The War Against Fleas

Fleas are nasty little critters.  Like vampires, they suck the blood right out of your pets, and if they get the chance, you too!  No one wants to hang out near a dog that is scratching and licking themselves constantly.  The dog is miserable and so are you.  And the little itchy dots around you ankles?  Yuck!  The fleas have got to go!  But if you are like me, you hate the thought of lots of chemicals on your pet and near your family, especially small children.  But what to do! 

Once, I put a topical treatment on my cat's neck and she immediately jumped on my wooden coffee table and shook her head.  I was horrified to see that the flea treatment had sprayed across my table and ATE THE FINISH OFF!!!!  I didn't like that my table had spots on it, but more importantly, what was the treatment doing to my cat??!!!!  Poor thing!  So I started to look for more natural remedies.

The thing to remember with fleas is that it you have to wage an all out war.  And you cannot win a war with only one weapon or one battle.  These suggestions are single weapons in the war on fleas and have to be used repeatedly to make a difference.  But every little bit helps!  Each flea eliminated is a flea that can't reproduce!

1) A bath - Of course we can help you with this part!!  And a good bath is the quickest and most efficient way to provide relief for your pet and remove all the fleas that have made your pet their home.  If you are doing it yourself, we have several flea shampoo options to choose from.  Our Citrus Plus Shampoo has a natural flea killing ingredient in it, d-limonene, and our Bio-groom Flea Shampoo (for dog's only) contains pyrethrins, another plant-derived insecticide.  Both are very effective and both are available to use for a small extra charge.  Here's a groomer's pro trick: Before you start the bath, take the shampoo and rub it in where your pet's collar would be.  This will prevent the fleas for running to higher ground -your dog's head!  And always lather the shampoo well and let it sit for several minutes to ensure all of the fleas are dead before rinsing well.  Of course, you can leave the dirty work to us!  Just please let us know when you get there that your dog has fleas so we can get him or her in the tub ASAP!  One, to get them some relief as soon as possible and two, so we lessen the chance that the fleas jump off of your dog and into our shop!  We do have to charge extra for severely infested dogs because we have to spray the shop down, bag up and wash the towels separately, and take extra precautions to avoid fleas in the shop.  But we are more than happy to help remove all the fleas from your pet!  The bad thing is that THE ADULT FLEAS ON YOUR PET ONLY REPRESENT ABOUT 5% OF THE TOTAL FLEA POPULATION OF ALL STAGES OF FLEAS IN YOUR HOME AND YARD!!!  GROSS!!  Therefore it is important to stage a multi-pronged attack!!

2) Vacuum - Vacuuming your home every day or at least every other day is a great way to control the flea population.  Vacuuming removes the fleas and the eggs from carpets and floors and provides a vibration that is needed for more eggs to hatch so your Diatomaceous Earth (I will explain later!) can work.  Here's another pro tip: Cut up a cheap flea collar (don't use the $50 one!) and add pieces to the vacuum bag to help kill the fleas in the bag.  And change the bag every few days or those fleas will find their way back out of your vacuum and back into your home!

3) Wash your pet's bedding often - Try laying sheets down over their favorite spots so you can easily pick them up and throw them in the wash.  Use hot water if possible.

4) Set a flea trap - Use a night light and a bowl of soapy water below it.  At night, the fleas will be attracted to the warmth and light of the night light and will fall down and become trapped in the soapy water.  This is also a great way to gauge how many fleas you still have.  If you are finding fleas in the trap, time to step up your battles!

5) Flea comb - A good flea comb and cup of water mixed with dish soap (Dawn works great!) will remove the fleas from your pet without any chemicals whatsoever.  Flea comb daily if possible to continue removing the adult fleas before they have a chance to reproduce.

6) Diatomaceous Earth - Diatomaceous Earth is incredible stuff!  It is made from crushed diatoms and is completely harmless to humans and pets, you can even eat it!  Just sprinkle around areas where the fleas are and rub into the carpet.  This fine dust is like shards of glass to the fleas.  It puts scratches on their exoskeleton and causes them to dry out and die.  Add a little to the vacuum bag as well to help kill the fleas in the bag. 

7) Beneficial Nematodes - You can buy beneficial nematodes at home improvement stores or order them online and spray them around the yard to control fleas and other pests.  Beneficial nematodes are microscopic roundworms that are completely harmless to pets and humans but very harmful to fleas!  They are also environmentally safe and do not damage crops or gardens.  Studies have shown that beneficial nematodes can eliminate up to 90% of flea larvae in a yard within 24 hours of the first application!!  Those are some hard-working little worms!

Like I said, these are weapons in the war and not a be-all-end-all solution.  I did everything I could to naturally get rid of fleas and they persisted.  So I finally broke down and talked to my vet who prescribed an oral medication.  That finally did the trick!  But sticking with these natural weapons will help keep the fleas away and reduce the need for the flea medication.  I only use that as a last resort.  Good luck soldiers!!!

Holiday Plants - Festive, Beautiful, AND Possibly Dangerous??

Animals often chew plants and most are harmless but there are a few plants that we often adorn our homes with during the holidays that can be potentially dangerous to your pets. 

Poinsettias are toxic to children and pets, but not as deadly as some people think.  While eating the leaves can cause nausea and vomiting and are irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophogas, your pet would actually have to ingest a large amount of poinsettia leaves to actually cause real harm.  But it is best to play it safe and keep poinsettias out of reach. 

