Many moons ago I had a kennel and we used Downy Fabric softener as a final rinse for dogs with a persistent itch. Whether it was allergies, flea bites or whatever- we washed the dog and rinsed it with a diluted solution of Downy and the itch was gone. If you were to touch your lip with downy on your finger, your lip would get numb. BTW- it was great on people insect bites too! Just a dab and the itch was gone.
The Downy now days lost that quality. There are many downy products now too so I am not sure if it [the original product] is still even out there.
I have a dog now that has gotten in fire ants many times and is miserable. The vet has her on steroids and I am not happy with that. The ant bites are long gone but she continues to itch. Does anyone have a suggestion?
Does anyone have any idea where I can find the ORIGINAL Downy?
PalmBob - what do you think about using a Dawn bath to kill adult fleas? I read about that and asked me vet who said Dawn is okay to use to remove grease and oils when dogs get into such stuff. She said she never heard of using it to kill fleas. Most important, is it effective for such a use and, if so, is it safer than the systemic chemicals which really scare me to use on my 5 lb Toy Fox Terrier. Thanks for the input.
I will be interested in hearing PalmBobs response on this. I gave the cats...who were horribly flea ridden a bath with the Dawn dish soap. It worked great. Then I put the flea meds (advantage) on them and it was able to control them.
My mom used to put a pie tin in the center of the floor with water and dawn in it, and in the morning it would be full of dead fleas.
I seriously doubt Dawn kills fleas.. one of the reasons it is used for oiled birds is it is not only very effective at degreasing, but it is very non-toxic... so that means non-toxic to fleas, too.
But seriously, even highly toxic shampoos are NOT a good way to get rid of fleas... first of all, they are toxic, which means you and your pet are absorbing some toxins... I can't see how that is a good situation. Secondly, most toxic flea shampoos are not that effective at killing fleas, many which have evolved some resistance to these toxic products. Thirdly, as SOON as your pet is rinsed off, all toxic effect against fleas is gone, and more fleas are capable of jumping right back on your pet... so there is zip lasting effect of these products, making them relatively useless (and a bit risky). And Lastly, most flea shampoos are very drying and irritating... dogs and cats have very few oils in their skin and often get itchier after a flea bath. If you feel the need to bathe your pet (in order to clean off the gross flea dirt, dead fleas or some live ones), best to use a soap free or oatmeal shampoo and avoid all the toxic products (these will still make your pet a bit itchy, but LESS itchy than a flea shampoo will)... and treat the fleas with something far more effect and far safer (so many good products exist now I am sure you all have experience with them or have heard of them before)...
Yes, Palmbob - I have heard of the various chemicals available and have read extensively about them. Like everything else in our world today, there are some very bad side effects for some animals. Each product I read about has someone who has had a tragedy. With a small dog, in your opinion is it possible to control fleas mechanically (monitoring and removing) (may require treating the environment chemically if an infestation occurs) or is the use of these systemic chemicals safe enough to use on a 5 lb dog? I have had 3 vets give me different opinions (and all sell these products - so perhaps some tinge of conflict of interest in spite of their consciously trying to be objective and scientific)? I assume all want the best for their patients, but if these chemicals are so toxic that the packages warn about letting our own hands and our own children get in contact with them, how is it possible that they do not harm our pets (as well as the fleas). I am fully aware that my scruples may be severely tested if fleas start jumping on me!
