The program outlined below is excerpted from the book "Flea Control - A Holistic & Humorous Approach," by Chip Sammons, and is being reprinted by permission (thanks Chip!). Animal World highly recommends this book as part of your animal-care collection. It outlines a safe and highly effective method for eliminating fleas in both the interior and exterior environments. The book can be ordered directly from the Holistic Pet Center at 800-788-7387, or visit their web site at

Please understand that you will also be bombarded by messages and advertisements about "miracle" products — including bombs and collars -- designed to kill fleas. The source of these messages will most likely be chemical companies who make millions of dollars annually from these products, but they may even come from your vet. Please avoid these chemical treatments at all cost; they are extremely hazardous to the health of both humans and animals, and are no more, and often less, effective than the program explained here.

It is time. We have decided that we are going to get rid of these pointy headed dirt bags or that we are going to take preventative measures so our companion pets are not host to armies of invading, insensitive, insects with no wings, commonly called fleas.There are several realizations that we must keep in mind before finding that one product that is going to eradicate all our fleas.The first realization is that there is no single product in the market place that is going to eradicate all of our fleas. This is somewhat distressful to many of our customers. It sure would be nice if life were that easy, but then what part of life is that easy? And why would flea control be different than any other area of life? Honest, I will keep my eye out for it, but in the meantime we have other good choices. Choices, that is what I really like about life.

Immune System. Even before addressing the particular flea remedies that might help our companion pets repel fleas, we need to discuss the diet in general. I firmly believe that the healthier the immune system, the fewer the fleas. Our criteria for food is no artificial preservatives, no by-products, no sugar, no nitrates, and no artificial colors or flavors. Some people think that I'm completely crazy for not being more rigid. Others think I'm completely crazy because they do not see anything wrong with any of these ingredients. But most people know that I'm just plain crazy anyway. Maybe it was the Agent Orange. Or maybe it was the time that I fell on my head!

Any person can tell you what they think is the best dog or cat food on the market and why. That is fine with me because we are all free moral agents and can decide things for ourselves. My own personal opinion gained from extensive reading and analysis is that artificial preservatives suppress the immune system. I do not like BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, or propyl gallate. My reasons for this would take several chapters to explain and document, but suffice to say that, from my humble perspective, artificial preservatives are the worst ingredients you can feed your dog or cat, if you want them to have a healthy immune system.

What health value do artificial preservatives have? Are they added to the food to enhance health? Of course not. They are added to the food to prevent the animal fat from going rancid. Natural pet foods preserved with vitamin C and vitamin E do exactly the same thing. The only difference is that vitamins C & E do not preserve the food for as long as artificial preservatives.

With artificial preservatives the question is, "how long do we want our pet foods preserved?" Do we want to be feeding "fresh" pet food from a bag that is four or five years old? Somehow that does not seem real appealing. I wonder what the true nutritional value of that food would be after several years? I wonder how much of that food would be assimilated, processed and utilized? Actually, I don't really wonder that. It was just a rhetorical question.

At the Holistic Pet Center, I can carry any pet food I choose. My goal is to carry the best dog and cat foods on the market. After all my research and study I believe that, as of this writing, the best two dog and cat foods on the market are Natural Life Pet Products and Precise Pet Products. Both these companies have a great track record and have changed hundreds and hundreds of dogs and cats to healthier companion pets — through my store alone. I have seen miraculous transformations take place simply by changing the diet of a dog or cat. I have seen so many dogs and cats become healthier with Natural Life and Precise that I am convinced that they are the best two brands of pet food currently on the market.

Of course, I am just a simple guy. I say that these are the best two pet foods on the market based on what is on the ingredient labels and how thousands of dogs and cats have looked over the years. I do not wear a white coat, take milligram per kilogram, or hold any special "scientific evidence." It is just my perception, based upon years of my own personal experience.

Both Natural Life and Precise preserve all their foods with a combination of vitamin C and E, and do not use artificial preservatives in any of their formulas. Some people like to split hairs about whether the vitamin C and E is all natural or synthetic because if it is a synthetic form it is legally an artificial preservative. I consider most of those semantic battles wasted time. Vitamins C & E, whether all natural in form or synthetic, still do a much safer job of preservation.