Holly and mistletoe are far more toxic to dogs and cats and should definitely be kept out of their reach.  Mistletoe is known to cause severe intestinal upset, sudden drop in blood pressure, hallucinations, seizures, and even death.  So hang these items high for kisses and well away from your pets.

The flowering Amaryllis is another dangerous plant to watch out for.  Ingesting this plant can cause salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and lethargy.  The bulb is even more toxic than the plant so please keep these beauties high on a shelf.

A Christmas Cactus is not actually toxic to pets but the fibrous plant material can cause stomach upset, something all pet owners want to avoid to keep our floors and carpets clean! 

Finally, the Christmas Tree.  The oils in the fir trees can be irritating to your pet's mouth and stomach causing vomiting and drooling.  It is also possible for needles to cause an abdominal obstruction or puncture.  The water that the tree sits in can also be toxic with bacteria, molds, and fertilizers so please do not allow your pet to drink the tree water.

At Lucky Pups, we want to help keep your pet safe during the holidays and all the time.  Hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday season!

Dog Flu - Keeping your dog well

Canine Influenza, or The Dog Flu, is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific virus, called the "canine influenza virus" or H3N8.  This virus, originally found in horses, has jumped species to dogs.  This form of the flu does not, however, affect humans.  For dogs, this virus causes symptoms of cough, runny nose, and fever, however some dogs may develop a severe case.  Most dogs, about 80%, develop a mild form of the disease.  Death has occurred in rare cases and because of this, we want to do our part to keep our Lucky Pups safe.

The dog flu does not seem to be affecting Hampton Roads as of yet, but cases have been reported in Northern Virginia and North Carolina.  Therefore, PLEASE, if your dog is coughing or showing any signs of respiratory illness, DO NOT bring them to the shop.  If they are ill, a bath will not feel good anyway and we do not want to take chances of spreading the disease. 

If your dog is showing signs of respiratory illness, Lucky Pups will take the following precautions:

  • If you have dropped your dog off, we will call you and ask you to pick him or her up immediately.  If you are still with your dog, we may refuse service.  In either case, we will reschedule your appointment for a future date when your dog is feeling better.
  • We will wash our hands thoroughly and disinfect any areas that a dog has been that is showing any signs of coughing or sneezing. 
  • We already clean all kennels, bath tubs, and grooming tables with bleach at the end of every day and after each use.  In addition, we will use Lysol and other disinfectants to ensure high levels of sanitation. 

Talk to your veterinarian about a flu vaccine that may be available.  If your dog develops a cough or other respiratory symptoms, call or visit your vet immediately.  Lucky Pups wants all of our clients' dogs to stay well.  As always, we promise to take every precaution to keep your dog safe while in our care. 

You've got a lucky pup

Welcome to Lucky Pup's first blog!  In our blog we will talk about all kinds of topics relating to owning a dog, cat, or other pets.  How to take care of them, behavior issues, grooming, health, fun places to go, and more!  If you have an idea for a good blog topic, please let us know!  Email to and put "blog" in the subject line.  We appreciate all suggestions on this or anything else our business can do to improve your experience!

In our first blog, let's talk about your lucky pup.  Anyone reading this blog, is interested in the topic of dogs and their care.  That means right away that you obviously love your dog and want to learn how to treat him or her well.  I named Lucky Pups for a reason.  My belief was that anyone that takes the time and spends the money to come bathe their dog themselves or has them professionally groomed means they love and care for their dog and that makes their dog one lucky pup!  When I was growing up, my parents always said "All our dogs should be named Lucky!" because they lived such good lives!  And that's the way it should be!  Dogs come into our lives or we choose to have them in our lives because they give us enjoyment.  Dogs don't care if we are wearing makeup, or if we smell bad, are too fat, too ugly, have expensive clothes, a fancy house, or a job people respect.  Dogs love us exactly as we are.  Good or bad, they don't care.  And we should pay them back by treating them well.  Good food, healthcare, attention, training, proper grooming, and shelter are just a few of the things that people should sign up for when they choose to take on the responsibility of a dog.  If you can't provide these things, don't get a dog!!  But if you do decide to take a dog into your life, treat him well and he will pay you back 10 times over with love!

Not all dogs are lucky pups, but we are trying to do our part to make to make them that way.  We support Portsmouth Humane Society and the work they do.  They are a really awesome group of employees and volunteers that work every day to make a difference in the lives of dogs, cats, and occasionally other animals.  We have fostered three dogs, all of which have found terrific homes.  Fostering dogs is a very rewarding experience.  All you have to do is provide food and love and PHS will provide all medical care.  Sometimes some dogs just need a break from the shelter so you can foster for a few days or a few weeks.  Sometimes they are recovering from an illness or injury and just need a place to relax.  Either way, you get a dog to love without the long term commitment or expense.  We highly recommend it!  

But, back to your pup.  You love him, feed him, take him for walks, play with him, spend lots of money on him at the vet, and even let him get on the couch.  Most importantly, you bring him and wash him yourself at Lucky Pups!  Or you let us pamper your pup!  Either way, your dog is lucky because he has you. Thanks for being a part of Lucky Pups Pet Wash and taking good care of your pup!