In honor of the beginning of “flea season”, I thought I’d post the following question I received in my email:

Dear Nora,

Thanks for providing such great information in relation with natural hygiene and all.

A main question I have for you pertains to fleas. My dog has been attracting fleas continuously for the past year at least. He eats raw and seems very healthy in general–definitely healthier than other dogs who I know who don’t eat raw, nor get exercise and such who don’t attract fleas. He seems very sensitive to their bites and scratches a lot. Again, this has been on-going. I do fast him occasionally and I will begin incorporating more of a mono rotation as you recommend.

I wonder, though, about foods which have been sourced from farms which feed corn? My dog eats meats which are hormone and antibiotic free, however, it seems challenging to find farms which do not feed corn, soy and wheat. Do you have any suggestions? I would love to hear your thoughts within regards to our flea situation and potential toxicity related to foods which I may be feeding him.

Thanks again so much, Nora.


Hi Joanna,

To be honest, I haven’t quite cracked the code on fleas yet, although I think I know as much as anyone else or at least I’m able to see the problem more objectively than most.  For one thing, I understand the true causes of disease and therefore do not buy into the notion that fleas, or the bacteria on fleas, “carry” or cause illness.  The idea that they are carriers of disease is probably the biggest source of flea-phobia in modern times.  That’s not to say having fleas in your house isn’t a legitimate nuisance, it’s just that they don’t warrant the kind of counter productive (poisonous) artillery that is typically used to control or eradicate them.

To vets, flea infestation is a mystery that seems to simply stem from a lack of proper care by owners.  Not by misfeeding, but through failure to administer the common (but harmful) preventatives like “Frontline” and “Advantage”.  Raw feeding experts and some alternative pet health experts are closer to the truth with their position that it has more to do with internal toxicity.  This is obviously the biggest factor, but there is clearly more to the story.

My animals have occasionally had problems with fleas in the past, some years worse than others, and I’m not quite sure what to attribute this to.  I have not always fed my animals properly.  With so few resources for learning the truth about how to feed healthfully, it takes even the most dogged researcher years to find it and then put it into practice.  I did note that my problems with fleas decreased considerably after I began feeding my animals as ideally as possible.  In recent years I have noticed a few fleas on my animals but it never gets to the point where I have to de-flea the house, yard, animals, etc., and I never notice my animals (actually just one cat now) scratching or biting inordinately.

The flea issue is also a matter of perception because vets love to tell dog owners that their dogs shouldn’t have one single flea on their bodies and that if a dog is sensitive or “allergic” to fleas, it is particularly important that every flea be eradicated.  The truth is, fleas actually may be a natural and normal part of dog life, perhaps not exactly symbiotic but not hazardous either. Nobody knows, and there is every reason to think that wolves and other furry wild critters who are perfectly healthy in every way carry around a flea or two.  If a certain population of flea ‘infestation’ is normal to dogs, then hypersensitivity is the problem, not the fleas themselves.  It’s just like any other “allergy”, such as grass, pollen, etc.  Either it’s bad for all dogs or it’s normal, and if it’s normal, then a dog should not have negative effects from contact with it.

So obviously, underlying the biting, irritation and (sometimes) inflammation, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. But instead of doing that, dog owners are encouraged to focus on removing all the fleas and stopping the dog from feeling the irritation with drugs, herbs and shampoos. You mention that you’ve noted that some dogs don’t seem to attract fleas, but if they are completely flea-free it’s probably that they’ve either been treated with one of the popular yet toxic pharmaceutical flea repellants or they just don’t suffer from the hypersensitivity that your dog does.

As in most other ailments and health issues, the underlying problem is waste.  When dogs and cats are misfed in any way, their primary eliminative organs cannot keep up with the backlog.  Waste circulates throughout the body in the bloodstream and looks for outlets like the skin and ears.  This is where it attracts parasites like fleas.  Based on what I know about how people commonly feed their dogs, there is probably about a 90% chance that you’re overfeeding.  I can look at what and how much you’re feeding and advise you, if that’s of interest.  Also, you mention that you fast occasionally.  However, it is not enough to fast occasionally. Fasting should be a regular part of the feeding regimen. Mono-feeding is important as well because foods that are mixed are not properly digested and become waste. So those are the things I would concentrate on, as well as removing as much fat from the dog’s diet as possible.

I don’t have any suggestions for avoiding animals raised on farms that feed corn, wheat and soy, because it is absolutely not necessary to do this. In an ideal world we’d be feeding only meats that come from animals that were fed only self-selected or at least species-appropriate foods. But in an ideal world there would be no such thing as the domestic dog. Let’s face it, for every domestic dog that is marginally happy, there are thousands that are homeless, starving, used as lab subjects, sitting in a condo all day and night, etc.  You have to wonder if domestication was a bright move.  But I digress. The point is, the world being as far from ideal as it could conceivably get, there are bigger fish for us to fry. Investigating a dog’s diet and lifestyle to find the causes of disease involves looking at the most likely culprits first: 1) Inappropriate foods 2) Too much food 3) Too much fat 4) Too little digestive rest, and/or 5) Improper combining.

Best wishes,


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