No matter what you’ve heard, it is possible to control fleas and ticks with non-toxic methods. Although none of the products outlined below have received EPA approval for safety or efficacy, these are all non-toxic alternatives and we haven’t seen a dozen fleas in the last 20 years.
Depending upon the level of infestation, you may need to treat both the animals and their environment. Inside, we use a product called Twenty Mule-Team Borax available in the laundry detergent aisle of most major grocery stores. It’s so fine that it cuts flea larva up and prevents them from pupating.
We sprinkle it on the carpets and floor like sugar on cereal, sweep it so it sinks into the carpet and leave it for three to four hours. On hard floors like tile or wood, brush it around so it gets inside cracks and crevices, particularly at the edge of the room, where flea eggs often end up.
While it’s not toxic, you should limit contact by children and pets until after it’s been vacuumed or swept up. You may need to do this every couple of weeks until the fleas and ticks are back under control, but it will work for up to a year once it kicks in.
To control them outdoors, we use a product called Medina Soil Activator, which is nicknamed “Yogurt for the Soil.” It stimulates the growth of natural soil micro-organisms that devour flea larva. Like borax, it might not be as fast as a toxic treatment, but it lasts for months and it’s really good for your lawn!
If you have severe infestations and/or have been using toxic treatments on your lawn for a long time, you may want to start off with a compost accelerator that contains the bacteria and fungi that eat the larva.
We use neem products on the dogs themselves. I like Organix-South TheraNeem Pet Shampoo and their Kid’s Therapy Conditioner because it’s got extra neem. After bathing them well, we apply Neem for Dogs just like Revolution, running a dropper full along their backs but using a few drops more on their ears and tails if the fleas are really bad. They make Neem for Cats with a feline-safe fragrance because natural essential oils can harm cats. Like everything in this protocol, these products are not labeled to treat fleas and ticks but their manufacturer offers a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with their performance.
Breeders should avoid using neem on their dogs – both males and females — because it may boost the immune system to the point where it is difficult for them to get pregnant. External use is less likely to cause problems than internal use but caution is recommended.