I'm an all natural sort of gal. Yup, one of 'those people'. I clean my house almost exclusively with natural, sometimes homemade, products. I'm very picky about what ingredients I'll use on and around my family and home. Usually this presents no problems. I feel more comfortable using products that work, yet are healthier for my family. However, it can be a frustrating experience when natural remedies let you down.
Near the beginning of July I was talking with a dog owner in our neighborhood and she was telling me about how bad the fleas have been in our area this year. I totally shrugged it off - It was already July and we hadn't had a single issue with fleas. Whether it was just luck, or the fact that I do use some simple, natural preventatives on my dog, I didn't know. Either way, I was satisfied. I HATE dealing with fleas.
My family growing up, my dad especially, conditioned me to think of fleas not as easy to eliminate, minor annoyances, but as a plague of biblical proportions that must be fought in epic human vs. bug wars. I remember once, when I was really young, much to my utter dismay, I discovered that my cat had fleas. I was so afraid that my dad would find out and get rid of her that I risked my life by giving her a bath to rid her of our mortal enemies. I exaggerate a bit, perhaps, but I still carry the scars I received trying to bathe that cat.
The other half of our flea equation is that my beloved little trouble maker, Kitsune, is actually allergic to flea bites. If you want to learn more about that Google "flea bite dermatitis". Yeah, it's not pretty. It's even less fun to deal with. Just a single flea bite can send my dear Kitsune into a scratching/chewing frenzy that often leaves him with bloody, open sores. His skin becomes very red and scabby and it's obvious that it makes him pretty miserable.
So like I said, we had lucked out for most of the spring/summer by remaining flea free. But then, about a week after speaking with my neighbor, I started to notice Kitsune scratching more than normal. Hoping it was just my imagination I broke out the flea comb and unfortunately found a couple of fleas around Kit's tail. I pretty much went into a cleaning frenzy, washing all our bedding and sprinkling DE on our area rugs before vacuuming.
After a few days of using my regular go-to natural remedies, and still finding living fleas on my dog, I finally decided that Kit and I had both had enough and used Advantage II on him. I wasn't happy about putting a pesticide on my pup, but decided, in our case, it was the lesser of the two evils. Kitsune was suffering and I had to get rid of the fleas ASAP.
We're flea free again now, thankfully. I've continued to use natural remedies paired with lots of cleaning in our home so that hopefully we won't have any re-occurrences. I feel like this post might catch some flak, both from all natural dog owners, who might criticize my use of chemical flea treatments, and from more main stream dog owners, who will probably say that I should have been using more effective flea products all along. In the end, all I can do is what I feel is best for my dog. I believe that more natural remedies are much healthier when it comes to flea prevention, but they just weren't working fast enough. To minimize the damage done to Kit's skin from his allergy, I had to eliminate his fleas as quickly as possible.
I'm undecided right now if I will continue using Advantage until the end of flea season or not. I have to do some research into some other natural products, to see if I can potentially find something a bit more effective than what I've been using, but safer/healthier than using spot on pesticides. If anyone has any recommendations feel free to leave them in the comments!