Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NON TOXIC FLEA TREATMENTS FOR PETS - article in the May/June 2009 issue of San Diego Pets magazine

Author's Note: Since writing the article below I have found what, in my opinion is one of the best inventions in the world! The flea comb!!! The teeth on the flea comb are so close together, they easily remove fleas, flea eggs and their eliminated "flea dirt." By flea combing my active dog and indoor cat daily I have nearly eliminated my once frustrating flea problem. The fleas have been extra fierce in San Diego County this year. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by this issue, I now experience life without fleas! I find an occassional one or two fleas when flea combing after my dog's daily rolls in the grass, but that is it! My pets and I are much, much happier!!! Daily flea combing (I started with twice a day and now do it once a day), along with vaccuuming every 2 to 3 days are my number one tips for a flea free household. Save money and your pet's health! Avoid using the topical spot-on and ingested pill form flea treatments. I am so thrilled about this simple, but genius invention, that I Googled in an attempt to find the inventor of this useful item. I couldn't find out the originator, but whoever you are. XXOOXXOOXXOOXX from all of us!!!

The flea comb I have is like the one in the above photo. I bought it for a little over $4 at Point Loma Pet Pantry in the Pt. Loma area of San Diego, just east of Ocean Beach. http://pointlomapetpantry.home.att.net/

Also - although it has worked wonders for many, I have had to stop using the Buck Mountain Parasite Dust mentioned in my article. It irritated my respiratory system and every time I used it I would get a cough that would last for a couple days. The cough was my body's reaction to the dust as it tried to rid itself of the irritation.

Thanks to the flea comb I very rarely use any sprays or other treatments at all anymore! Want tips on how to most easily use the flea comb? Want to teach your pet to LOVE its flea combing sessions? Email me at info@wildtame.com.

Life is about learning. I love the educational process and continual journey. I also enjoy sharing what I learn with you!


By Sindi Somers

We all know what fleas are, those annoying dark colored creatures that hop on our pets when they sit or roll in the grass, visit the beach or park or stop to say hello to a fellow furry friend. Although they seem to jump as if they are flying, fleas are wingless insects capable of piercing skin and sucking blood. This in itself, sounds unappealing, but add to it the potential of having these unwelcomed visitors as permanent residents in your home, laying eggs, multiplying relentlessly and causing stress and potential discomfort to you and your pets. Although this is not a desirable situation, it is one many of us have experienced. In addition to this, some animals are allergic to flea saliva. This allergy can lead to more severe skin irritation that gets worse as the animals lick, scratch and bite the affected areas in an attempt to get relief. Fleas are also capable of transferring diseases between animals. It is obvious we need to keep fleas away from our pets and homes, but how do we do it?

Most people have heard of the over the counter “spot on” treatments, such as Advantage and Frontline. Although some may have success with these, fleas can and do build up a resilience to them. If you have tried these or similar pesticides and they have not worked, now you know why! In addition to the possibility of these products not solving your problem, they are highly potent chemical pesticides! There are many other products, including pesticides administered in pill form that I have not mentioned. Some are available over the counter, while some can only be purchased in a veterinarian’s office.

I admittedly have used some types of the aforementioned toxic items to prevent flea infestations. However, once I learned about their potency, I became interested in finding less harmful alternatives. It is disturbing to read the labels on the “spot on” and related flea treatments. They advise us humans to “avoid contact with our skin and wash immediately” if it occurs. With such a warning, should we be so quick to apply them to our pets? It does not make logical sense, let alone seem like a kind thing to do to our beloved companion animals.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has had its eye on these toxic flea formulas for some time announcing its findings along the way. The EPA most recently announced that more than 44,000 potential cases of adverse reactions related to spot on treatments, including Frontline Plus, were reported to them in 2008. The effects ranged from skin irritation to seizures and in some instances, death. To read their report in its entirety visit http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/flea-tick-control.html

So, what can we do to keep our pets safe and flea free in San Diego County, which seems to be paradise for this pest population? Luckily, we have a number of independently owned health conscious pet stores throughout San Diego County that offer natural alternatives to the toxic options.

I have tried a variety of natural products and found that, once applied they worked great temporarily. From this, I learned that flea prevention is not a one time thing. Unlike the claims of 30-day results made by the manufactures of the toxic pesticide products, the natural items need to be reapplied and used more frequently. However, it is worth it to me to avoid filling my pets with toxins. I also have learned that using multiple products is sometimes necessary. The severity of your flea issues can vary depending on what part of the county you live in. However, if faced with this problem, patience and diligence win the race over the aggressive fleas.

