Archive for the ‘Natural Pet Care’ Category

Today’s post is a very important message to all the skin-parents out there. A friend of mine recently sent me an email warning me about using essential oils on my dog, Pocket. As i posted recently, i have blended an essential oil mixture to use on Pocket to prevent fleas, ticks and mosquitos without relying on those nasty chemical treatments. I’ve been using it with good success, as an occasional neck drip but mostly as a “rub it around on her belly and tail feathers” barrier when we go hiking. She’s had no problems, but i was also careful to dilute the essential oils i used with a lot of jojoba oil. It’s very important to remember that essential oils must ALWAYS be diluted before use, for humans and pets alike. There are a few exceptions that can be used undiluted on occasion, but as a general rule you should water down your essential oils in oil, vodka or witch hazel.
In my friend’s case, she was using a brand name treatment that is available in stores and across the internet. Please read her warning below and weigh your options carefully when choosing a flea treatment for your pet:
Be very, very careful when using essential oils on Pocket. I honestly wouldn’t recommended it at all.
I used Sentry brand “Natural Defense Flea & Tick” squeeze-on treatment, as well as the same name carpet powder. The ingredients are peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil, clove oil and thyme oil.
Within one day of treating Tres, he was having severe difficulty breathing. I wondered if it was the flea treatment, but thought that it would be strange if any of those ingredients caused him harm, as I thought they were safe (which is why I used it, as opposed to a chemical treatment). Well, three vets and four days later, we finally found a vet who had seen this before and read studies on it and, yes, essential oils can be toxic to dogs and cats. Their bodies metabolize them differently than ours. Tres’ rapid breathing was caused by his body being so acidic that it was toxic from the oils. His body was trying to get lots of oxygen to help his liver and kidneys eliminate the toxins. It has been nine days and his breathing is still not quite normal. But it is better. He wouldn’t eat, he could barely walk and he sounded like he was hyperventilating. It was HORRIBLE. I would just lay in his kennel with him and sob. The vet said we are lucky that he is still alive.
The only thing we could do to treat him was wash him with dish washing detergent (4x) make sure he had plenty of clean water, high quality protein (he would barely eat though) and lots of rest. And 12 mg of Benadryl twice daily. We go to the vet next week to do blood work to see if there has been any permanent organ damage. We’re hoping and praying that there isn’t any.
I’ve called the company and they refuse to acknowledge that their product could have done this. I find that interesting, considering that I found 200 complaints about their products killing/harming dogs and cats at the Consumer Affairs website and there is a Facebook page of people with similar experiences who are gathering up in order to file a class action lawsuit against the company.
It is going to cost $400 to get our area rugs cleaned (I used the powder on them) and we’ve incurred a few hundred dollars in vet bills so far. Sentry says that they will do an investigation and “possibly” refund us for costs incurred.
PLEASE pass the word on to all of your friends and family with beloved cats and dogs. Products with essential oils are even more harmful to cats, as they clean themselves and ingest them. The best flea treatment to use is Frontline Plus.
Josh made up a new slogan for Sentry: “Works so well it kills your pet, too!” 😦
Scary stuff! Please be careful when using any medication on yourself or your pets, natural or chemical. Also avoid clove oil like the plague: it is intensely volatile and dangerous even to humans if undiluted. Use it on your gums, carefully, but keep it away from the pups! Prevention is always the best policy: plant flea and mosquito preventing plants in your landscaping like pennyroyal and catmint, brush and pick over your pet often to see if fleas are even a problem and always be careful when using a new product on your pets as they may respond differently than you’d expect. I like to mix a carpet powder for home use that should be safe for everyone involved: a blend of 60% baking soda and 40% diatomaceous earth plus a few drops of essential oils for the scent. The b.s. freshens the house and the d.e. helps kill unwanted pests. I’ve also heard from a reader that you can shake salt all over your house and let it sit for a day before vacuuming…. that sounds a little messy but very safe.
Be careful out there, everybody! -Miranda & Pocket

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Summer came a bit late here in Philomath, but the fleas are out, the dogs are itching and it’s time to unveil our newest product: Sham-pooch!

