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8 Ways to Keep Your Pet Flea Free
We'll do anything to prevent our poor pets from getting fleas. But we shouldn't have to expose them to toxic chemicals to keep the fleas away. The insecticides used in common flea-control products can be poisonous to pets, causing vomiting, permanent nerve damage, and even cancer. (Permethrin ingredients in certain dog products are often fatal to cats, too.) The good news is that you can still prevent fleas while avoiding these harsh chemicals.
Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, says, "Your important ally in the battle against fleas is cleanliness, both for your pet and for your home, particularly in your pet's sleeping areas." This is critical, since he says regular cleaning interrupts the life cycle of the fleas and greatly cuts down on the number of adult fleas that end up on your pet.
Here are some of Dr. Pitcairn's top tips for keeping your pet safe and naturally flea free:
1. Know when flea season will strike. Flea season hits in the summertime. Dr. Pitcairn advises that, while a normal flea life cycle can take up to 20 weeks, it only takes an average of two weeks during the hot summer months. This means that fleas breed and grow to adulthood at a more rapid rate.
2. Steam-clean your carpets. At the onset of flea season, have your carpets steam-cleaned. It may be expensive, but Dr. Pitcairn admits that it is extremely effective and might be worth the cost.
3. Vacuum at least once a week. Since the flea life cycle occurs in around 2 weeks during the summer, make sure you vacuum at least once a week. This will suck up live fleas and also their larvae and pupae before they can attack your pet.
4. Put a natural flea collar in your vacuum. If you don't plan on throwing out the contents of your vacuum right away, make sure you put a natural flea collar (or part of one) in your vacuum bag or bag-less container. Natural flea collars contain herbal oils to repel insects. Some can even be "recharged" and used again and again. (Note: If there are feline members of your household, make sure the collar is one made for cats, as some essential oils are toxic to cats).
5. Launder pet bedding at least once a week. Wash your pet's bedding in hot, soapy water at least one a week. Just like vacuuming once a week, this will interrupt the fleas' life cycle and prevent them from spreading.
6. Encourage ants. Or, as Dr. Pitcairn says, "Don't discourage them." Ants actually love to eat flea eggs and larvae, so try to avoid using pesticides that kill ants.
7. Mow and water your lawn regularly. Keeping your grass short allows sunlight to penetrate and warm the soil, which kills flea larvae. Watering your lawn helps to drown developing flea larvae before they can hatch into adulthood.
8. Add brewer's yeast and garlic to your pet's diet. Studies and anecdotal evidence support the claims that brewer's yeast and garlic have natural flea-repelling abilities. You can add them to your pet's diet and/or actually rub them directly into your pet's skin (just be prepared for the smell!).
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
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Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
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If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
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