the weight of the dog does not appear to a problem with most of the products I recommend, at least in terms of safety, but many of the over-the-counter products are more weight dependent and I do see some toxicities in small dogs with those. Have yet to see a single toxicity with Frontline (fipronil), Advantage (imidacloprid), Revolution (selamectin) or the spinosad products (Comfortis and Acuguard). The latter two are system products, so the possibility of overdosing exists, but the margin of safety is pretty huge. The first two are not systemic products (which is why you can now buy them at Petco) and the likelihood of toxicity is almost nil (not true in non-dog and cat species... rabbits seem to have a unique sensitivity to fipronil, so do NOT ever use Frontline on a bunny). Sure if you read the internet enough you will find a horrible tragedy for each product, none which I believe as all are anecdotal and people attributing death and illness to the first thing they can think of (eg. their flea product). All officially reported poisonings with those first two products have not panned out to be real (so far). The second two also have extremely rare toxicities, though spinosad definitely makes some dogs puke (none of mine have yet on it, though). Even though no puking dogs seemed to be toxic, that is officially considered a toxic reaction, when it really is more like a gastric irritant reaction (one puke and the problem's over- still, not something you want to repeat if your pet vomits every time you give it to them).
As for warnings, most products we use carelessly to clean our house, or treat our headaches with have equally if not more dire warnings on them, which we seem to quickly ignore. Warnings are ways for companies to cover their insurance costs of some customer decides to drink a bottle of bleach or leave out their advil for their children to eat the whole bottle. They are necessary but you need to learn about the real dangers.
Any soap or Shampoo will kill fleas even the stuff for my show dogs who get bathed often will kill fleas and it is very mild . I use a bar soap made from Coconut oil has lavender and lemongrass oil in it . Lather dog let the stand for 5 -10 minutes rinse throughly. Blow drying the pet helps get the skin dry and keeps fleas from finding a moist place on the dog right away. Lavender , geranium oil and others help keep fleas off of pets also.
DE sprinkled into fur , brush out excess this will help kill fleas also. I never use chemicals on my dogs and this is the first time in 8 yrs I have had fleas. I use an herbal wormer that seems to help also
All the products you list are chemicals... just topical chemicals. Not sure why any sort of wormer would have any effect on any stage of the flea life cycle. Note that topical flea products you list there may have some effect against fleas on a pet, but few pets are ONLY effected by fleas currently on them... most pets have more waiting in the wings (in the house, yard etc.) so a product that continues to get rid of them tends to be much more effective than a single episodic 'kill'.
I used to use a cup of water with a drop of Dawn dish soap in it when I combed fleas off of my dog. The dish soap breaks the tension on the top of the water and makes it so that the fleas would actually sink and drown. Otherwise they would just sit on top of the water and even jump out of the glass. Mayhaps this effect has something to do with Dawn's degreasing effect and also with it's ability to kill fleas.
I use a herbal wormer for the dogs the fleas don't bite the dogs. It has Wormwood, Blackwalnut, and garlic as the base ingredients. Yes these can be toxic, but much less so than than those available from the vet.
I also use a flea comb every day. Dogs get bathed every week. I vacuum everyday.
I used Borax Or Boric Acid and salt on the rugs rolled them up fro a few days, unroll and vacuum them. This is the same products the companies use to treat your house for fleas for many dollars. You can sweep into the baseboards of hard woods also, careful getting it where people walk it is very slippery. This treatment can last for months. But you must keep the dogs and cats off the carpets until they can be well vacuumed.
Most chemicals are for convenience.
I will do what I think is right and feel is safe for my pets and family. I do not feel the products PalmBob listed are safe, especially Frontline.
All things we choose to do for our loved ones are personal choices, mine are well thought through and researched. My decisions have served me well.
Most of that is not new information and needs to be absorbed cautiously... but I admit there are some alarming items in a few of those articles that I was not aware of and will have to find out how much fact there is to those. It may be I need too keep up better with other sources of 'information' (not all information is factual of course). Thank you for those links.
I just think people need to inform themselves about some of the things that the vets pass out as being "safe". Especially if someone has young children who are going to be handling the pet. Or going into nursing homes with therapy dogs who are petted by elderly with health problems.
OK, so I sent these links to several professional toxicologists and got some interesting responses. I will paraphrase most of what they said, referring primarily to the first link as that is the one with the most disturbing claims.
