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How to Treat Dog Fleas – With Natural Products

How to Treat Dog Fleas

Simple Facts about Dog Fleas:

Dog Fleas are probably the most successful creatures on the planet in terms of reproduction. There are over 2,400 species and they are difficult to control for a variety of reasons. One female flea will produce 25,000 offspring in one month. An unfed adult can live for several months. The chemicals used to eradicate adult dog fleas have no effect on the eggs. Dog Fleas are very good at mutating to resist new pesticides. Dog Fleas Can Cause More Than Itching.

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Dog Fleas are a menace to dogs! They cause allergic dermatitis, tapeworms, and anemia. Most of the eggs are not laid on the dog but in the dog’s bedding, in the carpet and on the furniture. It is extremely difficult to eradicate fleas completely. The most you can hope for is to control them and to keep your dog reasonably comfortable during the warm, moist flea season.

The best way to control dog fleas is to remove them from your dog and your home. Take him to a groomer for the day and have him bathed with flea shampoo. Spraying or dipping him with a residual pesticide has little or no lasting effect. While he is out of the house, hire a company that uses a non-toxic product to spray the carpets and the furniture. These companies usually guarantee a flea-free home for one year.

Some dogs are bothered more by the use of pesticides than they are by fleas. Dog Flea collars, sprays, powders and shampoos are all loaded with pesticides.

Beware! If your dog is into serious scratching, your holistic veterinarian can prescribe a natural remedy for the itching. It is also very important that you discuss with your veterinarian which natural products you should use on your pet to rid him (or her) of dog fleas. There are a lot of products on the market that claim to get rid of dog fleas; not all of them work and some could be harmful to your dog.

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From this point on, it is important for you to vacuum the carpets, furniture and your dog’s bedding every day. Place the cut-off end of a flea collar or a moth crystal, into your vacuum cleaner bag to kill any vacuumed adult fleas. Vacuum the dog if he will let you! Groom him daily with a flea comb. Do not be surprised if you occasionally find a flea on him. He will bring them in from outside. Remember, you cannot get rid of them, only control them.

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How to Spot and Care for Fleas on Your Dog

Your poor pooch is scratching himself all over. Plus, you know he’s uncomfortable because he’s whimpering and gnawing too. Chances are, he’s got fleas. These little six-legged parasites will wreak havoc and mayhem for you and your pet if you don’t learn how to take care of the problem now.

Most dog fleas are known in the medical world as Ctenocephalides Felis, which is a species of cat flea that really enjoys dog meat. It’s ironic, but true. These little buggers have four stages to their life: egg-larva-pupa-adult, and it’s your job to kill them all off or you’re going to have big problems with these tiny insects.

flea

Dog Fleas thrive in warm, humid and low altitude areas. Female fleas are the ones that need your puppy or dog’s blood in order to lay her eggs, and they’re most likely the ones that are aggravating your pooch the most. However, male fleas also do their fair share of bloodletting on your doggie’s skin. If you live in a warmer climate (southern US states or Hawaii), you should treat your dog for fleas year-round.

How to treat dog fleas

There are many ways to check to see if your puppy or dog has fleas. As mentioned above, they may scratch, bite or whimper, but many dogs won’t react at all. It simply depends upon their skin type and if they have an allergic reaction to the flea’s salvia residue, and not the actual bite. If your dog is allergic to fleas and/or their bites, you’ll know it.

It’s called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), and the dog may develop a rash or even lose hair. Dog Fleas also spread tapeworms and have been known in extreme, but not rare, cases to cause your dog (or especially puppies) anemia. To check for fleas yourself, simply brush up your puppy or dog’s coat and look for the insects hopping around. If you can’t see them for yourself, try using a magnifying glass under good light. Keep in mind that fleas don’t necessarily live on your dog. So, you may have to check for small flea feces or eggs, which are brown and/or red.

