No, we know your pet does NOT have fleas. Yet the precautions people take against them can expose both pets and humans to highly toxic pesticides within the confines of their own home; one particular poison used in flea collars (diazinon) has actually been linked to dozens of pet deaths in Britain alone. What to use instead is a tricky question. There are various ‘natural’ alternatives on the market, including:
- Denes – garlic tablets; liquid garlic; essential oil shampoo
You can also try experimenting with your own herbal flea recipe – see the suggested concoctions in Flea control: least toxic options, from the Pesticide Action Network UK. (Though this uses essential oils, so see below).
- Garlic and essential oils will repel fleas, but not kill them, leaving adults, eggs and larvae free to bite another day
- Pyrethrum (used in the Johnson’s ‘natural’ range) is a natural plant product: it is however also known to be highly toxic to fish, toxic to bees, and a mild skin and eye irritant. Having said that, flea bites are rather more than a mild irritant so a decision must depend on individual circumstances
- Essential oils and cats: there is strong evidence to suggest that essential oils can be highly toxic to cats
Washing pets’ bedding regularly helps to keep down flea populations, as does vacuuming places that your pet frequents (including soft furnishings) – though remember that fleas can survive inside the vacuum bag, which should either be burned, or be sealed and placed inside the freezer prior to disposal. Further tips, and information from:
In case of desperation, consult your vet – new generations of products may be less toxic than the older insecticides, and flea infestation can lead to other pet health problems, such as tapeworms.
Tip: If you must buy any toxic products for your pets, buy as little as possible, and store them carefully – so as to avoid duplicate buying in the future.