When summer comes around, so do fleas — How To Get Rid Of Fleas 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.
In any flea control efforts you must eliminate and treat fleas in the environment (both indoors and outdoors) and from the animal AND these efforts must be done concurrently to be effective. There is a lot of inaccurate information circulating around the Internet so I thought I would get into some of the better natural flea treatment alternatives and one of the best is cedar or cedarwood.
Many flea treatment alternative remedies are actually repellents. This means that they won't actually kill the fleas (or insects) but instead keep them away from pets and out of the environment. Not too long ago folk medicine and old fashioned home remedies actually used a lot of common sense and products found from right within the household (or garden) to effectively get rid of fleas.
Growing up, I remember the soothing smell of cedar chests, the fresh scent of the cedar chips in the morning dew out in the garden, and was amazed at how many closets were made of cedar to repel moths. Now I loved the smell, but the reason cedar was used so frequently is that cedarwood acts as a great deterrent and repellent for many different types of insects.
In the middle ages, the bubonic plague was being spread by fleas so cedarwood was burned to fumigate the streets and homes to eliminate the ecto-parasites. In more contemporary times, cedarwood oil was officially registered as a pesticide in the United States in 1960. It was approved for repelling moths and for use as a pet tag (or collar) and a liquid that could be sprayed on animal bedding.
Cedarwood oils come from trees in the botanical family Cupressaceae (true cedars, junipers, and cypresses) and in the United States the cedarwood oil is harvested four different sources:
- Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar or Virginia cedar),
- Juniperus ashei or Juniperus mexicana (Texas cedar),
- and Thuja plicata (Western red cedar).
However, the Chemical Abstract Service registry number also applies to:
- Chinese cedarwood oil (Cupressus funebris),
- Kenyan or East African cedarwood oil (Juniperus procea),
- and Moroccan or Atlas cedarwood oil (Cedrus atlantica).
Since its registration, cedarwood is considered to be a great alternative for less toxic flea control in the garden, the home, the laundry, and around pets. For example, when used in the garden with other biological aides, such as parasitic nematodes, cedar chips can help get rid of fleas before they can spread and enter into your home.
Within the household, many people use cedar shavings inside pet beds. For use on animals, there are commercial cedar pet shampoos, cedar pet flea repellent sprays (such as LiquidNet), and a whole company (CedarCide) dedicated to creating cedar products to thwart fleas and other insects.
Safer uses take place in the environment instead of on the animal--unless the product is labeled as safe for pets. Many cedar flea home remedy tips exist such as:
Add drops of cedar oil to their steam cleaner or floor cleaning solutions so that the cedar essence pleasantly permeates their home while adding to other flea control strategies.
Linen & Fabric Sprays
Add a few drops of cedarwood oil to at least two cups of water and place into a spray bottle and to spritz clothing and sheets (or other bedding). You can even add a little to dryer softener sheets.
Cedarwood Blocks, Cedarwood Hangers & Cedarwood Sachets
Used in closets and around the home these products can help keep insects at bay and can be placed almost anywhere.
Finally, when using any aromatic herb or essential oil on pets always check with your veterinarian--because many natural products can be toxic to pets. Don't forget that since our sense of smell is not as astute as our pets, use any aromatic with a bit of restraint.
If your pet is infested with a bad case of fleas one of the best ways to treat it is to apply Frontline spot on flea treatment. This flea control product will effectively control fleas which are breeding and feeding in your pet's fur. Once you apply the treatment to their fur it will kill all of the fleas, larvae and eggs within 24 hours. It also keeps working for a month after the application to prevent fleas from coming back.
Before using Frontline spot on flea treatment it is a good idea to understand how it works and how it kills the fleas on your cat or dog.
What are Fleas?
Fleas are tiny wingless insects which live in the fur of mammals and feed on the blood of their hosts. They have mouthparts which are designed for piercing the skin and sucking blood. They can live in almost any animal including cats, dogs, rats and humans. These tiny agile creatures can jump seven inches into the air, which is around 1200 times their own body length.
These annoying little bugs cause itchy bites and rashes for their hosts. Sometimes the host animal can even suffer an allergic reaction from the saliva of the flea and it can cause serious problems. The frequent scratching as a result can cause hair loss. Fleas are also known to transmit a variety of viral and bacterial diseases.
How Does it Work?
Frontline spot on kills the fleas on your cat or dog because it contains a powerful insecticide known as Fipronil. When you apply it to the back of your pet's neck, the natural oils in their skin work to spread it all around their body.
Fipronil is bad news for fleas and it kills them very quickly. It targets the nervous system of these little bloodsucking pests and causes them to become paralysed and die. Once the Frontline spot in is first applied, this chemical stays in the hair follicles of your dog or cat and is released to continue killing fleas. Even if the fleas do not bite the animal, they will still die.
If you choose Frontline Spot On Plus, it contains an extra ingredient known as methoprene, which inhibits the growth of insects. This means that it prevents the fleas from growing and reproducing with each other.
It is important that you use the Frontline Spot On treatment properly and that you apply it according to the instructions. You will also need to continue the treatments every few months so that the fleas do not come back. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent these horrible pests from causing your beloved pets discomfort and seriously health problems.
How to Tell the Difference Between Flea Bites and Bed Bug Bites
Beside infesting and sucking off blood from your pets, flea bites on people too. Among all insects' bites, flea bites on people are one of the most commonly seen.
Human can be bitten by a variety of fleas namely the dog flea, cat flea or the human flea. Fleas use their jaws to cut through the skin and then excrete their saliva containing enzymes and anticoagulant. The anticoagulant will prevents blood from clotting and enable the fleas to suck on the blood. The enzymes excreted cause all the allergic reactions seen on people.
What do flea bites look like?
Human flea bites generally occur along the ankles and lower portions of the legs. A flea bite can usually be described as a red spot accompanied by a halo of redness that can last for several hours depending on one's reaction to it. It may causes a slight irritation or itch in some people while others with extreme allergies will sometimes break out into hives and have excessive swelling. Children tend to have more sensitive skin and as such, flea bites seen in children are usually more severe than in adults.
Treating Flea Bites
Before you run to your family doctor to seek medical treatment, here are some home treatments for flea bites that you may try especially if it's just a mild case of allergy.
1. Wash affected area with a mild antiseptic soap or detergent
2. Put an ice pack over the affect area. This will help in reducing swelling and inflammation
3. Apply some calamine lotion to relieve the itch
4. A mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone which are easily available from a local pharmacy will be useful in relieving the swellings and itch more rapidly.
As always, prevention is better than cure. Fleas breed at a rapid rate and getting rid of fleas can be an uphill task. Flea control requires an integrated plan, which involves treating your pets, entire house, backyards and gardens. All these require both great efforts and persistence but will be all worthwhile when you get to finally declare your home flea free and bites free!