Ask the Veterinarian/flea help!!!


My cat, Romeo has a relentless case of the fleas! He is and american shorthair and he is three years old. he eats purina cat chow. He eats about three cups of food daily. He isnt fat, he is used to being outside so he eats off boredom. He is up to date on ALL his vaccinations. We have tried everything! Including: Powders, sprays, shampoos, shaving him, drops. EVERYTHING!!! we have found thousands of black balls all over him which we think are flea eggs. but we are sure they are fleas because we have found many of them on him and killed them immediatly.please help! thank you.

The good news is that it is now cold in Ontario (I was just teaching in Alberta and it was very cold), so there will be no fleas outside to be brought in on your clothes.

It sounds as if you have only treated Romeo. The house needs to be treated as well. Because you asked a holistic veterinarian at all experts, I will tell you where to find the information you need. If you want to continue with the conventional approach of drops and shampoos, go to your local veterinarian and be sure to ask for house treatments along with the systemic flea treatments. Also read my holistic handout for house treatments to continue after using the chemicals from the clinic. Do not buy from the regular store - get the vet quality ones.

Now, if you want to avoid the chemical approach, please read the following (Ihope it will send this big a file (if it is not all there, write back).

this handout will tell you enough that you will realize that the black balls are flea feces (they such blood so their stool is black with digested blood). Eggs are tiny and white. They are slippery so fall right off and land in your carpet. You often do not see them on the animals. the fleas themselves hop and move.

There is no quick answer - steadily work your way through the handout, and most importantly, think about finding an integrative veterinarian with whom to work to build the health of your cat since healthy cats (not eating dry food and not getting a lot of vaccines) rarely get fleas.

so first, I strongly recommend finding an integrative veterinarian with whom to work. This is a person trained in many different approaches, including using conventional flea treatments only when absolutely needed. Working with one can increase the chance that your cherished companion can live a long and healthy life (up to 34 years!) after building health so this flea infestation is resolved. There are good ones and great ones, and a few homeopathic veterinarians will consult by phone or email. Read my comments at the end on working with and selecting a holistic veterinarian.
You can go to the web sites for each type of holistic practice and use their referral list to find one near to you:
1. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine:, &
2. Homeopathic veterinarians (these can often help you by phone if no other holistic practitioners are nearby that you like): and In Canada -
3. Chiropractor -
4. Wide range of other treatments:, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and   

Now for the fleas - I have put some *** in front of most important steps.

Is it possible?
Flea Report – Non-toxic flea treatments and prevention

Everything You Always Wanted To Know (And A Lot You Don’t) About Fleas
Major Breakthrough Discovered In Flea Control
Healthy Animals Do Not Get Fleas

     Feed A Great Diet Build Up The Health.
        Playing And Loving Are Keys For Strength
         Supplements And Holistic Therapies Can Help

         Flea Life Cycle
        Early Warning System
         Practical Ways To Eliminate Fleas
         Treat The Environment
         Miracle Nematodes For Your Yard
         Sea Creatures, Lights And Soapy Water, Or          Minerals For The House

     Avoid The Heartbreak Of Illness From Toxic Flea Killers.
        Smelly Oils, Gentle Flowers, Minerals And Dead Sea Creatures.
        If All Else Fails, You Can Resort To Chemicals.

It’s No Secret That the Experts Are Often Wrong.

Learn How To Judge For Yourself What Is Best For Your Pet To Be Flea Free.

Is it possible?
Flea Report – Non-toxic flea treatments and prevention
Dr. Christina Chambreau

Fleas, fleas, fleas! What is one to do to help our animals and ourselves not be miserable from fleas? In spite of all the chemicals we use that may cause as much harm to our pets and the earth, fleas persist.  They adapt to each new chemical we use against them. They are multiplying because our animals are getting weaker and they, like all predators, seek out the weakest in an area. Have you noticed that some animals in a house or area are beset with fleas and others are never bothered? Our goal is to find ways to have fleas not be a problem, even if a few appear in our lives. First, let’s learn about the life of a flea.