This gentle blend of vegetable oils is great for most dogs’ skin and fur and has been infused and scented with essential oils and herbs chosen for their flea, tick and mosquito repelling attributes. I didn’t use ground oats i this recipe, but may be adding some to my next batch for doggies with especially sensitive skin. This shampoo has lots of lather, which makes sudsing up your dog easy (relatively) and by skipping the bottle you’ll no longer be terrifying your dog by wielding a foreign object near its face while you struggle to balance and get him wet and sudsy without drenching yourself. I can’t wait to have outside space again or perhaps a utility sink – for now my shower will have to do and a water proof apron is not to be underestimated. This soap ISN’T overly moisturizing, so your hands may dry out a bit after washing Fido. Be sure and follow with a moisturizer and observe your dog to be sure this blend isn’t too drying for their skin.

Before (dirty and itchy)…  During (not stoked)…  After (Clean! Happy!)

Rubbing your dog with this citrusy smelling bar of soap is pleasant for dog and person alike. You’ll love the smell and how easy the soap lathers up. Your dog will probably wish they still smell like ‘funk’ but will be happy to have clean and shiny fur. I’ve chosen several essential oils that repel ticks and fleas, but please continue to check your dog for marauders and consider treating them with a natural flea preventative before you take a hike in the dry grass.  Peppermint, lemongrass, cedarwood and citronella are all powerful oils that leave this soap fairly heavily scented. I’ve also infused the olive oil used in this soap with pennyroyal, an important herb for repelling fleas. If you’re not already growing pennyroyal, consider adding it to your living space. Having pennyroyal growing in areas where your pets roam is an excellent strategy for keeping fleas at bay, especially if your dogs or cats enjoy rolling in the soft foliage. Catmint is another excellent repelling herb, especially effective on mosquitos. Note: both are fairly invasive plants, so don’t plant in your veggie garden! I have plans for a walk way with stepping stones and climbing thyme, chamomile and pennyroyal: lovely and useful!

Pocket says: hurry and get your own bar of Sham-pooch before they’re all gone! As usual, this soap was made in a small batch (only 17 bars!) so get yours before they’re gone. I will make another batch of Sham-pooch to be ready in a month and a half or so, at which point i’ll be deciding if this blend will be Summer seasonal only, or part of my regular cast. Be sure you sign up for our monthly newsletter so that you stay in the loop on ALL our seasonal products. 🙂

What say you, should Sham-pooch be available all year or as a Summer special?? Leave me a comment with your answer!

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A fellow blogger posted a link yesterday for natural flea prevention. For some reason, (i’m pretty sure that reason is my intense hatred and fear of fleas, stemming from a house and my-body infestation while living in a shared house back in college) i only supplement our dog Pocket’s flea prevention with natural measures. I drop chemicals on her back every month. Here i taut healthy living, and i slather toxic chemicals all over my fur-baby’s back every month. This seems dumb.

Pocket has some health issues. Because of this, we stopped feeding her processed food (kibble) and switched her to a natural diet (raw meaty bones). Improved diet is the first step to preventing fleas as well as a huge factor on all over health . Her health has improved a LOT from her no longer weepy eyes to her no longer itchy ears, but she still itches. It may be her paw fur, in constant need of trimming, or it may be something more. Either way, i’d like to re-think my monthly application of pesticides to my baby’s spine. I already have a closet full of essential oils and have been doing a lot of research on moth repelling essential oils, so let’s address what essential oils are great for preventing fleas, and how we can use them.

First, why switch from those highly effective chemicals you get at Petco or your vet’s office?

