This is the time of the year when fleas are out in full force. The scratching and irritation which your dog suffers can be beyond belief. These nasty insects feed on the blood of your pet and can also infest your home. With an infestation in your home, both you and your pet can end up with red bite marks, itching and scratch yourself raw.
Some Facts about Fleas
First of all, you need to understand the four stages of the life cycle of the flea. The cycle can be from a few weeks to a few months depending on the humid levels and the temperature. The cycle of the flea starts after the adult female lays her eggs. This is after she had bit your pet and had a meal of blood. If she doesn’t drink blood, then she can’t reproduce. The bunch of twenty or so eggs are laid in your pet’s fur and are littler than a grain of sand.
When your pet moves around, the eggs fall off where the pet spends most of his time. This is one-half of the cause of an infestation in your home. If the humidity is high and the temperatures are warm, then the eggs hatch sooner. The larvae emerge in the next stage.
When the larvae emerge, they are blind and avoid the light. They survive by munching the flea dirt, which is pre-digested blood, which the adult flea leaves. They will also eat any other organic debris they can find. At this stage, the larvae are white, about ¼ inch long and don’t have legs. After about 5-20 days, the larvae will spin a cocoon and go into the pupae stage.
The adult flea won’t come out of the cocoon until it senses a potential host. They can sense this from body heat, vibrations, and levels of carbon dioxide rising. So, if you or your pet walk by a nesting site, the flea will come out of the cocoon, jump on your pet and start dining.
When the adult flea emerges, it needs to feed as soon as possible. After it dines on your pet, breeding begins, and egg laying will start within a couple of days. The females can’t lay eggs after they have sucked blood. The adults appear to have flat bodies at this stage. They are dark in color and small until they start to feed. Once they start to eat, they become lighter colored and bigger and look more like a flea.
At this stage, an adult is less than 5% of the population of fleas in your home. They stay on the host, eat, breed, the females lay eggs and will live on the host animal from a few weeks to a couple of months.
How to Get Rid of them
To find out if your dog is infested with fleas, moisten a few papers towels and have him stand on them. Brush your dog, and if what falls on the paper towels are little specks of what looks like dirt that turn red or brown, your dog is under attack. If this happens, there are some home remedies to try if you don’t want to go the chemical route. Below are some suggestions to help the dog get rid of his hitchhikers:
A flea comb: One of the least expensive and easiest ways to control the little pests is to use a flea comb. Be sure to buy a good quality comb that removes all stages of the flea from your pet. A narrow tooth comb is best but makes sure your pet’s fur isn’t knotted or tangled, so it doesn’t hurt your pet.
Adding power to your dog’s shampoo: You have many choices of shampoo for killing fleas on the market, but you can also make your own. Take the ordinary dog shampoo that you have at home and had two cups of water and a half cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix it and use it to shampoo your dog weekly. After bathing, don’t let your pet roam around outside where you think fleas may be. Too, keep combing your pet to remove any hitchhikers.
Recommended Read: The 10 Highest Rated Dog Shampoos and Conditioners
Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum: Because your dog probably lies all over the house, an infestation can be imminent. Vacuum thoroughly a few times a week. Empty the vacuum bag or container into a separate bag and dispose of it outside.
Herbal flea spray: You can also make a flea spray from herbs to remove the pests. It’s made from non-toxic ingredients around your home. You mix 2 liters of water, 500 ml of lemon juice, 4 liters of vinegar and 250 ml of witch hazel into a large spray bottle. After vacuuming and washing any dog bedding or blankets/cushions which might be infected, spray thoroughly with the mixture and let dry.
Rosemary: This herb repels fleas naturally; it helps to prevent them but won’t get rid of them. You can make it into a powder by using rosemary, rue, fennel, wormwood, and peppermint and grinding them together into a powder. Then you sprinkle where it’s needed.
If you let the flea infestation get out of control, your pet will be miserable and you’ll have fleas throughout your home. Staying ahead of a flea infestation is important for both you and your pet.