Some pet food companies manufacture one or two so called "natural" formulas along with all their other artificially preserved formulas. I have decided from the very beginning that I would not support companies that manufacture foods with artificial preservatives, meat by-products, nitrates, sugar, or artificial colors or flavors. My own personal feeling is that a company either makes good pet food or bad pet food, but they do not make both.

If a company manufactures what I believe is inferior pet food, then I do not trust them to have much conviction for any type of "natural" pet food. Why would they? If a company believes in artificial preservatives why would they even care about the quality of a "natural" formula, much less know the benefits of a truly natural formula?

But guess what almost every single nutritional, or holistic, or orthomolecular veterinarian recommends? That's right, additional vitamin C and E. And guess what else most ofthem recommend? Trace minerals, fatty acids, acidophilus, glandulars, organic sulfur and spirilina.

Years ago, we at the Holistic Pet Center could not find what we believed to be an honest pet vitamin on the market, so we formulated our own. Our formulation, Vetline Veterinary Vitamins, is made right here in an FDA certified lab in Oregon. We have been selling Vetline Veterinary Vitamins both in our store and through our mail order catalog for years with great success.

Our basic philosophy for supporting the immune system is to feed a high quality pet food with no chemicals, and Vetline Veterinary Vitamins. Remember, the healthier the immune system, the fewer the fleas. Some customers do nothing other than this basic philosophy for flea control. In fact, I have read books and personally spoken with "experts" in the field of flea control who claim that these two basic steps will take care of most people's flea problems. Not so. Yes, it helps most animals be more resilient and fight off fleas better, and yes there are some companion pets that do this and have no fleas, but most animals need more help.

Yeast and Garlic
. Yeast and garlic are two words that many people would like to believe, but do not. These people have good reason not to trust yeast and garlic for flea control because they've used it and not had results that they were happy with.On the other hand, I've heard so many success stories concerning the three yeast and garlic products that we sell, that I am a firm believer good quality yeast and garlic products help. I really can not address all the yeast and garlic products on the market because many of them use cheap, second hand or lesser quality ingredients, or who knows what?

The premise of yeast and garlic is that it creates an odor on the skin of the animal that fleas do not like, but that humans do not generally detect. We know that odor is one of the stimulators of fleas. They either move in the direction of a pleasant odor, or in the opposite direction of a non-leasing odor. One day, in 1989, I had a great conversation with a transient flea who said that "odor is everything" for a flea. So it appears that some fleas will be repelled with the yeast and garlic odor.

. Category two, the topical care of your darling dog or cutesty cat, is most important for controlling fleas. The topical area is always the immediate area of concern because that is where the damage is being done in the present.We can strengthen our pet's immune system to repel a certain amount of fleas, and we can treat our environment to kill the little terrible terrors, but we also need to get those pointy-headed, bloodsuckers off our companion pets.

The key here is to rid our pets of fleas, but not to suppress their immune systems in the meantime. Any substance we put on the skin of our animal friends gets absorbed right through their skin and can suppress the kidney or liver within minutes. That is the exact opposite of what we want. We do not want to spray or powder our companions with any substance that will make them drool uncontrollably, shake, or weaken their immune system in any way. These are all potential side effects of insecticides. And for any individual who would say that any of this is okay, you would want to look at with a giant question mark, right before taking your four-legged family member elsewhere.

Removing Fleas.
Topically the best way to remove fleas is still the old reliable flea comb. I know, I know, you probably wanted me to tell you about a fifty dollar bottle of something special, but no, I'm sorry, the flea comb is still the most effective way to rid our animal friends of fleas. You will also be glad to know that although there are high tech flea combs on the market, that the stainless steel tooth, wood handled flea comb is still one of the leaders in the field.

