Posted by: Green Knight | March 20, 2010

flea and tick treatments

The U.S. EPA is going to be tightening requirements related to so-called “spot-on” pet treatments, i.e. the kind where you squirt the little tube onto the back of your pet’s neck/shoulder area.  This is being done for the usual reason, which is that people are idiots and don’t read the label first.  Examples include using a product meant for dogs on your cat, or getting the weight class wrong (as in using a dose meant for a Rottweiler on a chihuahua), or using pesticides on an animal that is “weak, aged, medicated, sick, pregnant or nursing.”  I wish sincerely that people would consult their veterinarian, read the instructions, and follow them.

I normally avoid pesticides, but i had a flea problem recently with a rescue cat, and had to use some of this stuff.  Here’s my recommended methodology.  Spread a towel somewhere that the pet likes to sit, and get the critter comfy there.  Have the little tube at hand, and have a sealable container ready for the empty, like a pill bottle or soda bottle.  Put on surgical gloves…vinyl, nitrile, whatever, just avoid latex because some people are allergic, and that might mean YOU, or even Fido, and now is not the time to find out.  I wear my chemical splash goggles as well, even though we’re dealing with a small amount, because Fluffy might try to shake it off.  Squeeze the entire tube onto the area, and what i do that the label doesn’t say is that, using my gloved hands, i rub that stuff into the fur…label says part the fur to get maximum skin contact, but picture holding a skittish kitty and wishing you had an extra hand.  In fact, it’s very helpful to have a friend and fellow animal-lover to help wrangle the surly beast.

Now you can put the empty little plastic tube into the screw-top container you had handy, peel off the gloves inside-out, get that stuff into the trash can, and wash your hands.  Monitor the pet for a half-hour or so to look for reactions. If you see excessive drooling, that means that you were sloppy, and applied some of that bug juice to an area that the critter was able to lick…don’t panic, it’s a common reaction when ham-handed clowns are using this stuff, but make sure there’s plenty of fresh water in the dish.

This takes care of fleas on the animal companion, but not of all the eggs and larvae in the rugs, couches, and bedding,  Bomb the house?  Better get the critters out while you do it, if you have that much of an infestation and have to go to that extreme…they don’t need to be breathing that stuff any more than you do.   My alternative is to have squirt-bottles of my homemade herbal flea spray handy, and apply that stuff liberally anywhere our 6-legged enemies (or 8-legged in the case of ticks) can hide out.  Makes yer house smell nice, too.  I’ll post the recipe on here later, if anyone’s interested enough to submit a query.  So far, i’ve had hits from all over, but few comments.



  1. Bob, I have enjoyed reading your blog. I have been interested in an herbal flea and tick treatment for my two dogs Maggie and Rosco. Please post your concoction.

  2. OK, here we go. thanks for the question, Eric! i am a magnet for bloodsuckers, fleas and mosquitoes (as well as landlords and evil bosses.) my spray at least works on the first two.

    best thing is to find a local herb shop, whether a groovy New Age one or a Hispanic curandería or a health food store…anywhere they sell in bulk. my recipe depends on what i can find, but in general, get stuff about a quarter-ounce per herb. i like to have peppermint, eucalyptus, laurel and/or bay leaves, pennyroyal, tansy, and rue. throw in a little catnip if you want your felines to make friends with yer dogs (funny, i have cats named Maggie and Roscoe.) bugs hate all mint-related herbs anyway.

    get a big stewpot and get water boiling, then grind up the herbs in your hands and sprinkle them in. the eucalyptus and bay leaves are in bigger pieces, so maybe break them up by hand first and leave them in longest. let this mixture simmer on low heat for an hour or so, until it’s dark to look at, like strong tea. let cool for a while, maybe half an hour.

    have ya an empty gallon jug from distilled water or spring water (not one that had milk…too hard to sanitize.) have ya a funnel, and a mesh strainer, and some coffee filters (even cheesecloth won’t quite do it…enough herb fragments will get through to clog the nozzle on the spray bottle.)

    when the mint tea is cool enough to handle, slowly pour thru the coffee-filter-lined strainer, nestled in the funnel, into the jug. this stuff acts as its own preservative and lasts for a while, but i wouldn’t make more than a gallon at a time unless you run a shelter. the last, and most crucial step, is done when the mix is nice and room temperature so the volatiles don’t evaporate. have ready a vial of peppermint oil, the essential-oil grade, and add that. seal the jug and shake it well. this is the most important ingredient.

    all bugs hate it. it gets in between the little chitinous plates of their exoskeletons. it may kill eggs and larvae, possibly, but it sure makes adults want to move to the apartment next door and do their breeding there. the peppermint oil burns them a bit. you can add a bit of lemon juice if you want, and i do sometimes. this will keep ants out of your kitchen, make the cockroaches pack up and move down the hall, and make your space smell nice to boot.

    Eric, what i used to do when about to take my dear departed dog Jake for a walk was to get my big spray bottle of this stuff, shake it up, and spray his legs, his belly, his tail, his back, his neck, and rub it in (that part’s crucial.) then i’d pull up my pant legs and pull down my socks and spray my ankles, and maybe even around my belt line, rubbing it in, or just an overall misting down if the mosquitoes were out in force. this keeps the bugs from landing, or from staying if they land.

    TEST DOGS FOR HEARTWORMS. if they’re infested, get ’em cured. if they’re clean, get ’em on meds and keep ’em on it all year. don’t medicate if already infected. that can cause worse problems. talk to vet.

    shopping for the supplies, brewing up the remedy, decanting it into spray bottles, and using it, can be a very Zen experience. enjoy!

  3. Note: use less of the tansy and rue proportionally, especially if you have cats. they wash themselves, and those herbs can be dangerous.

    • Thanks for the response. I will be brewing this potion sometime in the near future. I have recently decided to make my own dog food (not kibble). Do you have any experience with this? Here is my recipe:
      Sweet Potato
      Mashed beans/lentils
      fresh fish of the week
      green beans
      small amount of oats
      other cheap market vegggies (seasonal)

      Im wondering if you have any other suggestions?

  4. i have friends who make their own doggie food as well, with advice from their homeopathic vet. i know vegans who try to keep their pets the same way, but they’re not EVOLVED for that. plus, a fish-only diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies and overdoses, even before all the mercury stuff. so i’d throw some beef and/or lamb in there. tempeh is enough protein and fiber for US, but our 4-legged companions still need meat. sorry, but that’s the way evolution panned out. but your recipe otherwise sounds fine. my dear departed Jake the dog loved tomatoes off Dairy Queen hamburgers, so try that as well.

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