Cedar Chips and Fleas
The relationship between cedar chips and fleas is on the rise in the pet market — primarily as a non-toxic insect repellent for over 80,000 critters, which includes fleas and ticks. Yet OSHA has found occupational safety and health problems with its continuous usage on both animals and humans, making cedar chips and fleas a dubious choice for pet owners.
According to our sponsor and professional Herbalist, Gary Le Mon, “our pioneering forefathers killed ticks and flea infestations by sprinkling cedar wood chips on their cabin floors. Today the wisdom of the ages continues with cedar chests, cedar clothes hangars, and pillows stuffed with cedar wood chips for dogs and cats.”
When cedar chips first became popular for pet bedding, it was in the company of pine, as both softwoods controlled odor. They also killed or repelled insects — with cedar wood chips the stronger and therefore more effective. Cedar odor comes from phenol and aromatic hydrocarbons that are released into the air. However, it is these same compounds which can be a health risk regarding respiratory problems and the liver. Chips and shavings from hard wood are safer, as they do not have as much phenols in them. This would be from the aspen and douglas fir trees, or the brand Care Fresh.
Phenol for cedar chips and fleas
- Phenol is primarily a man-made compound, yet is also found in organic material and animal waste. Man designed it to make several products: to make plastics, nylon 6, bisphenol for epoxy and resins, disinfectants, medical products, and as a slimicide chemical it kills bacteria and fungi in watery slime.
- According to OSHA, phenol’s side effects for animals are irritants of the eyes, mucous membranes, and skin; absorption causes convulsions as well as liver, kidney, and other systemic damage. Its effects on humans are similar: systemic absorption causes central nervous system impairment and liver and kidney damage; local effects include irritation of the eyes, skin and mucous membrane. The primary route of phenol is entry through the skin.
Aromatic hydrocarbons for cedar chips and fleas
- OSHA has aromatic hydrocarbons listed on its website for targeting human organs: blood, bone marrow, central nervous system, eyes, respiratory system, skin, liver and kidneys.
- The compounds consist of (1) benzene, (2) ethyl benzene, (3) toluene, and (4) xylene for use in chemical and pharmaceuticals, along with usage in commercial solvents. Benzene compounds with one substituent are phenol. The phenol carries a hydroxyl group, and toluene carries a methyl group.
There are certain facts to know before choosing cedar chips and fleas as a way to care for your dog:
- Cedar can only be used for dogs, cats, cattle, horses, and humans.
- Other smaller animals need veterinarian consultation.
- Dogs and cats need to be over six months of age for cedar applications.
- The misuse of cedar can cause people or animals to develop a cough or allergic reaction.
- Cedar oil and cedar chips for bedding often interferes temporarily with scent retrieval in hunting and tracking dogs.
- The essential oil mix for insect repellant (citronella, cedar oil, basil, an pennyroyal) should not be used on pregnant animals. Shavings and chips from the Ponderosa Pine causes spontaneous abortions and hormonal disturbances.
- To use insect repellant oils as a topical oil (externally on the body), dab small amounts behind their ears, under the tail (not the rectum but the tail itself), on the chest, and on the abdomen. Then brush gently throughout the fur.
- Some oils for insect repellant mixes include French basil, cedar oil, cinnamon oil, citronella oil, clove oil, lemon oil, lavender oil, pennyroyal oil, rose geranium, palmarosa or opapanax oil for ticks, and carrier oils (almond oil or grapeseed oil).
- The purpose of carrier oils (vegetable oils) is to dilute and deliver essential oils. They usually do not have a heavy fragrance. Refrigerate after opening. Most households have canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, or sunflower oils, but others can be purchased at a natural store.
As long as the dog provides enough blood for the flea to live on, the dog fleas will remain. Known for their extreme loyalty to their dog host, infected fleas are known to spread worms in dogs, notably the tapeworm. Cedar chips and fleas may have a relationship, but more bad than good may come of it when there are many natural cures for fleas.
NOTE: Gary Le Mon is a Board Certified Master Herbalist specializing in natural home remedies for dogs and cats. He is certified by the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board, a member of the American Herbalists Guild and the American Botanical Council. Founder and chief formulator of Natural Wonder Products, Gary has devoted his life to caring for animals and the formulation, testing and distribution of Earth-friendly, 100% natural veterinary-naturopathic medicine.
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