When summer comes around, so do fleas — Bed Bug Bites that can make your dog’s life (and yours) miserable. There are things you can do to minimize the chances of flea infestation and other measures you can take if they have already invaded your home.
First let’s look at the steps necessary to keep the fleas away; without using chemicals. This natural flea prevention will work best to prevent fleas from taking hold and can also be used if you have a very light flea infestation.
Keep your carpets vacuumed! Vacuum daily and get some wide tape to seal up the vacuum bags as soon as you remove them from the vacuum cleaner. If you DON’T have small children around, use pennyroyal leaves either fresh (if available) or dried and spread them around your carpet to repel fleas.
Keep your dog’s bedding clean by washing it in warm water and soap. When it is dry apply some cedar oil to the bedding to help repel the fleas. Keep the area around your dog’s bed free of dust and dirt.
Give your dog a bath once a week with cedar shampoo (bathing more frequently may dry out its skin). If your dog does get dry skin it will attract fleas — just what you don’t want. Give a dog with dry skin some Linatone oil mixed with its food. Something else you can mix, in very small doses, with your dogs food to repel fleas is a mixture of garlic and brewer’s yeast. With this mixture in the dog’s system, it will give off a scent that you won’t be able to notice but fleas will notice it and they hate it.
If you mix lavender oil (60 ml) with rock salt (2.8 liters) you will have a great flea repellent that can be spread around the places where your dog goes and can also be used as a dog shampoo.
Fill your outside flower beds with marigolds — they have natural flea repellent properties and also repel other bugs.
Try boiling either lemon peels or orange peels in water to create a solution that can be used as a dog dip and can be used on the dogs bedding before washing it.
Another effective dog dip, if you are experiencing a light infestation, is warm water, shampoo and laundry detergent; immerse the dog’s body in this for ten or fifteen minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
If you have a heavy flea infestation you may have to resort to chemicals — all these products can be used safely if you follow the directions that come with the products.
Advantage. Advantage is a flea poison made by Bayer. Apply the Advantage (liquid) to the dog’s coat as directed. Advantage should work for about one month, Advantage’s active ingredient, imidacloprid, upsets the nervous system of any flea that comes in contact with it. Advantage kills flea’s fast and should kill all the fleas on the dog in about two days; but it is not absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream or internal organs. The active ingredient, imidacloprid is a chloronicotinyl nitroguanidine, integrated from the nitromethylene class of a compound. The imidacloprid affects the nicotinyl receptor sites of insects and upsets the flea’s normal nerve transmission, resulting in death. Advantage costs $15 to $20 for a set of two vials.
Frontline. Frontline is very similar to Advantage but it is not water soluble; this means alcohol is required to wash it off the dog. Frontline is safe for use on puppies as well as adult dogs, kittens and adult cats and it will work for approximately four months.
The active ingredients in Frontline include: Fipronil 5-amino -1- (2, 6-dichloro-4 [trifluoromethyl]phenyl) -4- (1,R,S)- (trifluoromethyl0sulfinyl) -1H-pryazole-3-carbonitrile 0.29% inert ingredients 99.71%. Fipronil, from the new phenylpyrazole class, is very effective at killing fleas by attacking their nervous systems. Fipronil is safe for use on dogs and cats that are not allergic to it. Tests have shown that Fipronil will kill up to 95% of a pet’s fleas within two hours and all the fleas within the first 24 hours — ticks are killed instantly on contact.
Knockout. Knockout is as effective as Frontline and works in the same way but Knockout can not be used on cats.
Knockout’s active ingredients are: Pyriproxyfen: 21[1-methyl-2-(phenoxyphenoxy)ethyoxy] pyridine….0.05% cyclopropanecarboxylate 2.00% inert ingredients 97.95% Knockout also contains NYLAR, a flea-growth regulator.
Biospot. Biospot is used topically, like the other products and, in tests, killed up to three quarters of the fleas, ticks and their eggs; like Knockout, Biospot can NOT be safely used on cats. Biospot works for about one month and can also be used as a mosquito repellant. Biospot has been known to temporarily turn the white hair on a dogs coat to yellow.
Biospot contains permethrins and IGR.
Proban and Prospot. The Proban (cythioate) and Prospot (Fenthion) products are also for use on dogs only and they are very popular. Proban and Prospot are actually absorbed in the dog’s bloodstream, poisoning any fleas that bite the dog. The fact that these products are poisonous to fleas combined with the fact that you are actually allowing this poison to be absorbed in the dog’s blood stream, may be cause for concern. There are no published (or known?) side effects. Another factor to consider about these last two products is that they do not repel fleas, they will only work if a flea bites the dog — if the dog has a flea allergy this would not be the product of choice.
Fleas are the most annoying and troublesome insects for both humans and their pets. While we can use various products to rid ourselves of fleas, old-fashioned, preventative home remedies relieve us of ever having to have them in the first place.
Various techniques and products are available in the market to get rid of these fleas, but we don't often get the expected results. Even if we do manage to rid ourselves of the scourge of fleas, this is often not long-lasting or accompanied by side-effects. For example, the use of prednisone and corticosteroid drugs helps to give relief from flea bites, but at the same time, weakens the immune system. Similarly, chemicals containing poisons are often successful in killing fleas, but they are unsafe on pets in the long term. Keeping all these factors in mind, it is best to use home remedies to get rid of these annoying creatures.
