Dear Labby (FleaBitten & DirtyDog)

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Dear Labby

Dear Labby

Dear Labby, It’s that time of year again when the fleas & ticks come out in full force. Any ideas for safe, natural remedies?


Dear Fleabitten,

I hear you – nothing worse than coming home from a nice walk and bringing a lot of baggage in the way of fleas & ticks into the house. Luckily, out here where I live in California, they aren’t too bad – I guess the dry air keeps them away. They only come around in the late fall and early spring. Labby usually doesn’t have to do much of anything other than keep the dogs well brushed and pick off the ticks when we see them. But for those of you in other areas of the country I know they can be a real problem. The chemicals found in some remedies can be pretty scary and I understand why you might not want to expose your dog to them.

We did some research and found a few articles that might be helpful. The first one is pretty old, from Mother Earth News from 1985! But the advice is still sound and educational. Frequently we read about diatomaceous earth (DE) as a remedy – it sounds like you would get to roll around in the mud or something, but its actually a powder comprised of microskeletons of deceased diatoms (a type of algae).  You just sprinkle the powder on your pets or furniture or carpet, and it causes the fleas to die from dehydration. Gruesome, but effective.

Check out these articles and then look for answers from our readers in the comments section.

  1. Oldie but a goodie:
  2. From Eartheasy, a website devoted to ‘Solutions for sustainable living”:
  3. Five simple tips from Care 2:
  4. Non-toxic tips from Care 2: ://
  5. My Home Remedies:
  6. Pets WebMd offers some insight on flea & tick collars:

Readers, any suggestions for FleaBitten?

Dear Labby

Dear Labby

Dear Labby:
Is there a rule of thumb in regard to frequency that a dog is bathed? I had once heard that bathing too often will rob a dog of essential skin oils. Is getting a bath once per quarter too often, not often enough? What are the drawbacks of not bathing a dog often enough (aside from having a smelly dog)?
Thank you!


Dear DirtyDog,

The simplest answer is bathe them whenever they need it. Yes, there is some ‘conventional wisdom out there that says not to bathe them too often, but you can also buy better quality and milder shampoo for dogs now, so that’s less of an issue. So if Fido is starting to get a little ripe, or his coat is feeling a little sticky…get him (or her) into the tub.

Here’s some other insights from around the web.


Readers, what do you think – how often do you bathe your dogs?

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  1. I recently posted about the DE. According to a good friend who dusted her house, dusting the carpet and furniture is BAD. It’s a fine powder and will get into your lungs. A better way to do it is to vacuum up some DE so it kills the fleas you suck up, and only sprinkle the dogs’ bedding and the areas your vacuum won’t reach.
    Flea recently posted…Making Dogs SmileMy Profile

    • Great idea about the vacuum. Never thought about the impact to humans…just as sometimes we don’t think about the impact to the dogs 🙂 Thanks for the tip.

  2. I use a natural flea and tick spray every time we walk and brush them after. Plus I have my yard sprayed with a natural product. If I do find a tick of course I pick it off. I also have the dogs on a low dose of garlic tablets. We live in the very woody, ticky Connecticut and I find by following this protocol I usually don’t find a lot of ticks.
    Jodi recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday – May 2, 2013My Profile

    • Thanks for the input – diligence like yours is pretty critical to success I think.

  3. At our house, the Greyhounds get baths about twice a year, or if something happens and they need one. The Shepherds get baths more often, especially Küster because he’s often exposed to more things when he’s working and being solid black, we can’t see ticks and other creepy crawlies on him as easily, so it’s just a fact of life for him.

    • Thanks for the tips. Darker dogs are definitely harder, but lighter ones – the shedding hair shows more. Oh well.

  4. I’ve heard the same thing as Flea before. I need to do something because I can tell it’s going to be a bad year. My yard is 4 acres and contains mice and rabbits so I’m not sure that spraying would be effective. My personal preference is not homeopathic because it typically doesn’t work, unless you don’t really have to worry about fleas.
    Ann “Paws” Staub recently posted…Gastropexy – Surgical Bloat Prevention in DogsMy Profile

    • Ann- the homeopathic solutions, by and large, do not work as well as the chemical ones. Yet, it really is a difficult decision. We have used “Advantage” before. But the chemical ingredient in this (and similar products) is poison.

      The wife of a friend used it soon after they got a new dog. Unbeknownst to her, she had a very bad reaction to it- had some what appeared to be neurological reaction and felt very sick. She spent months going to doctors, multiple series of test etc. trying to find out what was wrong, with no resolution.

      It was only a chance encounter, at a pet store no less, where they bumped into someone who had knowledge of human reactions to this drug, that she was able to finally uncover the cause of her problem.

      • Aww how sad. I’ve sold the stuff to hundreds of people and never heard of any of our patients having a problem like that. I know there are side effects though. I guess it just depends on your situation. I think the homeopathic remedies are OK for very minor flea problems. If you have a pet with FAD, you don’t want a single flea on them ever though.
        Ann “Paws” Staub recently posted…Gastropexy – Surgical Bloat Prevention in DogsMy Profile

  5. Good advice, we need to get some baths around here soon

    urban hounds
    urban hounds recently posted…Black and White Sunday-Birthday Ping and a Give AwayMy Profile

  6. We use a flea and tick treatment from Bright Eyes Pet Wellness – $35 for a bottle (including shipping) is enough to keep our three dogs flea/tick free for a year. Plus it repels mosquitoes – I’m going to start using it myself because I was eaten alive yesterday!
    Kimberly, The Fur Mom recently posted…Google isn’t a Vet | What Would Cause My Dog’s Stomach to Turn BlackMy Profile

    • Thanks for that advice Kimberly.

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