Scratching Dog

Last week, I talked about ways you can prevent your pup from getting fleas. But even with these measures in place, we can find these nasty pests in our home. How can you tell the difference between an itchy dog and a flea-ridden one?

It’s rather simple: examine your dog’s fur. Use a flea comb or run your fingers through the hair, looking at the skin. It’s possible you’ll see a flea crawling by, but more likely that you’ll see what it’s left behind: their feces, also known as flea dirt. This is basically black “sand” in the fur and skin.

You can also discover this flea dirt by asking your dog to stand over a light surface and giving him a good brushing. When he steps away, you may notice the flea dirt on the ground.

The next step is to clean up! Give your dog a bath with an herbal shampoo, and when you’re finished, you can add a few drops of rosemary oil to the final rinse. When you’re done, don’t let him just plop down on his flea-ridden bed again. Throw it in the wash. You should also vacuum the carpets and clean your sofas and other furnishings.

Then you’ll want to treat these areas and your dog. Before you decide what treatment to use, be aware that numerous common spot-on flea killers have been connected to disease and even death in dogs. Many contain chemicals that are known to be toxic to the brain and nervous system, cause cancer, and disrupt your dog’s hormone systems. But no fear! There are many safe, effective, and natural alternatives available.

Instead, look for natural products. Dr. Ben’s Paws and Claws spray uses cedar wood oil instead of chemicals to combat the fleas. You can also create your own spray by adding about 15 drops to a small spray bottle. As a bonus, it leaves everything smelling nice!

It may take several repetitions of this cycle to make your pet (and your home) flea free. When that happens, don’t stop fighting the pests! Instead, go into prevention mode and provide your dog with protection the next time you are outside.

Image Credit: Melody Gutierrez