Summer is almost here and with it will come those pesky fleas. Fleas are not just a nuisance they are dangerous to pets and people. They can be carriers of diseases such as bubonic plague, typhus, bartonella henselae (aka cat scratch fever), and when not controlled can cause flea allergy dermatitis or even anemia in pets. Make no mistake about it discovering fleas in your house or on your pets should be taken seriously.
Fleas can reproduce very quickly. In just one fleas lifetime (about two weeks) she can lay hundreds and hundreds of eggs. Once these eggs hatch the larva will begin feeding on pet hair, flea feces, dried blood, or any other disgusting organic matter found in carpets, furniture, and on your pets.
After feeding this larva will spin a cocoon in which it can lay dormant for up to a year waiting for a victim. The use of pesticides on fleas while in this cocoon stage is pointless. They are almost completely immune to poisons. There is not a pesticide on the market today that can kill them completely or consistently while in the cocoon stage.
Unfortunately, even when fleas can be killed using pesticides there is still the concern over the chemicals being used. Many pesticides are in themselves an issue for the health of your family and pets.
In April 2009, advisories from the EPA regarding spot-on type flea treatments began to be released. The EPA reported receiving over 44,000 reports of adverse reactions in pets. Those reactions ranged from mild skin irritation to seizures and death (600 deaths according to the report).
Cyphenothrin and permethrin are just two products that are used in many flea treatments that have proven to be problematic, especially for smaller dogs and cats.
So what is the best alternative for the consciences pet owner? Go natural!
Believe it are not there are many simple ways to combat flea infestations which work just as good if not better than using toxic chemicals.
The first and one of the most important things you can do is vacuum. Vacuuming daily will rid your carpets of those cocoon stage fleas. The heat generated from the vacuum will also encourage them to hatch into their more vulnerable stage so that they can be dealt with swiftly. When possible use a vacuum with a bag and dispose of the bag promptly after vacuuming the floors and furniture. Yes, you need to vacuum all the furniture as well. If you have a current infestation daily vacuuming is one of your best defenses. As you will be targeting the fleas and the eggs before they have a chance to hatch and multiply.
Also keeping your pet healthy and feeding a healthy diet will help to discourage fleas. The better shape that your pet is in the less attractive they will be to nesting fleas.
Garlic can be used to rid your pet of fleas. However, garlic must be used with caution as it can be toxic to your dog when given in the wrong amounts. Discus the use of garlic for flea control with your vet to determine the right amount for your pets body weight. There are also many natural store bought mineral supplements for your pet such as diatomaceous earth.
Prevention is key. Keeping your pet bathed and brushed and performing regular full body inspection for parasites is a good idea.
There is also a number of natural alternatives to pesticides including items like cedar oil, rosemary extract, citronella and many more.
Lastly, I would like to give you one of my simplest and favorite flea prevention methods for your pets bed.
For whatever reason fleas hate eucalyptus. I like to create these cute little pouches of eucalyptus for my pet’s bed. Here are simple instructions on how to make your “flea free pet bed” pouch.
You will need:
A handful of fresh eucalyptus steams (available at many hobby stores and florist.)
One 10″ round cut cheese cloth or other breathable material.
One 3 inch strip of ribbon.
Tear your eucalyptus in to small 1-2 inches strips and place it in the middle of your cheese cloth. Gather the edges of the cloth to the middle creating the small pouch which encases your eucalyptus. Tie the gather with a bow using the ribbon. Couldn’t be simpler.
You will want to place this pouch inside of your pets bed. In a way that your pet will not be able to access it. Place one pouch per pet bed.
Not only will this help to keep fleas off of your pets bedding it will smell nice. You will want to replace the eucalyptus in the pouch at least once a month for best results.
These are just a few of the natural ways you can discourage fleas in your home and on your pet. There are many recipes for homemade flea shampoos and sprays. There are also many natural shampoos and sprays being sold on the market.
Don’t allow your pets or your family to become food for these nasty bugs this summer. Use prevention methods and be open to trying the natural alternatives for elimination and prevention of fleas. Here is wishing all pets a flea free summer.