The skin problem with Fipronil (and all spot-ons, by the way) is certainly not new, but most research has determined that the drugs are NOT the responsible compounds for any of the skin problems- it is the carriers (whichever oil or solution the products are dissolved in). Still doesn't change the fact that putting some of these products runs the risk of some skin reactions, but it is not from the stuff killing the fleas. I have used Frontline myself on my own ten dogs, three cats and literally thousands of patients over the years and so far only 2 cases of anything I would consider alarming (one ferret lost all its hair in the area the product was applied and it never grew back... however the ferret was fine and the skin was not itself damaged; I had a dog get a rash from the product that also caused some hair loss and inflammation... but this was pretty short lived and they just decided not to use anything carried in an oil-base and have not had a problem since). I do notice that many animals do not like the feel of the products on their fur/skin, but again, this is probably due to the smell and feel of the carrier, not the product itself. Unfortunately we have not figured out how to apply any flea products topically without dissolving them in anything so that they can be applied in a manor that they spread about the body.
I hope that answers some of the questions some of you might be having about Fipronil. I am certainly not saying it is not a toxin. It is. And it certainly has the potential of causing severe neurologic problems if exposed to a toxic dose. However, it seems the doses we are currently using are relatively non-toxic. Even Oxygen and water can be toxic at the right dosages, as just about any chemical (manufactured or natural) can in the proper dose and form.
Fipronil is indeed a neurotoxin, with a an extremely effective action against insect, and to a less degree, arachnid, avian and fish neurosystems (and apparently rabbits as well). However, its activity agaisnt their GABA receptors is 700x as potent as it is to most mammalian species (including us, dogs and cats). So though if you ingested enough Fipronil (note I said ingested, not applied) to cause a toxicity in us, the symptoms would indeed be similar to those seen in insects (seizures, tremors, loss of function). however the volume of Fipronil required to do that is staggering (somewhere in the gallon range from what I understand). The exposure we and our pets have to the minute amount in these products is so tiny, that realistically it presents itself as an extremely mild toxicity (less even that garlic does to pets).
Fipronil has never been shown to cause cancer in any mammals, except for benign thyroid tumors in rats. There have been very long studies on thyroid changes in dogs from both oral and topical application, and so far not even elevations in thyroid levels have been detected, and not tumors. Rats seem to be more sensitive to firponil and it suppressed their thyroid hormone output enough to eventually stimulate a benign growth of excessive thyroid tissue. To date, this has not been seen in any other animals that these toxicologists have heard of.
The claim of product accumulation in a pet's liver and kidneys is not surprising as just about anything us mammals come across tends to collect there, as those are the filtering organs for all blood and lymph (indirectly). However, this accumulation of Fipronil has nothing to do why a dog's kidneys and livers gaining weight, but more so the increased enzyme production used to detoxify this material (as it detoxifies everything we eat or drink). The studies that showed this result were done on dogs ingesting massive quantities of this product daily (not a tiny monthly topical application) so making assumptions based on those results is a stretching the truth quite a bit. Note that these dogs fed this stuff daily for an entire year will not clinically ill at the end of the study. They absorbed, orally, more than 10,000 times what a dog getting treated monthly for its life is likely to absorb.
This article also claimed Fipronil was shown to affect a dog's fertility. Not true at all. These intensive fertility studies were done on rats. Studies done on dogs and cats have shown no effects on fertility, pregnancy, lactation or anything different about their offsprings, either behaviorally or metabolically.
The three to six month 'break' suggested to keep Fipronil from accumulating in your pet's system does not appear to be based on any research any of these toxicologist are aware of. The amount of actual accumulation of Fipronil on our pets appears to be so miniscule that the liklihood of any real toxicity is pretty remote. The ASPCA has few to no cases of Fipronil toxicity proven in any dogs or cats yet (rabbits are a different story, as are much more environmentally sensitive creatures like fish, birds and beneficial invertebrates).
