Summertime brings lightning bugs, hot weather, and annoying pests like fleas. Generally, I’m an agreeable person when it comes to living creatures, but I can’t stand fleas. Do they serve a purpose like most insects? None that I’m aware of. And with 4 large dogs, we deal with fleas every summer. I’ve learned a lot through trial and error and by using many different flea control methods. One thing I’ve realized over the years is that it’s often better to use alternative flea treatments when possible. In certain situations, you may need to resort to chemical products. But many times there are natural solutions that are safe and effective. Homemade flea treatments and natural prevention methods can also be more cost-effective.
Understand the flea life cycle
Understanding some basics about the life cycle of fleas is helpful in eradicating them from your home and keeping them off your pets. Adult female fleas are able to lay eggs, up to 40 per day, after a meal of blood from your pet. Gross, right? The eggs grow into larvae within 2 days to 2 weeks depending on the environmental conditions. The larvae then grow into the pupae stage within 1-2 weeks. Adult fleas emerge within a week to several months, again depending on the conditions. The reason fleas spread so easily is that those eggs are constantly falling off an infected dog and left to hatch in your yard or inside your home. That’s why it’s important to stay persistent when dealing with fleas as they are able to stay dormant for weeks to months waiting on the optimum conditions to hatch and grow.
Bath time with alternative flea treatments
One of the best ways to kill fleas is to bathe your dog with Dawn dish soap. The traditional blue Dawn is effective at killing adult fleas. It also helps remove the flea eggs that can be found in your dog’s fur. Using dish soap in the bath is a non-toxic and cheap way to get rid of fleas. But it’s important to understand that it doesn’t prevent reinfestation. When using Dawn, simply lather onto your dog’s entire body and let the formula sit for around 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Dish soap can be drying to your dog’s skin so you may want to alternate bath time with a moisturizing dog shampoo.
Getting rid of fleas in your house and yard
If you notice even one flea inside your home, it’s best to deal with the problem before it gets out of hand. Carpets and area rugs should be vacuumed frequently. You can use a mixture of equal parts baking soda and salt in your carpet and on your furniture to kill adult fleas, eggs, and larvae. Sprinkle the mixture onto the surfaces in your home and leave it overnight. Vacuum thoroughly to remove the mixture and be sure to empty your vacuum into a garbage bag outdoors to prevent any live fleas from escaping back into your house. Wash all of your dog’s bedding in hot water and dry on high heat to eradicate fleas. These processes may need to be done every 3-4 days until you no longer see fleas inside your home. Food-grade diatomaceous earth can be used in your yard to kill fleas outdoors. It’s a natural compound and is safe for use around pets and children as long as you follow the directions on the package.
Don’t let fleas ruin your summer. Arm yourself with knowledge and use alternative flea treatments to deal with any problems as they arise. Chemical treatments are sometimes needed in extreme cases, but many flea problems can be dealt with in a more natural way. Use these flea treatment alternatives to keep your dog flea-free and happy this summer.