If you notice dog fleas, there are some things that you must do. You may want to talk or visit with your vet before starting your own flea-battling regimen. First, let’s take care of the puppy or dog. Use gentle flea and tick shampoo. Wash and soak thoroughly. The shampoo will rid your dog’s skin of any eggs, larvae or flea feces. When dry, you may want to use some flea powder on your dog. But first, test a spot to make sure that it doesn’t burn or irritate your dog’s skin. I spray my dogs with Apple Cider Vinegar.

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Second, wash the puppy or dog’s sleeping area (which you should do once a week anyway). Use a pyrethrin-based product or an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) or Insect Developmental Inhibitor (IDI) on his sleeping area. Try using a monthly dosage product proven to help battle against fleas. If your dog still has discomfort, use a dermatological mist and/or try an antihistamine tablet. Keep your dog from running all over the house. He should remain somewhat quarantined as to not roll around on or become infected with any more fleas.

Finally, it’s time to take care of the environment that the fleas thrive in, your home. First, experts say that vacuuming the infected area will help substantially. Be sure to empty and change the vacuum bag each time. Then, you can use an IGR or IDI product throughout your home. Better yet, use a canned fogger in your home and spray in all the hard-to-reach areas. Then, vacuum thoroughly again. You can also treat the grass in your yard against fleas. It’s a full-fledged battle against an almost invisible enemy. You can win it, and you must for you and your dog’s sanity.

 

Understanding Dog Fleas: How Fleas Breed & Affect Your Dog’s Health

Dog Fleas belong to the insect, Siphonaptera. They are common pests and may attack many mammals, including man. They can be a year-round problem because they infest not only pets but also the home of the owner. Because of this, treatment of the pet alone may only temporarily solve a flea infestation.

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Although many species of fleas feed primarily on one type of animal, the common cat and dog flea will readily take blood from a variety of animals, including man. Flea infestations of pets and their homes will most likely involve the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis and occasionally the dog flea, C. canis.

Dog Fleas are small (2 to 4 mm in length), brownish to black insects which are characteristically flattened from side to side. Adults are wingless and capable of jumping relatively long distances. Adults feed exclusively on blood with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. When not actively feeding, adult fleas often hide in locations frequented by the host animal such as your dog bedding, sofas or carpeted areas.

The common cat and dog fleas breed throughout the year. After feeding and mating, the female deposits her eggs, usually on the host. Several eggs are laid daily and up to several hundred over a lifetime. Eggs normally fall off the host into bedding material or similar areas and hatch within two weeks.

Dog Flea eggs accumulate in areas where the host spends most of its time. In addition, adult fleas defecate small pellets of digested blood which also drop off into the environment. A flea comb will often gather this fecal matter at the base of the tail providing a good sign of flea infestation. The combination of white flea eggs and black dried blood specks may appear as a sprinkling of salt and pepper where an infested animal has slept.

Dog Fleas undergo complete metamorphosis, that is, they pass through four developmental stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Immature fleas do not resemble adults at all.

Flea larvae are tiny, light-colored, and, worm-like, without legs. They feed primarily on various debris and organic material including the droppings of the adults which contains digested blood. Flea larvae occur indoors and outdoors, wherever the eggs have fallen off the host. In houses, flea larvae live in carpeting, furniture, animal bedding and other protected areas with high humidity. Flea larvae also live outdoors in areas where animals spend time such as under porches in and around dog houses, etc.

Because flea larvae depend on the adult’s fecal pellets of dried blood as a food source, they cannot live in lawns or other outdoor areas unless the pet visits those areas enough to provide this food.

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Depending on the species of flea and environmental conditions the larvae will pupate in one week to several months. The pupa is contained within a loose silken cocoon which is often covered by bits of debris. Under average conditions, the life cycle of the flea normally requires between 30 and 75 days but may take much longer. Adult fleas inside the cocoon, called pre-emerged fleas, will stay in that condition for weeks to months if no external cues from a host is available.

However, when disturbed by the presence of a host such as vibrations or carbon dioxide from exhaled breath, the fleas emerge simultaneously and attack the host. This is why it is possible to return to a house or apartment that has been empty for months and find it full of fleas.