Besides removing fleas from our companion pets, flea combs are still the best way to test for fleas on a regular basis. If we flea comb our pets for just five minutes a day, we will know what kind of a flea problem we have. The flea comb is a great monitoring device. Not only will we know exactly what type of problem we are dealing with, but we will be armed for the vet if when we take our pets in, he says that our pet has the infamous, "flea allergy dermatitis." If we flea comb everyday and know that there has not been a flea on the premises for quite some time, we can say, "oh, guess again."

In addition to "dry flea combing," there is, "wet flea combing." Oh brother, who would have guessed that one? "Wet flea combing" is usually accompanied by spraying the dog or cat with a spray substance and then combing. "Wet flea combing" is usually more effective than "dry flea combing" because when fleas get a whiff of a spray with certain ingredients in it that they do not like, they usually start running, which makes them easier to capture with the flea comb.

One warning with pet sprays of any kind. Do not use too much, even if it is a natural product. Especially so with cats. Constant self-grooming of any heavily applied spray could be disastrous. The safest path is simply a flea comb. The next safest is a flea comb with a light squirt of a "natural" pet spray. Cats who do a lot of grooming of themselves are the likeliest to suffer from ingesting too much spray that has been applied to their coat.

Many people use pet sprays on dogs much more often. They mist a dog with pet spray and then work it into the coat with a regular dog brush. This is done, not so much for killing any fleas that might be on the animal; but for some repelling action as well.

Some people with house dogs, for example, spray their companion animals before going to the park or even around the neighborhood in hopes of deterring the little grizzly grunts from going home with them.

Some people prefer using a powder instead of a spray on their pets to help repel fleas. As long as not too much is used, powders can be a good option. Too much powder of any kind will of course, dry the skin. And there is no powder that is safe for the eyes, nose, ears, or throat. "Natural Animal" has a great powder for both dogs and cats containing rue, chrysanthemum, lemon grass, and wormwood. "Royal" has also been marketing a great powder with eucalyptus, pennyroyal, citronella, and spearmint.

The powder list would not be complete if we did not mention diatomaceous earth, which actually kills fleas, as well as repels them. Diatomaceous earth comes straight out of the ground and contains no chemical enhancers. Diatomaceous earth actually slices and dices fleas by getting under their shells and in their ventricles and grinding them to death. It also dehydrates them. It's not pretty, but is effective. The only danger with it seems to be inhaling the dust, which is very fine. With the proper care, which means you do not flail it around over your head, or shake the container too vigorously, it always seems to work just fine.

Selfish Motives
. One of my motives for using only good, safe products for my canine and feline family members is purely selfish. I enjoy hugging and patting and rolling around on the floor with my pets so much that I would not want to come in contact with most of the chemical residue that is marketed for animals. I love my animal family members and can not stand the thought of putting toxic ingredients on them that would suppress their immune systems or mine. If a product is not safe for me, it is not safe for may animal family.

The last category is as big as all outdoors. How can we get rid of fleas everywhere? Remember, even if we eradicate all the adult fleas in our yard, our neighbor's fleas will gladly come over. Even if we could somehow kill them as well, we would have to contend with flea eggs, larvae, and pupae.

Is there hope? Of course there is! One year I spread diatomaceous earth over my entire yard, and inside the house. It worked great! Yes, it was a mess, but it worked great. The fleas that invaded from all four sides became suffocated and died as well. Although it worked well, our yard looked like it had snowed in the middle of summer. White grass is nice, but when everybody else has either green, yellow, or brown, white grass is even a little weird for me.

The Great Outdoors.
For the great outdoors there is one other great way to kill fleas that is organic and nontoxic. Modern technology has enabled some companies to suspend beneficial nematodes in a period of dormancy for a short time. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic bugs that love to eat flea larvae in the yard. The short time of dormancy is enough time to put them into bottles and sell them for almost a year. The consumer buys the bottle, takes them home and adds water, which brings the little nematodes to life. The next step is to spray them throughout the yard. Except for keeping the ground moist so the nematodes do not dry out and die, the work is done.

Since dirt dries out pretty quick, and concrete patios dry out even quicker, the nematodes do best in grass. They will live for usually four to six weeks, but in the meantime they will repopulate themselves to some extent.