Flea life cycle  
First, imagine an iceberg.  What you can see above the water are the live fleas you see on your animal, on you or in the house.  Adult fleas must spend most of their time on the animals or people since they need to eat a phenomenal amount of blood – a female eats 10-20 times her body weight while she lays thousands of eggs during her 100 day life.  To suck the thick blood, they spit into the place where they bite to dilute the blood enough to suck into the throat. The saliva is what causes the severe allergic reactions. The fleas biting and walking around can cause some of the itching, but most is the allergic reaction to the flea saliva. Killing one female flea can prevent thousands of baby fleas. (I wonder about our karma in killing the fleas.) Flea eggs are very small, round, whitish and slippery, falling to the ground, especially where the animals spend the most time.  They need humidity and warmth to hatch and can lay dormant for years.  What many people think are flea eggs on their pets are really flea feces. The flea’s stool is black from digested blood, and when moist it turns red.  An animal with a large number of fleas may turn the bath water red from all the melting flea dirt. Don’t panic.

The next stage is the most vulnerable, the larvae. They must eat or they die and have no hard shells or cocoons to protect them. The safest place for them is dark and moist, so they tend to live at the bottom of the carpet fibers or grass stalks, in corners or closets, or under cushions.

Weeks to several months later the larvae spin cocoons which are virtually impregnable and can survive up to a year.  Vibration, heat and moisture seem to trigger the next stage to emerge from the cocoon and they can jump onto a host within minutes to begin the cycle again.

Now, you have a choice. The easiest is to apply a chemical to your pets on a regular basis fleas or not, being careful not to touch it yourself.   Many animals are treated this way and the results are varied. Some never get fleas – maybe there are no fleas in their area. Some become very ill from the treatment. Sometimes the chemicals do not work.  Or you can try the holistic approach described below. While it may be slower, your animal will be healthier overall unless the fleas are winning.  Remember that the presence of fleas indicates an animal who is not completely healthy, another reason to not use chemical preventives. If you see fleas – you need to work on the overall health. If you are inundated with fleas and you or your animals are just miserable, use a conventional product (consult your local veterinarian to see what products they are not currently resistant to) for a short while and work to re-build health.

******EARLY WARNING SYSTEM: Use a flea comb regularly to detect the fleas or flea feces (B.M.): dark black, gritty (red when wet) tiny debris.  You will often see the flea debris before the fleas themselves.  On dogs, you will find it on the back, just in front of the base of the tail. Cats will have it both at the tail base and behind their ears.
The fleas can be found anywhere. On dogs or cats, the area with thin hair on the abdomen will let you see them scurry around.  Often they congregate around the neck of cats.
  Buy a great flea comb with the teeth super close together. Buy several so they are in easy reach wherever you and you animals are sitting. Your local holistic pet store should have a good one.  The following are a few flea killing methods that work when combing. Fleas are very quick, so either squish them on the comb or swish the comb in a cup of soapy water or alcohol then wipe onto a cloth that is wet with soap or alcohol. Some people have an alcohol or soapy wet piece of cloth to put right on the comb so the flea does not jump off before you get it to the bowl of soapy water.

******The presence of fleas is usually a reflection of the underlying health or lack of health of your pet.  A very healthy pet on a great diet is unlikely to get fleas. The best way to prevent fleas is to IMPROVE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM of your pet through nutrition, exercise, no or minimal(none after first year except rabies) vaccines and holistic treatment.  By not using “monthly fleas treatments” you will have another clue to the health of your animal(s) since the presence of fleas indicates a weaker system.  
Dr. Levy, a great homeopathic veterinarian, echoes this, saying, ""Have you ever wondered why some dogs and cats have severe flea problems, while others are hardly bothered by the little pests? Fleas can be viewed as an indicator of an animal's general health. Parasites in general, and fleas in particular, are most attracted to the weak, unhealthy, or very young animal whose immune system is not functioning well. The long-term solution to a flea problem is to reduce your pet's susceptibility to fleas by improving his/her health."
******If fleas do appear in your house or on one of your animals, the KEY to eliminating them is to TREAT THE ENVIRONMENT and the animal at the same time, and repeat treatments as needed to break the life cycle of the fleas. Even in apartments!

******The best prevention for ticks is environmental, as well - chickens or guinea hens. They love to eat ticks so your animals will have none.  When a local free range chicken farm started, they kept the small flocks near the house and their dog had no ticks. When they moved the chickens into outlying pastures, their dogs got ticks. Even a lot of suburban areas do allow chickens (or have no rules against them). Benefit - eggs for you and your animals.

