Chemical Risks of Flea Control

by Barbara J. Andrews

FLEA AND TICK control methods can be dangerous to  all concerned. In 1993, it was disclosed that certain pesticides are proven to cause breast cancer and goodness knows, the spiraling rate needs to be explained in some way. There is now a new legal specialty field, environmental law! 

We already know that frequent dipping presents serious risks to groomers. One such victim suffered for over a year and with no diagnosis in sight, ran out of insurance while his health steadily deteriorated. He had lost his home and was living in his boarding facility when the doctors finally told him it was a rare form of cancer. 

He is alive today due to the intervention of a boarding client, a medical doctor who also practiced alternative medicine. He suggested certain diagnostic tests which confirmed suspicion that the hours spent dipping dogs with a certain solution was killing the patient. Chelation and homeopathic treatments were successful and although he remains chemically sensitized, the groomer is otherwise recuperated from the mysterious "cancer."

The problem is one of confusion. Most symptoms of chronic toxicity are very similar to those of other diseases. Human or animal, the victim may experience one or more of the following; difficult breathing, excessive salivation, drooling, vomiting, runny eyes, itching, dermatitis, diarrhea, seizure, hallucination, memory loss, inability to concentrate, and coma. Obvious symptoms, which occur immediately after use of vaporous chemicals, are easily recognized. More insidious is the chronic poisoning which produces less dramatic but often, more deadly symptoms.

You would think flea collars might be safer and to some extent they are because the entire skin surface is not compromised. Even on double-coated dogs, the collar releases a vapor which penetrates through the undercoat and eventually reaches the skin where it can cause problems. The skin may erupt in tiny itchy blisters, resulting in even more irritation as the dog scratches. Once this cycle begins, removing the collar will not affect an immediate cure because the protein compound, which has formed in the skin, will remain there for some time and secondary infection is likely to be present. The healing process can take weeks. 

Another reason to avoid flea collars is the risk to toddlers and other dogs. Children breathe in as they hug pets around the neck. Dogs mouth each other about the neck when play fighting. When the flea collar becomes wet, it's twice as toxic to the dog wearing it and to the one mouthing it!

Solution: A little Pennyroyal Oil from the health food store, added to the rinse water (or a dilution sprayed on after a bath) will smell good to you but is repellent to fleas. It's safe and non-toxic. Check your health food store for other all-natural flea and insect repellent herbs such as rosemary, rue, wormwood, eucalyptus, and citronella. The citrus-based products are not very effective but you can experiment until you find one that works.

Diatomaceous earth is made up of fossilized diatoms, a mineral-like powdery non-toxic substance which is 90% silica. Sort of like quartz or white sand in powder form. It clogs the breathing and pores of fleas, clinging to their waxy shells and dehydrating them. While not a "knock-down" treatment, it will considerably reduce the flea population and prevent new generations of fleas from living long enough to jump on your dog.

The two best methods for flea control and other skin problems are pretty simple. One is Brewer's Yeast, and the other is a genetically strong immune system which is not compromised by chemicals! A healthy dog will tolerate the tiny amount of poison flea injects when feeding but that same dog may eventually succumb to chemical and pesticide assault.

The simple truth is that animals were meant to have fleas! Mother Nature would never make a host allergic to the parasite she designed for it. It just doesn't happen. None of us would care to go back to cave man days with the "natural" wolf dog but neither should we ignore the obvious. What is unnatural about our wonderfully evolved domestic canine is that Nature never intended them to be inundated with UNnatural substances. Trust me, if you breed them right, raise them right, and use common sense in caring for them, Nature will take care of the rest.

Okay, you're becoming a well informed owner. Should your dog develop strange symptoms that defy diagnosis, you'll be able to help unravel the clues. Your veterinarian doesn't know when you've exterminated or that you take early morning strolls across the ninth green with the dog. He doesn't know that you live between two fields that were just crop-dusted or next to a freeway interchange or that you just installed new carpet and paneling in the rec room. Not unless you remember to give him the information. 

Oh, and you who would disregard my words, please remember, there were no warnings on lead based paint, cigarette packages, Agent Orange, asbestos products, and more recently, on Dursban, the product most of you are living with. The one the EPA just banned from schools, all public buildings, etc. It is commonly used in dips and to treat for termites. Read the labels. And then try for known natural, harmless solutions to caring for your pet.

Excerpted from World Of The Akita, TFH publications.

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