Flea and tick season requires diligence on the part of pet guardians. A natural approach to pest control includes diet, environment, and some herbal pet products.

"Good diet, bathing, vacuuming (both dog—yes, the dog—and house), and flea combing are the least toxic and can be a great help," according to Susan Wynn, DVM, of Marietta, Georgia. "The cornerstone of flea control is good overall health for the animal; a high-quality premium food or balanced homemade diet is absolutely essential. I believe when the animal is healthy, it does not smell or taste as good to fleas," she says. Wynn also recommends commercially available topical neem (Azadirachta indica) products for flea control.

In general, Wynn does not advise using essential oils to repel pests from pets. "Cats are exquisitely sensitive to essential oils," she says. Consult with a veterinarian, herbalist or aromatherapist before using essential oils on animals.

­D.N.