As for the dangers to the environment from Firponil, most of that research has shown this, and most pesticides, to a big problem in terms of effecting beneficial insects. However, the Fipronil applied to pets is an infintesimal contributor to this situation (unless you have a small pond of your own and your pets swim in it after you apply frontline- then you could potentially see real damage to wild life from the product applied to your pet)- Firponil is also a major agricultural chemical.
palmbob - your response is most interesting, but I have a serious question. I really do not mean to be cynical or snarky, but in today's corporate-funding world, many professional experts have ties to the companies producing the products the experts are examining (reality of research funding - human as well as animal). So my question is were some or all of the people you consulted independent researchers - not consultants or lecturers to the manufacturers? Most professional people try hard not to be influenced by their funding ties, but it is hard to do - at least subconsciously (speaking from out of the human drug research field myself). After reading a research article, I always look for the author affiliations to get a perspective from which they are speaking. SO - your information is very useful and I appreciate the time and effort you have spent on getting this information to all of us. I guess what we really want is for fleas to simply disappear completely (of course, that would probably open up other ecological disasters as the effects move up and down the food chain!). Thank you again for sharing your expertise with all of us so generously.
These toxicologists all work for universities who's primary function is to educate veterinarians and publish research projects. .. .I cannot say they may not have research that might be funded by manufacturers now and then, but these are primarily instructors, lecturers and people who generally are involved in their subjects for educational purposes. Not to mention multiple specialists chimed in on my question, all in agreement, from various locations about the country- none from any of the companies making these products (I do not usually question those people as I would no doubt get 'skewed' answers.. .and I want to know myself what is what.. .not always an easy thing to discover in science unless you steer clear from those sorts of professionals.
If you want to try the DE, make sure you get the food grade kind, not the kind that's used for swimming pools. The pool grade stuff has been processed in a way that makes it an inhalation hazard for people (and presumably pets).
Ecrane glad you added that! Very important. I use it in the lawn where the dogs are. I don't even have ticks there and I am in NC.
Neem oil in shampoo works well also. It leaves just enough residual oil to repel insects. Only need a tsp in the shampoo bottle. mix well. Shampoo dog, let sit a few minutes (5-10minutes) rinse well.
Yes, I am also trying to keep up with this thread and subject. I took Charlie (5 lbs Toy Fox Terrier) to a new vet last Saturday for a "Meet the Vet" session (want to change practices for several reasons) and was impressed with the vets, staff, and facility. After talking for a while about all aspects of his health (he is in great shape now - one year old and healthy), the subject of flea control came up. I said I was not using any of the commercial products - his breeder mom recommended sprinkle of garlic powder on his food and every other day a garlic/brewer's yeast tablet along with baths when needed and constant monitoring with flea comb. So far (since he came in August) this has worked - no sign of fleas. The new vet seemed okay with that for now, but recommended if at some point I felt the need to resort to the commercial products that I try Trifexis. There is a lot of concern on the web about this product. I personally did not like the fact that the smallest dose range started at 5 lbs (Charlie is 5 lbs) and went to 10 lbs. So he would be getting a dose adequate for a dog twice his weight - very uneasy about this. It seems to me that a drug that frequently makes a dog vomit cannot be healthy for him. Anyway, for now I'm going to continue trying to control fleas otherwise. I also am in North Carolina (near Raleigh) and am appreciative for the advice from Chicory31.
Stillwood I believe you are on the right track. I believe the less chemicals the better.
I spray my dogs with rose geranium, lavender and lemongrass oil. mix 20 drops of each with 1/4 cup of vodka, add that to 1 quart sprayer bottle, shake well spray on dog. I have been able to get away with spraying every other day. this can be used on humans, horses, and other livestock. DO NOT use on cats, they can not process essential oils through their livers and it an build up causing liver problems. You can buy hydrosols of these oils (water that comes fro the distillation process, no oil) they can be sprayed on cats.
