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Stop Dog Fleas

Updated on June 11, 2013

If you have a dog, chances are you’ve had to deal with dog fleas in one form or another – be it an actual infestation, to the threat of infestation that you vet keeps warning you about. Dog fleas are a serious threat. They not only cause dogs discomfort, but a dog can have an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva, or the flea can transmit tapeworm to your dog. Dog fleas will bite you and any other warm-blooded creature in your house. And if you have a puppy who is overwhelmed by fleas, the results can be anemia.

But you don’t have to live with them. Thankfully, flea control for dogs have become more accessible over the years. The following will hopefully help you to figure out a way to get rid of them.

Dog fleas on a not so happy Beagle
Dog fleas on a not so happy Beagle

The Flea

Fleas are tiny insects with biting parts for mouth specially adapted for sucking the blood out of its hosts. In the summer months, a female can lay up to twenty eggs per day, which can add up to 600 eggs a month. The eggs are not sticky, so they will most likely fall off your pet and into your carpets, floors, decks, furniture – anywhere your dog has been. After two to twelve weeks, the eggs hatch in larvae, where they eventually pupate. They won’t hatch into fleas until they sense warmth or vibration – signifying a potential host nearing or favorable conditions to live under. And given the conditions, a flea can live up to a year without eating. You can imagine the damage they can do with just one pregnant female.

A way to tell if your dog has fleas if you haven’t seen one is to check his coat. If you see little black particles in his coat that turns reddish brown when you wet it, it’s flea dirt (a nice way of saying flea poop.) If your dog is scratching a lot, you might want to consider buying a dog flea comb. When you see your dog scratching a particular spot, rush over with the dog flea comb. Flea combs have teeth that are very close together, and dog fleas will either be pushed off the coat or stuck in the comb when used. You may want to find a way to dispose of the flea afterward for those who are squeamish about crushing a flea themselves. Perhaps soapy water to kill fleas underwater.

Commercial products

I don’t much like commercial products for a few reasons. They are chemically laden products that can cause you harm and your pet harm. The products themselves warn you not to touch the product and that you not have your pet ingest it. If you have birds, reptiles, amphibians, or fish, their systems can be adversely affected by a chemical product, particularly flea bombs. And if you have more than one dog or if you have cats, and they happen to lick the product off one another, then you might have a problem.

All that being said, sometimes a commercial dog flea treatment is a necessity to get things done quickly, depending on the situation. Here’s how they work. Commercial products are essentially pesticides – they poison the dog fleas through contact, usually through the nervous system. They are fast acting, and usually take care of multiple stages of fleas. However, I wouldn’t recommend a dog flea collar as they are toxins just lying on your pet’s neck. (There are so many other collars to choose from anyway, you don't want a flea collar to take that spot on your dog's neck.) A topical flea treatment, like Frontline or Advantage would probably be best.

Home Remedies

A way to get rid of dog fleas and save you and your pets from the toxicity of commercial products is to use salt. Salt dehydrates dog fleas and larvae. You will want to spread just your basic home salt around the house, under furniture, where your pet frequents, on decks and in the backyard. For the outside stuff, you can leave the salt there, but give it a few hours and then vacuum it up. Be sure to throw away the bag in an outside garbage when you’re done. Wash any linens you can, and if you have stuffed animals around the house, put them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer for a few days to freeze off those little suckers.

To cure your dog of fleas, there are several methods. One is to coat your dogs coat in olive oil. The only problem is you have to give your dog several baths to get rid of all the olive oil. You may also want to try brewer’s yeast, which can be taken internally or in a mixture of ¼ cup yeast to 1 quart water, then sprayed on the coat. Dog fleas don’t like the smell or taste of yeast, and overwhelmed, will evacuate.

Do not give your pets garlic! It is a common home remedy that is given to pets. However garlic, onions, and other vegetables of the same family can cause a dog to become anemic, as there are compounds that can lyse (burst) red blood cells. Not all dogs have strong reactions, but it has been shown that over time, a dog can have adverse effects from being given too much garlic, from ulcers to anemia, which can cause death.

Frequency

For all treatments, including commercial treatments, dog flea control is to best when treated once a month to be sure to get dog fleas in all stages of development. But keeping on top of the problem may finally get rid of those pesky little buggers that we all know and hate. If you've visited the dog park, the vet, a doggy day care, or perhaps had your dog in a kennel recently, you'll want to check them for fleas. If this is a frequent thing, topical products would be best, as they last the month, and you don't have to worry about them spreading before you have a chance to treat them. Good luck and happy flea killing!

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