Friday, November 14, 2008

MORE DOGGY DIALOGUES! Q's & A's: Fleas, Rawhide

As author of The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood and Mom of a dog who survived canine cancer and lived to be 19, people ask me lots of questions about holistic care, senior care, and grief. I am not a vet. Loving pet parent, avid researcher, and holistic pet care advocate are my credentials. That said, please email your questions and let The Doggy Dialogues begin!

: from the lovely Ms. Puffer
"My mommy is always looking for a natural form of flea and tic repellent. She uses the store bought ones because it would be even more dangerous and irresponsible to do nothing but hates loading us up with chemicals. She'd love to find something to replace those drops and something to spray the yard with."
Dear Puffer-
Hurray for your mom for not wanting to apply something between your shoulders once a month to be absorbed by your skin until it's able to kill every flea that comes into contact with you!!! The popular, 'applied monthly' flea product can kill fleas because it is a form of poison. Some products contain strychnine. Others have the active ingredient, imidacloprid which is rated as "moderately toxic" acutely by the WHO and the EPA and which causes thyroid lesions in rats.

I have often read the justification that the
amount of chemicals these products contain is too small to harm our pets, but I wouldn't risk my animal's life on those corporate claims. Besides, anything used consistently will over time, build up in the body's tissue and liver. The liver is the body's filter. It cannot break down most chemicals, but instead, becomes toxic, overloaded, and unable to function properly because of that build-up.

There are wonderful, affordable essential oil combinations made especially for repelling fleas. Most contain oil of lemon and eucalyptus- very pleasant smelling. Puffer, next time you're on the computer, try googling "natural flea repellent" and you will find many great, easy to use brands. Most are as effective as using the "poison" products without being harmful to you. Some come as easy to apply sprays and your mom can just spritz you before you're around other doggies (think of it as your own Chanel #5).

If you already have fleas, your mom can do this:
Make a "tea" of lemon peel and water, and let it steep overnight. Sponge the tea on your flea-infested Puffer, the fleas will die instantly.

Diatomaceous earth is an inexpensive, natural remedy for flea infested areas of the home or yard. It is inexpensive, nontoxic and can also be found online.

Thanks so much for your question. My guess would be there's a strong correlation between non-natural flea repellents/shampoos and the huge rise in canine cancer. Your mom is very wise to seek out natural, safe alternatives. A little research can go a long way.

Question: from canine, Jackson Rambo
"We want to know if rawhide chewies are really good or bad for us. We heard pig ears can cut the throat and esophagus of us dogs. Then my human cousin called and said they heard the rawhide it's self is bad for choking on. We would like to know that because thats our favorite thing is rawhide chewies."
Dear JR-
Here's the deal: rawhide is literally the outside of a cow – the skin. Rawhide is not regulated in any way. Some imported brands (China, Philippines) have been reported as soaked in formaldehyde or contaminated with arsenic. These foreign hides may also contain other detrimental things such as antibiotics, insecticides, or lead- things you'd never knowingly want to ingest.

Your human cousin is correct, choking is a hazard, and rawhide can cause canine gastric irritation when chewed on often, which can lead to vomiting and extreme discomfort.

Now the good news: there are great alternatives for purchase online. Or, thick pieces of dehydrated organic sweet potato is nutritious, delicious, and cheap if your human has a food dehydrator. At the very least, have your human buy you a brand that is made in the USA and says something on the label about being natural. Good chewing!

Wishing you vibrant health and
precious moments-

Nadine (and Buttons)

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