***Big Pupi is stealing the blog today:
It's that time of year again. Even for us up here in winterland...
Spring. AKA: the start of bug season.
Stanislaw and I have resumed our heartworm pills once again, after being off of them for the winter months. (If you'd like to learn more about why you can avoid taking those meds during the winter, please read our post about heartworms.) I know that part of the draw to a raw diet is that it makes our lives fairly chemical-free, but this is one thing my humans are just not willing to change. As I've mentioned before, I had heartworm when I was first adopted, and the treatment for the disease and risks involved are so terrible that we're determined to never do that again. So that's a chemical that I will be taking for the rest of my puppy life, and so will Stanislaw.
Another chemical that comes about in the nice weather is usually a flea and tick preventative of some kind. While in Texas, the land of biting critters, we used to be on Frontline year-round. Almost every day Stanislaw and I were out and about in very green and lush areas by the Colorado River, and despite our up-to-date preventative we'd STILL managed to get the occasional tick and bug. But now that we're living right in the heart of a city, our humans don't feel like we need such a harsh additive any longer. They've discovered that there are lots of natural alternatives to the chemicals, and I think this summer we're going to give them a try.
**IMPORTANT: ALWAYS dilute essential oils and make sure to do your research! NEVER feed or ingest the oils - they are for external use only. NEVER apply essential oils to or anywhere near a cat, as they can be highly toxic to our feline buddies.**
Essential oils are basically the extracted oil from any plant material, and what makes it "essential" is its strong distinctive scent or "essence." Fleas, ticks and mosquitos are sensitive to certain odors and compounds and can be kept at bay by using these oils in the correct combination. There are many different opinions as to what combinations are effective, and the following recipe is only one of many used as a natural repellant.
In a spray bottle, add 10 drops each of:
-Rose Geranium Essential Oil
-Peppermint Essential Oil
-Lemongrass Essential Oil
-Sweet Orange Essential Oil
-Lavendar Essential Oil
Add 8-10 ounces of distilled water and 1 ounce of vodka to preserve and disperse the oils. Give the bottle a good shake before each use and avoid contact with eyes, inside the ears, nostrils, lips and mouth. Make sure to spray under the legs and in nice toasty spots where ticks like to hide and feast. Reapply every week, before woodsy outings and after it rains. And again, NEVER spray near or use on a cat!! Not recommended for use on young puppies.
It is very important that the oils used are the actual and real essential oils, and not just scented oils. There are lots of online retailers that sell these oils for decent prices, and there isn't a need to purchase a huge amount of them either. Our humans ordered 1/2 ounce bottles of each oil and found that to be plenty. And it was MUCH less expensive that Frontline!
More ways to deter buggers
Including garlic in meals is another good way to keep the biters at bay. I guess they just don't find garlic to be as tasty as I do! But keep in mind that too much garlic isn't a good thing, so don't go overboard on the stinky deliciousness.
Diatomaceous earth is another popular and natural bug keeper-away-er. Diatomaceous earth is a chalk-like rock that is crumbled into a very fine and light-weight powder. It gets its name from the fossilized diatom remains (a type of algae) that are found within the rock. This powdered stone is extremely absorbent, and this is what give it its flea-and-tick-fighting capabilities. It absorbs water from the cuticle, or waxy exoskeletons of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die. A medical-grade version of this substance is even used to de-worm dogs and humans (but DO NOT try this on your own!!). If you happen to be itchy from fleas, a thorough sprinkling of the powder brushed down to the skin will help to get rid of those little buggers. But make sure that there is no prolonged contact with skin, as this substance is so absorbent it can dry out skin on both dogs and their humans.
According to the University of Sydney Australia, Eucalyptus oil, when added during the rinse cycle, will kill 99% of dust mites in doggy bedding and other soft materials. While those aren't truly a parasite to worry about, they can cause severe allergies. If fleas are found in the home, washing blankets and other items on a hot wash cycle will kill those bugs.
Since we didn't have the essential oils for the first warm and buggy month, Stanislaw and I had our regular dosage of Frontline. Once these 30 days are over, we're going to mix up a batch of the spray and give it a shot. We'll let you know how it works, and if you tried it before, let us know how you did and what recipe you followed!
Happy Cinco de Mayo!