///Natural Parasite Control for Dogs and Cats
Natural Parasite Control for Dogs and Cats2016-12-22T19:41:03+00:00

Project Description

Most barns don’t just house horses, they contain whole universes: dogs, cats, birds, rats, mice, flies, fleas, worms…. While some of those may not appeal to us as pets, they are a part of any animal lover’s life. In the wild all these creatures live together and find some sort of balance; healthy wild canines and felines find ways to control internal and external parasites in their environment. Once we deprive animals of freedom of movement we need to help them keep these parasites under control.

In the wild, animals control worms by eating herbs that purge (cause diarrhoea), or sharp leaves and grasses that mechanically scrape the worms out of the gut; they also eat clay and charcoal. Animals choose to do this when the worm load becomes to high for them to live with comfortably.

Interestingly research now suggests that aggressive elimination of worms leads to increased cases of illnesses, such as asthma and diabetes. Total eradication of worms can imbalance the immune system and worms actually contribute to a mammal’s health.

No ‘Cookie cutters’

Each animal has a different level of tolerance and sensitivity to bugs, and different levels of exposure, so there is no ‘cookie cutter’ solution to the problem, and there is certainly no advantage to automatic regimes of pest-eradication. Many chemical flea and worm treatments overburden the immune system and make the animal more susceptible to re-infection.

However, fleas and ticks can also be vectors for disease so we must keep them under control somehow. I try to provide my animals with ways to self-control pests as they would in the wild using essential oils, hydrosols, vegetable oils and clay.

Reduce stressors

A dog or cat who is healthy and stress free is much less likely to be bothered by bugs. Conversely, one of the early signs of an imbalanced bio-system is an attack of fleas or mites, especially if they are hard to get rid of. Many people find that switching to a fresh, meat-based diet reduces parisitic infection in both canines and felines, and reduces sensitivity in animals who suffer from flea allergy.

My approach to pest control starts with keeping animals stress free. Feed your dogs and cats a healthy natural diet based on raw or lightly cooked meat and raw bones, and make sure they have  access to herbs and grasses to self-medicate. These can be grown in your garden, window boxes or pots.

Depending on where you live this may be enough to keep your furry friends bug free. In hotter climates or areas with high levels of tick infestation you may need also need to apply a natural flea repellent. For dogs I make bug repellent using  hydrosols, herbal oils and essential oils. For cats I leave out the essential oils. Or I use food grade diatomaceous earth and neem powder (75/25) dusted through their coat.

Neem, the natural parasiticide

Neem (Azdirachta Indica) is one of the big guns in my ‘bug kit’. Neem is a well known parasiticide, as well as being skin soothing and anti-inflammatory. Neem oil is effective against at least 200 insects: it is apparently so distasteful that most insects won’t bite anything treated with it, but if they do, it disrupts their hormones, fatally preventing the bugs from shedding their outgrown skins.

How I manage bugs

I brush my animals often and keep a keen eye out for fleas, I massage them to keep their skin healthy and occasionally wash dogs with warm water. I do not use soap or shampoo unless they are really smelly as it strips away natural oils and makes the skin more vulnerable. If I do use soap, I use a neem bar.

If I notice fleas in my pet’s coat I offer essential oils to strengthen the immune system and apply my bug gel or diatamaceous earth.

In areas where ticks carry disease it is a good idea for dogs to wear a neem-coated collar during tick season, especially long haired dogs. I also check for ticks daily. Early detection and removal of ticks is important in order to reduce the chance of infection as ticks only release infectious agents after the first 24 hours of attachment. When removing the tick use a tick hook so you do not squeeze the body, forcing infectious agents into the blood; turn anti-clockwise.

Internal parasites can be controlled using herbs such as garlic, ginger, turmeric and chili; hydrosols of thyme or carrotseed can be diluted in water and left down for self medication; or put a tablespoon of green clay in a litre of water so they can drink it when they need, use a wide-mouthed container so they can stir the water with their muzzle or paw if they want to make the solution stronger.

There are also some good herbal wormers available on the market, which makes natural worm control easy and convenient. Many of the natural wormers also aid a healthy digestive system and boost immunity.

Essential oils and hydrosols for pest control:

Use only hydrosols or herbs internally, unless under qualified supervision. Add one teaspoon to a bowl of water and leave for dogs and cats to drink as they choose, change the water daily.

Anthelmintic: (expels intestinal parasites)

  • Bergamot
  • Carrotseed
  • Garlic
  • Hyssop
  • Thyme

Fleas & mosquitoesMany essential oils will deter insects, these are the ones I have found most useful.

