When it comes to household pests, there is one pest in particular that sends fear deep into a dog-owner’s heart – fleas. There are many common misconceptions about fleas and a wide number of purported solutions to getting rid of them; however, not every “cure” is created equal. Some cures for flea infestation have been proven to be completely effective while others don’t even make a dent in the population of the rapidly reproducing pest. Whether your flea problem begins with a single flea carried by your pet, or with a whole host transferred to your home unknowingly in an overrun item, the result always ends in infestation. So how do you get rid of such a determined pest? Well, that all depends upon your approach.
A Little Bit About The Average Flea
Now that you have hopefully determined where your flea infestation began you can begin to eliminate the problem. There are over 2,000 different versions of fleas throughout the world, but many of the common flea species can be eliminated with your average eradication solutions. Fleas are particularly small, as anyone who has experienced an infestation will be able to tell you, varying from 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch.
The most common sign of an infestation is the small raised red bites that appear on the body and extremities of victims or the extreme itching that accompanies them. While fleas can begin with biting only one family member, the bites will soon be found on other individuals in the household as fleas move from one individual to another. Fleas have no trouble when moving from individual to individual, or even animal to animal since they can jump as high as seven inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally. For most species of fleas, the one incentive – and necessity – to travel from one place to another is a fresh supply of blood; however, some flea species cannot survive outside of a particular host species and, as a result, cannot thrive on human blood.
The First Step Is Finding The Source
Whether you choose to eliminate your flea infestation using holistic methods or whether you choose to utilize a more modern approach that utilizes less natural chemical sprays, your first task is to determine where the infestation came from. If the infestation came from a family pet, it is important that this is addressed by taking your pet to your veterinarian for a flea bath to kill the fleas that are currently living off your pet. This type of flea infestation can be largely avoided by applying a flea and tick preventative to your pet on a regular monthly basis. When a pet has become infested with fleas and has been taken to the veterinarian to have their flea problem taken care of, it is important that you do not bring the pet back in to the home before the home has also been completely divested of fleas. If the family pet is brought back home before the infestation has been eliminated in the household then there is a small possibility that your pet will become re-infested despite the fact that they have been treated. If your flea infestation began as a result of carpet or other item that was given to you by friends or family, it is important to let them know that there were fleas in the item so that they can address the problem in their own household as well. Bringing up a flea infestation with anyone is a delicate matter but do not be tempted to let the situation go without being discussed because fleas can very quickly and very easily infest even the cleanest of homes. It is also worth contacting children or individuals that have been in to your house since the infestation began since fleas are able to travel from home to home on humans.
Before You Treat, Wash
Whether you’ve settled on natural or chemical treatments for your flea- infested home, the one thing that must happen before you pursue any treatment is a good old-fashioned cleaning. And when we say wash, we don’t just mean your dog’s bed, we mean everything. From your bedding to your towels to anything your dog lays on, make sure you wash it all, and if you’re able, in hot water. While you’re ridding your washables of those tiny pests, break out the vacuum and run over every un-washable service. Once you’ve cleaned your hard surfaces, too, make sure you empty the vacuum bag, fasten it securely, and place it outside, so none of your unwanted pest guests find their way back into your home. Once you’ve washed everything – including your dog – you’re ready to start your flea treatment.
Two Methods To Eliminating Fleas: Natural And Chemical
When it comes to eliminating fleas from your home there are those who believe that the quickest way to rid themselves of the problem is the best way to rid themselves of the problem – then there are those who believe that the most natural way to eliminate the infestation is the best way. Neither of these camps is right or wrong since both have been proven to work in different circumstances; however, depending upon your beliefs or needs you may be more partial to one method: On one hand, your top concern may be saving your small children from flea bites as quickly as possible, or it may be exposing your children to as few foreign chemicals as possible. Not matter which camp you decide to pitch you flea-killing tent in, you’re guaranteed to have options.