******Learn more and laugh loudly by ordering the funniest and most informative book I have ever seen on fleas – Flea Control: A Holistic and Humorous Approach.  Sex, Romance, Intrigue and Practical ways to kill Fleas!  Chip Sammons. Order it at

****Sometimes the best diet and environmental care fails.  Holistic treatment with homeopathy, Chinese medicine or intuitive healing may be needed to achieve the health level where fleas will not be attracted to your animals.  There is no reliable homeopathic "magic flea remedy", as some claim. Finally, if all fails and you have consulted with good holistic veterinarians or you have family emergencies – use the chemicals. Using the chemicals occasionally (every few years) should not seriously undermine the health of your animals or your family (unless an individual is very susceptible to those chemicals).  Be sure to treat the environment along with the animal and follow the directions carefully. Learning Reiki (classes available on line or all over the country ( ) will give you a tool to decrease the potential harm to the animal when you do have to use these treatments. Use rarely.


1. OUTDOORS: Most outside treatments, even diatomaceous earth, may harm good insects as well as fleas. A wonderful product is made from dehydrated nematodes, that you mix with water and spray on your yard. They eat only flea larvae, so don't upset the normal flora of your yard. There are now many versions of this popular product. Many stores carry one of the brands of nematode sprays and give you directions for local application times. It can be purchased at then click on Gardens alive. Because the nematodes only eat the flea larvae, it is a wonderful way to prevent fleas from coming near your home.  Your dog could still pick up fleas (if not healthy) when on walks or visiting other people.  If your cats roam beyond your yard and are not healthy they can bring home fleas.  Even so, the fleas in the areas where your animals spend the most time can help decrease the number of fleas in your house.  If you have acres of yard, then spray those areas where your animals spend the most time. Remember, fleas can hitch rides into your home on your clothes, too. Follow the guidelines for the nematode sprays as they are not effective in certain environmental conditions and need to be reapplied depending on the moisture.

2. HOUSE:  This is absolutely key, since this is where fleas hang out when not on you or your animals.  If fleas are on your animals, the eggs are in your house. Vacuum daily and carefully.  Keep 1T borax (or diatomaceous earth or Borate powder) in your vacuum bag so the eggs you vacuum up do not hatch and crawl back out. Or discard bag with each use (not as good for environment).  The best if you have problems with fleas is to use a water canister vacuum.
Call the Flea Busters Company.  Many areas of the country have this franchise (not MD).  They give a year guarantee, use a borate type powder, which is very safe and non-toxic that dehydrates the fleas.  To find the one near you, call 800-666-3532 or

Purchase the Flea Busters borate or ones from other companies and apply it yourself. Some even have year guarantees when you apply it.   Health food or pet stores and of course the internet carry these products.

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth (from organic gardening places or natural pet companies) around the house, let sit 12 hours or so and then vacuum. Repeat frequently. Or sprinkle POW or other powdered pyrethrum flowers and vacuum in 3 days. This may be good at entrances to your house.   You can also mist flower essences (more later on these) around the house and even out into the yard.  After vacuuming you can put the DE in the cracks between floor boards, worked deep into carpets and in any area where your animals are not sniffing and lying and playing – best not to leave loose powder.

Flea traps are miraculous when they work. I have never figured out why they only work in some houses and not others.   To see where the fleas are in your house and to help kill them, put bowls of soapy water on the floor at night with a light shining on them.  Be sure it is in an area where your pet won't drink the soapy water.

3. MOST IMPORTANT IS YOUR ANIMAL: The goal is for your pet to have maximum health. The key to true health and a great immune system is a great diet and keeping track of any health problems, especially the early warning signs of ill health ( For most animals a diet of raw meat and fresh foods in the right proportions is ideal. Some are healthier with cooked meat from great free range sources of meat.  Next best is natural pet food, supplemented with fresh food.

