Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Homemade Insect Repellents for Pets and People

Sunny skies and warm weather compel us to get outside with our dogs and romp in the grass or go for nature hikes in the woods. Unfortunately, all the biting insects, and blood sucking ticks, fleas and mosquitoes have the same idea. You don’t have to change your plans about enjoying the good weather if you prepare before you head out the door with your pet.

It’s not healthy to use bug repellents that contain DEET on your dog, but there are some non-toxic alternatives made with natural ingredients that can keep those nasty bugs off your dog. The following tips for using natural bug repellents can help repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

HomemadeNatural Bug Repellent

Lemon and Herb Spray - You can use this natural bug repellent for both yourself and your pet. Take a lemon and cut it into one-quarter inch slices.  Place the lemon slices into a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Add 3 or 4 mint leaves or one-quarter teaspoon of mint extract, along with one tablespoon fresh thyme or one teaspoon of dried thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the lemon mixture to sit in the water until cooled or overnight. Pour the water through a strainer and into a spray bottle. Now, you’re ready to go. Spray the lemon-water mixture on your dog’s coat but avoid getting it in his eyes. The citric acid from the lemon will sting.

Vinegar Spray – This insect repellent doesn’t smell the greatest but it is effective in keeping the bugs away from you and your dog. Mix together one cup of apple cider vinegar, ½ cup water, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp baking soda. Stir it gently until blended and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar mixture on your dog’s fur, avoiding contact with his eyes.

Natural Flea and Tick Control

Washing your dog with this natural flea and tick shampoo will kill any fleas and ticks on your dog. To control fleas and ticks, was your dog with this mixture weekly. It does not work like chemical flea and tick preventatives that you only need to apply monthly. It may take more effort on your part than just applying a tube of flea medication but at least, you are not apply harsh chemicals to your dog’s skin.

Here are the supplies you need to make homemade flea and tick shampoo:

One-quarter cup dish soap (I use Dawn but I don’t think it makes any difference which brand you use). One-quarter cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup water. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a squirt bottle. Shampoo your dog with the mixture, making sure to saturate the fur and skin, especially under the chin, legs and around the ears where fleas like to congregate. Let the mixture stay on your dog for about five minutes, the longer the better. Thoroughly rinse all the shampoo out of your dog’s fur. Brush out the fur to remove any dead fleas or ticks. Using this formula regularly can help prevent fleas on your dog and in your home.

If you come across any tough ticks that are still embedded in your dog’s skin, follow these instructions for removing ticks.

Even when using these homemade flea and tick repellents, make sure you have a veterinarian perform a blood test on your dog every year to check for Lyme Disease caused by deer ticks and heartworm from mosquito bites.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cocoa Mulch Is Extremely Toxic to Dogs

Roasted Cocoa Beans
When you’re planning your flowerbeds and landscaping this season, carefully consider the type of mulch you spread in the garden. If you have a dog, avoid using cocoa mulch, which is becoming a popular choice for

Smells Good and Tastes Great to Dogs

Cocoa mulch is extremely toxic for dogs because the sweet smell attracts them and it actually tastes great to dogs. If an unsupervised dog gets into cocoa mulch and eats a large quantity, it could result in severe illness or death. The chemical theobromine in the cocoa mulch is the same chemical as the one in chocolate bars and makes it dangerous when dogs ingest it. Most home and garden stores sell cocoa mulch, which is made from roasted cocoa bean shells.

Cocoa Mulch Symptoms

How severe your dog's symptoms are when eating cocoa mulch depends on how much he weighs and the amount he ingests. According to Kansas State University veterinarian, Dr. Susan Mulch, if your dog weighs 20 pounds, eating only an ounce of cocoa mulch can cause adverse symptoms and 1.5 ounces can have severe symptoms such as:
  • vomiting
  • racing heart
  • diarrhea
  • muscle spasms
  • seizures
  • death

If your dog eats cocoa mulch, call your veterinarian immediately. If it’s been less than two hours since ingesting the cocoa mulch, the vet can induce vomiting. Anti-seizure drugs are also used for dogs having seizures from eating cocoa mulch. The digestive problems caused by eating the mulch can result in dehydration and your dog will be placed in intensive care for treatment.

Although cocoa mulch smells wonderful and looks great, it is better to stick with traditional mulches for your garden, like shredded hardwoods and compost. 

Image Credit: Creative Commons By Chocolaterie-nestlé-broc-fèves-cacao-torrefiées