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This Saturday, June 21st 2014, marks the Summer solstice, the longest day, followed strangely only three days later by Midsummer’s day.  Then it’s the school holidays and very possibly, visits from friends and relations – All very lovely and enjoyable.

There are however some potential visitors that we aren’t so keen on welcoming.  I’m thinking here about fleas and worms, which can also be hanging out in and on our animals at this time of year.

 

Whilst animals have always been prey to these unwelcome and sometimes troubling visitors, there does seem to have been an infestation of products and advertising around flea and worm deterrents. Vets, chemists, supermarkets, corner shops all have a range of these products.  We are encouraged to ” treat” our animals monthly by dropping chemicals onto their skin.  We are subjected to carefully placed adverts during animal themed TV shows, which crank up this message.

It seems to me that much of this is unnecessary hype, an overkill approach to a problem that can be dealt with in several different, gentler, cheaper and effective ways.

 

Probably 15 years ago I applied an extremely well known brand of flea killer to the back of my tabby cat.  Within minutes he had gone quiet, he then spent precisely 24 hours from when the drops touched his skin, in a state akin to sleepwalking. He hardly moved, when he did it was slowly and uncertainly, he didn’t eat. Then, exactly one day after he’d had the drops, he was back to normal.  I was very concerned and so was my vet, she and I both contacted the drug manufacturer.

 

Their reply was a several page explanation of how I was wrong and how their product couldn’t possibly have contributed to my cat’s reactions. Oh really?

 

I then moved on to using a very mild lavender oil and water dilution, which I combed through my cats’ coats.  It was effective; I found one flea on one of three cats over a period of three years.  I no longer use this method because I feel essential oils are just too strong for cats.  I haven’t tried with dogs.

 

My current natural flea and worm remedy of choice is a tiny amount of a naturally occurring substance called food grade diatomaceous earth, sprinkled on or mixed into food once a day for the cats and sprinkled in the henhouse and once a week on the hens’ feed. So far so good.  This has cost £7 for a large tub, which will last till the end of the year, no nasty side effects, no stressed animals, no fleas or worms.

 

There are other natural remedies you can try, a teaspoon of organic cider vinegar in the drinking water is one, as is a clove of garlic daily.  Though I have yet to meet any self-respecting cat that eats garlic! There are also homeopathic remedies easily available.

 

Obviously, I am not prescribing anything here, merely offering some alternatives that seemed worth trying.  I used my intuition about what to use, how much, always less than stated initially and how often. We don’t have to fill our animals with expensive toxins.