The usual chemical flea treatments only go so far because once those fleas lay eggs on your animals, carpeting, or even strands of hair on the floor, you will have still have fleas somewhere in your surroundings – not to mention these pesky critters have a penchant for resistance after a few generations. Save money and the environment by treating your best bud’s critter problem with a toxic-free arsenal.
For a toxic-free flea removal approach you need to think clean and be proactive. But before following this tried and true prescribed plan for utmost flea removal, take a gander at a few “FYIs” you may have a better understanding of the importance of having a set plan when clearing your home (and dog) of these nasty creatures.
Know this first:
• Fleas are similar to cockroaches in that they adapt to their environment. They become stronger and more immune to the popular commercial flea control chemicals with each generation.
• Most of the fleas are living in your pet’s environment, rather than in its fur. Every flea found on your pet may mean that there approximately 30 more living in your home.
• A single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day. The lifespan of a flea is about 90 days, but the hibernating cocoon can survive up to year without feeding.
Scary, right?! But these are the exact knowledge tidbits that help pet owners understand that you can’t just throw monthly treatment on your pooch – especially in “high fleas zones” like the dry west coast. Be proactive and treat your home and dog right after they come in contact with other dogs. When dogs play, they often rub up against each other – you’re not going to stop that. When you get home you need to groom your dog ASAP, then clean your home (plan ahead and treat the carpeting while at the park). That way both your dog and home are clean together, helping eliminate new eggs or adult fleas.
- Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural flea killer and repellent. Place the dog in the bathtub, and in a dish mix a solution of one cup water, one cup vinegar, and a squirt of botanical shampoo, which will create a lather. Work into the dog’s dry fur until a thick lather has formed, staying away from sensitive areas. Let sit for a few minutes (about 5 mins), then rinse to remove any of the cleaning solution as well as dead fleas. The vinegar bath will also leave a mild odor on the dog’s fur and skin that will repel new fleas from attacking.
- The best way to check your pet for fleas is to comb your pet with a fine-toothed flea comb, especially over the lower back near the tail base. You may pick up an adult flea, or you may collect black, pepper-like material. To determine if this black material is flea feces, place the debris on a white paper towel and add a drop of water. If it is flea feces, you will see a reddish-brown stain develop around the paper towel since flea feces is actually digested blood.
- Carpet – Mix four parts of Borax with one part of salt, and sprinkle over your carpet, let sit for an hour (good time to take Fido to the dog park). The mixture gets down amongst the fibers, and dehydrates the fleas and eggs, and prevents them re-hatching. This works great, and it is much more effective, non-toxic and cheaper than “flea bombs.”
- Flea Trap – You can trap fleas by placing a dish of soapy water under a night light near where your pet sleeps. Fleas are attracted to warm light and will drown in the soapy water. This works for adult fleas only, but with diligence, can be effective reducing the flea population. Fleas already residing on your pet aren’t likely to leave, so you will still need to flea comb and/or bathe them in a mild shampoo (even a baby shampoo will work as fleas don’t survive well in soapy water).
Now, I clearly am a dog owner…and I do not have cats. Of course this same approach could be used for cats – but indoor cats are known to resist baths. So if you are looking at just a natural flea remedy for cats – this is it. Otherwise, you might just want to stick with the treatment. But remember, that will be a chemical rubbed all over your home!