Four Paws, Five Treasures LLC
Linda Vognar, DVM, CVA

Integrative Veterinary Medicine
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese
Veterinary Medicine



With a little knowledge and forethought, it is possible to balance pest control and health.  Our pets are our companions and flea and tick control should be tailored to the environment and life style of pets and their owners.  Living in the Chippewa Valley means that our animal friends  have exposure to fleas and ticks much of the year.  Our lovely valley is endemic for Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases.  These diseases can be life threatening.  Fleas carry intestinal parasites such as tape worm and suck blood from our animal friends.  Heavy infestations can cause anemia. Animals that go outdoors in the spring, summer and fall should be protected from these pests.


Pesticides, even those applied topically, do carry some risk of allergic reaction, and  studies in people have shown a higher incidence of lymph and blood diseases with chronic pesticide exposure.  Pesticides are highly effective in eliminating ticks and fleas though, and they do protect our animal friends from the diseases that these pests carry.  How can the pet owner balance the risk of illness due to the pest with the risk of illness due to regular pesticide application?


In my holistic veterinary practice I generally recommend the use of topical pesticides that are water proof and work to eliminate fleas and ticks for dogs and cats who live in the Chippewa Valley and who live or play in rural or woodsy areas, or frequent lake areas and areas that are not mowed.  This is because the possibility of exposure to disease is real.


When using pesticides on our animal friends the simultaneous use of western or Chinese herbal formulas that have liver protection, such as milk thistle or a Chinese herbal formula Bao Hu Jian Jun Tang (Protect the General Combination) is ideal.  These herbal formulas nourish the liver cells  that do most of the toxic clean up and are a good counter balance.  Both are available through Four Paws, Five Treasures LLC, and can be ordered via email and picked up during my regular office hours at Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital.



Pets who live indoors or those who occasionally go out into small mowed yards are in a different risk group and their owners may want to consider the use of essential oil shampoos, wipes or sprays to repel fleas (also available through Four Paws, Five Treasures LLC).  I currently recommend a product produced in Frankfort, Michigan by a company called Creation Soap, an Aromadog or Aromacat spray, and essential oil permeated tissues.   Shampooing should be done every two weeks, or more often if your pet currently has fleas.  Essential oil sprays and wipes may be used every 3-4 days or when your pet will be in areas with flea and tick exposure.  Remember these products are repellents only and thorough exams and flea combing are still necessary for maximum protection.  As repellents they do not kill fleas or ticks simply create an environment that these "critters" avoid.


For animals that have current flea infestations diatomaceous earth (available through Gardens Alive) sprinkled on your pet, under the furniture and on the carpet, will kill fleas by cutting into their waxy skin and dehydrating them.


Flea combs, when used daily, are also very helpful.  Any fleas removed by the comb should be disposed of immediately.  Daily vaccuming, emptying the vacuum bag, or throwing the bag away will eliminate fleas and flea eggs overtime.   Regularly wash all pet bedding in hot soapy water and dry it on the hot setting in your dryer.


You can also make your own flea repellent pet shampoo by infusing a good pet shampoo with a few drops of lavender essential oils. Follow your shampoo by flea combing.   You can create a lavender spray with 15 drops of lavender essential oil mixed with water in a small spray bottle, or use tea tree oil instead.  Cats, however, can be very sensitive to essential oils so use them with caution.  Eucalyptus, lavender, cedar, peppermint and lemongrass repel fleas.  Avoid citrus oils in cats all together, due to toxicity, but they can be useful in dogs.


A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in your pet's water and a teaspoon of brewers yeast daily in their food (small pet) can augment your flea control program.  Herbal flea collars are also available, but do be careful to read the label and familiarize yourself with the herbs before using them on your pet.


Remember that fleas do live "off the pet" too, so an atomizer may be beneficial to keep carpets pest free.  Heavy flea infestations may require a commercial pesticide fogger before essential oil atomizers can be effective.