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Fleas: A Danger to Your Whole Family Especially Your Pets

Updated on August 20, 2018
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I have done extensive research about fleas for 3 good reasons. These are my cats, Lennon, McCartney and Willi.

The Black Death: Bring Out Your Dead!

Fleas are carriers of "Plague" or "the black Death". During the middle ages, there were so many deaths from this horrible epidemic that there weren't enough graves to bury them all. The dead were placed in carts and dumped outside the city walls in trenches dug for that purpose.

Plague: A Gift From Rats And Fleas

A parasite cannot survive on its own. It requires a host to feed and sustain it. Some parasites have parasites. The flea is an excellent example of this fact.

Throughout history, populations have been devastated by a bacterial infection known as the “plague” or the “black death”. During Queen Elizabeth 1’s reign the "bubonic plague" killed about 1/3 of Europe’s population. Infected rats are the prime carriers of plague ridden fleas.

Although outbreaks have been less frequent, Africa and the United States are two of the many countries who have recently reported cases.

“Bubonic plague" gets its name from the “buboes” that appear under the victim’s arms neck and groin. It originates with fleas that live on infected rats.

Once the disease has a foot hold on a population, it is transferred in the same manner as the common cold or flu, i.e. through air born droplets discharged from the victim’s mouth and nose. Untreated, the “black plague” kills about 50% of those infected.

Although the rat is king when it comes to hosting Xenopsylla cheopis or the “rat flea”, mice, camels, chipmunks, prairie dogs, rabbits, and squirrels also provide breeding grounds for these unwelcome pests.

Plague needs filth and squalor to develop. Thus, sanitation and pest control are the best way to prevent an infestation.

Fleas aren’t only partial to the taste of your family and your pets. They also find tape worm eggs delectable. If your dog, cat or child ingests a flea that snacked on a tape worm egg, they will become hosts to these parasites.

A tape worm is composed of small segments called “proglottids”. They can achieve lengths of between 4 and 28 inches. They are most likely to be found around your pet’s anus. Although they aren’t in your animal’s feces, they can be seen on its surface right after your pet has moved its bowel.

Once they have been expelled from your pet, the proglottids dry out and release their tape worm cargo to the environment. They end up being about the size of a grain of rice.

Since they don’t stay in the stool, they are hard to diagnose. If you suspect that your child or pet may have had contact with tape worms, tell the health care provider so that they can be treated appropriately.

Don’t worry. Once they are found, they’re easy to eliminate. But, as you can see from the picture below, they are darn gross.

Tape Worms Can Grow To A Sickening 28 inches

Here Are Just A Few Places Fleas Like To Set Up Housekeeping

You would have to be able to cover a whole football field in one leap to equal a flea's. Your furniture and carpeting aren't even a challenge to this insect's athletic abilities. jumping prowess
You would have to be able to cover a whole football field in one leap to equal a flea's. Your furniture and carpeting aren't even a challenge to this insect's athletic abilities. jumping prowess | Source

Protecting Your Home From A Flea Infestation

Fleas are hard to evict once they’ve taken up residence in your pet’s fur, and in your carpet and upholstery. Here are some natural remedies that will help get them out of your home.

Noah could have saved us a lot of grief with just two well aimed swats. Since he resisted that noble impulse, we have turned to chemicals to rid ourselves of these pests.

The pests, in turn, have developed immunity to our poisons. We, however, have not developed such immunity, and we pollute the environment with each puff we spray from an aerosol can. Bug sprays and bombs are the first line of treatment for most people. However, if you want to do your family, including your pets a favor, try these non-toxic approaches first. I can personally vouch for the salt trick.

Salt: Sprinkle finely milled table salt all over your carpet. Let it sit for 24 to 48 hours, then vacuum it up. Salt dehydrates the little blood suckers, and sends them back to the Celestial Barbecue Pit, or wherever else they came from.

Diatomaceous earth: This substance is composed of ancient sea creatures whose sharp little shells cut our nasty six-legged invaders to ribbons. You can hear them screaming for mercy while you sleep. Oh, no. I’m sorry. That was me screaming for mercy. I won’t tell you what I said, but my cats ran for cover, and I don’t think it was just the fleas.

Apply this remedy the same way you would apply salt. Let it set overnight and vacuum it up the next day. Make sure the diatomaceous earth you use is food grade. You aren’t supposed to eat it, but you don’t want the same stuff you would use in your swimming pool. It just won’t work.

20 Mule Team Borax: You know, the stuff your Mom used to put in the laundry? Well, fleas don’t like it because it does the same thing salt does, which is suck the liquid out of their nasty little bodies. Leave it on the treated surface for 24 to 48 hours.

It is quicker than salt but is a little riskier. After all, your 4-legged friends are a lot closer to the ground then you are, and you wouldn’t want them to breathe anything but pure sweet oxygen.

Vacuum: This is something you will have to do frequently, no matter what you apply to the fleas’ hiding places. You should do it, both before and after the treatment. You should also dispose of the vacuum bag or thoroughly clean out the canister each time you sweep so the fleas can’t hop out later and start the next generation.

And, in case you haven’t figured this out, clean your vacuum outside in case one of the convicts escapes. After all, she could be pregnant, and you sure don’t want to inspire new generations of her progeny.

With any of these remedies, you will get the best results if you take a broom and work the powder into the flea ridden surfaces. One mama flea can lay up to 100 eggs a day, and it only takes twenty or so days for those babies to grow into adults that can lay up to 100 eggs a day.

Before you know it, you can have more fleas than New York has people. Your poor cat or dog can turn into a flea condominium in a very short time if you don’t get right on top of the problem.

You Will Need To Get Rid Of Your Pet's Fleas To End The Infestation

If your pet spends any time outdoors, he probably has fleas.

If he plays with, or is exposed to other animals, there is a strong possibility he has been infected.

If he has black dots on his skin, he is hosting fleas. Those dots are his blood, which has been turned into flea poop.

If he is constantly scratching himself, not only does he have fleas, but he is allergic to them.

Even if he isn’t allergic, it is important to make sure he is protected from these parasites. Not all dogs and cats scratch flea bites. However, that doesn’t mean the vicious insects aren’t eating him alive.

Here are some remedies that might help:

Cut up a couple of fresh lemons. Bring water to a boil and pour it over the lemons. Allow it to sit overnight. Using a sponge or wash cloth, douse your pet’s fur, being careful to keep it away from his face. Run a flea comb through his fur to remove fleas. Dump the fleas in a mixture of Dawn dish washing soap and water to make sure they’re dead. Next flush them down the toilet.

Mix 1/ cup of either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar into a quart of water and thoroughly spray your pet’s coat. Run a flea comb through his fur and put the fleas into a mixture of Dawn dish washing liquid and flush them down the toilet.

Mix 3 drops of essential oil (lavender, cedar, oregano) with several teaspoons of water, or olive oil and apply the mixture to a bandana. Tie the bandana around your pet’s neck. Also, place a few drops at the base of his tail.

These remedies won’t kill the fleas, but they will work as a repellent. Besides, wouldn’t it be fun to have a dog that smells like a spaghetti dinner?

Cats don’t like the smell of citrus, so you might opt to pickle your puss’ fleas with vinegar instead. In any event, save enough for yourself, because you’ll have to catch her first.

© 2018 Lucille Uttermohlen


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