Fleas are a nasty business and once you know that your pet has them, don’t hesitate to do something about it. One single flea on your pet can lay as much as 50 eggs, and before you know it you will have thousands of them invading your, pet, your house, and your person.
Fleas normally live off your animals before they will bother you, but these little guys that are hardly any bigger than a speck of dust can jump as much as 14 inches high and attack your feet and legs or any other exposed area of your body.
If your animal is scratching a lot it is wise to check for fleas. First you can look at the fur, separate the fur to see the white skin below, a telltale sign of fleas will be them scurrying once you have discovered their hiding place. They can be black or a reddish orangey color, (particularly after they have had a blood meal. If you see tiny black specks that do not move but look like specks of dirt this too is a sign that your animal has fleas.
The best way to prevent fleas is to keep your animal in the house so that it does not associate with other infected animals. However, other animals are not the only cause of flea infestations. Fleas can and do live in the grass. They will also live in damp musty cellars and come up under your floorboards. They will live under your carpets and in your furniture and bedding, and before you know it, your house is swarming with them.
First thing you must do is to treat the infected animals. Once you have fleas it is very difficult to get rid of them. Flea treatments can be costly and have to be repeated over and over again. For example the flea shampoos will give your animals relief, but in as little as six hours, guess what they are scratching again.
Here lies the problem, the shampoos kill the live fleas but do very little for the eggs, the eggs hatch and the problem starts all over again. If you are using the shampoos use them in conjunction with the medication you get from the vet. The vet will evaluate the problem and provide the right medication, such as frontline, for your pet. If cost is a factor you can purchase over the counter medication from your local pet store. However, over the counter products are not as potent so they may or may not be enough to solve the problem and you may find yourself back at the vet for the stronger medication.
Fleas are also resistant to chemical treatments and the reason is that most treatments kill the adult fleas and some get to the eggs, but there is a stage where the eggs go into a cocoon; no chemical treatment can penetrate that cocoon.
The cycle works as follows, the eggs fall from the infested animal. In about 4 days the eggs hatch into what is called larva(e) which are legless creatures at this point in time and for about 24 days or so the larvae will feed on the debris (waste from adult fleas). Then they go into the cocoon or pupa (e). This is the stage that is the most resistant to treatment. The cocoon protects them from external interference and then the pupae develop into full-grown blood sucking adult fleas and the process repeats itself.
By now you must be bewildered and ask the question If even chemical treatments do not correct the problem what can I do?
Some people buy the flea bomb and or call the exterminator, but for people, who would prefer more natural approaches, there are several available. Instead of the chemical shampoos for the animal, you can try Dawn dishwashing liquid though even that is a chemical substance as well.
Make sure to wash all your bedding including where the animals sleeps.
Sweep or vacuum your floors at least twice a day, empty the vacuum bag immediately and throw it away; the fleas will still live in the bags.
You can sprinkle boric acid upon the floors and furniture but make sure that it is not anywhere near your animals. Boric acid will attach to the exoskeletons (outer body) of the fleas and kill them by dehydrating them.
You can also use sea salt or baking soda on the floors.
Good luck with the problem and if you cannot get an exterminator or prefer not to, have patience, your flea problem will not go away over night but you can beat it in time.