When summer comes around, so do fleas — Sand Flea Bite 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.
My dogs has fleas, and I am as embarrassed as a school nurse who's child has been sent home from school with head lice! As a dog groomer and enthusiast, it would seem I am horribly neglectful for allowing such a thing to happen. I'm one of those diligent groomers that dispenses advice on preventing flea infestations. So how could such a thing happen to me?
Well, for those of you who have witnessed the agony of a dog infested with fleas knows that all a poor dog can do is lick, bite, scratch and chase his butt in circles to defend himself from these pesky creatures. I have been using a spot on topical for years. I was very proud of my flea-free record until my Schnauzer Tilde began biting herself raw in some spots. Befuddled by this sudden "condition" she developed I raced her to the vet in a panic. "Does she have any fleas?" he asked, in that calm, clinical doctor voice. "No, I checked, and haven't seen any," I replied, while thinking that he knows something that I haven't a clue about. He rolled her over on her back to examine her belly, and low and behold, there was one lone flea running across her belly. That one flea was all it took to send her into an allergic response that drove her to bite herself down to the skin!
I have an awesome vet, and he gave me the lowdown on flea prevention, which I am sharing, in part, with you. I also did further investigation of the pesticides I had been using and the clinical results*. So here's my advice to all of you wondering what to do to prevent fleas.
- Understand that there is no such thing as prevention. I don't know why they use the term, because in reality there is no such thing. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and worms are all around, and a force of nature. Your dog will is going to come in contact with fleas at one point or another in its lifetime, so it's really about how you manage them. Control is the key to living with fleas.
- Learn about parasites. The more you know, the more equipped you are to deal with them. Just knowing when they are the most active, and the kinds of natural and man-made pesticides available to deal with them will aide you in keeping them in check.
- Learn whether your breed of dog is susceptible to reactions from the pesticides on the market. I have seen dogs loose the hair around their neck from some flea collars, and others go into a anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction to certain ingredients of a spot-on treatment.
- Choose a treatment program that you will stick to. Take me for example. I really don't like any sort of collar for the reason stated above. As a dog collar designer, I also don't think these collars are very attractive, so I opted for the spot-ons. Yes, they are more expensive, a little messy, and must be applied with care as you are handling a pesticide chemical. But when Tilde developed her flea dermatitis, I had to move on to Comfortis, a pill application with a higher effectiveness rate (and higher price tag) than a spot-on. And you need to order ample supply so you don't run out (as I didn't do - lesson learned).Which leads me to the next point...
- Have a back up plan. Sometimes the flea will prevail, and you will need immediate treatment. There are are few options, and most are 100% effective. A flea bath, for example, is one of the most effective ways to rid a dog immediately of fleas. You can get both natural and chemical versions. Capstar, and oral pill, is another option. It begins working immediately. Just remember to follow up with your control plan right away, as these methods do not prevent new fleas from appearing or larvae (eggs left behind) from hatching. If you don't have a back up plan, that's when things get out of control.
- Never let your guard down. Unfortunately, that's what I did. Whatever method of control you use, stick to the regimen. I let my dog's monthly spot-on treatment slide about a week or two. As most topical treatments have an effectiveness rate of about 70%, once you get past the recommended 30 day treatment cycle, the effectiveness drops to as low as 20%, That's as good as no protection at all.
- Be mindful of the residual effects of fleas. They will bite, and your dogs will react. Even when protected they can be bitten, and they will bite and itch, particularly their rear and nose, as these are the most common points of contact. If the reaction persists, then something may not be working with your control program. Sometimes it's just a reaction to a bite (think of your own reaction to mosquitoes or ticks), so have some skin remedies on hand to ease them of this, as flea control products do not resolve allergic responses.
Remember, it's all about control, and taking these steps will put you in the control instead of the flea - bringing peace of mind to you, and bodily peace to your dog!
* Small Animal Dermatology, George H. Muller, Robert Warren Kirk, Danny W. Scott, Craig E. Griffin
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.
Getting Rid of Dog Fleas
If there is something in the world that you can't think of any positive attributes to describe, it will be pests. Pests are very much unwanted. They are harmful to humans and animals. Fleas are considered as pests. They are commonly found in animals like dogs and cats. However, they can infest people as well. Fortunately, there are so many things that you can do to get rid of these parasites. You can choose between commercial products or home remedies. Both are effective, although the former can be more costly. If interested to try home remedies for fleas, here are some anti-fleas regimens that you can do at home.
Liquid soaps are predominantly used in the kitchen as it can remove hard to wash grease and soils. But did you know that liquid soaps are also very effective in killing fleas? Yes, liquid soaps particularly Dawn Lemon Scented Liquid soap is a fantastic repellent and flea killer. To use as flea killer, mix the soap in a basin of warm water. Bathe your dog. Make sure that you wear clean gloves before you wash your pet to protect yourself from fleas.
Flea Free Diet
Prevention is very important. One way to prevent fleas from infesting your dog is to add garlic to your pet's meals. Adding Sulphur to their diet at least once a week can greatly help as well. Black Walnut Hulls are also good for pets because it help repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. You can buy Black Walnut Hulls in capsule form. They are available in several health food stores and even online.
Herbs are very powerful in combating fleas. Some of the most effective herbs to get rid of fleas are rosemary, lavender, pine cedar, eucalypus and geranium. Find a commercial shampoo that contain these herbs in your local grocery or search online.
Always don clean gloves when bathing your pet. Pour small amount of shampoo to your hands and build it up carefully by rubbing your hands together. This is important to note. As soon as the shampoo gets in contact with the dog's fur, predictably fleas will try to escape. The soapy border will trap and kill the fleas that are trying to get out. So after creating a soapy lather, proceed to washing your pet. Pay special attention to the neck and head area. To achieve its maximum effect, be certain that you leave the shampoo for at least fifteen minutes before rinsing. Rinse your pet carefully and dry well especially when it is chilly and cold to avoid draft.
Vinegar is a common kitchen ingredient. Add vinegar to your pet's bath and you'll see that the flea count is greatly reduced.
Use Avon's Skin So Soft
According to researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Avon's Skin So Soft is a fantastic flea repellant. Avon's Skin So Soft is available in the leading groceries and online stores. Make a bath solution. Carefully mix 1 ½ ounces of Avon's Skin So Soft bath oil to a gallon of water. Soak your dog in this special bath. Based on the study, a considerable 40 percent drop in the flea count was observed after using this remedy in just one day.
As a pet owner, you need to be responsible in looking after your pet's health. Surely, fleas are hard to get rid of. But still, you should never take it for granted as fleas are very harmful. Try the home remedies above and see which one works for your pet. Good luck.