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Did you know that Americans spend half a billion dollars a year on flea control products? A lot of these products are caustic and dangerous, possibly harming our pets and ourselves.

For example, in 1987 a major pet supply company acknowledged that there were hundreds of animal deaths associated with one very well known flea control product. That product was eventually taken off the market. And this is not the only suggestion that these products can be dangerous.

That manufacturer only had to pay $45,000 to settle charges that it did not properly report these problems. A $45,000 fine was peanuts to this mega company, and was presumably little incentive to be more careful with the next product.

When considering safer approaches, animal health is reported to have a lot to do with the likelihood of infestation. Make sure that your pet gets the vitamins he or she needs. And watch out for pet foods that consist of "byproducts" which may be code for an inferior food source.

If your pet gets fleas, research non-toxic responses. For example, black walnut, which is orally consumed, is reported to repel fleas. Read directions carefully because black walnut should be used at the minimum recommended dosage.

Frequent vacuuming of rugs and furniture as well as animal bed covers will collect flea eggs. These eggs can still hatch in the vacuum cleaner bag, and therefore the bag should be sealed and disposed of outside the home.

Diatomaceous powder can also be used to control fleas. This powder consists of fossilized algae remains and is usually used in pool filters. Reportedly, the same material can be sprinkled on carpets to safely eliminate fleas.

Precautions should be taken to avoid inhaling this material. And again, do your own research before employing this technique so that you can make your own informed decisions.

Some companies also sell non-toxic flea control products that are reported to be safe for animals, birds and humans. These products can be found in lawn and garden sections of hardware stores and supermarkets. Also, consider using herbal shampoos to ward off fleas.

If these products don't do the trick, you may consider purchasing insect growth regulators. These products disrupt the life cycle of fleas by preventing the eggs and larvae from developing into adults. In every case, frequent combing with a fine tooth comb will help remove live fleas. Proper disposal is once again needed to prevent re-infestation.

As you can see, toxic flea control products are not the only means available for addressing flea concerns. There are alternative approaches that are less toxic or non-toxic than commercial alternatives.

I urge that you do your own research and make your own judgment about what will work best for you and your friend.

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