To prevent fleas, keep your home clean, indoors and outdoors! All the carpets and floors, and all the corners of the house should be thoroughly vacuumed regularly. The kitchen should be cleaned properly, cleaning up food spills and covering all food stuff. A clean home is an unattractive one to fleas! Water is also a breeding place for fleas, so all the leaky pipes should be promptly repaired. In case you need to use pesticides, the natural, less harmful ones, should be used. Placing herbs like bay leaves, coriander, dill, lemon peel, or clove in pantry shelves, or in stored grain has proved to be effective in keeping fleas away.
Also, giving the pets diets rich in essential fatty acids (EFA) strengthens their immune system and makes them less attractive to fleas. It is important to keep pets and their bedding clean by washing them regularly. Following these simple steps can easily free us from the trouble of fleas.
The domestic cat is the primary host of the common flea. It can maintain a life cycle on other carnivores and is responsible for most dog flea infestations. A human can be bitten by it but cannot become infested.
After the female flea lays it eggs on its host, it migrates from the hair coat of the host to the body. The larvae hide from the light and feed on dried blood. When the flea is fully developed, it jumps to a new host and immediately starts to feed on blood.
Flea allergy dermatitis develops when a cat has an allergic reaction. Large infestations can cause dehydration. It can transmit parasites to animals and humans. Bartonella, murine thypus, and tapeworm are some examples.
Pulicosis or flea bites is a skin condition caused by a flea. It begins with skin irritation after thr bite. It can develop into swelling of the bitten area, ertheyma, ulcers in the mouth and throat and soreness of the areolas. If these conditions are not checked, it can spread to the lymph nodes impacting the central nervous system.
If a cat becomes infested with fleas, the fleas need to be eliminated immediately to prevent tapeworms from developing. Over the counter sprays and powders are usually not strong enough. Flea collars treat the area around the neck. If the collar gets wet, it may become ineffective. Monthly medications prescribed by a veterinarian, given orally, topically or injected, work the best.
If a cat has fleas, a house has fleas. Vacuum everything in the house and immediately dispose of the vacuum bags. Wash bedding and linens in hot water. "Bomb'" the house with insecticide foggers. As soon as fleas appear, call a veterinarian who can recommend shampoos, foams, dips, sprays, oral and topical medications and foggers to use.
The spot on medications are becoming the most popular way to prevent fleas. They are effective and easy to apply. The medication is usually applied to the shoulder blades, absorb into the skin and protects the whole body. It kills the fleas within hours and is safer to a cat because of its lower toxicity. It can also withstand bathing.
Oral medications are recommended when frequent bathing is needed. The medication is usually administered in a monthly pill or chewable food form or 6 month injection. The medication does not kill fleas but prevents reproduction. If medication is not desirable, special metal flea combs are available to remove them.
Cats and Fleas
Fleas are more than just disgusting; they will carry several serious diseases, parasites and even weaken your dog's immune system. Also, fleas can bite the other pets & people in your house, leading to infestations, allergic reactions and possibly allergies & skin rashes. Fleas can be found almost everywhere on Earth, although they are usually more abundant in warm climates and in more southern or tropical locations. Keep in mind that dogs in kennels or anywhere where they frequently interact with other dogs are at a higher risk for flea infestations since not all dog owners are responsible with flea prevention.
Luckily, there are many effective topical solutions and other vet prescribed treatments to control & eliminate fleas in the house and on your dog's body. Several of the herbal and homeopathic flea controls are not quite as effective but still serve a purpose. There are also many ineffective and bogus over-the-counter flea control products that just don't work. Before picking flea control program, discuss with your vet and decide what will be the best approach for you and your dog.
The Life Cycle of a Flea
Despite being very annoying, fleas really do have an amazing life cycle and it is easy to see why they are so abundant around the world. A flea's whole lifecycle protects them and gives them the best possible opportunity to reproduce, which they do in very large numbers. To understand the life cycle of the flea the stages will be outlined below:
Eggs - the eggs are spawned in your dog's hair and are not attached to the root, instead, they are just deposited on the skin. This means that the eggs can drop off the dog onto bedding (yours or theirs), furniture, or even onto other pets. These eggs can survive for years under the right conditions. Each female flea can lay roughly 15-20 eggs per day and about 600 eggs during her entire lifespan. The eggs hatch very quickly in time periods ranging from a two days to two weeks, depending on the climate and other conditions.
Larva - roughly 30% of the fleas on a dog are in the larva stage at any given time. There are actually three distinct stages to larva but it is essential to understand that the larva are blind and avoid light at all costs. Dark areas are where they prefer to live. Creases in bedding and furniture are prime locations for larva to be discovered. They eat dried blood found in adult flea feces and dead skin. During this time they are not a true since they do not really suck blood or affect the dog's health. The larva stage will last between two weeks to a month or longer.
Pupa - the larva spins a cocoon and develops for between five days to fourteen days. During this time they do not eat anything but the cocoon might cause irritation to the dog's skin if it is on the body or in the bedding.
Adult fleas - adult fleas are the ones that do the biting and cause irritation. They bite the skin & suck small amounts of blood from the host, be it a dog, cat, other animal or human. Fleas will cause allergic reactions in most species that lead to scabs, dry and flaky patches of skin and possibly hair loss. Adult fleas will not reproduce without ingesting blood, but they can drop into a form of hibernation for many months if there is no blood available.
Be sure to plan for routine flea control and management for your dog. Carefully watch for any of the signs of fleas, like flea dirt, in the dog's coat. Flea dirt looks like small round dark balls that appear similar to large, black sand grains close to the skin. This is a positive sign of flea infestations and requires immediate treatment.