First, how do we know if our four-legged friend has fleas?
- Are they excessively scratching, licking or biting at their skin?
- Take a flea comb and run it down the length of their back, if there’s fleas you will see small brown oval shaped insects on the comb.
- Check their fur for flea dirt (flea dropping), spread their fur back to the skin and if there’s a chance of fleas you’ll see small black flakes resembling pepper on the skin. If you’re lucky you might see a flea scurry away as you look at the skin.
Are we positive for fleas? Don’t worry, here’s what to do next:
Treating our pup: First we want to get them a bath! During the bath you want the shampoo to sit on them for approximately 10 minutes to ensure the killing of all fleas on them. Following the bath we want to wait at least 24 hours before applying any topical flea medication; these medications are spread using the dog’s natural oils in their skin which are removed during a bath.
Treating the house: If you have caught the invasion of fleas early you may not have to treat the house but I would recommend at the least washing your pet’s bedding and any other blankets they regularly frequent. A non-toxic way to kill flea eggs, larvae and adults in the house is to sprinkle food-grade* diatomaceous earth (crushed diatoms) on any bedding, couches, carpet and dark corners especially around baseboards. Fleas thrive in dark warm climates so focus on spreading the diatomaceous earth there. The longer you can wait the better before vacuuming all of it up but shoot for a couple hours to overnight before vacuuming it all up. The best thing to do in the following days and weeks is to vacuum, vacuum, vacuum!
Our four-legged friends and our house is flea-free so how do we keep it that way?
1.Use a monthly preventative flea treatment; there is a wide variety of options for monthly flea control and it really depends which you prefer and what works best with your dog. Options include: flea collar, spot-on topical treatments, oral pills, natural oils, flea powders and flea spray.
2. Keep the grass in the yard short, some also regularly sprinkle diatomaceous earth through their yard on a regular basis to keep any fleas out of the backyard.
3. Wash your pet’s bedding regularly
We want to hear from you! What are your favorite methods for flea control? What’s your experience with the all-natural flea repellents?
*There are a couple types of diatomaceous earth, you want to make sure you get food grade diatomaceous earth which can be purchased at most pet stores at a local hardware store.