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Essential oils are safe & sweet

Some flea control products can be toxic to people and pets, if used incorrectly. Here are some safe alternatives.

Since fleas breed around the neck, a flea collar is a good deterrent. Conventional flea collars can reek of powerful chemicals which usually make the animal feel unwell for a few days until the fumes have wanted. Essential oil collars, on the other hand, not only small pleasant but are infinitely less toxic. Even though they need to be replaced more often than conventional ones, this would seem a small price to pay for the long term health and comfort of your dog.

Inexpensive, non-medicated fabric collars are widely available from pet shops and markets. The easiest way to permeate the fabric with essential oils is to dip the collar in a mixture of essences and cider vinegar, then keep the collars in a seal polythene bag for 24 hours to encourage maximum diffusion.

Once in use, the collar will need to be replenished with the oil and vinegar every two or three weeks. It may be wise to alternate between two or three different formula as animals may have an idiosyncratic sensitivity to a certain essential oil. If symptoms such as sneezing or skin rash occur, you should remove the collar immediately. Citronella is an essential oil most likely to cause allergic reactions.

Three Recipes for Do-It-Yourself Collars

Here are three suitable blends that you can do at home using low to medium-priced essences:-

Recipe 1

  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 5 drops cedarwood
  • 5 drops eucalyptus
  • 5 drops lavender

Recipe 2

  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 5 drops rosemary
  • 5 drops red thyme
  • 5 drops cypress

  Recipe 3

  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 8 drops tea tree
  • 6 drops geranium

Other essences with flea properties include bergamot, lemon grass, patchouli and pine.

Ticks
Ticks (blood sucking parasites) are an occasional problem which can be picked up in long grass. A drop or two of eucalyptus oil directly on the body of the tick will cause it to drop off. Reprinted from Burns News Letter (Issue 3, September 1997)

Warning: If you are using conventional flea collars, be sure to read the label thoroughly and follow instructions. If your dog exhibits vomiting, loss of appetite or muscle tremors after treatment, contact your veterinarian.