Eradicating Fleas The Natural Way
Warm Light and Soapy Water
Warm light and soapy water is a commonly recommended solution for those who wish to avoid using potentially harmful chemicals. This trick is mostly used in households that have pets that have been infested by fleas. When night falls and your pet goes to bed, put a dish of warm and soapy water underneath a night light. Fleas will be attracted to the warm light of the night light but they cannot swim in soapy water and will drown. While only the adult fleas will leave the safety of their host to bask in the warm glow of the night light, the reduction in the adult population will reduce the ability of the flea population to keep increasing. This type of flea reduction solution is only partly effective since many of the fleas on your pet will not want to leave their warm host so it is also important when using this method that you wash your pet thoroughly in Johnson and Johnson’s baby shampoo and warm water utilizing a flea comb. Using warm light and soapy water to eliminate fleas is an effective solution but it does take longer than many people would like.
Sticky Flea Pads and Electronic Traps
Sticky flea pads are similar to the old fly paper that many households used decades ago. Sticky flea pads are generally always attached to an electronic trap that you will plug in near a location in your home that is severely infested with fleas. Fleas will be attracted to the trap over a period of weeks and soon become stuck on the sticky paper. The drawback to using sticky traps like these is that they can appear extremely unsanitary and they can also take a longer period of time to eradicate flea populations. Again, utilizing this method is not effective on the younger fleas and so it is important to keep these traps in use for a significant period of time to ensure that all fleas are captured. It is also important when using this method that you bathe all animals in the home (as specified above) to reduce the number of parasites living off your family pet.
Boric-acid-based products are another highly recommended solution for flea infestations, particularly when there are animals living in the household. Boric acid is not a particularly toxic product to people or other animals but fleas are unable to survive exposure to it. When boric-acid-based products are sprinkled on the carpet and throughout the infected household, the extremely fine particles of boric acid work their way down in to the carpet and are not easily sucked up by vacuum cleaners. The trick to applying this type of solution is to sprinkle a layer on the carpet and use a broom to work it down in to the carpet fibers, then vacuum to clean off any excess. As fleas come in to contact with these particles they quickly die; however, this means that it is extremely important to vacuum the floors regularly to reduce the dead fleas that are caught in your carpet. While boric acid is not generally toxic to humans or pets it is advised to wear a mask to avoid inhaling large amounts of the product when applying it to the carpets and it is also advised to remove other animals from the home to prevent them from breathing in large amounts of it, as well.
When it comes to homes with tile, wood or linoleum flooring, many health-conscious individuals choose to use Nylar, aka. pyriproxyfen, to eradicate their flea infestation. Nylar regulates the growth of fleas and is commonly utilized where flea-carrying pets spend most of their time. Nylar is sold by many online retailers and needs only to be applied once a year to clean up any flea infestation. Nylar is rather a unique product in the way that it works since it acts as a mimic of the juvenile hormone found in the flea and, as such, prevents young fleas from becoming adults. It also stops flea eggs from ever hatching thereby reducing flea populations drastically.
Rosemary Flea Dip
Rosemary flea dip is another recommended holistic cure for canine flea infestations and involves placing two cups of fresh rosemary sprigs in boiling water for half an hour, straining the liquid and adding it to as much as a gallon of warm water. Water must be warm for this solution to be effective. When the solution is warm, but not too hot, pour it on a flea- infested dog and let the dog to air dry.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil has also been said to serve as a flea killer, particularly when applied to dogs. The trick to utilizing this natural cure is to place a couple of drops of the essential oil at the back of the neck and a couple of drops at the base of the tail to control flea infestations. Lavender oil can also be utilized by applying a few drops to baseboards in areas where flea infestations are troublesome.
Brewer’s yeast is a canine-only solution when it comes to flea control, and natural living experts claim that one small tablet of Brewer’s yeast added to your dog’s food will make him taste repulsive to fleas that attempt to bite him. When using this natural control it is important to check with your veterinarian to find out the correct dosage of Brewer’s yeast as it will change based on the weight of your dog.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another canine-only flea controller since it has a particularly strong odor and would leave the home smelling particularly foul if it was utilized throughout the home. Adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water bowl will make them taste particularly repulsive to fleas and reduce the likelihood of a flea infestation.
Lemon spray is claimed to be another natural flea repellent when a whole lemon is quartered and steeped in boiling water overnight. In the morning fish out the lemon pieces and spray the solution on your dog or around your household in areas where fleas are prone to gathering.
