Your important ally in the battle against fleas is cleanliness, both for your pet and your home, particularly in your pet's sleeping areas. Regular cleaning interrupts the life cycles of the fleas and greatly cuts down on the number of adult fleas that end up on your pet, especially if you act before flea season begins. |
As a prerequisite to any flea-control program, it is recommended building up your animal's health and resistance as much as possible through a healthy diet and lifestyle. Along with that, it's important to practice thorough sanitation and cleaning.
Understanding the life cycle of the flea makes it clear why cleaning is so important. Adult fleas live about three to four months. During that time they are steadily laying tiny white eggs on your pet that look like dandruff or salt crystals. Flea eggs hatch out into larvae that live in the cracks and crevices of rugs, upholstery, blankets, floors, sand, earth, and the like.
If You Have a Flea Problem Effective flea control programs employ a multifaceted approach that treats the environment as well as the animal. The following are nontoxic and natural ways that you can help control fleas:
• Black walnut is a very effective flea repellent for dogs when given orally several times a week. It can be purchased in capsules or in liquid form. Give only the minimum effective dose because it can be toxic in higher doses. • Flea treats are another supplement that can be given to repel fleas—the main ingredient is B vitamins. • A fine-toothed flea comb is essential and should be used daily to catch fleas. Keep a bowl of soapy water on hand and dip the comb into it after each sweep, or catch the fleas, put them in a container, and then freeze it. • Vacuum rugs and furniture frequently and launder animals' bed covers weekly, if necessary, during the flea season. Flea eggs can be collected by vacuuming but can still hatch in the bag, which should be sealed and thrown away, or put in the freezer in a plastic bag after each vacuuming. • Diatomaceous earth, a powder composed of the fossilized remains of single-celled algae, can be sprinkled on carpets to eliminate fleas safely. Diatomaceous earth is harmless if ingested but should not be inhaled. When applying, remove animals from the area and wear a protective mask. Let the powder sit at least several hours before vacuuming. Look for diatomaceous earth at garden, animal supply, home improvement, and health-food stores, but never use diatomaceous earth that has been chemically treated for use in swimming pools. Ordinary table salt or borax can also be used on carpets and should be vacuumed up the day after use.
The bad news is that, no matter how many adult fleas you manage to kill, numerous future fleas are developing in the environment simultaneously. The good news is that these eggs, larvae, pupa, and the flea dirt they feed upon can be sucked up by a vacuum cleaner or washed away in the laundry. And because the developing fleas are so immobile, they are most concentrated wherever your pet sleeps, so you know where to focus your efforts.
steam cleaning your carpets at the onset of flea season (or whenever you begin your flea-control program). Though it is somewhat expensive, steam cleaning is effective in killing flea eggs.
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