Summer is almost here and with it will come those pesky fleas. Fleas are not just a nuisance, they are dangerous to pets and people. They can carry diseases such as bubonic plague, typhus, Bartonella henselae (also known as cat scratch fever), and when left unchecked, can cause flea allergy dermatitis or even anemia in pets. Don’t be mistaken to find out that fleas in your home or on your pets are to be taken seriously.

Fleas can reproduce very quickly. In just one flea life (about two weeks) it can lay hundreds and hundreds of eggs. Once these eggs hatch, the larva will begin to feed on pet hair, flea feces, dried blood, or any other unsightly organic matter found on carpets, furniture, and on your pets.

After feeding, this larva will spin a cocoon in which it can lie dormant for up to a year waiting for a victim. Using pesticides on fleas while they are in this cocoon stage is pointless. They are almost completely immune to poisons. There is no pesticide on the market today that can completely or consistently kill them while they are in the cocoon stage.

Unfortunately, even when fleas can be killed with pesticides, there is still concern about the chemicals that are used. Many pesticides are themselves a health problem for your family and pets.

In April 2009, EPA notices for spot-on flea treatments began to appear. The EPA reported receiving more than 44,000 reports of adverse reactions in pets. Those reactions ranged from mild skin irritation to convulsions and death (600 deaths according to the report).

Cyphenothrin and permethrin are just two products used in many flea treatments that have proven problematic, especially for smaller dogs and cats.

So what is the best alternative for the conscious pet owner? Go natural!

Trust me, there aren’t many simple ways to combat flea infestations that work as well, if not better, than using toxic chemicals.

The first and one of the most important things you can do is vacuum. Vacuuming daily will remove those cocoon stage fleas from your carpets. The heat generated by the vacuum will also encourage them to hatch into their most vulnerable stage so they can be dealt with quickly. When possible, use a bagged vacuum and dispose of the bag immediately after vacuuming floors and furniture. Yes, you should also vacuum all the furniture. If you have a current infestation, vacuuming every day is one of your best defenses. As you will target the fleas and eggs before they have a chance to hatch and multiply.

Also, keeping your pet healthy and feeding it a healthy diet will help discourage fleas. The better off your pet is, the less attractive it will be to nesting fleas.

Garlic can be used to rid your pet of fleas. However, garlic should be used with caution, as it can be toxic to your dog when given in the wrong amounts. Discuss the use of garlic for flea control with your vet to determine the proper amount for your pet’s body weight. There are also many natural store-bought mineral supplements for your pet, such as diatomaceous earth.

Prevention is key. It’s a good idea to keep your pet bathed and brushed and have a regular whole-body inspection for parasites.

There are also a number of natural alternatives to pesticides, including things like cedarwood oil, rosemary extract, citronella, and many more.

Finally, I’d like to give you one of my favorite and easiest flea prevention methods for your pet’s bedding.

For some reason, fleas hate eucalyptus. I like to create these cute little eucalyptus bags for my pet’s bed. Here are simple instructions on how to make your “flea free pet bedding” bag.

Will need:

A handful of fresh eucalyptus steams (available at many hobby stores and florists).

10″ round-cut gauze or other breathable material.

A 3-inch strip of tape.

Tear your eucalyptus into small 1-2 inch strips and place in the middle of your cheesecloth. Gather the edges of the fabric in the middle creating the little bag that encloses your eucalyptus. Tie the shirring into a bow using the ribbon. It couldn’t be simpler.

You will need to place this bag inside your pet’s bed. So your pet will not be able to access it. Place one bag per pet bed.

This will not only help keep fleas off your pets bedding, but it will also smell good. You will need to replace the eucalyptus in the bag at least once a month for best results.

These are just some of the natural ways you can discourage fleas in your home and on your pet. There are many recipes for homemade flea shampoos and sprays. There are also many natural shampoos and sprays sold in the market.

Don’t let your pets or family become food for these nasty critters this summer. Use prevention methods and be open to trying natural alternatives for flea removal and prevention. Here we wish all pets a flea-free summer.

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