BeFLEAve It or Not

posted: by: Nathan Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Have a flea problem or just a couple? Having a hard time getting rid of them or just want to make sure they are gone for good? Well today we are going to go over some common misconceptions about fleas and what the best way to make sure you are rid of those parasites for good.

“It’s only a couple fleas”

               We hear this one a lot, and though you may only see a couple fleas that doesn’t mean there are not more, or soon to be more. The fleas you see on your pet in reality are just the tip of the flea iceberg. For each one adult flea you see on your pet there are at least another four living in the environment, your home. For every adult flea there are twice as many pupae ready to hatch, for every pupae there are three times as many larva, until we get down to the eggs. Which are smaller than a grain of salt and number ten times the amount of adult fleas in the environment. So behind those couple fleas is an infestation waiting to hatch in your home.


“I used X product for a month but it didn’t seem to do anything”

               Now not all products are created equal, as they say you get what you pay for and the same is true for flea medication. If you buy the store brand product it will most likely not work as good as the name brand. Product bias aside the other part of this is for how long the products are being used. Going back to that life cycle we talked about earlier most products only kill the adult flea so you still have everything below the tip of the pyramid to deal with. Unfortunately fleas are very patient and can wait in their eggs or pupae for up to three months before coming out to greet the world. Which means that one month of flea product is not going to cut it.  We at Lewis Animal hospital recommend treating all the pets in your house for a minimum of three months to make sure the whole population is knocked out.

“I bombed, treated my yard, had them bathed my pets are safe”

               Well not quite. Treating the yard and bomb the house does a good job of killing adult fleas in the environment, and depending on the yard treatment may help keep outdoor populations down but there are some flea shaped holes in this method of treatment. Let’s start with flea bombing the house, flea bombs do a very good job at killing adult fleas, but as we know from earlier that’s not the only problem. There are the eggs and pupae which have a nasty habit of surviving flea bombs. Which once the bomb is over and they come out the cycle starts a new. Treating the yard, depending on how it is done, can be a good way to remove fleas/prevent them from being in your yard, but that’s not the only way fleas can get into the home or on your pets.  As everyone who has worked at the hospital knows it is very easy to bring fleas home with you. They hide in your shoe, or the cuff of your pants, wherever it is they hitch a ride back to your pets. You don’t have to be directly around animals for this to happen either, plenty of clients who don’t work with animals, have an exclusively indoor pets, and come in with their animals having fleas because they happen to be unlucky enough to have brought them home. Now on to flea baths. Flea baths can be a great tool for helping relive a pet from the fleas that currently are on them. But this is also the problem with baths as well. They only do a good job at killing the fleas currently on them during the bath with no residual effect, and as we have stated that is the smallest amount of the problem.

“My pets don’t get fleas”

               This sentence just needs some amending “My pets have been lucky enough to have not had fleas, but all dogs and cats can get fleas”. If this is your case I am very happy for you and wish for your pets to never have them. However wishes are a dime in a well and if you need flea medication we are more than happy to help.


               This is a big one so strap in.

Dish Soap- using dish soap like a trap either with or without a heat source


So assuming  that this does work we still are only getting rid of the adult fleas, and it is also not stopping them from biting your pet and continuing to reproduce before landing in your soap.

 Herbal Remedy Spray- using vinegar, water, lemon juice, and witch hazel then spraying around your house with it.

               Well again assuming this works we are essentially spraying/bombing our house with most of the ingredients in salad dressing, and we talked about how these may kill adults but doesn’t stop the eggs and pupae when you’re done dressing the house.

Baking Soda – Using baking soda in your carpet and fabrics, as well as vacuuming out afterwards

               Going to be honest not sure what the baking soda is supposed to do to the flea but let’s say it does that, now the fleas are out of your carpet and cloth based furniture. This is unfortunately not the only place they go. Any type of crack, crevice, or opening can be a home, so hardwood floors, base boards, wood furniture, any place a grain of salt can fit they will.

Salt-Similar to baking soda

               The theory is the salt dries out the area and making uninhabitable. Well I guess if you want to go General Sherman on your house that’s up to you, but like the baking soda we are only dealing with the fabric.

Lemon Spray-using lemon water as a spray for your furniture.

               Assuming this works and you are not just freshening up the smell of your couch, the same problem as the salt and baking soda.

Diatomaceous earth- Use like the baking soda

               For those who don’t know what this is, in the most basic sense it is a bunch of dead algae and sea minerals. See baking soda for the problem with using this.

Rosemary- Make a spray and bath from boiling it in water.

               Well assuming this works, like the baths and sprays it will do a good job of the fleas right there and then but you still have the eggs, pupae, and the ones that don’t get sprayed.

Oils- Applying any kind of oil to your pet like a treatment.

               BEFORE PUTTING ANYTHING ON YOUR PET ASK YOUR VET FIRST, SOME OILS ARE DANGEROUS TO YOUR PETS. Now I can’t use the “assume this will work” method because if it did there would be no reason that the companies who make topical flea medications would spend all this money on research, development, and production for a product that is as effective as a plant oil.  You are more than welcome to try but it’s not going to be recommended.

Flea Repelling Plants- have these plants in your home to keep them away

               If you have a plant that the fleas don’t like they won’t go by the plant but that won’t stop them from being on your dog, cat, or anything else.

Make your own flea collar- use your pet’s collar and some plant oil to make a flea collar

               Like the oils BEFORE PUTTING ANYTHING ON YOUR PET ASK YOUR VET FIRST, SOME OILS ARE DANGEROUS TO YOUR PETS. OK, so the problem with this or any other kind of collar is the flea doesn’t need to bite you pet’s neck or anywhere near it, so we really don’t recommend collars.

Dehumidifiers- Dries out the home and fleas

Well it’s literally taking the moisture out of the air and the fleas don’t like that, but for the money you spent of buying dehumidifiers for your whole house you could have bought top shelf flea prevention and a new big screen television.

Flea Comb- comb and pick out all the fleas

               Please save your pet and you the torture of using this comb constantly (and I truly mean not stopping) for over three months. It would be like painting you bedroom with fine tip brush, you could do it but why?

Nematodes- spread them through your yard

               No this is not a joke apparently that is one of these natural remedies. Assuming it works that’s only treating your yard.

Food Additives- everything from apple cider vinegar to brewer’s yeast in your pet’s food or water

               Like the oils BEFORE YOU GIVE YOUR PET ANYTHING OTHER THAN THEIR NORMAL FOOD ASK YOUR VET FIRST. Next quite similar to the oils if the vet approves you are more than welcome to try but if companies could get away with just selling you apple cider vinegar instead of developing a medication they probably would take the more cost effective route.

Aloe Vera- with either essential oils or cayenne pepper spray

               See any of the other sprays, also if you use cayenne be careful, there are many places I would not recommend cayenne pepper going (eyes, nose, and unmentionables to name a few).

There are still many more out there but I think you get the idea, if you found something that I don’t have listed please consult your vet before doing it as it has the potential to be harmful to pets. The take away from this is if the companies trying to sell you products isn’t using it there is probably a reason.

How to get rid of the fleas

Get a good product to treat all of your pets. That’s it, no extra cleaning, bathing, spraying, dusting, bombing, or planting. Our last article about fleas talks about some of the products we recommend, but you are also welcome to call, email, or message us.