Saturday, April 16, 2011

Natural Alternatives

Tonight I'm spending the night with myself, relaxing and watching a movie and spoiling myself with cheese, crackers, and a bottle of Cupcake Chardonnay. It's glorious. And I'm watching Knocked Up for the second time today. Win.

Today I took Pete to get his haircut in preparation for our big camping trip that we're taking next week. His hair was so long, almost 4 inches, and Sean and I decided that long, wet dog hair with sand just doesn't mix. So we shaved him (and Sean insisted we keep a little goatee), he looks so adorable - and like an incredibly different dog. See:

I am so excited about this trip! I bought a new tent today and some folding chairs, and it was really odd (in a good way) making a decision about a larger tent to accommodate our (future) growing family... I keep thinking about yearly camping trips and making traditions with my little family and it was just really cool talking about that with Sean. I hope that we can start going camping every year around this time! When I got home I looked up the campsite and felt like a little kid looking forward to summer vacation... it's going to be SO MUCH fun!


I've been doing a lot of research for the past several months on natural alternatives to the flea and heart worm medication that we've been giving our dogs. I started looking up information about the pro's and con's a little over 4 months ago, because I found it to be a contradiction to my beliefs that I was giving my pups these pills every month without first learning about the side effects or contents or even necessity (you don't really need them in the winter, for instance). And they aren't cheap. I don't like taking medication, I've discussed using an alternate vaccine regimen for our future kids, and I don't even take birth control pills because the idea of putting chemicals and hormones and other ''things'' into our bodies has always sort of freaked me out. I feel like everything that we need can be found in nature, and that possible side effects aren't worth the risk - especially when a little research can usually always offer up a safer remedy. Call me a crazy liberal tree -hugger, but that's one thing I have always stood by.

So, when I began researching about flea and heart worm medication, I came to the somewhat obvious conclusion that they are nothing more than poison capsules. Think about it, these 'preventatives' are ultimately treating our pets for parasites even when they don't have them yet. Kind of a ''better safe than sorry" mentality... but is it really safe when some of the side effects of long term use include a weakened immune system, kidney failure, or seizures (to name a few).

You can draw your own conclusions for your pet, but I don't want to put my dogs at risk when there are other options out there that I am more comfortable with. And, I was somewhat surprised to read that a lot of the 'hype' is fueled by fear tactics that are somewhat irrational.. You can read more about this topic here, here and here.

 Anyway, the prevention method that our family has chosen is a simple mist made up of Tea Tree, Geranium and Lavender oils. I went to  Elwood Thompson's today (a natural grocery store by our house, similar to Whole Foods) and picked up a large spray bottle and the oils, and excitedly returned home and mixed it all together. We're going to keep this spray bottle by our door, and use it regularly.

I think that prevention starts with first making the dogs undesirable to these parasites., rather than treating them each month when they aren't 'sick'. These oils deter mosquito's, fleas and even ticks from biting in the first place -- and without these parasites, the worry for infestations diminishes. Added bonus: it smells really nice, and you can use it on yourself rather than that nasty smelling, sticky bug spray you find in the store. Another bonus, they were about $12 per bottle, and will last for a very, very, very long time.

In case you're interested, here is the recipe that I will be using for our dogs:

1 and 1/2 cup water
4 drops tea tree oil
4 drops geranium
4 drops lavender (which also has a calming effect, great for hyper dogs!)

Shake well, and apply before dogs go outside and again upon returning inside. You can also purchase a natural supplement, but I don't think it's really necessary. 

*Added note: It's still a good idea to get your pups checked out for heart worms when they're at the vet for their checkups, keep them on a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. The healthier your dog is, the easier it is for their body to fight off the heart worms in the first place. 

1 comment:

  1. I bet that smells so nice. My favourite blend is tea tree and geranium, i have never thought about adding lavender to it.

    Hope you enjoy your trip.


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