Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Help Me!

Or rather, help Holly.

A month or so ago, I raved about Dr. Bronner's shampoo, and then pulled it from my 'Products I Use' list when Holly started itching a couple of days after her bath. Well, this month, I bathed both her and Mikey with the Chris Christensen shampoo I've been using for years, and then put Frontline on both of them the next day, as usual.

Ummm. . . it wasn't the shampoo. She's really digging at her shoulders where the Frontline is applied. I've washed the area, and I'm currently trying to relieve the itching with alternating internal/external spray on Benadryl. Luckily her coat is dense enough that she hasn't started damaging her skin. . . yet.

First, does anyone have any additional ideas for giving her some relief from the itchiness? Like I said, I bathed the area, and we had (another) pool party this weekend (all right, a pool party is just an excuse for me to lounge around relaxing in the sun while splashing around in the wading pool with Holly and Mikey! sooooo relaxing!), so most of her underparts have been well rinsed. And she's only itching over the shoulders anyway. Please leave your suggestions in comments.

Second, does anyone have some tried and true natural flea treatment suggestions. I'm assuming that either the active ingredient or carrier in the Frontline is what is causing the problem, so I'm hesitant to try another 'chemical' topical. I'm also resistant to anything given internally. I've seen a couple of suggestions on the web about rubbing diatomaceous earth into their coats, or using essential oils (see a couple of recipes below), but living in the Houston area, fleas can become a really nasty problem, so I would prefer to hear from people that have actually used alternative flea treatments and have experienced positive results. So please leave any ideas that you, or someone you know, have in comments.

Orange peels
Grapefruit peels
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
OR 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 pint bottled or tap water

Note: You can often find fresh rosemary in the grocery store, even off season.

Blend all ingredients well in the blender. Strain liquid using cheesecloth or a tea-leaves strainer (a regular strainer will let too many large pieces through, which will clog up the spray bottle)

Pour mixture into saucepan and head over low heat for 20 minutes. Strain liquid once again and put into a liquid spray bottle once cooled.

To use: spray on dogs, rubbing into coat (you do not need to rinse it off). You can also spray dog's bedding and other favorite places. Be careful around the dog's eyes, as it will bother them (and it will go from being a fun thing since they are being petted and rubbed, to a thing where they will run and hide when they see the spray bottle!)

Lavender, peppermint and geranium essential oils repel mosquitoes. Lavender, lemongrass and geranium repel ticks. And lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and citronella repel fleas. Dab oils between the dog's shoulder blades. As you can see, lavender (which also repels flies) is particularly versatile. Other effective natural repellents include lemon, cedar, eucalyptus, myrrh, neem and rosewood .

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.


dreameyce said...

I personally only use chemical treatments as needed, rather than all year (But I also live in a part of Oregon that doesn't tend to have a large flea population)

For every day use, I use essential oils, in a spray bottle with water to spritz on the dogs, myself, and around the house and car. I spray the dogs (esp legs, and bellies) before they go outside, and spray us before a hike/walk.

I mostly use lavender, and rosemary with a citrus (such as lime, my favorite!), but any other bug repellents you like will work. In a 16 ounce bottle of water I'll add about 12-20 drops of assorted oils, and shake before each use.

I keep a bottle in the car (for hikes), and by both doors, so I can treat the dogs as we walk outside. We have quite a few stray cats in our neighborhood. We also planted rosemary, and lavender around the house. Nice for cooking, as well as repelling bugs!

So far most years all we need is the herbal spray, but last year I had to break down and buy a topical treatment to use for a few months (Everyone seemed to have flea issues last year!).

If you're uncomfortable going all herbal, another option is treat her only with herbal treatments, and treat the other dog(s) with frontline. Also garlic in the diet is really suppose to help prevent bugs.

I buy my essential oils from Nichols Nursery (they have a catalog), and try to stick with food-grade oils. Remember to order droppers too if you order from there (the oils are sold in small glass jars). They have a great assortment of quality oils.

I also use essential oils to make my own room sprays, rather than buying commercial air fresheners. My favorite scent combos are vanilla with a couple drops of sandlewood (I would say 14 drops of vanilla, and 3 drops of sandlewood.... but I'm guessing!), and a 1/2 peach, 1/2 coconut combo.

I use those in the spritz bottles, as well as in oil burners (or a heated pot of water on the stove) Essential oils are fun to play with! LOL

dreameyce said...

Oh and I tried Dr Bronners after you suggested it and LOVE it! I ended up falling madly for the almond. I found using a spray bottle to apply it works best, so I can dilute it down easily. It smells sooooo good, and works great on my hair too!

And for itch relief, oatmeal is a miracle worker. You can use a paste, or do a bath rinse.

Cardimom said...

Thanks Emily! Lots of great info! I love the smell of rosemary and lavender anyway, so using the spray that you suggested should be a treat. I love the Dr. Bronner's for my hair too. Even when I thought it had caused a problem with Holly last month, I continued to use it for my shower. I'll have to try the almond; I really like the zing I get from the peppermint to help me wake up in the morning.

Jules said...

Hi Cardimom: This is ingested but I have had great success with feeding BugOff Garlic from Springtime. I swear by it, but it did take some time before it became effective. We are more tick infested than fleas and I have found two dead ticks on him this year. For New England - that rocks! My CWC is still getting the poison until he gets enough of the BOG in his system - he is a tick magnet and with that thick fur....

I tried Sentry Natural Defense spray as an added protector but found the smell REALLY overwhelming.

Jules said...

I forgot to mention, give Holly a rinse with apple cider vinegar (preferrably organic). It does wonders for allergies and itchiness.

Cardimom said...

Thanks Jules! I didn't know about apple cider vinegar! Holly will be getting a rinse with it this evening, or tomorrow; I'm sure she'll be thrilled. Poor girl is STILL itching, even on Benadryl; I've got to get it stopped before she starts tearing up her skin!

Dawn said...

I was told never to apply frontline until at least 3 days after a bath. I use it and have never had a problem, but I do always apply it after several days.

Nicki said...

I see people try a lot of natural remedies for fleas-most with limited success b/c of the overwhelming flea problem here. You might try putting the Frontline on in several areas instead of just one area-that way if the carrier bothers her it won't all be concentrated in one spot and less likely to cause a problem. You can also use Revolution-but that is also a heartworm preventative so will require a prescription. I would not recommend the new Promeris-I hear it has a horrible smell and has made several animals sick. The dose for Benadryl is 1mg/lb up to three times a day-sometimes it helps sometimes not, but often I find people are under dosing as they extrapolate from human dosages which are lower per pound than the dog dose. I also recommend bathing in oatmeal shampoos for mild skin irritations.

penni said...

For Frontline -- or any of the flea/tick preventatives -- the literature that comes with the product should have a toll free phone number to call. With the reaction your dog had, calling that number has two purposes. First, you let them know there is a problem, and second, they can share with you the antidote for the itching.

Cardimom said...

Thanks everybody for tips and advice. Holly is doing MUCH better; she's pretty much stop itching entirely. The apple cider vinegar seemed to do the trick! Of course, you can imagine the look I got from her! Humans can be such a trial!