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Fleas, Ticks, Parasites
What is Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled protist. It is used as a filtration aid, mild abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, mechanical insecticide, absorbent for liquids, matting agent for coatings, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, porous support for chemical catalysts, cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies, a stabilizing component of dynamite, a thermal insulator, and a soil for potted plants and trees like bonsai. Food grade is used for human cleanse and used for internal parasites in humans and animals.
DE Your back yard.
Diatomaceous earth is a viable way to treat large amounts of your property, without worrying about pollution. Diatomaceous earth kills ticks by mechanical action on a microscopic level, not by chemical methods. This makes it a good choice to use alongside targeted and responsible pesticide usage, like tick tubes. Use a grass seed spreader to treat your yard.
Tea Tree Spray and Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Food Grade
1. Flea and Tick Repellent
Tea Tree Spray Repels flea and ticks. Use daily.
2. Kill Flea and Ticks
On the microscopic level, diatomaceous earth resembles bits of broken glass. Though food-grade DE is harmless to humans and animals, those itty-bitty glass-like fragments kill insects like fleas, ticks, lice and mites (and their larvae) by piercing their protective structures, which causes them to dehydrate and die.
Apply the DE lightly on your pet’s coat, as well as on bedding and carpeting. It can take three days for it to do its work, so leave it in any carpeting for at least that long before vacuuming.
Note: Since DE acts as a drying agent, your pet could get some dry skin. If this happens, bathe him with a hydrating pet conditioner.
3. Garden Pest Control
Because DE repels and kills everything from ants, caterpillars, army worms, cockroaches, snails, spiders and termites to silverfish, earwigs, bed bugs, fruit flies and beetles (remember: it’ll keep the ticks away too!), diatomaceous earth is great for the garden – especially if you have pets roaming around there and don’t want to use chemical pesticides. Simply sprinkle in the area, or mix with water and spray on trees about a cup to a 1/2 gallon of water should do the trick. Make sure to apply repeatedly.
4. Healthy Supplement
Because DE is full of minerals (magnesium, silicon, calcium, sodium, iron and other trace minerals), it’s also known to help keep pets – and people – healthy when eaten; skin, hair and nails and lower blood cholesterol are all potential benefits.
It’s also known as an overall detoxifier, which is probably why deworming is another common use for DE.
5. Natural Dewormer
Taken internally, DE can rid dogs of roundworms, whipworms, pinworms and hookworms – though they are less effective against tapeworms – within a week of daily feeding. It should be fed for at least a month in order to kill hatching eggs and worms moving in and out of the stomach.
Make sure to mix the DE well into your dog’s food to prevent lung irritation from his breathing in the powder.
6. Chemical-Free Deodorizer
If your problem is stinky dog, you can also use DE as a natural deodorizer. Dust your carpet or other stinky area with DE and leave it for about a day, then vacuum or sweep it up. (If you are using it on carpet, make sure to vacuum your carpet before using the DE too.) For cat owners, mix in some DE with your kitty litter to neutralize odors.
To use DE as a dewormer or food supplement, use the following amounts:
1/2 tsp for puppies and small dogs
1 tsp for dogs under 50 lbs
1 tbsp for dogs over 50 lbs
2 tbsp for dogs over 100 lbs
So there you have it, 6 easy ways you can incorporate DE into your pet’s life for some natural housekeeping and nutrition boosting. Two important points to always remember when using DE: Never use the kind used in gardens and pool filters, it MUST be food grade or you will harm your pet. Also, avoid inhaling DE for you and your pets, as it is a lung irritant.
Some vets tell dog owners that heartworm medicine is too dangerous to use.
Does that surprise you?
Holistic veterinarian Glen Dupree didn’t want his patients taking heartworm medicine.
Dr Dupree found that a strong immune system was enough to protect his dogs from heartworm. And he also knew that giving dogs neurotoxic drugs every month would harm that immune system.
“I assume my dogs have heartworms,” said Dr Dupree. “But there’s a big difference between heartworms and heartworm disease.”
And that difference is a fully functioning immune system.
There are many holistic vets who don’t recommend using heartworm medicine but the pro-health approach to parasite prevention isn’t all that popular … yet.
But here’s why holistic vets avoid heartworm medicine for dogs …
Heartworm Prevention: Thinking Outside The Box
I bet when you think of the immune system, you think it protects against diseases like parvo or kennel cough. What most people don’t know is the immune system also protects the body from parasites.
The immune system is well equipped to deal with parasites.
A well-tuned immune system is the difference between a few heartworms and a large heartworm load that affects your dog’s health.
