Friday, December 18, 2009

Sixteen paws and what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt? check. Unconditional love and immense gratitude? Most likely. Also-fleas.

We rescued this little girl, who had apparently been abandoned at a country crossroads, about two weeks ago.

It took a week, and a great deal of convincing to get her to trust us. She was so skinny and nervous, and would bark and run back into the woods. Then, one night she caved, showed us her belly, and let us bring her home. Very insecure at first, she would hide behind Steve's legs, and snarl and lash out at the other dogs. Then, the fabulous Miss Maybelle won her over with a peace offering of frog toy. Now, they are BFF.

Interestingly, she didn't have a problem with the other dogs after that either. Maybelle wins the peace prize!
Unfortunately, the little bitch came with a flea infestation. She was thoroughly bathed with Dr. Bronner's peppermint castile soap twice, and that didn't have much effect. I sprayed the dogs and all bedding with my essential oil formula, and that didn't do much either. I found a couple of fleas on the 13 year old Otis. Then, I panicked. I really hate fleas.

So, this has been one of those times in my life when the universe has said to me "think more, react less", or even "shut up and listen", and here's why.

I gave up using permethrin based topical products for my dogs over seven years ago, because I began to question their saftey, given that that there have been no studies as to their long term health side effects. These products are stored in the oil glands under your pet's skin, and are then distributed continuously to the skin and hair of your pet through the hair follicles for 30 days. Pretty weird, at least. Then there is the chance of side effects ranging from skin redness and irritation to drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or seizures. My concern here is that these are symptoms of what? Liver or kidney toxicity? It is not real clear. Yikes.

However, I ran down to the feed store and picked some up, and proceeded to treat all four dogs. Just this once, I said, to get rid of these vermin. The problem was, it didn't work at all. No effect.

Which forced me to recall that the last time I used something permethrin based it didn't work so great either.

The donkeys are plagued by flies every summer. They will have nothing to do with a spray bottle-one little "sshhh", and they are OUTTA there, man! Unfortunately, a bucket and sponge produces the same sort of reaction. So, some years ago, I tried using a permethrin based, spot on treatment, called Equispot, that works the same way as the ones for dogs and cats. It was a beautiful thing, for a while. It worked like a charm, I only had to treat them twice a summer, they were comfortable, and everything was fine. Then, after their first treatment this past summer, I realized, the flies were still chewing up their legs and ears, and they were mad as heck. So, what did I do? The shame and desperation of it-I purchased a roll on product that had many of the same ingredients to "back it up".
It worked. However, permethrin is extremely toxic to amphibians, and though I tried to apply it well away from their muzzles, it got in their water trough and killed their mosquito-eating goldfish. I felt horrible. I felt like a murderer. I loved those fish.

So it would seem that these flies and fleas have developed a resistance to permethrins. Upon further research, I have found studies that prove it can cause resistance in ticks and mites after 12 or so applications. Resistance to permethrin is coded in the genes and then passed on to the offspring-which totally sounds like something I don't wish to be a part of.

My sister sent me a link to this site, where I found several testimonies of people who had treated their animals with these topical products, found that they didn't work, and then found success with treating their pets with apple cider vinegar. How simple is that?
So-all four pups got a vinegar dip last night. Otis won the Good Sport prize, I think a good hot bath is just what his 13 year old bones needed.

The result? Haven't found any more fleas so far. The dogs are unusually clean, smell good, and their fur is soft and shiny. I really hope that this is all it takes. Dadgum, it seems I have to be taught over and over that some of the best solutions are those that are really the most simple, and the most natural. Less is more. Don't freak out. Etc.

Now, I have all winter to consider what I will do about donkey flies next year. I don't think they will fit in the tub.

1 comment:

ACE said...

I hope the relief is lasting! It's getting to be bath day over here again as well - Leda is not as sanguine as the Fabulous Mr. Otis about her tubby -