To give you a head start when addressing your external environment, helping your pets have a strong inner defense is essential in successful flea control. Nutritious foods and any needed supplements, along with adequate exercise will help build and maintain a healthy immune system. Fleas prefer a weak host, as it allows them flourish with more ease. The healthier your pets are, the less likely they are to be affected by fleas.

Bathing can also help eliminate fleas on your pets, but be careful not to over bathe them, which can lead to dry skin and other issues. A monthly bath with a gentle, natural shampoo, along with thorough water only rinses as needed, will help in the fight against fleas. If needed, an additional sudsy bath can be added of course, to keep your pets clean and flee free.

It is also important to remember that the fleas on your pet are only a part of the war to conquer. In addition to those that you can physically see, you can rest assured that there are growing flea families happily nesting in your rug, bedding, upholstered furniture and anywhere else that provides a safe place for them. I recommend very frequent vacuuming of carpet areas, as well as upholstered furniture. Immediately disposing of the used vacuum bag with help avoid reinfestation. Frequent washing of pet bedding and anything else your pets may lay on is also crucial. These cleaning processes will aid in the killing of any eggs left by the prolific fleas that have plagued your home. It will be difficult to achieve the flea free results you are aiming for without tackling the larger physical living environment, as well as your pet itself.

Tomb Stone by Great Life is a spray that seems to kill fleas on contact, or at least slow them down enough so they can be picked off. I was told it is safe to spray it on bedding, furniture, and any surface, as well as on your pet. With lavender being one of the main ingredients, I found that it smelled pleasant, which is a plus when spraying it in and on your home environment. Citronella based Purely Botanical Flee, Flea! by Dancing Paws is another spray that some have had great success with. Both sprays are available at Paw Country in La Mesa http://www.welcometopawcountry.com/. I recommend spraying the product into your hand firsts and then applying it on your pets. Some animals do not like the sensation of being sprayed directly and prefer a gentler application.

Buck Mountain Herbal Gold Parasite Dust for Animals, which is available at Point Loma Pet Pantry http://www.pointlomapetpantry.com/, has brought relief to many pets. I recommend applying it on your pet while either outside or in an open area. Since it is powder, particles can be inhaled during the process and you may find this unpleasant, as I did. This powder can be applied directly onto your pet, bedding, furniture, as well as the carpet and then vacuumed up. However, it is a yellowish powder and not everyone may choose to have this added to their belongings. Grocery store purchased, Borax, which contains Boric Acid and Diatomaceous Earth, available at Paw Country and Point Loma Pet Pantry, are two other flea killing powders that can be sprinkled on carpets and vacuumed up.

Another option is FTI Pet Products’ Flea Treats. Both my dog and cat love these tasty tablets as treats! They contain Brewer’s Yeast and B vitamins and are available at Point Loma Pet Pantry, Healthy Pet Pantry in El Cajon http://www.healthypetpantry.net/ and Wholesome Choice Pet Market in Rancho Bernardo http://www.wholesomechoicepetmarket.com/. Some people swear by them. I have never used them alone, but instead as an additional precaution, along with a spray, the parasite powder, and of course diligence.

If you have questions about flea treatments, behavioral issues or nutrition concerns, I welcome your emails at info@wildtame.com. You may wish to visit my website at http://www.wildtame.com/ to learn more about alternative and holistic approaches to pet care.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Home Cooking and Raw Diets for Pets - Article by Sindi Published in San Diego Pets magazine

Ginger eats a nutritious diet consisting mainly of fresh raw meats, including organ meats. She also benefits from both ground and whole raw bone, vegetables, some fruit, fish oil and vitamins and supplements as needed. Sindi also enjoys a healthy diet, but will leave the raw meat to Ginger's taste buds. Sindi opts for fish, eggs, beans, vegetables, fruit, grains and supplements. She does have a little dairy and is in the process of adding more meat to her diet. Right now she is working on reintroducing turkey. Both Ginger and Sindi go ORGANIC whenever possible!

Below is Sindi's article published in the March/April issue of San Diego Pets magazine.

Wholesome Home Cooking and Fresh Raw Diets Benefit Pets’ Health

What you do today will have an effect on your pet’s future. This includes what you choose to feed them. Following the tragic and fatal events leading to the pet food recall in 2007, more pet parents have chosen to pay attention to what is in the food they are feeding. Now, faced with the recent FDA reports that popular chicken jerky treats made in China could be causing severe illness in dogs, even more consumers are reading the label.

So how do we keep our pets safe and fed? Some have chosen home cooking for Felix and Fido. Others are buying only pet food and treats manufactured in the USA, with the thought being that the ingredients and processing is better monitored, and therefore safer. I know of a number of people opting for home cooking, including people purchasing dehydrators to make their own chicken and other protein sourced jerky treats.