The commonly used chemical based products used in over the counter and veterinary prescribed flea and tick collars or spray and even topical drops deterrents have been found to cause breathing problems, tremors, vomiting, skin irritations, permanent nerve damage and in some cases, even death. Some animals will experience hair loss and sores around the neck from flea collars or where the topical drops have been applied, plus the chemical fumes given off by these products can negatively affect you and your family as well.
Did you know that your dog’s liver and kidneys are adversely affected by the use of commercial flea products such as frontline and advantage, chemical de-wormers and even heartworm drugs? The toxic chemicals in these products, often result in renal failure (kidney failure)and/or liver damage to the point of the liver no longer being able to filter the blood and then, complete liver failure. Contaminated blood circulating throughout the body day after day will most definitely contribute to other more complicated health issues, such as diabetes and arthritis to name two of the most common long term side effects of using these toxic chemicals.These toxic drugs can also cause severe skin rashes, loss of hair, epileptic seizures, brain damage. The list of adverse side effects amazingly goes on and on. Still people continue to use these drugs because they don’t know there is a better, simpler, less expensive, safer way.
– http://www.thewholedog.org/EOFleas.html  great article! read the whole thing!

Eep! How can someone like me, who is SO careful about what i feed my dog (no garlic or onions for her!), yet i slather her with nasty goop every month? Fear of fleas. I’m terrified of them. So, perhaps it’s time to not only wash her in some natural flea repelling shampoo (which i will have available at Nude Soap as soon as the pennyroyal blooms!), but to mix up a blend of essential oils, invest in some Diatomaceous Earth to mix up my flea repelling carpet powder and treat Pocket and her house naturally. It’s about time!

There are tons of essential oils out there, and many are good for repelling insects. After my hours of research across many websites and books, i’ve decided these are the best choices to invest in:

  • Cedar: (there are several types of “cedar” essential oil. Read the latin: you want atlas cedar or cedrus, NOT juniperus
  • Lavender: who doesn’t love the floral scent of lavender? Insects. Again, there are a few varieties of lavender essential oil. You want the more camphor smelling types, not the super floral types. Search for the latin: Lavandula angustifolia.
  • Eucalyptus: If you’re in California or Australia, you’ve got this plant all over the place! The essential oils is relatively affordable and smells super fresh.
  • Cloves: found in most health stores and great or your gums, this is a must have essential oil and great for mixing into the flea repellant blend and is also great for repelling moths.
  • Citronella: duh!
  • Peppermint: minty fresh and full of vigor when it comes to repelling nasties.
  • Lemongrass: this one is a real value, though the color will stain your white dog. Lemongrass makes you happy and is one of the most effective herbs for repelling fleas and ticks. If you live in a warm enough climate, plant this delicious and fragrant herb as an ornamental grass that will double as a subtle pest control.

The article referenced above has some great recommendations on how to use these essential oils. You can diffuse them into a mist to spray on your dog, or rub them directly onto your dog. Use caution when handling essential oils and consider diluting them with coconut or jojoba oil. Essential oils can do some crazy things when absorbed through your skin, so wash your hands well after handling. My plan for Pocket is to blend a mixture of these essential oils with some coconut oil in its liquid state. Coconut oil has a fairly long shelf life, so my ‘insect balm’ will keep for quite some time. By rubbing into my hands and working into her fur focusing on the areas i’d normally drop the toxic stuff at the back of the neck, as well as down at her white belly (where i can always find a flea or 9 after visits to Eugene), she should be safely protected from fleas, mosquitoes and ticks for 2 weeks or so. I’m a ‘better safe than covered in ticks” kind of person, so i will treat her every two weeks and wait for baths/swims until after the mixture has dried for at least a full day. Dr. Bronner’s makes a great peppermint flea shampoo to tide you over until my dog shampoo is ready, which will include chamomile and oats for sensitive skin, peppermint, cedar, lemongrass and eucalyptus essential oils, and oils infused with blooming pennyroyal for added flea prevention. Head over to my other blog, Pocket Pause for a recipe and more great ideas on natural pest repellants!

To be honest, i may still treat Pocket with nasty chemicals during the height of flea/tick season, depending on how the population is booming or not where we currently live. Austin treated us bad, but maybe Philomath is infested at more naturally controllable levels.

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