UUUUUGHHHH my dog has fleas !!
A common veterinary complaint this time of year is the abundance of fleas both on your pets and in the house. Sometimes the mass bloom feels like an over whelming invasion leading you to toxic chemicals and flea bombs. There are some simple steps you can take to make you and your pet flea free.
As we all have experienced, fleas bites cause itching and redness. They can also lead to a more serious form of allergic dermatitis that has a vicious feed back cycle of itching and scratching, eventually leading to crusty, oozing sores or your poor puppy. They can transmit tapeworms and some blood born diseases.
The first step in your battle against the flea is to know your enemy. The flea has a multistage life cycle. Adults live on mammalian hosts and lay eggs on the skin which fall off and hatch in the environment. Larvae emerge in as little as 4 days and live off organic debris ie. skin cells, dust bunnies, ect. They then pupate like a catapillar and grow into their adult form then hatch and look for a host. At any one time, the majority of the fleas in your environment are in the egg, larval and pupal stage with only about 5% living as adults on your and your pets. As you kill off the adults, the new generation emerge so flea control must include killing young stages too.
I recommend trifexis which is spinosad with milbemycin oxime) for a monthly oral treatment for fleas, intestinal parasites and heartworm. Spinosad has high efficacy, a broad insect pest spectrum and low mammalian toxicity. Spinosad is considered a natural product derived from a mold found on crushed sugar cane and is approved for use in organic agriculture. Comfortis is the name brand of spinosad alone and can be used in cats and dogs.
(Warning : there are certain breeds sensitive to milbemycin oxime so as always, check with your veterinarian 1st before starting this medication.) These products will start killing fleas in 30 minutes and kills 100 % of fleas within 4 hours.
One of the best and easiest ways to break the flea lifecycle is to vacuum at least 1 per week and wash your bedding and the pets beds with diatomaceous earth. This is a white powder made from tiny fossilized skeletons of Diatoms, tiny phytoplankton made up mostly of silica. The edges of the diatoms slice into the insect and cause it to dry out. Sprinkle a very thin layer around the house before vacuuming and make sure to change your vacuum bag or container as soon as you finish as the eggs can live in the bag. Light traps ( small desk lamp shining on a tray of soapy water is also an effective adult trap and will give you an idea how many fleas you have and if your efforts are working.
Start with a dusting of diatomaceous earth into your pets skin and wait a few minutes and then using a flea comb, manually extract the fleas. This is your best choice with very small pets or weak or sick animals.
A warm soapy bath will do wonders to get rid of the bulk of the fleas. Fill the tub or sink with soapy water and put your puppy in it. Be prepared for mass exodus as they try to jump ship. With your flea comb, try to remove as many fleas as you can and submerge them in the soapy water. Diatomaceous earth does not work when wet so wait a day or so after the dusting for the bath.
The dusting and the bath are great treatments for a sudden surge in fleas or between monthly treatments.
The addition of yeast and apple cider vinegar to your pet’s diet will also greatly help his battle against fleas.
If your pet is suffering from flea bite dermatitis, you may need to add in a little TCVM along with some TLC to help break the itch scratch cycle.