Fleas are parasites or “freeloaders” that have to live in or on another creature to survive. They are the most common external parasite found on dogs.
Although your dog may be infested with fleas, they are not always easy to find. One of the best methods for checking your dog for fleas is to look for flea dirt (actually flea feces) in your dog’s coat. To check for flea dirt, briskly comb or rub a section of the hair on your dog’s back while your dog is sitting or lying on a white paper towel. If your dog has fleas, black flecks that look like dirt will fall onto the paper. Spritz the paper towel with water and if the flecks begin to appear red or rust colored, this is flea dirt.
The red color results because blood sucked from your dog is passed in the flea’s waste matter. If the dirt specks do not turn red, then they are probably “regular” dirt.
How do I prevent my dog from getting fleas?
To control fleas, you must stop them from reproducing. Carpets, pet bedding, furniture, and other indoor areas where your dog spends much time will contain the highest number of developing fleas. Frequent vacuuming of these areas and frequent washing of your dog’s bedding can greatly reduce the number of developing fleas inside your home.
Fleas develop in shady, protected outdoor areas. These outdoor spots can easily be identified as the places where your dog likes to rest and relax. Remember, if your dog does not feel comfortable spending time in a particular area, then neither will fleas. Dogs and fleas typically like the same locations.
STEPS TO TAKE
It is always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian as to which flea products will break the flea life cycle in the environment and on your pet. There are a few easy and natural flea treatments that may be an option for you and your dog.
Wash your dog.
Oftentimes, washing your dog with warm water and a mild liquid dish soap or a simple dog shampoo will kill most if not all fleas on the dog. This treatment is best done to treat mild to moderate flea outbreaks, but it may not be potent enough to kill fleas in large numbers.
Lather and rinse the dog once per day for three days until you have killed the fleas. Soap traps fleas and lifts them off the dog. Additionally, it disrupts the cell membranes of the fleas and removes their protective waxes. As a result, the flea can nolonger retain water and dies from dehydration
Comb your dog with a special flea comb.
You can use a comb sold specifically as a flea comb, but you could also use any finetoothed comb. Flea combs physically lift fleas out of your dog’s coat. As you comb, make sure that the comb reaches the skin. If you only comb the fur without reaching the skin, some fleas may remain even afterward. You should immediately dip your flea comb into a bucket or dish of warm, soapy water once you remove a flea. This soapy concoction should be able to kill the fleas
Rub lemon juice into your dog’s coat.
Applying diluted lemon juice to your dog’s fur should kill most of the fleas, especially if you take the time to rub the lemon juice into the coat instead of simply letting it sit on the coat. Mix equal parts lemon juice and warm water in a spray bottle. Alternatively, you could cut a lemon into quarters and cover it with boiling water. Let the mixture steep for eight hours or overnight before straining the liquid into aspray bottle. Spray the lemon water all over your dog’s coat, mainly focusing behind the ears, around the head, around the base of the tail, and under the legs. Rub the mixture into the fur so that it reaches the skin. Repeat this procedure once daily for three days.
Treat your dog with apple cider vinegar.
The apple cider flea remedy can be given to your dog orally or topically. To use this treatment orally, mix 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar into your dog’s water. Do this once every few days. The vinegar will eventually seep into the skin, making it more acidic and less appetizing to fleas. To use the treatment topically, mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle. Coat your dog with the repellant, spraying it all over the coat but focusing on areas where fleas are prone to gather, like behind the ears, at the base of the tail, and under the legs.
Prepare a rosemary flea dip.
Soak your dog with rosemaryinfused water and let it dry naturally. Steep 2 cups of fresh rosemary sprigs in boiling water for 30 minutes. Use enough water to cover the rosemary completely. Strain the liquid and discard the leaves. Add up to 1 gallon of warm water to the rosemary water. Use less water for a small dog. Let the temperature of the rosemary water cool slightly. It needs to be warm, but it should not be so hot that it burns your pet. Pour the water over the dog, drenching him/her completely. Let air dry.
Apply lavender essential oil.
You only need to use a few drops of lavender oil in a few key places to take advantage of this effect. Wash your dog normally with warm water and soap. Dry the dog using a towel. Apply a few drops of lavender essential oil to the base of the tail and a few at the back of the neck. Use your fingers to gently massage the oils into your dog’s coat and skin.