A Closer Look At Heartworm
The vets at the Heartworm Society agree with me:
“Single-sex heartworm infections, host immune responses affecting the presence of circulating microfilariae and the administration of heartworm preventives can be factors which produce occult infections in dogs.”
An occult heartworm infection means there’s an infection of some sort but the microfilariae … or the heartworm offspring, aren’t circulating in the blood. So if all of the heartworms are of the same sex, or if the dog is taking preventives, then those little guys can’t reproduce and cause much of an issue.
While the vets and researchers may call this an occult infection, is just a functioning immune system.
Look at that quote again. If you go to the Heartworm Society, it’s easy to miss it. But there it is, nonetheless, shoved into a little corner and never mentioned again:
“Host immune responses affect the presence of circulating microfilariae.“
In a nutshell, this means that dogs with functional immune systems aren’t good hosts for heartworms and other parasites. The mosquito larvae (microfilaria) are killed by the immune system before they develop into adult heartworms.
That’s the good news …
The sad part is few dogs these days have a strong immune system.
The Immune System And Heartworm
While vaccines can protect your dog from infectious disease, they come at a cost.
Vaccines contain mercury (yes, even thimerosal-free rabies vaccines can still contain mercury), which is neurotoxic and causes cancer. In fact, research labs will give lab animals just a tiny bit of thimerosal to give them auto-immune diseases (which include allergies, cancer, arthritis, or GI diseases).
Vaccines also contain aluminum. Aluminum is neurotoxic and can cause degeneration of the brain and nervous system … especially in young dogs. And the scariest part about aluminum is that it increases the toxicity of mercury, so the “safe” levels of mercury in your dog’s vaccines are severely underestimated.
Vaccines also contain MSG as well as formaldehyde … which is one of the most hazardous and highly cancer-causing compounds known.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be very reluctant to call any dog who has been injected with these toxins, even just once, healthy. In addition, vaccines suppress the immune system.
Immunologist HH Fundenberg says if your dog receives just one monovalent vaccine, his cell-mediated immunity will be cut in half … and just two vaccines will lower it by 70%.
And “all triple vaccines markedly impair cell-mediated immunity, which predisposes to recurrent viral infections, especially otitis media, as well as yeast and fungi infections.”
Sound familiar? Keep in mind, most dogs receive 3 to 7 vaccine components at a time.
Is it any wonder why dogs, even minimally vaccinated dogs, get heartworm? I hope you’re following me.
We know the immune system is responsible for protecting our dogs from heartworm and other parasites. So why would we purposely expose our dogs to things like vaccines when they destroy that immunity!
Most dogs are vaccinated with too many vaccines … and much too often. It’s no wonder vets worry about heartworm.
But that brings me to …
Why I Don’t Give My Dogs Heartworm Meds
Just as vaccines can damage the immune system, so can your dog’s heartworm meds.
Now I know you’re terrified to even think about not giving your dog heartworm meds. But don’t worry, I’ve got a solution I think you’ll like! Just keep reading.
But you need to know that all drugs carry risk and adverse reactions.
What are those risks?
I can only guess because, to my knowledge, nobody has tested heartworm meds for more than a few weeks. We have absolutely no idea just how toxic they are when given every season for the lifetime of your dog.
So the best guess we have is the adverse reactions that occur right after taking heartworm meds. Here they are:
Heartworm Medication Side Effects
HEARTGARD and TriHeartPlus (ivermectin):
Depression/lethargy, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, mydriasis, ataxia staggering, convulsions and hypersalivation.
INTERCEPTOR (milbemycin oxime):
Reports the above reactions plus weakness.
SENTINEL (milbemycin oxime):
Reports vomiting, depression/lethargy, pruritus, urticaria, diarrhea, anorexia, skin congestion, ataxia, convulsions, hypersalivation and weakness.
REVOLUTION® (selamectin), Topical Parasiticide For Dogs and Cats:
Pre-approval reactions of vomiting, loose stool or diarrhea with or without blood, anorexia, lethargy, salivation, tachypnea, and muscle tremors. Post-approval experience included the above plus pruritis, urticaria, erythema, ataxia, fever, and rare reports of death and seizures in dogs.
Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis): facial swelling, itching, difficulty breathing, collapse; lethargy (sluggishness); not eating or losing interest in food; any change in activity level; seizures; vomiting and/or diarrhea (with and without blood); weight loss; pale gums, increased thirst or urination, weakness, bleeding, bruising; rare instances of death. This product was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2004 because of deaths but has been reintroduced.
Here’s the way I look at it. These meds work by poisoning and killing microfilariae.
If they’re toxic for heartworms, they’re toxic for your dog.
And for my dogs, even a little bit of poison isn’t something I would give them. It weakens their immune system … and makes them more susceptible to all the other diseases out there.
