flea season -

Flea Season

Article Written By: Chris Haworth / Manners Unleashed

Flea season is upon us, and the best control for these adaptable, blood sucking annoyances is prevention.

There are many flea remedies on the market that may be safer than even just a few years ago; however, anything that says “avoid contact with skin” is something I may think twice about putting on my dog.

These are some alternative suggestions:

Flea Facts

Fleas are highly adaptable and can reproduce at an alarming rate. The lifespan of a flea is about 90 days and a single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day.
Eggs take from 2 days to 2 weeks to hatch depending on temperature and humidity.
Most fleas are living in your dog’s environment, rather than in its fur. Every flea found on your dog may mean approximately 30 more in your house.
Most flea eggs are laid when humidity is high and temperatures are between 65°-85° F, and they prefer dark, moist environments.
Fleas can be carriers of tapeworm.

Controlling the tiny beast:

First off, inspect your dog. Typically fleas will congregate around the base of the tail and belly. If you find small black particles in your dog’s coat, it is probably flea feces. If you’re unsure place a few on a damp paper towel. If they turn red, you have fleas to hunt down.

Diet- Good nutrition will reduce your dog’s susceptibility to fleas by increasing his immune system and encouraging a healthy skin and coat. Dry unhealthy skin causes itching and reactions to fleabites are more severe. The fleas didn’t cause the skin ailments; they only worsened a previously existing problem. By feeding a high-quality, natural diet, free of additives and preservatives, you improve your dogs health and increase protection from fleas.

Fatty acids that are rich in omega-3, like fish oil and flax seed oil, also promote a healthy coat and may help to combat inflammatory reactions caused by flea bites.

(Check my Resources & Tools page for Natural Health food stores).

Grooming- Bathe your dog weekly with a natural, mild shampoo (no chemical laden flea control shampoos please). Start at the neck and liberally lather the entire body. Leave on for at least five minute as the suds drown the fleas.

For most dogs five minutes in a tub is an eternity, so I always arm myself with small, tasty treats or better yet, a thin thin layer of peanut butter covering a plate? As I hold the plate for my dog to lick, the minutes tick away. Sneaky! And you’ve added a positive association to bath time.

Finish with a lemon rinse and allow to air dry. (Lemon rinse recipe: slice a whole lemon and drop into a pitcher of very hot water, allow to steep overnight…easy, huh?). The residual citrus odor is a flea repellent, and also helps tone unhealthy skin.

There are many great natural sprays containing other safe repellents such as: pennyroyal, neem & tea tree oil, eucalyptus, cedar wood, or lavender that I use daily as well. (Found at the natural health stores on Resources & Tools page.)

Flea combs are also effective. They remove fleas and help monitor the extent of your bug problem. Have a dish of soapy water near to drown any found fleas.

The Yard- Keep the flea population down in your yard by using beneficial Nematodes. These are microscopic worms that eat flea larvae and many other lawn infesting pests. They can be applied using a watering can or a sprayer attached to your hose. Place them in moist, shady spots around your house as nematodes nor fleas survive in hot sun. Many garden stores carry them (Watson's & the Windmill), as well as online sources.

The House- Vacuum often & thoroughly! I sprinkle a teaspoon or so of Diatomaceous earth (a desiccant which dehydrates fleas) on the floor and vacuum it up so any flea larvae are killed in the bag. Vacuum carpets, under furniture, beds and throw rugs, sofa cushions, corners and floorboards. This is where the majority of your problem lives. By breaking the flea’s life-cycle every few days they won’t be able to proliferate.

Once you’ve cleaned well apply Diatomaceous earth. It cuts through the flea’s exterior causing it to dehydrate and die. It’s safe to use around pets and children. Follow the package directions. I get mine from The Mud Bay Granary.

Wash any bedding the dog sleeps on 1-2 times per week in a hot soapy washing machine and dry in a hot dryer. I recommend choosing bedding that’s easy to wash often during flea season.

Daily I quickly sprits my dogs with a natural repellent that’s good for their skin and coat, and once a week I do flea prevention around the house, wash all the bedding, vacuum then re-apply the diatomaceous earth in the house and my vehicle. It really doesn’t take long and prevention is much easier than trying to eradicate a full on flea infestation!

Help from your veterinarian

Dogs can have an allergy to the saliva of a flea bite, so it may only take one bite to send your dog into an “itching, scratching” nightmare. For these dogs natural methods may not be sufficient to relieve the problem and you may need to speak to your vet about alternative treatment.

Good Luck and enjoy a healthy dog & flea free season.

For more helpful articles by Chris be sure to check out: http://www.mannersunleashed.com/blog/