Pets complication to the flea problem is the excessive use of vaccines, antibiotics, and cortisone-like drugs that stress the immune system and push it toward an allergy state. It is bad enough to be bitten by a flea. But it is worse to be allergic to the bite as well. You can see animals with fleas that show no evidence, or very little, of being bothered by them, yet another animal can’t tolerate even one flea because of excessive reaction.
Pets complication to the flea problem
What’s in all these flea-control products, anyway? Basically, they are poisons, meant to harm fleas more than pets. Most animals tolerate them fairly well, but they do add to their body’s burden of toxins. Others are more sensitive to them, which can signal a health problem. So, while they have their use, I encourage you to try a safer, more natural approach first.
Safe, Effective Flea Control
As a part of any flea-control program, always boost your animal’s health and resistance as much as possible through a healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s also essential to practice thorough sanitation and cleaning of the home: understanding the life cycle of the flea makes it clear why.
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Understanding the Flea Life Cycle
•Adult fleas live about 3 to 4 months. During that time, the females steadily lay tiny white eggs on your pet that look like dandruff or salt crystals. These eggs drop off and build up wherever your dog or cat spends most of its time resting or sleeping. Biologists call them “nest parasites.”
•The eggs then hatch out into tiny larvae, which live in the cracks and crevices of rugs, upholstery, blankets, floors, sand, and earth. Because they can’t travel much farther than an inch, these larvae feed on the black specks of dried blood (“flea dirt”) that fall off along with the eggs when your animal grooms and scratches.
•After 1 to 2 weeks, the larvae go through a cocoon (pupa) stage.
•A week or two later, the pupae hatch out as small fleas, who quickly hop onto the nearest warm body (usually your pet—sometimes you!) and bite it for a meal of blood.
•Then the cycle starts all over again, taking a total of 2 to 20 weeks, depending on temperatures. During summer—flea season—the entire cycle takes only 2 weeks or so. That’s why fleas increase so rapidly then.
So, no matter how many adult fleas you kill on your pet by grooming and bathing, you can figure there are another 10 or so going through development.
The good news is that these eggs, larvae, pupae, and the flea dirt they feed upon can be sucked up by a vacuum cleaner or washed away in the laundry. And because the developing fleas are so immobile until they hatch, you know where to focus your efforts: your pet’s favorite spots.
That’s why cleanliness is your best ally in the battle against fleas. Regular cleaning of your home and especially your animal’s “nests” interrupts the life cycle of fleas and greatly cuts down their numbers, especially if you act before flea season begins.
Indoor Flea Treatment
•Clean your carpets. Steam clean all carpets as the first step in your program if and when fleas build up again. Though somewhat expensive, steam cleaning is very effective in killing flea eggs and it’s also good for reducing accumulated dirt and toxins. Whenever you take this step, be sure to do all the following steps on the same day. Afterward, do them once a week or so.
•Mop tile, vinyl, and wood floors. Mop hard floors with very hot water, which helps kill the larvae, even if you can’t get all of them up.
•Go after fleas with the “vacuum posse.” Thoroughly vacuum all furniture and floors at least once a week to pick up flea eggs, larvae, and pupae: Focus on areas where your pet sleeps and use an attachment to reach into crevices and corners and under heavy furniture. Dispose of the bag or seal its contents in a trash bag; otherwise, it can provide a warm, moist, food-filled environment for developing eggs and larvae. If there is a heavy infestation, put an insecticidal flea collar (or part of one, if you still have some of them) into the vacuum bag to kill any adult fleas that might crawl away, or else suck some diatomaceous earth into the vacuum to dehydrate them.
•Launder your pet’s bedding in hot, soapy water at least once a week. Dry on maximum heat. Heat kills all stages of flea life, including the eggs. Remember that flea eggs are very slippery and easily fall off bedding or blankets. Carefully roll up your pet’s towels or blankets so the eggs don’t fall off en route to the washer.
•Use a fine-toothed pet flea comb to trap and kill fleas on your animal. Start a daily, weekly, or monthly habit, depending on the degree of infestation and time of year. Cover your lap with an old towel to catch extra clumps of hair and flea dirt and to wipe the comb off as you work. Gently but thoroughly comb as many areas as your pet allows, especially around her head, neck, back, and hindquarters.
•Bathe the animal with a natural flea-control shampoo. For dogs, try one with d-limonene (but not for cats—it’s toxic to them).
•Install a flea-control trap in the room where the animal sleeps. You don’t have to use one, but they are very handy and could make the difference between success and failure. They plug into an electrical outlet, creating a warmth that mimics the animal the fleas lust for. Newly hatched fleas will cross a room to jump on it, only to get stuck on a sticky membrane or drown in a liquid container. Check online.