Well, now you know your companion is not healthy because there are fleas and flea dirt! Now what can you do to build health to eliminate these insects?
   a. Some SUPPLEMENTS can help make your pet unpalatable to fleas: Nutritional Yeast (1 teaspoon for a cat or small dog up to 3 Tablespoons for a big dog), (yeast can be detrimental to some animals), garlic (1 4 cloves by size), or capsules.  There are several commercial products that include yeast, garlic & more. These can be a regular part of preventing fleas and improving overall health.
   b. Exercising and grooming and flea combing daily or more is also critical.
   c. Baths can be given whenever you see much flea dirt (or fleas). Many are formulated with herbs or essential oils and sold as “flea shampoos”.  Often any good quality non medicated shampoo, lathered up well and left on 10   15 minutes will remove fleas. Flea comb while it sits. Apply the shampoo to a dry dog for better effect. Rinse two to three times. Be sure to always check for any residual fleas or flea dirt after your pet is dry and remove it, or you will think you are re infested when you check the next few days.  On cats who do not like baths, you can spend the time to remove all fleas and flea dirt just with a flea comb.  Do not use tea tree oil on cats.
   d. Many TOPICAL products are now available.  Do not rely solely on sprays or powders. Always be at home after treating with a spray, powder or after bath rinse as some animals are more sensitive to even herbal treatments.  I now do NOT recommend ever using tea tree or tea tree products on cats.  Do not use very smelly products if your pet is being homeopathically treated.  Many veterinarians now suggest never using essential oils on cats. I feel they can be safe if carefully used and the cat monitored for a few hours for any problems.

   ***Remember that anything put on your pet can be absorbed into its body or    licked by the animal.***

Essential Oils:  Finally companies are realizing the benefit of oils. My favorite pet product company, VetriScience, has just come out with Vetri-Repel, made from oils used in the Amazon against insects. One staff person tested it summer of 2009 and one bottle worked all summer for herself, her two dogs and several cats. This would my first start to prevent Ticks, mosquitoes and if you do see fleas. then click on Vetriscience. It is safe for puppies and kittens. I would be very cautious using it on cats as they may be offended by the odor of any essential oil. Try a tiny amount first.

Several other companies have brought out products in the last several years. While Ectopamine (by Meridian) did not prevent ticks on my cat, they worked great to prevent ants from entering my home. They do give a money back guarantee. I think this will be better on dogs where you can safely use more.

You can mix up your own. I suggest mixing 1-5 drops of one or more of the following oils into 1T olive oil and 1 C water, shake and spray on your dog.  Many cats do not do well with oils.  Geranium (good for ticks, too), lemongrass, lavender, basil, cedar wood and peppermint are know to be effective against bugs of all types. has a great company, Forever Green that has organic, food grade, orally safe essential oils.

Rinses: Rosemary tea. Lemon rinse: (Put a whole scraped lemon in a pint of boiling water, boil 20 min and sit over night.  Strain and use.

Natural/herbal collars: (these seem better on cats). I have never found collars – herbal or chemical to prevent fleas. Some people do find them “magical”.

Flower Essences: - Many companies carry combinations of flower essences that are 100% completely safe, can be used internally and topically to prevent and encourage fleas and ticks to leave the animal or house or yard. Your intent to have the fleas leave without you needing to kill them will make these essences much more effective.  I have used Flee Free (Green Hope Farms) for years. I have misted it directly onto my cats or put one drop on my hands then rubbed the etheric body, misted in the house or out of doors, with the request that the fleas leave my area. Also I have given it orally, one drop straight, or if your animal does not like that, diluted 1-2 drops in 1/4C water and given a few drops a day, or put into a separate bowl of drinking water or in the food. Over the years I have had 100% success with my own cats when I start it after seeing one or two fleas. Others have had mixed results.  It lessens the number of ticks, but does not eliminate them all. Go to for my favorite two (Spirit Essences and Green Hope Essences), and if they do not work, try:, (New Millennium),

Powders:  Use pyrethrum products made from 100% chrysanthemum flowers, herbs, essential oils, nutritional yeast or diatomaceous earth.

If your pet is bringing in a lot of fleas from outdoors, you can spray a light mist of the above natural flea sprays, or lightly dust on powder, or spritz with a flower essence or essential oil before walks to prevent the fleas from jumping on your pet.  Always check when they come back in the house with flea comb. Prepare ahead of time for when you are traveling, since other areas may be loaded with fleas.

Recommendations from other holistic veterinarians
Cheryl Schwartz, a wonderful teacher of Chinese medical approach for animals wrote the wonderful book Four Paws Five Directions – A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs. “Holistic practitioners believe that an individual animal has to be in a vulnerable or susceptible condition to have a flea allergy.” Note that she does not say that just attracting fleas indicates weakness. She describes what kind of an energy imbalance in the Chinese perspective (blood deficiency of the liver or kidney, with heat and wind) causes the allergic reaction. She recommends a healthy diet that includes garlic, carrots, and cabbage. Controlling fleas can be helped with regular vacuuming and “various borax type powders”. Topically she suggests cedar, tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, citronella essential oils. - go to Forever Green (Says "ticks" but it has al types of organic, food grade, sustainably raised oils.

