Take Steps Today to Fight Fleas Naturally This Spring

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Did you have a terrible flea problem last summer or fall? Do you think everything is OK now because you haven’t seen a flea in a few weeks and Fido or Fluffy is no longer scratching? Think again! Fleas are one of Mother Nature’s most adaptable little creatures, right up there with cockroaches. They are tiny, fast, and smarter than you might give them credit for. Somehow they seem to know when you are looking for them, so they move quickly into places where they are hard to see, such as into black or darker colored fur, armpits, or directly under the tail (seriously, how often do you lift that tail and look for fleas there?). Severe infestations are easy to spot, but it only takes a couple of fleas to literally have thousands of them in a matter of weeks.

Fleas tend to go dormant in the cold winter months. Dormant does not mean dead, however. They are still busy feeding and laying eggs. Those eggs and larvae are just waiting for warmer weather to burst into action!

Besides being annoying, fleas are disgusting little carriers of disease, including:

  • Dermatitis – Even just 3 or 4 fleas can give your dog or cat a nasty case of dermatitis. This is a skin condition that often results in hair loss, bald spots, red rashes, and open sores as your dog bites and chews his inflamed skin. Fleas carry potential allergens in their saliva and if your dog or cat is sensitive to these allergens, they can easily get this skin disease.
  • Tapeworms – You are grimacing right now just thinking about these, aren’t you? When dogs and cats bite and consume fleas they can get tapeworms, which lay their eggs on fleas and then live inside your pet. Tapeworms can be easily transferred to you. It only takes one infected flea to set off a tapeworm infestation.
  • Anemia – Some pets, especially young ones, become so infested with fleas that they cannot deal with the blood loss and become anemic.
  • Neurogenic Dermatitis – This is a behavior problem that can develop when pets become obsessed with licking and chewing their skin due to the itching from flea bites.

On top of all of the above, fleas are just plain nasty and annoying. One flea in your home in December can quickly become thousands of fleas by April. Read also how to tell if you have parasites and what to do about them.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

If you act now you can stop fleas from becoming a problem when the weather warms up. Keep reading to find out the best way to keep fleas from making your home, their home.

 

1. Make a Natural Anti-Flea Spray

Mix one quart of water with one cup of white vinegar and mix. You can also use apple cider vinegar if you prefer. Add 5 or 10 drops of cedar or lavender essential oil. Use this once a week to wet down your pet’s bedding and spray them liberally with it. If they don’t like the spray bottle, wet a rag and then wipe them down. Don’t forget to get under their collar, under the legs, and around that tail. Spray carpets and other places where your pet likes to sit or sleep.

 

2. Wash Bedding

Wash your pet’s collar, clothes (if they wear sweaters or other types of clothing), bedding, towels, or cloth toys. Anything that your dog touches or sleeps on can harbor fleas or their eggs. Wash them every two weeks in hot water and use the hottest setting on your dryer to kill any fleas or eggs that might survive.

 

3. Wash Your Pet

You can always take Fido or Fluffy to the groomer for a flea bath, but many people find that it’s easier and cheaper to just do it themselves. You can buy a special flea shampoo, but most fleas are killed by any soap product, so you can always use your own shampoo or plain old soap. Start by washing at your dog’s neck and work your way down to the tail. Fleas tend to crawl up, so you can stop their progression by starting with your dog’s neck. Rinse your pet well, as leftover soap can be drying to their skin. Some people like to put hair conditioner on afterwards to help stop skin dryness. This can make your pet smell really nice! Adding a few dozen drops of lemon or grapefruit essential oil to the final rinse water is another way to help repel fleas in the future, as they dislike citrus scents. Don’t wash your pet more than once or twice a month, as it can be very drying to their skin.

 

4. Vacuum

You can remove most flea eggs and larvae by vacuuming twice a week. Be sure to vacuum around and under your pet’s bedding and around sofa cushions. Add a half a dozen drops of lemon, lavender, or cedar essential oils to your vacuum bag. This will not only kill fleas, it will also make your house smell nice as you vacuum.

Larvae are often caught in the fibers of carpets and aren’t removed by vacuuming alone. You can help fight this by sprinkling your carpet with salt. Grind some sea salt into a very fine powder. Sprinkle it over your carpet and allow it to set for 24 hours. Salt will dry out and kill the larvae. Then you can vacuum as your normally would. Don’t try this when humidity levels are high. If you have a humidifier, let it sit at 50 percent for 48 hours before you try this so that you don’t have wet salt stuck to your carpet!

 

SEE ALSO: Got Bedbugs? How to Find Them and Get Rid of Them!

5. Speaking of the Humidifier

If you use a humidifier, set it so that the humidity level remains below 50 percent. Fleas need humidity to survive. At this setting, all fleas and larvae should be dead after about 3 days. You could use this method once a month to help your war on fleas is even more successful.

Be persistent in your efforts. Even when you don’t see any active fleas, that does not mean that there are not eggs or larvae just waiting for the right opportunity to hatch into adult fleas. If you start now, you should find that you are flea free when the weather warms up. Continued efforts will keep your home, as well as you and your pet, free from these little blood sucking parasites all year long.

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