Beneficial nematodes actually leave little bacteria inside of fleas that kills them. They also leave nematode eggs in fleas which reproduce. But one of the great wonders about beneficial nematodes is that they kill flea larvae! Imagine killing fleas in the larvae stage and never even seeing the adult flea! I would call that, "good news." If you spray these guys in your yard, they automatically venture outward to find more fleas, or flea larvae to eat. They only eat flea larvae or grubs in the ground, but not earthworms or other beneficial insects. That's why they are called beneficial nematodes.

Inside the home we of course have diatomaceous earth, which works well for killing and repelling fleas in the adult stage. Pyrethrum powder also works well, but is toxic to fish. Pyrethrum powder comes from yellow chrysanthemums and effects the nervous system of fleas, or it can also just plug the ventricles and kill them. Pyrethrum powder is a fine dust like diatomaceous earth and actually works quicker to kill fleas, but because it breaks down quicker in sunlight, it is not effective for as long as diatomaceous earth. I have had good results mixing the two. Although pyrethrum is "natural" it can effect the nervous system of some mammals as well as the fleas.

Natural Animal, also called Ecosafe, markets a pure diatomaceous earth, a pure pyrethrum powder, and a nice combination of both called, House and Garden Powder. There are synthetic versions of pyrethrum on the market called pyrethrins, which can also be effective. The key would be to check the entire list of ingredients to see what else the manufacturer might have added. Some manufacturers are pretty darn tricky.

Pay Attention Here.
The most effective products, (Wow, this sounds promising!) for killing fleas in and on the carpet of your home are the inorganic salts, also called borates. The product ingredient labels call them "Orthoboric acid" and "Sodium tetraborate." These are wonderful products that kill both adult fleas and flea larvae in the carpet. The good news is that they continue working for a long time, which is good news because several of these particular companies guarantee their products for a whole year.

The most effective borate product that our customers have had the best results with is FleaGo. We have carried other brands at the Holistic Pet Center, but FleaGo has done a better job for a longer period of time, and was not quite as dusty as some other borate products.

My prediction is that as more companies realize the desire by the consumer for natural products such as borates, prices on the good quality products will decrease. Of course, there are already many borate products on the market that are inexpensive, but that is because many of them are inferior, have fewer primary ingredients, or maybe contain inappropriate carriers. Also, many of the lesser quality borates are lighter and dustier, which makes them a little messier to work with.

Personal Approach.
For the overall treatment of the inside of my house what I did was to vacuum real well first, and then I sprinkled the FleaGo all over the carpets. Then I sprinkled a combination of diatomaceous earth and pyrethrums on the bare wood and linoleum floors, and the base boards. I also used the diatomaceous earth and pyrethrum in the garage and around the perimeter of my house and deck.Next, we simply walked on it for several days. Dogs, cat, people, and herds of buffalo trampling through my living room. Then, after three or four days, we got brooms and worked as much of the powders into the carpet fiber as possible, and swept up the excess powder on the hardwood and linoleum floors. After another few days, we vacuumed thoroughly and dusted. Then, on the seventh day we rested.

Was all this a lot of work? You bettcha! Did it cost a lot of money? You bettcha! Did I get rid of the flea problem? You bettcha! It was a lot of work and it cost some money, but considering how much money people spend on a routine basis to kill or help control fleas, it really didn't cost all that much.

No Place to Go.
The key for me was to do everything at one time so the fleas had no place to go. I surrounded my yard with beneficial nematodes. General Patton would have been proud. The nematodes spread outward and ate the fleas coming out of the house. The diatomaceous earth and pyrethrum powder killed all the fleas lounging around the perimeter of the house in little nooks and crannies, and in the garage, and in baseboards, and on the hardwood and linoleum floors. The only other place was in the carpet fiber where so many eggs hatch, feed, and jump out of. Little monsters that will never jump out of the carpet again.

Add to all of that environmental stuff, the healthy immune system of the four-legged family members, and the topical treatment of them as well and presto, no more fleas!

That is what worked for me.


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