If you spot even one flea on Fido, he is likely to have many fleas.
When you’re living in the South as I am, you’re continually on guard against fleas. Down here, flea season doesn’t come and go. It’s Carnivale d’Flea year round. I have dogs, so I use several methods to keep the party from getting out of hand.
Patience Wins the War
Fleas have a four-stage life span that can last as long as three years. If you don’t fight on all fronts (pet, home, yard), you might as well pull out the couch and invite them to stay.
Charming facts about the common flea you need to know:
- For every flea you find on your pet, you have 30 more in your house.
- A single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day.
- A flea egg can lay un-hatched under your sofa for an entire year, emerging once conditions are good.
- You must use different methods to kill fleas in their different stages.
Fortunately, there are natural home remedies for killing fleas. These are usually safer and cheaper than harsh chemicals. Be prepared for ongoing skirmishes to get rid of these guys forever. They’re like the Persians in 300: thousands will just keep coming. It may take weeks or even a few months, but you will be victorious with a little patience.
Take Care of Your Pet
Shampoos and Essential Oils:
- Any shampoo left on for five to 10 minutes will kill fleas but not eggs.
- Flea combs are good for getting fleas around the face. Drop them in soapy water.
- For dogs only: Use 10?20 drops of any of the following essential oils: rosemary, lavender, cedar, citronella, eucalyptus and pennyroyal. Mix with a pint of water and use to spray animal. Some essential oils have shown to be toxic to cats.
- Citrus oil extracts are said to kill both adults and eggs.
- Never put undiluted essential oils directly on a pet. As with anything you use on or feed to your pet, watch for adverse reactions.
Repellents (will not kill fleas)
- Use Avon’s Skin-So-Soft – two ounces per gallon of water as a dip or spray.
- Small amounts of natural garlic and/or Brewer’s yeast added to food makes your pet less tasty to fleas.
- B-vitamin supplements that are made for pets can do the trick. Don’t use your big chewables from the cabinet.
- A few drops of white vinegar to your pet’s drinking water helps.
Battle on the Home Front
This is where you concentrate your attack. Only five percent of fleas live on your pet. The rest are in your home. They’re either young adults, eggs just about to hatch or eggs waiting until you start to relax. If you want them all gone, you have to repeat all treatments several times.
- Gather all bedding, including Fido’s. Roll the bedding up carefully, so the eggs don’t fall off. Wash the bedding at least once a week in very hot water. Dry in your drier just to be sure.
- Mix one-and-a-half pounds of food-grade diatomaceous earth (pool-grade DE is poisonous), one-and-a-half pounds of natural borax and one-cup salt. You can find DE at natural pet stores.
- Wear a mask and work powder into your carpets and under and behind furniture. Keep children and pets off these areas. It’s very important not to breathe this in or get it your eyes.
- The borax/earth powder dehydrates and kills both adults and eggs. Sprinkle lightly and keep on your carpet for two or three days, then vacuum your entire house.
- Vacuum everything as much as humanly possible. Because your flea problem is mostly due to eggs hatching every few days, this is your best bet for controlling them. Keep some of the borax powder in the bag to kill the ones in there.
- Mix 10 drops of tea tree oil, one-fourth cup of vinegar, and one quart of water to spray on soft surfaces. You can also mix 10 to 20 drops of citrus oil with water and use as a spray.
Secure Your Perimeter
If you don’t treat your yard, you’re just wasting your time. These guys are notorious for hitching rides on Fido or you.
- Spread diatomaceous earth around the yard in shady spots and in the areas where your pets like to hang out.
- Order nematodes from a garden or pet center. What’s a nematode, you ask? They’re microscopic bugs that eat flea eggs. This makes them the darlings of the microbe world. Place them in shady, moist areas near your home.
I’ve highlighted only a few of the popular home remedies for killing fleas. Because of their different stages, no one method or product will wipe them all out. Yes, it might feel like an epic battle. But if you treat all three areas repeatedly, you can win.