For most pet owners, as soon as they see their dog starting to scratch, they high-tail it to the vet to find the right medications to control dog fleas and/or dog ticks. However, in recent years, pet owners and veterinarians have been raising some concerns about flea and tick medications. Although very few pets suffer adverse reactions from flea and tick medications, such as Frontline for dogs, Advantage for dogs and cats, and Comfortis for dogs, once in a while a pet has a rare and serious negative reaction to a treatment that was designed to help them. Some pet owners are worried about using or over-using flea and tick treatments and are starting to look for alternative ways to reduce the parasite threat for their animals. |
Did you know that over 90% of the flea life cycle actually occurs away from your pet? Egg laying and larval development are more likely to occur in your backyard than on your dog's back. You can purchase nematodes from most garden shops and spray them in your yard to get rid of the flea problem. Nematodes are microscopic worms that just love to snack on flea larvae. Alternatively, you can use Diatomaceous earth, a non-chemical powder composed of fossilized algae that will dehydrate and kill fleas and ticks. Speaking of ticks, you might want to remove old wood piles and keep your grass cut short. Both of these simple actions will reduce hiding spots for ticks.
If you suspect your animals have brought the fleas inside, you'll need to treat your home right away. The most sure-fire way to treat your home is to call an exterminator. However, this can be expensive and many people are leery of bringing powerful insecticides into their homes. Alternatives to exterminators include regular, daily vacuuming, getting your carpets professionally cleaned, and de-moisturizing the home to prevent eggs from hatching. Rather than trying to clean dog or cat beds, if you suspect they're infested with fleas, you should probably just throw them away and buy a new one.
Natural flea and tick shampoos containing citrus oils are especially useful when trying to remove fleas from your pets. Keep in mind that the shampoo doesn't kill fleas instantly; you'll need to keep Fido lathered up for about 20 minutes for the shampoo to really be effective. Bathe your pet once or even twice per week until the infestation is under control.
A lot of pet owners don't realize that a healthy, well-nourished dog will be far more likely to repel flea attacks than weaker dogs. Unfortunately, many of the pet foods on the market today are the equivalent of dog and cat fast food. Look in to changing your animal's diet to something more natural and healthy and see if it makes any difference in the fleas they contract.
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