Don Hamilton is one of the leading homeopathic veterinarians, can be consulted by phone and wrote Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs. (Purchase at He agrees there are no easy answers to flea prevention.  “The most important measure you can take is…to strengthen the overall health of the animals…good food, lots of love, and minimal stress.” He says that 99% of cat fleas and 90% of dog fleas are Ctenocephalides felis. Pulex irritans is next on dogs, then Ctenocephalides canis is last.

Dr. Hamilton recommends diligence to eliminate fleas from our lives. Using a vacuum clear with a “beater bar” can often trigger the larva to emerge from the cocoon making it vulnerable to your desiccating treatments. He recommends shampoos and agrees with me that you need not use chemicals – any shampoo, lathered well and left on for 10-15 minutes kills the fleas and washes the eggs down the drain. Herbal rinses can repel fleas (while on a walk or while eliminating them from your house and yard) and good ones are lavender, eucalyptus and pennyroyal for dogs. Lemon rinse is good for dogs and cats. “Black walnut leaves and cedar shavings can be used in the bedding to repel fleas.” Diatomaceous earth can be used on the animal and in the house. “Supplements such as brewer’s years and garlic help 20-25% of animals…” He does not recommend ultrasonic collars, chemical topical or oral products, citrus products (he has seen several cats poisoned), flea collars, dips, other chemicals. For the house he recommends cleanliness – vacuuming a lot, using boron compounds (Twenty Mule Team Borax needs to be applied every few months), diatomaceous earth and natural pyrethrins (as a last resort). “There is little homeopathy has to offer for flea control other than constitutional treatment to improve health and resistance to fleas.”

The bible of holistic animal care, Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Pitcairn and Hubble has similar information about fleas. He gives great explanations of the toxicity of many flea products.  He reminds us to launder your pet’s bedding weekly. Ants love to eat flea eggs and larvae, so do not kill your ants. If your dog hangs out on a bare dirt area, occasionally cover the area with a heavy black plastic sheet on a sunny day to heat kill the larvae. If lime would be good for your grass, it can also dehydrate the flea larvae. Twice a year sprinkle safe diatomaceous earth along walls, under furniture and in cracks and crevices that are hard to reach with the vacuum. (I would add under seat cushions and in closets).

Anitra Frazier, in The Natural Cat suggests making rosemary tea by steeping fresh or dried rosemary in water.

Environmental effect of Frontline: Effects on Wildlife: Fipronil is highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates, highly toxic to bees, and highly toxic to upland game birds, but is almost non-toxic to waterfowl and other bird species. Fipronil is excreted in rats via the feces (45-75%) and urine (5-25%) (NPTN 1997).  

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Dr. Christina Chambreau


I can give you the holistic approach to any problem, mostly for dogs and cats and some farm animals and horses. Depending on the condition and the type of animal, I will be able to give very specific treatment suggestions such as what flower essences, homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplements, diet changes, lifestyle changes or herbs that may be helpful - not drugs. I can also suggest where you can go for further education or to find a specialist in a specific holistic field. I can help you understand why your animal is ill and what improvements can be expected. I do not check messages more than every one to two days, so PLEASE DO NOT ask about EMERGENCIES - call your local veterinarian. I cannot diagnose your animal. I cannot prescribe specific treatments. I am no longer very current with conventional treatments, so cannot answer questions on those. I am not an expert on birds or small critters. I am not an expert in breeding, birthing or babies.


I graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and began using homeopathy in my practice after a client introduced me to it. By 1988 I was using exclusively holistic treatments. I began lecturing in 1987 and have spoken at veterinary conferences, health food stores, people's homes, churches, veterinary college conferences - anywhere people want to learn more about keeping their animals healthy.

Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (I helped found this one) American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association National Center for Homeopathy American Veterinary Medical Association

I have written in many magazines, journals and newspapers. A few include Bark Magazine; Journal of the AHVMA; Baltimore Dog Magazine; Whole Dog Journal; Tiger Tribe; Wolf Clan. I have also been frequently interviewed on radio and TV. I am Associate Editor for the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal, so often have articles there.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Certified Veterinary Homeopath (CVH)

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