Since they live outdoors, especially in moist, humid or shady spots, many pet owners have at least heard of if not dealt with them before. This can be doubly worse for people who live by wooded areas with large groups of trees. The fact is- if you don’t use a preventative, your pet has a good chance of encountering fleas at least once in his lifetime.
Where do Fleas Come From?
Most flea infestations are going to begin outdoors, not inside your house. Infested wildlife deposit eggs as they pass, which is why fleas are much more common in wooded areas where there is more wildlife. Squirrels can still be an issue in the middle of a city, where deer or other wildlife don’t travel.
First, they begin as eggs in shady areas, protected from both direct sunlight and wind. Once they mature, a flea can jump on a passing pet, the pet brings it inside your house, and the cycle begins.
Especially if you live near tall grass (farmland, for example) or grouped trees, you might just have to deal with this annually. Fleas can’t fly, but they can jump, which is likely how they find their way onto your pet. This can be a seasonal issue for many, happening every year after a thaw.
- Flea larvae dislike light, and will seek shaded areas. If you can, try and keep your grass neatly cut short during the summer.
- The best way to get rid of fleas is to use a preventative, eliminating any problem before it begins.
- Fleas have been known to feed from humans as well!
Flea Life Cycle
Egg: Stage one
Larva: Stage two
Pupa: Stage three
Adult: Stage four
Remember, a very low percentage of the fleas you have are actually living on your dog. By the time you notice them, the vast majority are in your carpet, clothing, your dog’s bedding, couch, etc.
1. Bathing to Get rid of Fleas
A good, thorough bath is a great way to get rid of the current mature fleas living on your pet, which is half the battle. Either you can use a store-bought pet shampoo to assure you don’t dry out your dog’s skin, or you can use your own homemade solution.
You can make a homemade shampoo with 1 quart water, 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup either baby shampoo or Dawn dish detergent. In fact, Dawn is very popular for this.
It’s important to remember you are only getting rid of the immediate problem. Without using some kind of flea preventative, or actively killing the flea larvae or eggs around your house, they can easily come back!
2. Essential Oil Based Products
Many people use essential oils to help deter fleas, and they are completely safe! Lavender, citronella, cedar, rosemary, peppermint, and lemongrass can all be great natural options for you. Be careful when applying these, remembering not to overdo them!
Add these to:
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar has been used for centuries as a very effective cleaning and deodorizing agent! By simply adding a quart of distilled vinegar to your pet’s bath water, you can effectively deter and repel any re-infestation. Fleas absolutely hate vinegar, making this a fantastic tool for defense!
Though apple-cider vinegar doesn’t actually kill fleas, it will make the environment very unpleasant for them. If used effectively, no flea is going to want to look to your pet as a food source. Take away their food source, and fleas will eventually die.
Use a diluted solution. You can add 1 tsp. of vinegar to every qt. of your dog’s drinking water.
4. Vacuum & Wash!
Whether or not you think of this as ‘natural’, it is very important! The fact is, fleas can lay their larvae in almost anything. We’re talking couch cushions, underneath the couch, bedding, clothing, carpeting (a big spot), and most prominently- your pet’s sleeping area.
In the end, the most effective way to take care of your flea problem is to treat your pet with a flea preventative after you kill the fleas currently living as hosts. If you don’t do this, they can just re-infest your pet all over again!
- Fleas don’t like the light, and will attempt to avoid it.
- A flea might lay up to 1,500 eggs in its lifetime, meaning they can spread very fast!
- The majority of eggs, larvae and pupae live either in carpeting, clothing, or bedding, rather than on your pet.
5. Baking Soda & Salt
Though almost any expert will say vacuuming is probably one of the most effective ways to get rid of fleas in your home, since most will actually be living in your carpeting, you can use baking soda and salt to become even more effective!
Before you vacuum, simply scrub the baking soda solution into your carpeting prior to vacuuming. The salt acts as an additional tool, actually dehydrating the area and helping kill adult fleas not currently living on your dog. Let the salt (finely ground is best) rest for 1-2 days before you begin vacuuming.
Believe it or not, Rosemary is another natural flea repellant for your pet! There are multiple ways you can use this, too. You can make it into a rinse water-wash when bathing your dog, leaving your pup’s coat smelling great on top of repelling the fleas living there, or you can use Rosemary on your carpeting or other surfaces when you clean.
If you’re uncomfortable using a self-made solution at home, there are already several commercial products out there.
7. Diatomaceous Earth
Otherwise known as the fossilized remains of algae, Diatomaceous Earth can be recommended as a natural flea solution in almost every article covering the internet. Non-toxic to humans, the fine powder is very effective at causing dehydration.
Though the ‘food grade’ option is safe for humans, wearing a face mask when treating your home is recommended. The powder won’t cause any real harm to you, but can get messy and irritate the skin or throat (like any fine powder in large quantities). In fact, humans actually eat it all of the time!
As you can see, there are countless great, natural ways to get rid of fleas in your house! Unfortunately, this is an inevitable problem for some people, depending on where they live. As always, the best way to deal with a flea outbreak is to prevent it before it happens. Thankfully, this is very simple with an inexpensive monthly topical ointment!