When the normal host is available, fleas may feed several times a day but they are capable of surviving extended periods of starvation. In household situations, the normal host is a cat or dog. However, if the normal host is removed, starved fleas will readily seek other sources of blood and more often than not, man is the alternate host. In severe infestations, fleas will attack humans even though the normal host is present.

Certain species of fleas have been known to transmit such diseases as bubonic plague and murine typhus. These have never been a major problem. The major problems with fleas is as a nuisance pest of pets. The irritation and itching from flea bites results in scratching and potential secondary infection. Fleas may also transmit the double-pored dog tapeworm to dogs and cats.

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Finally, persistent attacks from fleas can cause severe allergic responses in some people and pets. Once sensitized, a single flea bite may produce symptoms including hair loss, usually around the base of the tail, dermatitis, and intense itching. In worse cases, puppies and young kittens can also die from serious flea infestations.

With proper flea management knowledge, flea problems will not be a big issue and can be battled and won over easily.

 

My Dog Has Fleas!

Fleas are a problem for dogs and their owners alike. These tiny insects will live on the body of your dog, sucking the animal’s blood and laying eggs. The bites and presence of fleas will cause the dog to itch and if the dog happens to be allergic to fleas (the allergy is technically to the insects’ saliva) it can experience extreme itching, loss of fur in some places, inflammation and infections. Regardless of whether the dog has an allergy to flea saliva, infestations must be dealt with or they will go on and on and the fleas will also infest your home, other pets, and can even live on humans. In short; you can be directly and adversely affected by an uncontrolled flea infestation.

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Detecting Fleas:

If you suspect that your dog has fleas because it’s been scratching more than usual, there are ways to check for their presence. Fleas are very small (about an eighth of an inch long), but visible to the naked eye, and brownish in color. Because they prefer dark places they will try to hide beneath the dog’s fur, under the collar, or on the underbelly. Their fecal material can also be seen on the dog’s coat and looks like multiple black flecks or specks ‘ almost like pepper. If fleas or their droppings are found it is time to treat your dog to get rid of them.

 

Treating Your Dog for Dog Fleas:

While dog flea collars, powders and sprays may help to prevent infestations to some extent, they will not help if the dog is already infested. When fleas are infesting a dog the female lays eggs at a rate of about thirty per day. These eggs fall off the dog and into the carpet, soil, or wherever the dog may be. In these areas, they hatch and pupate, eventually growing into adult fleas which can then re-infest the dog. In order to halt the cycle, all the fleas on the dog and in the environment must be killed or the life cycle must be interrupted.

There are several flea treatments available for dogs, but one of the best is an oral medication that will not kill adult fleas, but does kill the eggs and larva. This interrupts the flea life cycle and prevents them from coming back, as long as the dog is not continually exposed to new fleas. If that is happening, the source must be cleaned of fleas whether it is the carpet, the environment, or other dogs with which your pet associates.

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Dog Fleas can be a real nuisance for dogs and their owners, but catching them and treating the dog quickly is the key to eliminating the infestation and preventing the insects’ return.

 

How to Win the War Against Your Dog’s Fleas

All dogs pick up fleas, ticks, and chiggers at one time or another, usually during the warm weather months. Even a pampered city pet can pick up a stray flea from a potted plant. Hunting dogs often return home with a collection of chiggers or ticks. Dog Fleas hop from one dog to another with amazing speed and agility. Your pet only needs to greet one flea-infested friend in order to acquire the beginning of a flea colony of his own.

External parasites are not a special affliction of dogs. The dog is simply a convenient host for them. We would probably have them too, if our bodies were covered with hair and we ran around without shoes and clothing and sat or slept on the ground. Dog Fleas are the most common, the easiest to detect and to get rid of. Dog Fleas appear as black specks on a fine-tooth comb, and a single one can drive a dog crazy.

The worst part of dog fleas is that they act as hosts to tapeworm larvae, and if your dog swallows one you may end up with a worm problem too. You can trap fleas in a silky smooth coat with a flea comb, but fleas that nestle in the dense undercoat of double-coated dogs must be treated with a product that penetrates the skin, and regular mild treatment is safer than an occasional severe one.

