This gives them
some extra B vitamins and makes them not so tasty to the flea. The only
caution is that you not depend on this as your sole means of controlling
fleas. For cats, a teaspoonful of yeast flakes (nutritional, not
baking), and a small clove of garlic daily should be adequate. For big
breeds of dogs, up to 1/4 cup of yeast and a few big cloves is a decent
dose, and for those in between, adjust according to body weight.
Perhaps easier and safer are the treats sold with these ingredients in them. And a caution:
garlic in high doses, like onions, causes anemia in pets. Err on the
side of caution, always, and keep the doses low, knowing the goal is in
treating the environment, not the pet.
I The Bottom Line
fleas, like any parasite, are more attracted to the weak animals.
You’ll see this clearly in multi-animal households. “Old Bowzer really
gets the most fleas. Always has.”
So, it pays big dividends to
have your animal as healthy as possible, not only for fleas, but for
heart worm prevention, disease resistance, stamina, and long life. That’s
really the goal for all problems.