I love my pets and know you love yours. I am conservative and cautious when it comes to choosing what they consume. Even the most superior dry kibble and canned wet foods are highly processed, eliminating much of their nutritional value. Because of this, I generally avoid adding them to my dog and cat’s menu plan. Basing my choices on safety and quality nutrition, I occasionally serve my pets unseasoned home cooked meals, but mainly feed them minimally processed raw meat based pet food, along with fruits and vegetables.

As a representative in the healthy pet food industry myself, I hear some people remark that they do not feed a raw or home cooked diet because of higher costs. When calculating everything together however, you may find that it is less than you think! Since these meals are less processed than dry kibble and canned products, your pets will receive a much higher level of nutrients per ounce of food. This will leave them more fully nourished and satisfied at the end of a meal. Feeding healthier, more nutrient rich foods is also a way to prevent some health issues, lessening veterinary costs down the road. Some medical conditions arise due to poor nutrition, so what you invest in your pet’s diet now, can end up saving you money later on!

Another argument I hear from pet parents is that it takes too much time and work to prepare food or handle frozen raw diets. Because of the busyness of people's lives today, their hesitancy is not surprising. With so much information and help now available however, making these healthy dietary choices for our pets is easier than ever before. If you are unable to make a full-time switch to one of these nutritional paths, Samantha Sarsilmaz, owner of the Point Loma Pet Pantry www.pointlomapetpantry.com, stresses the importance of "adding freshness" to your pets' diets. Adding fresh, lean, unseasoned raw or cooked meats, vegetables and fruits greatly increases the amount of accessible nutrients in your pet's diet, whether it is daily or on occasion. Of course, the more frequently you add fresh, nourishing ingredients, the greater the benefits.

With so many people turning to alternative feeding practices there are pet food and treat recipe books available, as well as other resources to assist the home cook. Kelly Bolken, Dog Behaviorist, Nutritional Consultant and owner of Paw Country holistic pet store in La Mesa
www.welcometopawcountry.com, suggests, “A good guideline for home cooking is 65-95% meat (including organ meats and ground bone) and the remainder, fruits and/or vegetables.” Kelly continues, “I rotate around between green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and sometimes I add a little quinoa for added protein when I am low on meat. You can use just about anything. When home cooking, it is essential to add calcium if ground bone is not included. The other two supplements that are required are EFA’s (fish oil) and a multi vitamin. I rotate my multi between several products, including bee pollen, Positive Health, Animal Essentials Multi, Animal Essentials Green Alternative and I also use Diatomaceous Earth and/or kelp for their myriad minerals and other health benefits.”

In addition to fresh, home cooking and the use of supplements, Kelly, Samantha and I are all supporters of feeding a raw diet to pets, including our own. This is the best and easiest way to ensure they are getting the nutrients needed. There are many brands of raw pet food formulated into complete meals, adding varying amounts of fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals. The food comes in pre-measured out patties or nuggets, cutting down on preparation time. It is also available in bulk form allowing pet parents to measure out their own desired quantities per meal. Researching the different brands of raw frozen pet food and their ingredients can help you make the most informed and healthiest choice for your pets. Please note that not all brands of raw diets are complete meals in and of themselves. Checking company websites and gaining information from informed staff members at healthy pet stores and other holistically focused professionals is encouraged.

Feeding raw diets formulated into complete meals by health conscious pet food companies can take a lot of the guesswork out of proper feeding. While the home cooking route can take more thought and care to ensure your pets are getting the dietary balance they need. Additional supplementation and vitamins can benefit any animal, regardless of diet depending on their individual needs.

In addition to learning about needed supplements, when home cooking, it is essential to stay up to date on what “people foods” are acceptable and safe, and which are not. Chocolate, onions, chives, fried and fatty foods, as well as those seasoned with salt and other potentially dangerous and unnecessary additives top the list for most popular pet species. Some pose threats to some and not others. Grapes and raisins can be fatal, while dairy products can be problematic causing digestive issues. Garlic and avocado are others to avoid, although small amounts can be found in some pet foods and supplements and might be okay in those forms. Caution is still advised however, since each animal’s sensitivity levels vary. Their bodies differ, just like ours do. Visit the ASPCA website for current information regarding food and household safety for pets. www.aspca.org

With so many different and often conflicting philosophies regarding pet care, the bottom line is always what I am personally comfortable with. The same is for you and all consumers. We ultimately need be consistent advocates for our companion animals, doing our own research and implementing what is best for their unique, individual needs.

If you have pet nutrition, or other animal care or behavior questions, I welcome your emails at