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In one day, a single flea can bite your pet 400 times, while consuming more than its own body weight in blood. Some dogs can contract flea allergy dermatitis, an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva. The severity and length of the flea season vary depending on what part of the country you live in, but it is best to start treating your pet in early spring, (April to May). In northern climates, flea and tick season usually lasts approximately 4 months, but in the extreme south, fleas can live all year long.

There are more than 2000 species of fleas in the United States alone, but the one that attacks most pets is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides Felis. A cat flea can lay up to one egg per hour, and within two days, worm-like larvae will hatch from those eggs. The eggs are oval, smooth, and about 0.5mm in size. The hatched larvae will range from 1.5 to 5 mm in length. The complete cycle from egg to adult takes approximately 30 to 75 days depending on temperature and humidity.

Adult fleas are about 1/16 to 1/8 inch long, are dark reddish-brown, wingless, hard-bodied, have three pairs of legs and are flattened from side to side. Fleas can jump vertically up to seven inches and horizontally up to fourteen inches. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts and spines on their body. Adult dog fleas cannot survive or lay eggs without a blood meal, but may live from two months to one year without feeding.

In order to effectively control an infestation, fleas must be removed from the pet, the home, and the yard. Starting with the pet, there are natural shampoos, topical treatments, natural sprays, collars and oral medications. The least recommended is shampoo, due to the grooming the pet does to his own coat. The pesticides can be toxic if they are consumed in quantity. Topical treatments are better, along with sprays and collars.

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To clean the home, all areas frequented by the dog should be cleaned thoroughly by vacuuming, washing bedding and rugs and possible treatment by insecticides. Treating your carpet with a Borate powder such as “Borax” laundry powder works as a poison upon ingestion by the flea, simply sprinkle the powder on your carpets and leave it for a few hours before vacuuming. It will rid most homes of their fleas. A second treatment can follow if necessary. It’s cheap so you can do it yourself and there are no insecticides used.

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To treat the lawn and around the home’s exterior, pyrethroids such as “Archer” or “Nylan”, as well as fenoxy carb such as “Logic” or “Torus” can be effective. Outdoor treatment is usually only done in extreme or severe cases of flea infestation and may not be necessary. You should, however, keep your lawn trimmed to create a drier, less ideal environment for flea larvae. If you don’t want to handle the pesticides yourself, any licensed professional pest control operator can do the treatment for you. Just be sure to keep your fur kids away from the toxic chemicals.

In summary, you should check with your holistic veterinarian before using any form of flea treatment. Never use products for dogs on a cat, as cats are more sensitive to the pesticide and they groom themselves more thoroughly. Never apply pesticides to young, pregnant or sick animals, and use alternative methods to control fleas, such as combing frequently with a flea comb, vacuum your home frequently and dispose of the vacuum bag, wash all pet bedding regularly, and bathe your pet with a pesticide-free shampoo. Prevention is much easier than dealing with an infestation.

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Flea treatment

 

Dog Fleas and other parasites

Fleas and other parasites need to be given a priority by the dog owners. The common incidences of flea bite allergy in the case of dogs cause worries among the dog owners.  Flea bite induces allergic reactions in the concerned area bitten by the fleas. Hence, the affected area looks like a hairless area and the animal starts scratching.

Other parasites like ticks and lice in addition to the internal parasites like hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, etc., cause more problems in the health of the animal. For example, if hookworm affects the animal, most of the time, the dog has anemia.

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Hookworm larvae can pass directly through the skin and cause problems. Such dogs may reveal lesions pertaining to dermatitis in the feet region and in the skin areas. Skin rashes may be seen frequently in such cases and the affected animal passes loose stool, which is of red color and mixed with blood material.

If the roundworms are seen in more numbers, the affected puppies reveal a potbelly condition, which is easily recognized by the dog owners themselves. Piperazine salts are given by oral route for the treatment of this problem. However, broad-spectrum anthelmintics like pyrantel pamoate, fenbendazole, etc. are given to treat these conditions.