Help - my determination not to use chemicals is wavering! In the last week we have been assaulted by ticks on Charlie (5 lb Toy Fox Terrier). I have manually removed over a dozen in the last few days. He is getting them every time he sets foot outside. Tomorrow I plan to rake up all the leaves in his play area (where he also potties - quite a large area). No more woods walks until next winter. But we live in the middle of the woods and ticks have always been a challenge for us humans. I have re-read the discussions above about fleas - but right now the concern is ticks. He got one on his scrotum last night and was so patient while I was trying to get it off - good little boy! So does anyone have any ideas what to do - is this just something I (and Charlie) will have to manually deal with or is there any product that is not so toxic for him. It does not seem right to poison the whole body just to deal with these critters - is there any other really effective way (especially any way to repel them)?
What do you mean as 'not so toxic'? As I already discussed, Fipronil has minimal toxicity (garlic, often sold in pet stores as a snake oil remedy and shown over and over to be useless, is FAR more toxic to dogs and cats than is something like Fipronil). Nothing wrong with removing ticks by hand, only in your area of the country, there are significant diseases carried by ticks, that might already have been transferred to you pets by the time you remove them. We are pretty lucky here in Southern California and have very few tick borne diseases (but still the threat exists as all the companies selling tick products warn us). But in the midwest and east coast, there is Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Erhlichia, Lymes disease etc. All these parasites can be transferred to a pet within hours of a tick bite, so preventing the tick biting in the first place is a good idea. Fipronil is NOT a great anti-tick product, but one of the best we have . Amitraz is way better, but it is a more significant toxin (still relatively minor risk compared to the tick borne diseases). This is usually available for dogs ONLY in the form of a collar called the Preventic Collar. Works way better than Frontline, though in bad tick climates, many vets recommend both. Ticks, thanks to their much larger size and lack of an insect nervous system, are a lot harder to kill off, though, so there is no guarantees as there might be with flea meds.
Stillwood - I feel for you. We have a little yorkie and live in an oak forest. We have had some real flea problems in the dog yard and I too finally decided one of the best ways to keep it down is to keep it raked. When it gets really bad we go ahead and keep the dog in for a day and spray diazinon. Ticks are really nasty, we only get them out in the pasture and I just don't let the dog out there. We certainly don't get them like you do, poor puppy. Even using chemicals you are constantly fighting the battle. Charlie may have to become a house dog during the Spring and Summer.
Domehomedee = this morning we raked out all the leaf litter from his play yard (about 1600 square feet) so the sun can reach the ground. We trimmed down the grass in there (not a lot) closely and will keep it short. We also raked back about 2 feet from the fence to create a tick-free (we hope) border. Made the decision no more woods walks until cold weather - he loves his woods walk, but he is right down there in the leaf litter and pine needles - can't be helped. Both of us will keep a sharp eye on him for any moving ticks. Unfortunately, it seems we rarely find them crawling on ourselves when we look - you just suddenly spot one and wonder where it had been when you stripped off all your clothes! Ticks and snakes are the price of living in the woods and I choose them over cars and close houses. But I guess nothing is free in life. At least Charlie is only out in his play yard and in the house - he is never allowed to just run free (if he spots a squirrel, he would be in the next county before he stopped chasing!). Hopefully, we can manage the play yard environment - he had to go there for potty duties.
Even with the upbeat advice from PalmBob, I am hesitant about chemicals. Charlie has had some elevated liver enzymes already and I don't know how much these various chemicals would impact whatever is going on with his liver. I know there are definite diseases associated with ticks (spent 37 years in a microbiology laboratory). But tick diseases are one of the risks we live with - along with car wrecks and airplane crashes (which, by the way, terrifies me more than ticks). So we will see how the next week or so goes. This will be a constant battle until cold weather returns.
I can guarantee you Fripronil will not affect your pet's liver enzymes one iota... cannot say for sure about Amitraz, but I have not heard of that having any effects on liver enzymes in other pets.. but won't guarantee that one.