Fleas are tiny bloodsuckers that live in dirt, dust, mud and other moist places. They feed on human blood (and other animals) which they obtain through bites. When bitten by one of these little creatures, it causes itching and pain all over the body. These tiny parasites cause severe allergic reactions in humans and pets alike. Some people have no reaction at all while others suffer from intense itchiness throughout their bodies for days or even weeks!
The symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis vary depending upon the severity of the allergic reaction. Sometimes the itching lasts only a few hours but other times it persists for several months. Other times, such as with pet owners, it may not occur at all!
Itching is usually worse during the day time when there is less sunlight and warmer temperatures. If left untreated, itching can become chronic and lead to permanent damage to your skin.
Symptoms of Dog Dying From Fleas:
• An extreme itchiness throughout the body, especially on the face, chest and back. • A severe burning sensation in the mouth and throat. • Extreme fatigue and weakness. • Unusual behavior changes like restlessness, hyperactivity, running away from things or ignoring commands.
• Severe weight loss due to dehydration and hunger pains. • Loss of appetite causing vomiting or diarrhea.
How to Prevent Fleas on Dogs:
The key to preventing dog dying from fleas is regular grooming. Grooming your dog at least once a week can often prevent a severe infestation of fleas. During this routine, you should check for fleas and other insects or parasites. If there are any signs of a flea infestation, immediately take the dog to the groomers and have it dipped in prescription shampoo to kill any insects that may be present.
After the bath, comb out the fur with a fine-toothed flea comb. Any fleas or eggs that are caught in the comb can then be killed by putting them in soapy water or by squashing them between your fingers. After the bath and combing out of any insects, keep an eye on your dog over the next few weeks to see if it is scratching itself excessively. If it is, take it in for a full examination by a veterinarian. You can also call your local veterinarian to see if they recommend any over the counter medications or prescription ones.
The home can also be treated for fleas, especially if other animals live in the house or yard that might be getting bitten and bringing fleas into the home. Use a pesticide fogger to infestations and all carpets, floors and upholstery. Be sure to follow all directions on the package and vacuum all areas once the fog has settled. As with any pesticide, it is a good idea to ventilate the house by opening windows and turning on fans.
Be sure to wash your hands when you have finished applying the spray.
Prevention Flea Collars For Dogs:
The traditional method of flea control is to place a collar around the dogs neck that contains a pesticide. The active ingredients in them range from highly toxic organophosphates like Chlorpyrifos to the relatively safer but still somewhat problematic Pyrethrins.
Some of these chemicals can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation in your dog. Some of the less safe chemicals may even cause cancer! It is probably best to avoid these if at all possible.
The safest method of using a collar is to place an essential oil based one around the dogs neck. These are widely available online or at most pet stores. The brand we have used and like is called Zodiac Flea and Tick Collar. It contains natural ingredients to help prevent and repel insects.
To be effective it should be replaced every 30 days.
There are also herbal tinctures you can add to your dogs food or put in their water bowl that have been shown to be somewhat effective in repelling fleas. Some of these include garlic, wormwood, rosemary and basil. Others include penny royal, neem, thyme and tansy oils.
Natural Flea Repellents For Dogs:
There are several ways to repel fleas from your dogs. These methods can be used in conjunction with other preventative measures such as collars or baths.
One method is to place a few drops of natural essential oils on your fingers and massage them into the skin well. These oils can be found at most health food stores and include rosemary, lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and thyme. Be careful not to get them into your dogs eyes or nose.
Also Useful are Combinations of the Following Herbs which can be made as a tea and used to bathe your dog.
These oils and herbs can be found at most health food stores. You can also find premade formulas containing some of these ingredients online or at your local pet store. Be sure to follow all instructions to the letter.
When bathing your dog, be sure to get the soap into all areas especially under the arms, between the legs, around the ears and in the ears themselves, around the eyes and everywhere else you can. Do this twice a day as part of good hygiene anyway and fleas will have a hard time hanging on!
Also be sure to give your dog regular brushes or combs to prevent their fur from matting. This also helps get rid of any eggs or fleas that might be caught up in their fur.
Be Sure to treat the house and the yard for Fleas as well!
Other Effective, but toxic methods are:
Hartz Flea and Tick Collar. These are highly effective but quite toxic. You should only use these if nothing else is working and be sure to follow all the directions carefully.
Sprays such as Raid or Diazinon. These can be helpful to spray on your dogs bedding to kill fleas that are attempting to lay eggs there, but be sure to follow all instructions carefully and preferably not to use these in a room where your dog spends a lot of time.
Borate Products such as those made by Monterey. Most of these come in the form of powders or dusts you can apply to your carpets and flooring. They are quite effective, but as with any of these treatments, be sure to follow all instructions carefully.
Borax is a natural mineral that is quite effective at killing fleas and their larvae and can be used safely. It comes in various forms such as pellets, flakes and liquid so you can choose what is most convenient for you.
It is also available at most grocery or big box stores so it is easy to find.
Be sure to follow all instructions as this stuff can be dangerous if not used properly.
Combinations of these various methods will be the most effective and will prevent your dog from picking up fleas while giving them a healthy natural coat.
It is also important to note that these methods will not kill the adult fleas that are already in your dogs coat or on your furniture. These will have to be manually removed and replaced with a topical or dip.
Also bear in mind that these methods won’t make your home “flea free”. No natural method or chemical is going to provide that for you.
You will still have to keep up with the daily maintenance of rinsing off your dogs coat and combing them out as well as vacuuming and using sprays and dips on your carpets.
However, if you find yourself in a situation where you are dealing with a flea infestation in your home and yard, these methods will help you eliminate the fleas from your dogs coat and keep them from laying eggs.
It is also extremely important to be sure and eliminate the fleas from your home and yard as well, especially in the spring and summer when fleas are most active.
Here are some tips for getting rid of the fleas in your dog and in your home:
Give your dog a good scrubbing with dog shampoo and conditioner to help loosen up any fleas on their body.
Comb through their fur with a fine toothed flea comb looking for fleas.
Wash your dog’s bedding and anything else they sleep on or rest on with hot water and lots of soap to help kill any fleas and remove them from your home.
Spray your carpets, rugs, furniture and pet beds with a good pesticide such as one containing Pyrethrin to kill the fleas in your home. Be sure to follow all label directions and ventilate the area well.
Keeping your yard flea free is just as important as keeping your dogs fur free of them. You will need to treat your yard with a pesticide such as those containing D-Isofenphos, Cyfluthrin or Permethrin. Be sure to follow all label instructions and keep pets and children out of the treated areas until dry.
Comb through your dogs fur regularly with a flea comb and apply a flea and tick preventative to their monthly grooming routine to keep their fur free of these pests.
And there you have it, some cheap and natural ways to help keep the fleas off your furry friend in the summer months.
Whatever you do though, make sure you keep up with the daily maintenance or these methods won’t be as affective.
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By Linda R. Cleaning and Deodorizing with Vinegar
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Sources & references used in this article:
- A survey of fleas on dogs in southern Italy (L Rinaldi, G Spera, V Musella, S Carbone… – Veterinary …, 2007 – Elsevier)
- Fleas and flea-borne diseases (I Bitam, K Dittmar, P Parola, MF Whiting… – International journal of …, 2010 – Elsevier)
- Health symptoms and occupational exposure to flea control products among California pet handlers (RG AMES, SK BROWN… – American Industrial …, 1989 – oeh.tandfonline.com)