 

Dog Fleas:  Fido’s Pesky Little Friends

When summer comes around, so do dog fleas — those little creatures that can make your dog’s life (and yours) miserable. There are things you can do to minimize the chances of flea infestation and other measures you can take if they have already invaded your home.

Natural Flea Prevention

First, let’s look at the steps necessary to keep the fleas away; without using chemicals. This natural flea prevention will work best to prevent fleas from taking hold and can also be used if you have a very light flea infestation.

Keep your carpets vacuumed! Vacuum daily and get some wide tape to seal up the vacuum bags as soon as you remove them from the vacuum cleaner. If you DON’T have small children around, use pennyroyal leaves either fresh (if available) or dried and spread them around your carpet to repel fleas.

Keep your dog’s bedding clean by washing it in warm water and soap. When it is dry apply some cedar oil to the bedding to help repel the fleas.  Keep the area around your dog’s bed free of dust and dirt.

Give your dog a bath once a week with cedar shampoo (bathing more frequently may dry out its skin). If your dog does get dry skin it will attract fleas — just what you don’t want. Give a dog with dry skin some Coconut oil mixed with its food (you can also rub it into their skin and fur). Something else you can mix, in very small doses, with your dog’s food to repel fleas, is a mixture of garlic and brewer’s yeast. With this mixture in the dog’s system, it will give off a scent that you won’t be able to notice but dog fleas will notice it and they hate it.

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If you mix lavender oil (60 ml) with rock salt (2.8 liters) you will have a great dog flea repellent that can be spread around the places where your dog goes and can also be used as a dog shampoo.

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Fill your outside flower beds with marigolds — they have natural flea repellent properties and also repel other bugs.

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Try boiling either lemon peels or orange peels in water to create a solution that can be used as a dog dip and can be used on the dog’s bedding before washing it.

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Another effective dog dip, if you are experiencing a light infestation, is warm water, shampoo and laundry detergent; immerse the dog’s body in this for ten or fifteen minutes and then rinse thoroughly.

 

This is what I do in the Summer months for an at-home dog flea treatment

Make a Natural Flea Collar

Use two drops of lavender oil or tea tree oil in one teaspoon of water and apply the solution all over your dog’s collar or sprinkle the solution on a dog bandana or scarf and tie it around your dog’s neck. This will keep the fleas at bay.

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Make a Natural Flea Spray

Mix water and vinegar together in a spray bottle. The most effective solution is a 1:1 ratio. Spray your dog, making sure to avoid his eyes and any open sores. Let your dog’s fur air dry. Repeat this at home flea treatment for a couple of days. If your dog doesn’t like the spray bottle, soak a washcloth in the mixture and wipe your pooch down with it.

If you have a heavy flea infestation you may have to resort to chemicals — all these products can be used safely if you follow the directions that come with the products.

 

Conclusion

Flea management requires patience, time and careful planning. Vacuuming and cleaning areas frequented by dogs and cats should be routine. The same applies to kennels. If an infestation occurs, insecticide applications on the animals or in the environment may have to be repeated according to the label. The need for retreatment and time intervals between insecticide treatments will vary with the kind of insecticide and the formulation.  I prefer the “natural” approach and have included some great alternatives throughout this article.

Flea control will not be successful if only one approach is used. The animal and its environment must be treated simultaneously and that treatment must be combined with regular sanitation efforts. Read all product labels carefully. Do not overexpose your pet by combining too many treatments at one time, such as a collar, a shampoo and a dust. Pesticides have a cumulative effect. Be aware of each product’s toxicity and do not endanger yourself or the animal by using excessive amounts of any one product or by combining products.

 

Dog Fleas

 

To end, please remember that flea control will only be successful when you treat both your pet and the environment simultaneously. Hope this article is useful in helping you manage flea problems.

 

How do you help your fur baby when it comes to fleas?  Please share it with us!

Written by Johannes

Comments

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  1. Great article! Thanks. Also, there are many more ways to get rid of fleas on dogs. Like using a flea comb, Supplementing dog shampoo ( Add a half cup of freshly compressed lemon juice to half a cup of your dog shampoo and add two cups of water to it. Process this mixture in a container and bath) etc.

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