By Diana Guerrero

In any flea control efforts you must eliminate and treat fleas in the environment (both indoors and outdoors) and from the animal AND these efforts must be done concurrently to be effective. There is a lot of inaccurate information circulating around the Internet so I thought I would get into some of the better natural flea treatment alternatives and one of the best is cedar or cedarwood.

Many flea treatment alternative remedies are actually repellents. This means that they won't actually kill the fleas (or insects) but instead keep them away from pets and out of the environment. Not too long ago folk medicine and old fashioned home remedies actually used a lot of common sense and products found from right within the household (or garden) to effectively get rid of fleas.

Growing up, I remember the soothing smell of cedar chests, the fresh scent of the cedar chips in the morning dew out in the garden, and was amazed at how many closets were made of cedar to repel moths. Now I loved the smell, but the reason cedar was used so frequently is that cedarwood acts as a great deterrent and repellent for many different types of insects.

In the middle ages, the bubonic plague was being spread by fleas so cedarwood was burned to fumigate the streets and homes to eliminate the ecto-parasites. In more contemporary times, cedarwood oil was officially registered as a pesticide in the United States in 1960. It was approved for repelling moths and for use as a pet tag (or collar) and a liquid that could be sprayed on animal bedding.

Cedarwood oils come from trees in the botanical family Cupressaceae (true cedars, junipers, and cypresses) and in the United States the cedarwood oil is harvested four different sources:

  • Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar or Virginia cedar),
  • Juniperus ashei or Juniperus mexicana (Texas cedar),
  • and Thuja plicata (Western red cedar).

However, the Chemical Abstract Service registry number also applies to:

  • Chinese cedarwood oil (Cupressus funebris),
  • Kenyan or East African cedarwood oil (Juniperus procea),
  • and Moroccan or Atlas cedarwood oil (Cedrus atlantica).

Since its registration, cedarwood is considered to be a great alternative for less toxic flea control in the garden, the home, the laundry, and around pets. For example, when used in the garden with other biological aides, such as parasitic nematodes, cedar chips can help get rid of fleas before they can spread and enter into your home.

Within the household, many people use cedar shavings inside pet beds. For use on animals, there are commercial cedar pet shampoos, cedar pet flea repellent sprays (such as LiquidNet), and a whole company (CedarCide) dedicated to creating cedar products to thwart fleas and other insects.

Safer uses take place in the environment instead of on the animal--unless the product is labeled as safe for pets. Many cedar flea home remedy tips exist such as:

Cleaning Solutions
Add drops of cedar oil to their steam cleaner or floor cleaning solutions so that the cedar essence pleasantly permeates their home while adding to other flea control strategies.

Linen & Fabric Sprays
Add a few drops of cedarwood oil to at least two cups of water and place into a spray bottle and to spritz clothing and sheets (or other bedding). You can even add a little to dryer softener sheets.

Cedarwood Blocks, Cedarwood Hangers & Cedarwood Sachets
Used in closets and around the home these products can help keep insects at bay and can be placed almost anywhere.

Finally, when using any aromatic herb or essential oil on pets always check with your veterinarian--because many natural products can be toxic to pets. Don't forget that since our sense of smell is not as astute as our pets, use any aromatic with a bit of restraint.

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