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!!!