Fleas - How to get rid of them naturally October 30 2013, 9 Comments
The bane of a dog owners existence. Fleas. Understandably many use the spot treatments, I prefer however to go the natural route. Perhaps I like a challenge, because that it is!
My three dogs (and I) have had a flea epidemic. Seriously, the only way to get rid of these little @#%$^& is SHOCK and AWE!
The following will need to be repeated (sorry, once will not be enough) until you are rid of these blood sucking harbingers of itchiness.
Armed with every single natural flea repellent and killing method, I think and hope that I have got things in control. I spent quite some time researching and most definitely realize there is no magic one cure here, it’s a combination of many things. So here goes, if you want to take it on the way I have, here’s my list of things to do. Roll up your sleeves, it’s going to be work!
Firstly, I read, a healthy diet is very important, fleas are less likely to bother a dog with a strong immune system. I feed my dogs well, cooking for them every day. This information baffled me because my dogs are healthy. Perhaps fleas aren’t so picky after all….I added raw garlic (thin slivers) and brewers yeast to their dinner. Yes, they have major garlic breath, peeeyooo! Maybe this was the missing link….???? we will see….
Immune boosting herbs can be helpful too. Silver Lining Herbs and For Love of The Dog websites have some great solutions for immune system.
Bath your dog as often as you can, you do not need to use harsh shampoos, in fact a very mild natural shampoo will be perfect. Because you need to bathe them often, you don’t want to dry out their skin. I use an aloe shampoo from Nature’s Gate. Soak your dog and leave shampoo on for a few minutes. You do need to wash the head and around the eyes, using a mild shampoo is extra important here as you don't want to hurt their eyes. Because you will be bathing your dog more frequently than normal, try adding some healthy fats into their diet, if you’re not doing so already. Flax seed, olive oil, coconut oil….this will help their skin.
Flea comb. Do not underestimate to power of this little comb! it works wonders. I comb them rotisserie style, flipping them over and on their sides several times. Have a bowl of warm soapy water and some paper towels close by. Fleas will jump off comb quickly. You’ll need the paper towels to wipe off comb and wet fleas.
Vacuum cleaner and hand held vacuum cleaner. You need to vacuum daily. And I mean vacuum everything that you can…curtains, your bed, literally anywhere a flea can lay an egg. Making sure to get all cracks, crevices and corners. I took up all the dog beds, rugs and carpets, washed them and put them away. The less stuff you have to vacuum and wash the better. I gave them a towel to lie on. It will suffice and is easy to wash. They still have my furniture and my bed to sleep on….
Once you are finished vacuuming, empty and wash the canister and filter. Throw out the contents of the vacuum as far away from your home as possible! If you cannot, put in sealed bag in your freezer until you can. I also sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on the floor and vacuum it up for when vacuum is stored.
The jury is still out on the use of boric acid. I think you can get the job done just using the diatomaceous earth and baking soda.
Wash everything that can be washed. You can also put things into the dryer too, heat kills fleas and their eggs. Don’t forget to wash all of your dogs toys and jackets/sweaters too.
Natural spray: Mix water with a little vinegar, tea tree oil, and essential oils - eucalyptus, geranium and citrus. Fleas do not like these scents, don’t know why but don’t need to! Once you are finished bathing, vacuuming, spray your dog, apartment and furniture with this. If you don’t want to spray direct on some fabrics, spray on a piece of cloth and stuff it inside furniture cracks. I spray all corners of my apartment and along the walls.
Infrared lamp. I happen to use this for my sore muscles and for body detox. I did a search to see if it would help with fleas (you never know) and low and behold, infrared is used by exterminators for flea control! If you have one, just turn it on and leave wherever you feel there is the most infestation. The heat from the lamp dries out areas it covers. Fleas don’t like dry, they like moist. My dogs love to lay under it and it is perfectly good and healthy for them to do so! They are not expensive to buy. I researched the best bulb to buy (many are made in China and as you might guess, are bad quality) Phillips has a 250 watt 120 Volt heat ray bulb. Home Depot has them for about $15.00 a bulb. They last literally years. You’ll need a special ceramic socket for the bulb, this too is inexpensive, I bought mine from a hardware store for $12.00, it has a clip so you can clip it onto a chair or something. Fleas aside, I highly recommend infrared for personal use.
Dehumidifier. I have one of these because I live in New York which can get unbearably humid in the Summer. My old building also has some mold issues, so I got one to prevent any problems. I did a search to see if that would help with fleas and found that indeed it does help! (Who knew?) apparently fleas love humidity.
Sprinkling baking soda or diotomaceous earth on carpets, furniture and all around apartment is a must. The baking soda dries out the area while the earth both dries are and kills fleas, eggs, pupa et al. Leave on carpets as long as you can. You can leave on the inside of furniture and wherever you feel is ok to do so. It’s up to you.
Nematodes are a tiny worm that I heard can help but only outdoors. I have not used them. If any one has used them effectively, please let me know.
Bowls of water and a lamp. I’d tried this “flea trap” before and found it to be ineffective, I had bought the lamp with a glue trap. I wound up throwing it out. This time around, I tried it again (what the heck) and used a bowl of soapy water underneath a lamp (I used the infrared) and was pleased to see it actually did capture a few. I’m glad I tried it again!
The flea lifecycle can vary in different conditions. Which is why it’s important to disrupt what they need to thrive! So the less humid the environment the better! Dry, dry, dry!
The cycle has four stages: the egg, the larval, the pupa and the adult.
The egg stage: females begin laying eggs 24 to 48 hours after feeding. They produce 40-50 eggs a day. Eggs will mostly be wherever your dog has shaken them off! Be fastidious to any areas your dog frequents.
The larval stage: larvae hatch in 1 to 6 days, they tend to live deep in carpeting or furniture. They hatch quicker in more humid environment.
The pupa stage: hatch in between 3 to 5 weeks. The big problem here is, the pupa can remain in it’s cocoon for up to 350 days, so you may think you’ve killed them only to find months later you have a major infestation!
The adult stage: the adult starts to feed immediately, they are attracted to movement, warmth and exhaled carbon dioxide. They can survive through the Winter. Fleas unfortunately are not seasonable!
Good luck to you all and if anyone has any other methods that work, please let me know!