[Related: FDA Approves Potentially Deadly ProHeart 12]
How To Stop Giving Your Dog Heartworm Meds
Now I know you may be reading this and thinking “I’m not going to stop vaccinating my dog and stop giving heartworm meds … you’re crazy, Dana!”
You have every right to think that way. Heartworm is a scary disease that could threaten your dog’s life. And the treatment is costly and really rough on your dog.
But what if I told you it’s possible to protect your dog from heartworm without using those meds?
Here’s some news for you … heartworm meds don’t prevent heartworm at all … they kill heartworm larvae that are already in your dog.
The only prevention they offer is killing the mosquito larvae (microfilariae) before they develop into adult worms … which migrate to your dog’s pulmonary artery and cause heartworm symptoms.
Your dog’s heartworm meds work by killing those little larvae or microfilariae. Once they develop into adult heartworms, however, it’s dangerous to use those meds to treat your dogs.
That’s why your vet wants you to give your dog heartworm meds every month. But what he likely didn’t tell you is that it takes 5 to 8 months for those microfilariae to mature into adult heartworms. Seems like a lot of unnecessary poisoning of your dog, doesn’t it?
Caution: This does not in any way mean you should give your dog his heartworm meds every 5 months.
But it does allow you to replace those dangerous meds with well-timed testing!
Replacing Heartworm Meds With Testing
So we know heartworm meds can kill microfilariae but shouldn’t be used to treat adult worms. We also know it takes at least 5 months for microfilariae to develop into adult heartworms.
So why are you giving your dog these toxic meds every month when all you have to do is just run a test at the right time?
Depending on where you live, you would only need to test once every four months, or once to three times a year. Not only can this eliminate one more toxin from getting into your dog, it will probably be cheaper than giving heartworm meds.
Your dog’s heartworm meds probably cost from $5 to $20 per month, depending on his size. You probably also test in the spring before starting the meds if you live in a colder climate. Testing is typically $30 to $50 per test.
So if you have a medium-sized dog you’re probably in for $150 per year if you spend $10 a month on meds and $30 for your spring test.
But what if you just tested every four months instead of buying those meds?
Your cost would be $90 (actually, it would be less as you would only need two tests in that area). Not only is it cheaper to use testing instead of drugs, it’s a much healthier option for your dog.
What If The Heartworm Test Is Positive?
But what happens if your dog’s test comes back positive? What then?
That’s the beauty of testing every 4 months … you know it takes at least 5 months for the microfilaria to develop into the harmful adult heartworms, so if your dog’s test is positive, you can just give him regular heartworm meds for a bit or, if you’re holistically-minded like me, you can treat him holistically with the help of your holistic or homeopathic vet.
Your dog will never get adult heartworms if you do this and you can avoid the dangerous and costly heartworm treatment your vet warns you about.
One More Reason To Dump The Heartworm Meds
You might have heard that heartworms are becoming resistant to heartworm meds.
That’s absolutely true. And the more we use the drugs, the less effective they become. In the US, more and more dogs each year are getting heartworm while on the meds.
Yet ironically, the American Heartworm Society responded to these reports by urging pet owners to give heartworm meds year-round. Why do they think giving heartworm meds more often is the answer?
Well, it might have something to do with the companies who fund them …
… wouldn’t you think the people who make money from heartworm meds would want you to take them more often?
Of course they would … they’re running a business.
But that doesn’t mean you have to buy their products. To me, heartworm meds have no place in my dogs’ health care.
It’s ludicrous to feed my dog a small amount of poison every month and think I’ve made him less likely to get sick. Yes, he might have less risk of heartworm, but my dog (and your dog too) statistically has a 50/50 chance of getting cancer.
That’s right … 50/50.
I think it’s my job to question every drug my vet wants him to take … and in the case of heartworm meds, the answer is a no-brainer.
So in summary, here’s why I don’t give my dogs heartworm meds:
#1 Heartworms are becoming resistant and even dogs on meds are getting them
#2 Heartworm meds contain toxic ingredients that make my dog more likely to get heartworms and other parasites
#3 Heartworm meds can easily be replaced with regular testing
#4 Testing is cheaper than giving the meds (not that cost is usually a consideration when it comes to my dogs!)
Dana Scott is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Dogs Naturally Magazine and CEO of Four Leaf Rover, a high end natural supplement company. She also breeds award winning Labrador Retrievers under the Fallriver prefix. Dana has been a raw feeding, natural rearing breeder since the 90's and is a sought after speaker and outspoken advocate for natural health care for dogs and people. Dana works tirelessly to educate pet owners so they can influence veterinary medicine and change current vaccine, food and preventive health practices.