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Originally published May 2009, reposted June 2012
I think we can all agree fleas are aggravating. Not only to our pets but to us as well!
Like you, I asked myself questions such as 1) What is it I could be missing? 2) Is there one major key that would make a difference? 3) Are fleas more attracted to certain pets?
Whether you use chemical flea treatments or want to transition to holistic flea treatments, these tips could help you become flea free.
In this blog, I will share how I was finally able to go chemical-free and win the battle of having a flea-free dog. We will look at fleas from every angle, from your home environment to health and natural flea treatment to tips on how to get rid of fleas.
Warning! If you continue to read about fleas you may get a case of the hebbie-jebbies. I’m scratching already.
Flea season may be longer than you think!
Fleas can survive in 65 degrees and higher weather. For people living in an area that is warm all year round, your season is not limited to only the summer!!
To check your “season” try searching it on the Internet. Ex: San Marcos, CA (in San Diego County) has a flea season which is not limited to summer. Fleas can be a problem for some pets as much as 9-10 months of the year.
The life cycle of fleas
There are 4 stages of the flea cycle. Eggs, larva, pupae, and adults. The life cycle can be completed in as little as 12 days or take as long as 174 days.
Humidity plays a role in the flea cycle. 75% humidity will allow flea eggs to hatch and 50% allows flea larvae to survive.
Fleas favorite hiding places
They may be in your carpet, bedding, cracks, and crevices and maybe on you. Getting them out of your carpet is not an easy task. Many will resort to bombing their home only to tell you bombing does not work or they had to do it several times. Why? Because bombing only kills the live fleas, not the eggs.
To stop the cycle, carpets should be treated with boric acid or diatomaceous earth (human-grade not pool grade). Word of caution. D.E. is a very fine powder so for safety please use a face mask when applying as it could be bothersome and remove pets temporarily. Once I tried to sweep it around the carpet to spread it and created a dust cloud. I forgot to use a face mask. Cough Cough, I needed fresh air!
Do fleas like long-haired or short-haired dogs more?
Yes and No. Long-haired dogs give fleas more places to hide and to keep warm but they can be found on both types of dogs.
5 must-do tasks to get rid of fleas
1) Spring cleaning: Sweep and mop floors, vacuum, treat baseboards, and carpet with human-grade, not pool grade, diatomaceous earth (use a face mask if prone to respiratory problems). D.E. can be found in some private pet stores. **TIP: Don’t skip any areas of the home just because you think your pet does not go in that room. Trust me you will save your self a lot of time and frustration if you do it all at once then to forgo one or two areas. Don’t believe me, you should! I did this and guess what my dog still had some fleas although a lot less. So I had to start all over again. Yep, another several hours and money on cleaning stuff right down the drain. And you wonder why they are referred to as pests?!
2) Laundry: Fold up pet bedding before moving in case it has flea eggs. Wash any blankets, clothes, towels, and if your pet sits on your furniture (vacuum well or wash cushion covers if removable). It is suggested to use hot water although this may be hard for those trying to be eco-friendly. My feeling is the exposure to soapy water for over 10 minutes will be enough to suffocate them and the heat from the dryer should work as well.
3) Yard: Treat the whole yard especially areas where pet frequents and damp bushy areas with natural yard spray or beneficial nematodes. Nematodes are tiny worms that take care of the flea larvae and pupae. Keep the area free of debris such as piles of leaves, keep the grass short and pet poop picked up at all times. [highlight]Pet waste attracts fleas[/highlight] and flies. Many find using something like this Pooper Scooper Bin and Rake makes clean up easier.
4) Bathe your pet(s): All pets should have a bath, regardless of whether you “see” fleas or not. During bath time it is imperative to keep the shampoo on for a minimum of 10 minutes to suffocate any fleas that are on your dog.
***TIP: Make the most of your ten minutes. You can spend the time flea combing or playing games with your dog. I do something interactive to ensure my dog does not lick the shampoo. It is coconut oil-based but I still don’t want him to lick it.
5) Flea combing: This should be done twice a week at a minimum but I prefer daily to make sure we are winning the battle. I do it every time my dog comes in from a walk, this way I can pinpoint where the problem may be coming from (i.e. in the house or outside and which areas of grass my dog may be picking up more fleas). TIP: When using a flea comb, have a cup/bowl of water ready so you can clean your comb and drown those pesky little buggers.
3 Natural ways to keep fleas away
1) Diet: Why is this so important? Not only will your pet be healthier with better food since you are what you eat, but your pet will also be less attractive to fleas. The skin of dogs on processed food usually has a stronger odor. Fleas are drawn to them due to them being attracted to carbs & sugar. I personally feed natural food or a raw diet such as Freeze-Dried Patties for Dogs several times a week.
2) Natural flea treatment:11 ¢ a day is the average cost. *Depending on your flea and tick infestation, 1 bottle should last you all through the season. The shelf life is 4 years.
3) Reduce your pet’s toxic load: Toxins are everywhere! They off-gas from appliances and cookware, furniture, and pet beds, toxins are in air fresheners, found in traditional cleaners etc…. A study found that pet’s toxic load to be 5-20x’s higher than humans.
Dangers of real or fake flea treatments
Throughout the years there have been recalls of flea treatments for different reasons such as counterfeit flea treatments, burns, seizures, and more. You can read this blog to learn more about the dangers of flea medicine.
Is being free of fleas a requirement for pet care services?
All San Marcos and Escondido dog walking and pet sitting clients must meet two health requirements. Those are proof of rabies and be free of fleas.
Please understand these requests are made in the best interest of your pet as well as other pets we may care for or encounter.
Other articles that may interest you: Avoid toxins in your cat bowl and dog bowl by purchasing these lead-free pet bowls Made in the USA