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Natural Pet Care

  • InDIY & How-to, Natural Pest Control

    5 All Natural DIY Flea Busting Tricks for Your Dog

    I was working away with my mini dachshund nestled on my shoulders the other day when a flea hopped onto my arm – ewwww!

    It's been a long time since we last had fleas, so I couldn't remember how to eradicate the little buggers without bombing the whole house.  So I did my thing and researched until I found a solution.  I was really impressed with the brilliant eco hacks available online, so I picked my favorites and tried them all.  I wasn't taking any chances!

    My Favorite Flea Busting Tricks

    1. Vacuum, Vacuum, Then Vacuum Some More

    You should especially do this in areas that don't get much exposure to sunlight (fleas like humid and cool spots), anywhere that you find dried blood and feces (flea debris), and upholstered furniture.

    • Before vacuuming the carpets, sprinkle salt, diatomaceous earth or baking soda around liberally.
    • Work it into the base of the carpet with a broom.
    • Let it sit for a few hours while the powders do their work in causing flea eggs that are tucked deep into the carpet to dry out.
    • Be sure to empty the dust bin or discard the bag outside and continue vacuuming thoroughly every other day.
    • Fleas can develop resistance to insecticides, vacuuming regularly is essential in order to bring them under control.

    Be sure to wash bedding too.  Toss everything – including blankets from family beds where your dog sleeps – into the washing machine with hot, soapy water.  Don't forget to include everything they like to lie or sleep on regularly too.  If the bedding can go in the dryer, running them for 15 or 20 minutes in a hot dryer will kill adults, larvae and eggs.  Then followup by washing all bedding at least once a week until the fleas are gone.

    2. Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

    Food-grade DE is completely natural, and it can be used pretty much anywhere. It’s a very sharp material, deadly to insects, but harmless to humans and mammals because it’s particles are so tiny. Farmers add it to stored grains to stop insects from invading their silos, and they feed it to their animals to control internal parasites like worms.

    3. Bathe Your Dog with Dish Soap

    Smother your dog in soap, but don't do it with Dawn.  I used Better Life's safe dish soap and I could actually see those fleas go running – without the toxic chemicals!  You'll need to bathe your dog every two or three days until the fleas are entirely gone.

    4. Make Your Own Flea Traps

    This one surprised me.  I've heard of gnat and mosquito traps, but never flea traps.  Turns out it's really simple and I was able to trap a ton of fleas overnight.

    • Fill a shallow bowl or pie pan with soapy water and set it out overnight in the area you suspect of harboring fleas.
    • Set a desk lamp over bowl of water.  The fleas will be attracted to the heat and jump towards it, causing them to land in the soapy water. It helps if you turn off all other light sources so they are attracted to the spot you want them.
    • Be sure to change the water daily until there are no more fleas.  This technique helps you keep tabs on your progress: the more fleas you see, the more you need to clean the area and treat your dogs.

    5. Make Your Own Herbal Flea Spray

    Plants produce essential oils which function as their own built-in insect repellents, which makes them great for use in people and animals.  With the exception of tea tree oil (which can be toxic for dogs), essential oils are natural, mild and may even help boost the immune system.   Some of the most common oils that act as flea and insect repellents include lavender, citronella, cedar, peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass.

    • Mix 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil with 1-2 ounces of mild, organic soap and water.  I used my Earth Mama Calming Lavender castile soap with several extra drops of lavender and some vinegar as an added boost.
    • Pour into a spray bottle and spray your pet periodically throughout the day.
    • Don't soak, but rather dampen the fur.
    • You can also add 2-3 drops of the mixture under your pet's collar to help keep fleas away.

    In the end, I was able to rid our dogs of fleas within one week.  But I'm not going to lie – it took some effort and repetitive natural treatments.

    How do you take care of fleas in your home?

  • InDIY & How-to, Natural Pest Control

    Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Pets?

    Yes, food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is completely safe for all types of animals.

    And I can vouch for that.  We've been using it on our dogs regularly for the last couple of years for flea and tick control with great success and no adverse effects.

    What is Diatomaceous Earth?

    Diatomaceous earth is a fine, talc-like powder made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans.

    Earth Easy explains how it works:

    These diatom particles are very small and sharp – but only harmful to the small exoskeletons of insects. Insects cannot become immune to its action, as it is a mechanical killer – not a chemical one. Because it is like a light dust, it easily clings to the bodies of insects as they walk and crawl over it. The tiny diatom particles then cut the waxy coating of insects and they eventually dry out and die of dehydration within 48 hours. It is an all-natural product that is so safe, it can be sprinkled around your vegetable patch, or rubbed right into your dog’s fur.

    In fact, many naturally-focused breeders I've spoken to add it to their animal's food each day to kill parasites. They also love the fact that it has 15 trace minerals, which helps fortify their diets.