Eradicating Fleas The Chemical Way
Hiring a Professional
Not everyone is in to holistic living and instead they seek the quickest route possible to eliminate fleas from their home and their family pets. While many chastise those people for their decision to utilize harsher chemicals there are quite a few good reasons to eliminate fleas as quickly as possible, including flea allergies in anyone that lives in the household. For most people, utilizing a chemical-based flea eradication technique means calling in the professionals who come with tried-and-true compounds that eliminate fleas in a matter of weeks rather than a matter of months. One important thing to consider when choosing a faster method of flea control, especially when it is as a result of allergies within the home, is that individuals that are sensitive to flea bites may also have allergies to some of the more abrasive agents used in flea control solutions. Another advantage to using this type of service is that pest-removal companies almost always offer a guarantee on their services, so if you are still left with a house full of fleas following service, you will receive your money back or a second treatment free of charge.
Do It Yourself
If you are unable to afford to hire a professional to apply flea eradication techniques in your home, you may find that it is more affordable to purchase flea eradication powders or solutions from your local veterinarian or pet supply store. Not all of these products are guaranteed to work, though, so it is really up to you to do your research before investing in a flea eradication solution of your own. Often you may find it more helpful to speak with a salesperson in the store to see if they have utilized any of the products. This will help you get a feel for how easy they are to use, any side effects from the chemical compounds in them, or how well they work on flea infestations of varied sizes. In the long run it is a much more guaranteed solution to hire a professional to do the job for you when you are not as concerned about earth-friendly and natural solutions being used; however, in this economy that is not always a feasible option so the second best option in this circumstance is to go by word of mouth. A few chemical treatments that warrant a mention:
Safari Flea Comb
This flea comb has two rows of teeth to eliminate pests from your pets under coat. Ideal for use after flea bathes or shampoos and suited for all dog breeds, this comb comes high recommended by professional groomers.
Preventic Tick Collar
The only tick collar that detaches and kills fleas and ticks effectively, the Preventic Tick Collar is a great complement to a topical flea treatment program. Each collar is effective for three months, so the six provides a convenient 18 months of protection.
Little City Dogs Flea Killer Capsules
Convenient capsules can be broken and sprinkled on your pets food, or inserted into a soft treat to treat flea infestation. It’s effective, clean, and safe, exiting your pet’s system via their skin as a neurotoxin and clearing in 24 hours.
Be Vigilant in Eradication To Avoid Re-Infestation
Whether you choose to utilize natural flea eradication methods, hire a professional pest control company or utilize a flea control product that you bought from your local veterinarian or pet supply store, you should always be vigilant in your pest control. Flea populations can quickly rebound when only a few fleas are left alive after a termination procedure, so it is crucial that after experiencing an infestation you continue any treatment procedures that remain even after all signs of fleas have gone.
After eradication comes prevention. Continue to vacuum every other day, wash bedding in hot water once a week, and treating your dog regularly, whether that be one of the natural remedies listed, or a chemical, vet-prescribed or over-the-counter treatment. If an over-the-counter treatment is your prevention route of choice, here are a few of our favorites:
Advantage Topical Flea Treatment for Dogs
This once a month topical flea treatment for dogs kills adult fleas before they lay eggs, and larvae before they hatch. It’s safe, prevents re-infestation for four weeks, and one package includes six treatments.
Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for Dogs and Puppies
This medicated ointment for dogs kills 98 to 100 percent of fleas, eggs, larvae and ticks. The package contains three treatments for three months of protection and is waterproof to sustain swims and baths.
VetGuard Plus – XL Dogs
This monthly flea, tick, and mosquito treatment for dogs over 66 pounds breaks the flea life cycle and eggs from developing into adults for up to 123 days. It also kills larvae for up to four months and kills and repels ticks for up to four weeks.
Professional Pest Control is Always A Consideration
As small as fleas are it is quite possible for just a few to escape your treatment and, with the female flea being capable of laying up to 600 eggs in her lifetime, it doesn't’t take long for an entirely new flea infestation to begin. If you want to be sure that you’ve eliminated your pest problem, your best bet is to always utilize professional pest control services that guarantee their work and if you look hard enough you may just find a local pest control service that utilizes natural solutions to terminate fleas.