  • Fleas: Cedarwood Atlas, lavender, lemongrass, patchouli,
  • Ticks: Basil, marjoram, geranium, rosemary,
  • Mites: Chamomile, lavender, thyme linalool

Flea and tick repellent for dogs

Rub gel through the animal’s coat, paying special attention to ears, neck ruff, belly and ‘armpits’(front and back). You can also make the gel into a spray, start with only 20 mls of gel and add more liquid.

To make 100 mls

  • 50 ml unscented aloe vera gel,
  • 2 mls cold-pressed neem oil
  • 5 drops cedar wood Atlas (Cedrus Atlantica) essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) essential oil
  • 1 drop lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil
  • Add essential oils to the neem oil and then stir into the gel.
  • Slowly stir in up to 50 mls of distilled water or geranium hydrosol until the gel is pourable but sits in a ‘blob’ on your hand, approximately like hair conditioner.

For cats, leave out the essential oils, use only neem and hydrosol.

To apply pour a small blob onto your hand then rub into your animals fur, rubbing against the lie of hair and concentrating on the ‘flea track’ areas, around the ears, chest, ruff of the neck and between the hind legs and around the base of the tail. A little goes a long way. Reapply every few days, after swimming, or before going to walk in areas that you know to be heavily infested with ticks.

11 Comments

  1. SH August 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    What do you recommend for a rabbit with repeat cases of sarcoptic mange? Currently my children’s beloved lop is living inside since we live in an extremely hot locale. After visiting the vet today, we are now starting our third round of injections of something not natural. Are diluted essential oils okay to use? Any thoughts on diatomaceous earth?

    • Nayana Morag August 27, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Diatamaceous earth could be helpful, but I suggest you contact Chrissi Slade at http://www.gorgousguineas.com who is an expert on small animals and aromatherapy.

  2. Jan October 21, 2017 at 5:55 am - Reply

    Can the gel be used to control chicken mites?

    • Nayana Morag October 25, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

      Best is to use diatomaceous earth and neem powder for chickens.

  3. Bob March 23, 2018 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    I had read partway through the article and read that you don’t use soap or shampoo on your dog to keep from striping their natural oils from their skin. I stopped and had to comment, which I don’t do too often.

    I’d like to thank you for your thoughtfulness. There are so many articles and videos that show people using Dawn or other harsh detergents on their pets for fleas. I saw a video of someone washing a kitten with dawn, and I felt sad for the kitten who would have to deal with the dry irritated skin afterwards. Before using it on your pet try it on yourself.

  4. Bob March 23, 2018 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    Please note that according to ASPCA the following items are toxic to dogs and cats:
    Aloe, Garlic

    • Nayana Morag March 24, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Bob, toxicity is often a matter of dosage. The garlic toxicity info is based on research on that fed large amounts of garlic or onions ( I think it was a pound a day, but wouldnt swear to it, it was an absurdly large amount that I know), which caused anemia. And aloe is toxic if eating the plant, but once the toxic part has been removed by peeling, the centre is safe. My personal experience is that dogs occasionally select garlic and aloe as a medicine when needed.

  5. korlad August 20, 2018 at 1:38 am - Reply

    What about heart worm? In the Bahamas, where my dogs grew up, heartworm is a killer, plain and simple. Too many mosquitoes. What do you recommend?

  6. Nayana Morag August 20, 2018 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Yes, that’s a tricky one. It is always a question of balancing risks. If you are living in an area with many disease vectors (such as mosquitoes in this case) you have to consider the health and vitality of your dog and the possible side effects of the drug that controls and then find a way to give the medicine as infrequently as possible. For instance, I live in an area where ticks are highly prevalent in some seasons. My dogs are young and healthy so most of the time I just check and remove ticks. But if the tick population gets too much, as it can in spring time, I give them a chemical preventative, just the once in a year and then use essential oils or homeopathy to counteract any impact on the body.

  7. Amber December 4, 2018 at 5:30 am - Reply

    I’m having problems with fleas and tapeworms with my cat. I have tried those chemical medications but they don’t seem t ok work at all. I have both a dog and cat; my dog is healthy goes outside often and has little to no fleas and no tapeworms but my inside only cat is having these problems. What do you suggest I do?

    • Nayana Morag December 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply

      You need to totally de-flea your house. Diatamaceous earth is the natural solution for that. It’s never enough just to de-flea the animal. Also, stress is often a factor in flea infestation. A healthy animal in a healthy environment will have no fleas.

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