    What Bugs Does it Kill?

    Diatomaceous Earth has proven to be effective against various household and garden pests including:  Ants, Bedbugs, Silverfish, Flour Beetles, Fleas, Cockroaches, Slugs, Earwigs, Centipedes, Millipedes, Sowbugs, Pillbugs, Carpet Beetles, Spiders, Crickets, Colorado Potato Beetles and Caterpillars.

    Be Sure to Choose Food Grade DE

    Food grade DE has to meet certain specific requirements for heavy metals like lead and arsenic, while pool filtration grade DE is treated with chemicals and very high heat so it's dangerous for people and pets, so be sure you avoid it.

    And even with food grade DE, t's always a good idea to use commonsense when applying so that you don't inhale a large amount. The National Pesticide Information Center  says if breathed in, diatomaceous earth can irritate the nose and nasal passages temporarily, but doesn't cause any longterm damage.

    Where  to Find It

    We ordered our first bag online and bought another bag today at a local farm supply store.  I thought it was interesting that they commented about how quickly they're selling out of it these days.  Folks are finally catching on to this simple, cheap alternative to toxic pesticides!

    >>Get more DIY flea busting tips HERE.

  • InDIY & How-to, Green Cleaning

    How to Remove Pet Urine Odor Naturally

    Expert guest post by Jeff Voorhies, IICRC Certified Carpet Technician

    I know my wife's all about reducing toxic chemicals in the home – and so am I.  But as a carpet cleaner, I don't recommend using harsh commercial stain and odor removers for another reason too:  they're the worst possible choice for the care of your carpet.

    So let's talk about what to do when you climb out of bed in the morning and can't even make it to your coffeemaker before soaking your sock in a puddle.  It's super important to take care of urine spots to prevent confusion during potty training and to maintain your carpet – one of the biggest investments in your home.  It can be a big job, but the good news is that staying on top of those spots doesn't have to be costly – or toxic.

    Now keep in mind that my favorite odor removal method isn't for the weak-of-heart;  we're talking DEFCON 5 here!  I'm pulling out the whole arsenal, so let's get to it.

    Light It Up

    Okay no.  I didn't mean for you to toss a match on the carpet and be done with it!  But you do need to locate any and all urine stains so you can be sure to treat every single area.  If you have darker carpet and can't quite see them, try using a black light to make the spots more obvious.  You can get an LED blacklight for about $15, and it's worth the investment when potty training.

    Soak It Up

    Blot the puddles up with a dry, absorbent cloth, but be sure NOT to rub at all so the urine doesn't end up getting pressed deeper into the carpet and pad beneath. Just keep blotting with additional dry towels until you can’t see any more yellow.

    Neutralize It

    Mix 50:50 white vinegar + lukewarm water, then test the mixture in an inconspicuous area.  The vinegar neutralizes the ammonia salts in the carpet fibers that cause the long-lasting odor.  If no discoloration occurred, go ahead and pour a good amount on the affected area.  Let it sit for 30 minutes then begin the cycle of blotting again until all of the liquid is soaked up.

    Spray It and Vacuum

    Although this is a natural formula, keep in mind that you're mixing together items that could have a reaction if left to sit for too long.

    As with any product or DIY solution, ALWAYS test a small section of the carpet, hardwood floors or furniture to make sure that this formula doesn’t react negatively with your items.

    Gather the following ingredients from your kitchen for a high-powered DIY solution:

    Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake gently to mix.  Test a small area of the carpet again and watch for discoloration, then spray the area liberally and let it dry completely.  When it turns to a powder, vacuum it up.  You may need to repeat this process if you're dealing with a tough urine spot.  Then be sure to properly dispose the leftovers.

    If you're not up for making your own spray, I recommend trying Nature's Miracle (probably not the least toxic option in the world, but skipping the scented versions will help).  It works well using digestive enzymes and alcohol for disinfecting.  It's important to let Nature’s Miracle dry naturally (which can sometimes a couple of days) so that it reaches all of the stain, including carpet pads and subfloors where the stain and odor can spread far beyond what is visible.

    The Dreaded Feline

    I hate to say it, but sometimes even your best effort isn't enough to take care of the problem, especially with more potent feline urine. If the smell still lingers after a couple of attempts to clean it, you'll need to hire a professional to deep clean and deodorize the carpet.

    About the Author

    Jeff has been cleaning carpet in Kansas City since 2002 and enjoys being an expert in his trade.  He works hard with his son, Kyle, to offer a truly deep, healthy clean and is one of the few carpet cleaners in the area to offer a green solution.  Voorhies Cleaning has been an Angie's List Super Service Award winner for 4 years and running.  You can learn more about his team and the services they provide at