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Fleas: Home Remedies

Dog taking a bathSo let’s say that you’ve treated Fido and rid him of all those pesky fleas. If you’ve achieved this, you deserve a pat on the back, but your work isn’t done yet! All it takes is one flea and the cycle starts over again. Treating your pet first is important because you want to protect your dog’s comfort and health. But as you are treating your furry friend, the next step you want to take is treating your dog’s environment so you can keep the fleas at bay. Only a small percentage of fleas are actually living on your pet. The majority of fleas are living in your home and yard. If you want to be effective of getting fleas out of your life and keeping them out, you will need to treat the whole population.

Here are some tips for controlling fleas in your home and yard.

Home Cleanliness:

We can’t say too much about the importance of simply keeping your home clean. True, this is easier said than done, but in the end, it’s easier to maintain a clean house than to pour resources, time, and effort into fighting a full-blown flea infestation. Vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping are your friends!

Clean pet bedding:

If your dog already has fleas, consider cleaning his bedding every two days. This will help you to control the amount of eggs that will be dropping off your dog and into your dog’s bed. If you can remove the eggs before they hatch, you will not find yourself fighting so many adult fleas down the road.

Cleaning dog bedding serves another purpose. It removes the flea feces that may fall off your dog, thus removing a common source of food for the flea larvae. Remember, as long as fleas are present on your dog, there will probably be flea eggs and larvae in your dog’s bedding, so wash regularly.

Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for washing your dog bed. Wash it at the highest temperature possible and, if the material permits, dry it on high heat in the dryer. Be sure to clear out the lint trap. While it’s unlikely that fleas in any stage will survive the heat of the dryer, it’s better to stay on the safe side.

If your dog does not have fleas, it may be wise to still wash the doggy bedding at least every month.

If your dog has a favorite napping spot, pay special attention to that area in your cleaning as well since that will be another prime breeding ground for flea eggs and larvae. Clean it as best and as regularly as you can. Launder pillows, cushions, bedding, and anything else that can go in the washer and treat everything else with one of the options below.

Vacuuming:

A regular regimen of vacuuming will do a lot to keep flea populations to a minimum. Although not as effective against adult fleas, who can simply jump away, vacuuming can work very well against flea eggs and larvae. A strong vacuum can pick up flea eggs, especially those that fall onto hard floors and slip into floor cracks or get pushed to the floorboards with other dust and debris. Vacuums with a beater bar can also disrupt larvae and suck them up, especially if your carpet doesn’t have very deep fibers for them to burrow into. Vacuuming will also pick up the flea feces and other organic materials that larvae depend on for food. ] Pupae have sticky exteriors, which make them hard to eliminate with a vacuum. However, vibrations from a vacuum can stimulate a flea pupa to open, at which point an adult flea will immediately emerge in search of a carrier and will be sucked up by your vacuum.

If you have a current flea infestation, it will be worth it to vacuum daily, at least in the areas your pet frequents the most. Also pay attention to those cool, dark places that larvae prefer under furniture and deep in seat cushions.

If you expect to be vacuuming up a lot of eggs and larvae, try putting a gas-emitting flea collar in your vacuum bag to dispatch any fleas you catch. If you have a bagless vacuum, you can empty the vacuum canister after each use and dispose of the dirt in a sealed bag in your outdoor trash.

If your dog does not currently have fleas, it’s still a good idea to vacuum the high-traffic areas where you and your pet are the most. Vacuuming at least once a week will go a long way. It’s always possible that the pests are hitching a ride into your home on you or one of your other family members. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to vacuum out your car monthly.

Bug bombs and fumigation:

Some victims of flea infestations try general insecticides like bug bombs or fumigation. This method involves releasing a gas that is toxic to bugs, however, it is dangerous for pets and humans to breathe as well. This approach is usually used for bad infestations. In cases where a concentrated spot treatment is needed, you’d be better off with a spray or powder treatment. If you do go the bug bomb route, carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This will likely involve vacating the house for a period of time. If you have a bad flea problem and you’re going out of town for a few days, this type of treatment might work well for you. In other cases, you may find it inconvenient or dangerous to your family.

Flea sprays and powders:

There are many commercial and natural products that you can sprinkle and spray around your house to control fleas. Read all instructions on commercial products for proper use, allowing recommended time to let sprays dry and avoiding inhalation of powder products. Be ready to repeat these treatments two weeks after the initial application. Remember, you’re fighting all the life stages of fleas, and flea pupae are particularly resilient to treatments. When they emerge, you’ll want to have a fresh treatment ready for them.

Some pet owners also suggest sprinkling the floor with fine salt to act as a desiccant. Remember that fleas need humidity. The salt dehydrates and kills them.

Another popular option that is natural and non-toxic to humans and pets is diatomaceous earth. This can be bought at garden centers or pet stores. It can be safely spread on carpets and floors and only needs to be replenished if it is accidentally removed by vacuuming.

Remember to focus on problem areas when applying these products. Spot treat under the furniture, around your pet’s bed, in high-traffic areas, on your pet’s hang out spots, and around doorways.

Flea traps:

Flea traps fight against rising numbers of adult fleas by attracting them with light and then entrapping them in water or a sticky substance. You can buy a flea trap or make your own. To do this, simply put a low-edged dish of soapy water on a floor near a light source (like a night light). During the night, the adult fleas will be attracted to the light and will land in the water.

Temperature and humidity check:

Finally, a last step is making your home as unwelcoming to fleas as possible. If you can, lower the temperature of your home to below 70 degrees. If it’s cold enough, fleas will not emerge from their egg or pupae stages, thus keeping them away from your dog. You can also use a dehumidifier to keep you home away from the prime humidity for flea breeding.

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