If Spike has an itch that won't go away, he could have fleas. There are a number of chemical solutions to that parasite problem, but there could be adverse effects from dips, collars, powders and sprays developed to kill and repel fleas. Try natural flea control through things you feed your dog. Improving his health and making him taste bad to the little bugs are dog and people-safe ways to keep Spike flea-free.
When fleas infest a dog, the bottom-line reason is usually nutritional. If Spike's immune system is down and his body lacks key vitamins, he'll be more susceptible to a parasite attack, according to Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, in his 2005 book, "Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural health for Dogs and Cats." Getting your dog's immune system in top shape and increasing his nutrient levels with a high-quality food will keep fleas from feasting on him. Talk to your vet about recommending a food to increase antioxidants, vitamin B complex, selenium and zinc in your pooch's system.
Natural Nutritional Boost
You think of Spike as a carnivore, but the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine says he's actually an omnivore. That means he'll happily eat -- and even needs -- fruits and vegetables alongside meat. They can provide the nutrition Spike needs to stay healthy and keep fleas at bay. Pet MD.com offers up a list of fruits and veggies you can feed your dog that includes blueberries for antioxidants, vitamin B complex, selenium and zinc; strawberries for vitamin B1 and B6; and sweet potatoes for vitamins B5 and B6. Although they're healthy foods, fruits and vegetables still carry calories, so check with Spike's vet first before adding them to his diet. The doctor may advise you to cut back on the kibble to compensate for the additional calories. It's always best to consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your dog.
Apple Cider Vinegar
If you've studied up on holistic healthcare, you already know about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. In her 2013 book "Home Cooking for Your Dog: 75 Holistic Recipes for a Healthier Dog," Christine Filardi, a certified holistic chef for animals, lists dander reduction, pH-balancing, improved digestion, pain relief and flea repellant as just some of the positive things Spike can get from apple cider vinegar. You won't have to convince him that it's yummy to drink. A small amount, as little as one teaspoon, added to his drinking water each day can improve his health and discourage fleas.
According to the "Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats," by the Editors of Prevention Health Books, feeding Spike brewer's yeast will make him unappetizing to fleas. Its taste appeals to most dogs, but it makes fleas think twice about biting. If you find Spike won't eat it on his own, mix 1 tsp. of brewer's yeast into his food each day if he weighs under 50 pounds, and mix 1 Tbsp. if he weighs more than 50 lbs.
- The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats; Editors of Prevention Health Books
- Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats; Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM; Susan Hubble Pitcairn
- Earth Easy: Natural Flea Control
- Natural Resources Defense Council: Poisons on Pets
- Home Cooking for Your Dog: 75 Holistic Recipes for a Healthier Dog; Christine Filardi
- DogChannel.com: Fruits for Dogs
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition for the Adult Dog
- DogChannel.com: Vegetables for Dogs
- Pet MD: Healthy Snack Ideas: 'People' Food for Dogs and Cats
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.