I live in the deep south and I have two lovable cocker spaniels with a whole lot of hair. We’ve dealt with embarrassing flea infestations and the frustration that they can cause. And once fleas become a problem, especially when warm weather welcomes them, it can be impossible to get them under control. That's why choosing flea treatments ahead of time is important.
Using harsh chemicals can also be dangerous. One particular chemical used in flea treatments and flea collars may also be carcinogenic. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, there are some indications that tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) in particular may impair neurological development in children, causing delays in motor development and attention deficit disorder. Pet flea collars can leave a lot of pesticide residue on your pet’s fur, which can make its way into a human’s system quite easily.
It’s all the more reason to vigilantly attack fleas with natural treatments first. Here’s how to get started:
1. Groom your pup.
Start off with a properly groomed animal. It’s much easier to spot fleas and treat them early on when your dog has shorter hair. Come spring time, we usually get our puppies shaved as close as possible.
2. Use a flea comb regularly.
Next up, use a flea comb regularly to remove both fleas and flea eggs. This is another tool to spot an infestation before it gets out of hand. Dipping your flea comb into 1 quart of water with one freshly squeezed lemon before running the flea comb through their hair is another tool for repelling fleas without harming your pet.
3. Make your own flea collar.
Make your own flea collar by combining 2-3 drops of cedarwood oil or lavender essential oil in 1-3 tablespoons of water. Add about 5-10 drops of the mixture to a bandana and wrap it around your pet's neck.
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4. Use raw apple cider vinegar.
Add raw apple cider vinegar to their drinking water. Add one teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar to 1 quart of water. Not only does it make them flea-repelling machines, it’s also good for their coats.
5. Vacuum weekly.
It’s really important that you vacuum your entire home at least once per week. And if your vacuum has a removable vacuum bag, dispose of it after every use because fleas and flea eggs can reproduce inside the vacuum bag. Once you vacuum again, you’ll send all those new fleas back out onto the floor.
Infestations happen, and in those cases you may need to use very limited chemicals on your pets. As a last resort, here’s my best advice: Don’t use chemical flea treatments in the wintertime when you don’t need them and don’t use them every month. For those times when I have had to use chemical treatments, only use them in the hottest months when fleas are breeding. Additionally, I use an oral treatment like Trifexis, which doesn’t allow for residue on my hands.
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Image of a cat and puppy from Shuttershock