Saturday, February 2, 2013

One does not burn a blanket to get rid of a flea. :: Turkish Proverb

This is my child dog, Maggie.


Isn't she just the cutest?

She's sweet, affectionate and sooooooo incredibly stubborn. Maggie thinks that she owns my apartment (which, truthfully, she kinda does) and that my lap is her forever pillow (which, it kinda is).

Yet the fact that she finds my lap so comfortable might be a tiny bit of encouragement to get myself into the gym a little more often....

Keeping my little child pup healthy and happy is a priority as she constantly keeps me smiling and is such a huge part of my life! The problem is, especially with being in an apartment complex around many other dogs, that I have to deal with FLEAS.

I. Hate. Fleas.

Truly, what is the good in fleas? They are nasty. They make your beloved animal miserable. Once they set up camp it's nearly impossible to get them to leave. And, for us natural holistic proud-hippy folks, how do you sustainably fight fleas without those nasty harsh chemicals? Without being pressured to drown your dog or cat in a toxic flea bath? Without being told by your vet to purchase a monthly flea medication that is supposed to "help" and be "harmless" to your pet? Well, natural holistic proud-hippy folks, it can be done. Read on, friends, read on.

I do/make three things that are mine, and Maggie's, lifesaver...

(1) I salt the floors
(2) I spray her every 2-3 days with an anti-flea spray that I make myself
(3) I bathe her every 1-2 weeks in an oatmeal anti-feal shampoo that I also make myself


#1 salt :: 

Salt on your floors? Table salt? Sodium Chloride?!?

Yep. It works. I purchase salt in a bulk bin from Whole Foods for $0.68 lb, when I need to salt (i.e. when I find a flea on Maggie) I use about 2 lbs a week---which is a whopping $1.36. I do have a little over 700 square feet of living space, so for those of you in a larger home or apartment, you will need more salt. Using salt actually alters the pH balance in fleas, this prohibits nutrients from entering their system causing them to die.

Here is my week long process when I find a flea present ::
- Vacuum all floors
- Spread salt evenly across all areas of your home. You can do this on furniture as well, if you desire.
- Let salt sit for 24 hours, then vacuum to remove salt. Immediately empty vacuum canister and dispose of the contents outside of your home.
- Reapply salt. Let sit for 48 hours.
- Repeat vacuum process, salt again and let sit another 48 hours.

It works. And it's a heck of a lot cheaper (and SAFER) then bombing.


#2 flea spray ::

Just a little disclaimer, first. This spray does not KILL the fleas or the eggs. If it did, I'd love it even more for saving me the pleasure of salting my carpets and vacuuming way more than I feel necessary. Now I'm sure you're wondering---so WHY am I making this spray? Because, friend, fleas do not like lavender or citrus and this wonderful (great smelling) spray includes both.

3 cups water
6 lemons, sliced thinly
50 drops of lavender essential oil

Place 3 cups of water in a pot, add lemon slices. Heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Once boiling, immediately remove from heat and let sit for 12-24 hours. Strain the liquid and add the 50 drops of lavender essential oil. Place mixture in a spray bottle.

Spray your dog. Your furniture. Your rugs. Your carpets. Heck, soak your dog's collar in it and make your own flea collar. Just don't spray your cat---cats do not do well with lavender. 

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Sorry. I couldn't help it.


#3 oatmeal shampoo ::

The dreaded bath. Maggie thinks that if she keeps herself in the back of the tub then she can avoid a bath---uh huh. 
I didn't discover homemade oatmeal shampoo because of fleas, it was actually after realizing that Maggie has an allergic reaction to mold. And mold is nasty stuff.

When you live in an older apartment complex, you're going to have mold. I realized this after watching my dog scratch for days. After much research, talking to a well-known groomer as well as my vet, I decided that mold was the cause of her excessive itching. I was told that oatmeal shampoo would greatly help, and it did!

However, the $10-$20 price tag for a dog shampoo wasn't helping my wallet. So, I made my own.

I first started out with this recipe, which worked wonderfully well! Maggie seemed to get immediate relief after her baths and one batch of the oatmeal shampoo would last me several weeks (keep refrigerated to keep it from spoiling).

We were going along with our happy lives, and then....

Enter said fleas.

I now needed a shampoo that would do double duty. I began to research, pulling information from various sources---here is what I found:

Lavender, Citrus & Peppermint Essential Oil :: As mentioned above, fleas are repelled by the taste of lavender, peppermint and citrus essential oils. These oils will not kill the fleas, just deter them from the pet or sprayed surfaces. Note that I did not use a citrus essential oil in my recipe below, but feel free to substitute (or add) it to the recipe.

Apple Cider Vinegar :: Truly, there aren't enough good things to say about ACV! I am such a junkie. When applying apple cider vinegar to your dog's skin, it will actually make the skin too acidic for fleas to survive. For a few more benefits of apple cider vinegar, click here.

Oatmeal :: From my previous shampoo recipe, I already knew that this ingredient would sooth and moisturize Maggie's itching skin, so this was an essential ingredient to my new shampoo.

Vitamin E Oil :: I love Vitamin E Oil and use it often when creating lotions or "medications" for my fiancĂ©'s eczema. It didn't surprise me when I learned that this great oil works well for not only fighting off fleas from pets, but greatly improving your pet's coat. When applied directly to a flea bite, this oil  helps it heal quickly---just place a few drops on the bite and massage in with your fingertips. When purchasing this oil, make sure you find one of good quality as not all oils are created equal. I order mine from Mountain Rose Herbs

Baking Soda :: Keeps your pet squeaky clean (well, you know, until they go back outside), eliminates odors and kills fleas naturally in much the same way salt does! Win!

And there you have it---the basis of my Flea Fighting Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs. Go grab your ingredients, a glass jar and your dog and get started!


Flea Fighting Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs
A few quick notes: I used these measurements for my little 12 lb dog. This batch makes enough for 4 baths. Also, don't use this on your cat unless you omit the essential oils! Feline's are allergic to lavender as they cannot break it down the same way canine's do. 

Forgot to add the Castile Soap to the pic---eh, it's there in spirit!

1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c baking powder
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vitamin E oil
1/4 c castile soap
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil
1 1/4 c hot water
Glass jar for shampoo (Mason jars work great)

Place the rolled oats in a blender, food processor or VitaMix (which I want sooooo very badly!) and blend until the consistency of cornmeal like the picture below.



Add the ground oats and baking powder to the glass jar, stir (or shake) to mix. Then add hot water, Vitamin E oil, castile soap, apple cider vinegar and essential oils.


Now place that lid on that jar and SHAKE---or dance! Hey, whatever you need to do to get that baby mixed. No judging here!

Now, go bathe Fido. 


So there you have it friends, this is how I treat fleas and keep my dog happy. It works well for me, and I hope it does for you as well! Let me know if you have any questions. 

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