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Thursday, July 7, 2005 05:59 pm

earth talk

Dear “Earth Talk”: What kind of environmentally friendly pet-care products are available for controlling ticks and fleas and washing dogs and cats? — Jeannette Peclet, Norwalk, Conn.

According to Australian veterinarian Lilian Lee, pets metabolize most of the insecticide contained in mass-marketed flea collars such that the concentration is so weak that it has hardly any effect on fleas. Furthermore, many pets develop allergies to such collars, often resulting in uncomfortable dermatitis. Lee also recommends avoiding flea washes and dust powders because they usually contain toxins that have been known to cause tremors in cats and can contaminate your indoor environment.

For those looking to rid their pets of fleas and other pests in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, “area sprays” may be the best bet. Orange Guard, for instance, is a nontoxic, food-grade pesticide that may be safely sprayed into pet bedding and other crevices instead of directly onto your dog or cat. It’s available from online sources such as the Green Home Environmental Store and Planet Natural. The active ingredient in Orange Guard is biodegradable, citrus-based d-limonene, which has been shown to reduce cockroach populations better than Dursban, the toxic ingredient in Raid. Direct contact with d-limonene will kill insects and deter future visits without posing any risks to pets or human beings.

Another alternative is Bug N’ Out, a natural, nontoxic repellant spray for biting insects that contains a 4 percent concentration of citronella oil and safely and effectively repels fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, gnats, black flies, chiggers, and horseflies. According to the manufacturer, it is safe and effective not just for pets but also for people and is effective for as long as eight hours per application. Consumers may buy Bug N’ Out it from the Web site DoctorDog.com, which also sells One Earth Herbal Collars for cats and dogs, which use aromatic oil extracts of natural herbs, flowers and wood to repel bugs without pesticides.

Still another natural insect-repelling spray for dogs and cats is Only Natural Pet Flea and Insect Repellent Spray, available from the online Only Natural Pet Store. Its neem oil, lemongrass, catnip, citronella, and other essential oils keep pests away, and it contains no DEET or other pesticides. Only Natural also makes a Pet Insect Repellent Shampoo.

One of the leaders in the “greening” of the pet-care industry is Planet Dog. Beyond its large selection of safe, healthy pet toys and accessories, the company offers biodegradable pet shampoos and conditioners that are pH-balanced with aloe, eucalyptus, and chamomile. The Green Home Environmental Store also guarantees that its all-natural, biodegradable pet shampoo contains no harmful ingredients such as petroleum distillate, ammonia, benzene, or formaldehyde.

For more information: Orange Guard, www.orangeguard.com; DoctorDog.com, www.doctordog.com; Planet Dog, www.planetdog.com; Planet Natural, www.planetnatural.com; Only Natural Pet Store, www.onlynaturalpet.com; Green Home Environmental Store, www.greenhome.com.

Send questions to “Earth Talk” in care of E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881, or e-mail earthtalk@emagazine.com.

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