Summer is the time of flies, ticks, fleas, heat, and keeping the horses and dogs comfortable despite it all. I confess that I can be lured by a good marketing ad or article, and of course a personal product recommendation from a friend carries a lot of weight. Sometimes it boils down to my own curiosity; I want to see how the product works.
Here are the products I’ve been using this summer with great success.
For flies and other insects
In May, I put the horses on Springtime, Inc.’s Bug Off Garlic for Horses. Although I use Fly Predators every year, none of my neighbors do, which reduces the effectiveness, so I also hang those icky fly strips, and last year hung citronella strips as well. I had no expectations for the garlic. It couldn’t hurt, and if it helped, great.
I am pleased to report that the garlic has been amazing. The stalls are virtually fly-free, and that’s saying something, because next to the barn is one of our organic vegetable gardens — a magnet for flying critters. In the first two or three weeks of giving the horses the garlic in their feed, the stalls and the horses did smell like an Italian restaurant, but that dissipated. One of the fascinating results is that there are fewer flies in the manure bin. And I have not had to resort to fly strips or fly traps!
Every year I try various fly sprays to put on the horses before they’re turned out at night. Some of the most effective are also what I consider to be the most toxic. But this year I discovered Equiderma Neem & Aloe Herbal Horse Spray. It is formulated with essential oils and organic neem tea. Neem has a long recorded history in Ayurvedic medicine, dating back almost 5,000 years. Research has shown that neem products work by intervening at several stages of an insect’s life; the resulting disruptions leave the insects unable to reproduce, and their populations plummet.
When I bring the horses in at breakfast time, there are no insects buzzing around them, annoying them, or biting them. On just the garlic alone, the horses were still being annoyed by some gnats in turnout. But with Equiderma, even if I’m late to the barn, they aren’t swishing their tails and begging to come in from the buzzing insects.
The tried and true
The Horse Hydrator helps my horses drink more water, and when I first tried it last year I was thunderstruck at the difference. The farm is on well water which is tested every two years, has a high copper and zinc content, and to my human taste buds is delicious. But when I added the Horse Hydrator filter to the hose and watered the horses, several of them drank 50% more, and others 30% more. In the summer I will never be without a Horse Hydrator. For horses that show and compete, this is a must-have product to keep your horse well hydrated at competitions.
BioStar’s Thera Calm EQ: I have a couple of older horses who get stressed in hot weather. I worry about them because they just stand in front of their fans and don’t eat much until the temperature starts to cool in the evening and they go out. Last summer I was testing our Thera Calm anti-stress formula and added it to these horses’ morning feeds. Within two days, they were eating hay even during the hottest part of the afternoon, and their eyes were soft again. I only give them Thera Calm when temps climb into the 90s, or the humidity is so high it’s like living in a sauna. What I love about Thera Calm is that it can be used as needed and it goes to work amazingly fast.
Warhorse Pure Gold All-Purpose Cleaning Soap is the best, most effective, non-toxic, all-purpose cleaner for home and barn. The very fact that I can clean buckets and not fret about what chemicals I am spilling into the earth is immensely important to me. And it cleans everything so well, including feed and water buckets, horse troughs, farm machinery, trucks, cars, my hardwood floors… you can even use it for laundry detergent.
I add Guinness beer to the horses’ feeds on really hot days. Although a lot of people feed Guinness to help horses sweat, I find it helps perk up the retired horses on hot, sweltering days. The famous race horse Tapit got Guinness and three eggs with his feed when he was racing, and the great race mare Zenyatta got Guinness beer after her morning gallops.
BioStar’s Cool Star EQ is a blend of Ayurvedic foods to help cool the GI tract and body system at large. It provides some vegetables and fruits and Hawaiian black lava salt, which contains charcoal — an important detoxifier. Some horses’ GI tracts can get a little unsettled in hot weather, and Cool Star helps to keep the poop normal and the body cool.
For the dogs
This year I decided to try the Israeli-made Arava Flea and Tick Control Collar. The collar is a blend of botanicals. It does have polyethylene in it, so it is not 100% botanical…but it is a far cry from the toxic topicals that we’ve all used at one time or another. When you first put the collar on, the scent is strong for a few days. That being said, it has worked surprisingly well on my Aussies. I think I have pulled off a total of two ticks this summer, and zero fleas. However, the company does say the collar will last for five months, and I only got three months before I had to buy new collars. This is probably due to the fact that my dogs spend a lot of time in the pond and creek! I am really happy with these collars and my dogs are too.
I purchased two silicone paw print ice cube trays from The Animal Rescue Site so I could make some cooling treats for the dogs. The paws on the trays are a little small; my Aussies can eat the frozen treats in one crunch and a swallow. But for smaller dogs, these trays are great for making healthy frozen treats. Amazon has larger animal paw print ice cube trays made of silicone, which I have since ordered. The recipe for the frozen treats is easy: one of cup coconut oil blended with one cup of organic peanut butter. Pour into the molds and freeze. You can also freeze bone broth in the paw molds, which makes a nice cooling, healthy treat. Since the silicone is so flexible and soft (which makes them difficult to carry to the freezer without spilling), I put the ice cube trays on flat trays for easy transport to the freezer.
Tried and true for the dogs
Lassi, a traditional yogurt drink from India, is one of the best cooling foods for dogs and humans. It is made from fresh yogurt and then blended with water. This dilution makes it more digestible while still providing high levels of active probiotics. You can mix it with your dog’s food, or give as a treat (my dogs lick it off a spoon). Lassi is available at many health food grocery stores.
Buckaroo’s Cooling Stew from BioStar. Formulated according to Ayurvedic principles of warming/cooling/neutral foods, Buckaroo’s Cooling Stew provides specific foods for cooling the GI tract and the body system at large. The ingredients are real food that is dehydrated. I add a scoop to each dog’s food, with water, then mix and serve. This saves me a whole lot of time it takes to buy, prepare and chop specific cooling vegetables and fruits. In truth, I originally created Buckaroo’s Cooling Stew just for my own dogs and the time savings it provides!
Please let me know what products you have tried and loved for your own horses and dogs. I’m always eager for a new product adventure!