Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Getting Rid of Fleas Naturally

We all love our furry friends here at Azuma. Part of having a pet is basic pet care, and sometimes that includes dealing with pests like fleas. Fortunately there's a way to rid your home of pests, with your vacuum and your washer and dryer as the key weapons in your arsenal! Here's how to do it.

Clean Your Pet
At the first sight of fleas on your pet, give him a good bath. You don't necessarily have to use a flea shampoo, and for cats you definitely shouldn't use pesticides. Normal dish soap is enough to kill the fleas. Peppermint or citrus scented soaps are especially irritating to bugs if you choose to use them. Start by wetting the neck down and your pet's backside. These are the first places fleas move to when they sense water. Massage in the soap deeply in these areas before lathering up the rest of your pet. Use your fingers or a flea comb to make sure the water penetrates all the way to the skin. Fleas cling to the skin and not to the hair, and can survive in air pockets in your pet's fur. Soap up the rest of your pet and let sit for 2 to 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and towel dry.

Wash All Fabric
Especially blankets, pillows or beds your pet lays in. Wash on the highest heat setting you can and dry on the highest heat that's safe for the fabric. If it's a pillow or bed that can't be thrown in the wash, put it in the dryer for at least 30 minutes to kill any eggs or fleas. You can also put some peppermint oil on an old sock or handkerchief and throw it in the dryer. The oil will evaporate and irritate any adult bugs.

Vacuuming is your greatest weapon next to washing! Vacuum all upholstery and floors, taking care to get in corners and dark places. Flea eggs are about the size of a grain of sand and difficult to notice unless on a dark surface. Once eggs hatch, larva emerge, feed on any dead skin or flea poop on the ground and then spin a cocoon before becoming an adult. Usually only 10% of your flea population will be on your pet. The rest are laying in wait in your couches and carpet. So vacuum thoroughly and vacuum often. This will get 95% of the fleas on the ground. Throw away the contents of the vacuum and take the garbage bag outside after vacuuming.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
DE is finely ground silicates found naturally in the earth. Farmers add it to rice and other grain to keep it dry and fresh and keep bugs out. You can use it to keep the bugs out of your home, too! DE is too finely ground for it to be harmful to us, but for a bug it scratches up their shell and dries them out until they die. Use a bulb duster or just sprinkle it around your home by hand. You can put it in your carpets, but it's best used in those hard to reach places like underneath couch cushions, in cracks and along baseboards where bugs like to hide. You can even rub it into your pet's fur to kill off any bugs that are  still on him. DE is totally safe and even edible. Just be sure to wash it off your pet after no more than 8 to 12 hours (it dries out your skin!) and purchase ONLY the food grade kind of DE. If you plan on leaving it in cracks and carpets, it's best to allow 24 to 48 hours for it to kill off the bugs.

The most important step: you must do all these things listed and do them often! The flea life cycle spans about 10 to 18 days. So once you find fleas in your home, you must be diligent about cleanliness for at least two weeks. Vacuum daily or every other day, wash bedding 3 to 5 times per week and regularly clean your pet, ideally picking fleas off with a flea comb every day. Remain patient and diligent and eventually all the fleas will be gone.

Until next time, keep it clean!