I have to say that this has been the worst summer for the itchies and the scratchies around here!  First, it was the mosquitos that were migrating from the abandoned pool next door.  Those have since migrated elsewhere since a bunch of “flippers” are doing an amazing job on getting things cleaned up fast on that once trash ridden foreclosure.  Now, we are blessed with the arrival of fleas and ticks.  You know, if it’s not one thing, it’s the other.  There’s always something!

Our lovely little one year old puppy, Harry, is scratching up a storm!  He did this last year as well.  It was only a matter of time before we would once again be alarmed at the little bugga-boos he brings into the house.  My time is now spent on vigil, waiting for the next itch or twitch (I am not talking band members or “So You Think You Can Dance” contestants, so don’t be confused here).  Thank goodness our husky mix doesn’t have nearly the skin, bug issues Harry does.  There is something to be said for that protective undercoat they have.  I just might try to tape some of the big hair tumbleweeds that float around our wood floors to Harry to see if it helps.

I hate to keep putting all kinds of chemicals on him. The kids all snuggle him and I don’t want his itches from fleas/ticks to turn into itches from skin reactions to applying combos of meds to it.   He has already taken the oral pill thing that the vet gave us a while back and he still suffers.  Of course, I dug out all my “recipe books” and started looking for something less harmful but still effective.

I aim to try a couple of these out by the time the summer flea season is over. First of all, you need to get rid of existing fleas.  I have given Harry a wonderful flea bath.  I personally used a natural shampoo that I purchased at the pet supply store because I was in a frantic state thinking about how many fleas were being transported into my home.   I didn’t feel like I had time to research yet.

However, you can easily make the following flea shampoo:  10 ounces of Water,  1 or 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap (the less the better), 1 teaspoon glycerin or 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon orange oil.  Combine ingredients in a jar.  Shake to blend.  Dampen your dogs fur and put enough shampoo on to cause a lather.  Work into fur and rinse.  This can keep in the jar for 6 months in a covered glass jar.  This recipe should kill fleas in all stages of development due to the citrus oil.  Do not use this on cats however, because they are known to be sensitive to it. 

Once you have your little buddy washed up.  Focus on washing everything and anything they may lay or sit on.  Try to wash or at list dry all bedding and furniture covers at a high heat to kill the little nasty pests.  That made a huge difference.  Then I sprinkled the dog beds with a natural flea repellent powder. 

Here’s a recipe for a flea repellent powder:  1/2 teaspon dried eucalyptus, fennel, or rosemary and penny royal.  Grind herbs in a blender or a spice mill.  Add to 1/4 cup cornstarch.  Combine in a glass jar by shaking.  Sprinkle on pet bedding and you can also rub into fur.

Here’s a spray that can also be used:  1 or 2 drops each essential oils of eucalyptus, citronella, tea tree, and penny royal, add to 2 cups Witch hazel in a glass jar.  Put a few drops on the pets collar to see if they react at all to the essential oils.  REMEMBER:  Essential oils can be very potent.  Especially for some pets with skin sensitivities.  If the pet doesn’t react.  Place 1 teaspoon worth on the pets collar and rub 1/2 teaspoon into their fur.  Do not use with citronella on cats!  This can be stored indefinitely in the glass jar, covered.

Some other great ideas:

Make a dream pillow for your pet bed to repel fleas.  Make a large sachet about 8 inches by 11 inches.  Fill with any of the following insect repellent herbs; southernwood, rose geranium, palmerosa, rue, camphor, feverfew, lavender (LOVE lavendar, it’s so useful and smells so good!), rosemary, sage, catmint (YES!  You should see all the catmint I have growing around here anyway!) pennyroyal,  or eucalyptus.

Other natural measures you can take:  Use a flea comb to remove present fleas, Ingesting Brewer’s Yeast will cause your dog to give off an odor that fleas don’t like (there are wafers and supplements available at pet stores and health food stores.  I know that Pet Supplies Plus stocks these.), Add a couple cloves of garlic a day to the pet’s food (mmm…that sounds yummy.  Garlic doggy breath), Submerge pet in water to drown fleas (that means all but the head.  That’s almost impossible with my wiggly dogs, but I tried!).

If you are having tick problems, the same soaps above will help.  You can use a repellant by placing a couple drops of essential oil of rose geranium or palmerosa on their cloth collar every week.  Be sure to always check pets if they have been in tick populated areas. 

Here’s an article about fleas and ticks.  I use one of my favorite books “Better Basics for the Home” by Annie Berthhold-Bond for the above recipes.  If you want more choices, look here or here.

I have completed everything except I still have to wash some of the furniture covers.  Although, I did vacuum all the areas thoroughly being sure to dispose of junk in the dirt catcher (What do you really call that part?  I don’t really know.) and clean out the dirt catcher throughly with flea killer/spray.

Hopefully Harry and your pets will soon sleep soundly.  May the only itching be the itch they have to chase bunnies in their sweet doggy dreams.