Flea are known to be one of the major blood-sucking pests responsible for many health issues in pets as well in humans, coming in contact with the infested animals.
With over 2000 species and subspecies flea have adapted themselves well in all types of terrains and regions, so their effects are seen anywhere and everywhere.They are parasitic in nature and feast on warm-blooded animals like mammals and birds.
Flea lay wormlike free-living larva that grows in unhygienic places like –pet’s bedding, dust filled carpets and upholstery.
Flea have a distinct characteristic of hopping to host itself in furry animals like dogs and cats.
Hidden safely under the hosts’ coat and deriving nutrition from its blood, the female lays huge number of eggs. When the host animal moves around, these eggs are dropped off in surroundings.
Riding on these pets when flea reach a home they hide in the organic rubble of carpets, furniture, bedding and gardens. Here it completes its four stage life cycle from a larva to a full grown flea.
Getting rid of these pesky insects is a challenge that can be countered only with a holistic approach of closing all the possible avenues of its entry in a home.
The approach includes a thorough house cleaning, bathing your pets regularly, and using chemical or natural treatments to exterminate these insects. Doing this once is not enough, regularly repeating the same process of extermination is essential.
1. Dust with diatomaceous earth (DE)
This natural substance is made up of the exoskeletons of microscopic diatoms that lived in lakes and oceans thousands of years ago. Mined from large deposits found in the lake beds and ocean floors of yore, this relatively inert material has tiny, razor sharp particles that can abrade the tough exoskeletons of fleas, causing them to get dehydrated and eventually die. However, it does not harm the dog or people in any way. In fact, many people take DE as a food supplement.
Apply food grade DE liberally on the dog, his bedding, the carpet, and any place frequented by him. You may not see any instant action, but the effectiveness of DE lasts as long as the powder remains on the dogs and other surfaces. You need to repeat the application routinely even if you don’t see any adult fleas.
The eggs and the pupae can stay dormant for quite some time, so you want to be ready when they hatch. One risk of DE is that inhaling the dust can cause respiratory tract irritation, so care should be taken during its application.
2. Give the dog a dry shampoo treatment
Dry shampooing does not need to be restricted to cats. Give your dog an all-natural dry shampoo treatment with common kitchen staples to get rid of fleas. You can give it a nice bath afterwards. A dry shampoo will relieve itching due to other skin problems too.
Mix a cup of plain, unflavored oatmeal with half a cup of baking soda. Run it through the blender to break up the larger pieces of oatmeal. Work the mixture into the dog’s coat with your hands. Try to get it into every part of the body by brushing the coat. Shampoo in an outdoor setting so that you can allow it to remain on the dog until the dehydrating effect has a chance to destroy the fleas and their larvae.
3. Flea collar
A flea collar is a great way to ward off fleas without always having to reapply something topically, and it keeps the flea control constant and steady.
You will need…
-3-5 drops of cedar oil or lavender oil
– 1-3 tablespoons of water
-Bandana OR your dog’s collar
-an eyedropper (optional)
Dilute 2-3 drops of your chosen oil in 1-3 tablespoons of water. Some people use the oil undiluted, but I personally feel it should always be diluted, even if it’s only by a little. Next, pick out a bandana to be the flea collar-I think a bandana is preferable because you can take it on and off and your dog’s collar won’t smell. It’s always fun to get creative with patterns and colors here. If you go up to ½ teaspoon you can use up to 5 drops of the liquid. Using an eyedropper or other similar means, apply 5-10 drops of the mixture to the bandana and rub the sides of the fabric together, and then tie it about your dog’s neck in a snazzy way. Reapply oil mixture to the collar once a week. In conjunction with this, 1 or 2 drops of oil diluted with at least 1 tablespoon of olive oil can be placed at the base of your dog’s tail.
4. Drive them out from the inside
When you’re sticking with a natural method of flea control, a multi-pronged strategy works best. Giving dogs a drink of diluted vinegar has been found to be effective in keeping the bugs off their coat. It has some skincare benefits as well, so there’s an additional incentive to use this remedy.
Use vinegar at the rate of one teaspoon per one quart of water per 40 pounds of the body weight of the dog. Mix it into drinking water. Apple cider vinegar is the best, but white vinegar works just as well.
5. Use a flea repellant spray
As a bonus, your pup will get a nice gleaming finish to their coat after using this flea spray.
You will need…
-1 cup white distilled vinegar OR 1 cup apple cider vinegar OR a 50/50 blend of both
-1 quart fresh water
-2-3 drops of lavender or cedar oil
-a decent sized spray bottle
The essential oil isn’t vital, but it certainly gives the spray an extra edge (and a nice smell.) If you’re using it, add 2-3 drops as you add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar/apple cider vinegar/both to 1 quart of fresh water. Fill your spray bottle, and mist your dog, being careful not to get it in their eyes, nose, or ears-aka avoid spraying near the face. To get up around the neck and behind the ears/their chin area, dampen a soft cloth with the mixture and wipe it on. Spray your pets bedding and around it with this mixture lightly as well.
6. Comb them out
This contains lemon and lemon contains something called limonene, which is a chemical that kills and repels fleas but is harmless to us or our pets.
You will need…
-1 freshly sliced up lemon
-1 pot of fresh water
-a comb, sponge, or brush
Boil a pot of water and add the slices of a freshly cut lemon to it. Turn off the heat after the lemons has been added and cover the pot, letting the mixture steep overnight. The next day dip a comb or your pets brush in the liquid (make sure it’s sufficiently cool) and run it through their hair. A sponge works as well, especially if you have a very short haired breed. A quick version is to bring water to a vigorous boil and then pour over a freshly sliced lemon. Then just dip the comb, let it cool, and use as above.
7. Use a flea trap
Adult fleas are attracted to light and warmth, making it easier for us to set a trap for them at night. Mix dish soap in warm water and place it in shallow containers in such a way that a night lamp is reflected in the water. Fleas jumping towards the light will land in the soapy water and drown.
8. Vacuum them off
This simple method may not completely wipe out the fleas but can help keep the population down on its own, and works well with other remedies too. Vacuum your dog’s bed, upholstered surfaces, carpet and all places the dog has access to.
The larvae have a tendency to crawl to dark areas, so give special attention to the space under the furniture, behind doors, between floorboards and all nooks and crannies. If the dog is not troubled by the sound of the vacuum cleaner, you can give him a run over too.
9. Use neem oil
Neem oil, obtained from the leaves and fruits of the Azadirachta indica tree, has insecticidal properties that work in an interesting way. It disrupts the hormones that control the feeding and metamorphic changes of insects. In other words, it kills them by making them starve to death or trapping them within their own exoskeletons.
This oil has been used for thousands of years to treat skin infections in cattle and other domesticated animals as well as in people, including children, so it is considered safe to use.