The uncontrollable scratching and wincing spread across a dog’s face is often the handiwork of fleas, which infests the fur of a canine, causing a multitude of concerns to take place. Dog fleas are a known nuisance for pet owners, who often choose a range of heavy-duty products to alleviate the discomfort that eventually affects all members of a household. When it comes to eliminating the threat and treat a current infestation of fleas, more and more pet owners are discovering the benefits of natural cures.
What are Dog Fleas?
The wingless, oval-shaped pest of the canine world is called a dog flea (also referred to as Ctenocephalides canis), which displays a light to deep brown color . Measuring about two to eight millimeters long, the flea uses its six legs (including large powerful hind legs) to jump long distances and maneuver about the fur and skin of dogs. Fleas are well-known parasites that terrorize canines throughout the world, feeding off of their blood and any other animals or humans they come in contact with.
When dogs bring fleas into the house, the entire household becomes compromised, as untreated cases multiply and spread throughout the residence. Flea infestations often take place within the bedding of a pet with increasing populations traveling to nearby carpets, rugs, and furniture. Fleas are able to spread fast because they possess the ability to vertically jump about 5 to 6 inches (about 15 centimeters) to attach themselves to skin, clothing, and other objects.
Adult fleas are also able to survive for a couple of months without feeding, making them even harder to eradicate. When feeding, they use their jaws (resembling saw-like instruments) to cut into the skin of the legs, feet, and other accessible body parts of their victims. Flea saliva contains substances called anticoagulants, which promotes the flow of blood. Female fleas are responsible for laying eggs after feeding, which are oval-shaped and light in color. Within weeks of hatching, the larvae form a cocoon, where movement of the host later prompts an adult flea to emerge.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
A flea bite causes intense itching, affecting some more than others, as the worst cases surface when an allergy is present. When a flea bites a dog, constant itching often takes place and without treatment, skin infections and other medical problems may arise. Usually, a pet owner discovers a flea problem by routinely combing their dog with a flea comb, which is able to send off red flags regarding an infestation. Additional signs include a dog that is persistently scratching, biting, or chewing on the skin.
When a flea bites a human, the site becomes red and swollen with an accompanying itch that generally drives a person crazy. Depending on the individual, a flea bite may bother one for only a short period of time with various levels of rashes, while others face symptoms that may last more than a year in highly sensitive people. Overall, younger children are more sensitive to flea bites than adults. A small red spot typically develops at the flea bite site. Swelling is minimal, but many notice a red halo of irritated surrounding skin that is known to last between many hours and one day.
Risk Factors and Negative Effects of Dog Fleas
The risk of dog fleas increases when certain factors are in place. In the long run, fleas create a wealth of negative effects that only worsen when left untreated. Some of these include:
a) Allergic Reactions: If a dog is allergic to fleas, they will experience a more intense response to an infestation. When the flea bites into the skin, saliva is deposited, which is the element that causes severe itching to take place.
b) Hair Loss: A dog typically responses to fleas by chewing, licking, and scratching infected areas. Over time, hair loss may take place.
c) Open Sores or Scabs: Constant chewing, licking, and scratching of flea infested parts of the body may result in the development of open sores, which later turn into troublesome scabs.
d) Bacterial Infections: Untreated flea infestations may lead to a secondary bacterial infection caused by open sores that form when a dog constantly chews or scratches to remove fleas.
e) Household Infestation: Most flea eggs are not deposited on dogs, meaning their bedding, surrounding rugs and carpet, as well as nearby furniture becomes prime targets for egg laying.
f) Climate Conditions: Flea season is often observed when the weather is moist and warm, such as humid, rainy summer days. High flea populations are also more common in the southern part of the United States over the northern states.
g) Insecticides: Spiders and ants are known to prey upon the larvae and eggs of fleas, meaning a household that uses insecticides will have less beneficial, flea-fighting insects battling against flea populations.
h) Age of Dog: Puppies have yet to develop a strong immunity, meaning heavy flea infestations are known to cause a loss of blood that may lead to a host of medical concerns.
i) Small Dog Breeds: Miniature dog breeds do not possess the ability to endure the loss of blood that comes with untreated fleas, causing some to become anemic.
j) Spread of Disease: When a dog licks at flea bites, he or she faces the increased risk of ingesting a flea infected with tapeworm larvae, which is able to grow into an adult tapeworm within the dog’s body .
Natural Cures for Dog Fleas
Many dog owners resort to purchasing expensive chemical-based products at the local pet supply shop to cure their dog flea dilemma. Some individuals choose to shell out big bucks to have professional pest control come to the house, which often uses harsh chemical treatments to eliminate fleas. For those who are interested in destroying fleas using an all-natural approach, you may consider the following suggestions:
a) Linalool: Many flower and spice plants contain the naturally occurring substance of linalool, which acts as a poison to dog fleas. There are more than 200 species of plants responsible for the production of linalool, including scented herbs, cinnamon, rosewood, citrus fruits, and birch trees . Linalool is also found in some fungi, but today, the linalool produced by oranges is often seen in all-natural flea cures.
b) Oils: An array of natural oils helps to cure a flea-infested canine. When rubbed into the dog’s fur, eucalyptus oil helps cure flea infestations. Some dog owners have added one teaspoon of safflower oil to their pet’s food to aid the fight against fleas. To purchase a gentle dog shampoo, look for those that contain citrus oils (or pyrethrum).
c) Fig Leaves: Fleas respond poorly to fig leaves and tend to avoid their presence, which is why placing them under furniture, bed covers, and pet bedding is recommended. Every two to three weeks, the leaves should be replaced with fresh ones.
d) Citrus Repellent: Lemons serve as an effective natural flea cure for dogs. First, cut a whole lemon into quarters and place the pieces into a pint jug. Next, cover the lemon with boiling water and then let the mixture steep overnight. The next morning, you should transfer the mixture into a spray bottle, which is then applied to your dog’s entire body. It is suggested to pay special attention behind the ears; around the base of the tail; about the head; and under what you would consider your dog’s “armpits.” During this process, be especially careful to avoid the eyes. If your dog isnít fond of spray bottles, you may saturate a washcloth with the lemon water and wipe down your pet’s coat until it is moist.
e) Aromatherapy: You may create an aromatherapy repellant comprised of essential oils to combat dog fleas. The base of this natural cure consists of 10 milliliters of pure almond carrier oil. After adding 10 drops of lavender essential oil and five drops of cedarwood essential oil, shake the mixture well. To keep fleas away, one or two drops of the blend should be spread over the skin at least two times per week.
f) All-Natural Flea Collar: Creating an all-natural flea collar in the comforts of your own home is easy when you rub a few drops of essential oils on simple webbing, rope collars, or bandannas fitted around the neck of your pooch. Suitable options include eucalyptus, tea tree, citronella, lavender, and geranium. This natural cure makes a decent weekly treatment. You may also put a drop of lemon oil or rosemary oil on your dog’s regular collar to treat fleas.
g) Essential Oil Baths: When a dog is greatly suffering an infestation of fleas, a thorough bath followed by an essential oil rinse is suggested. A final rinse using a couple of drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil is suggested. Additional options include lemongrass, myrrh, neem, rosewood, cedar, and peppermint essential oils.
h) Herbal Flea Dip: You can generate your own herbal flea dip after steeping two cups of fresh rosemary leaves in two pints of boiling water for 30 minutes. The leaves are then discarded after straining the liquid, where warm water is added until the concoction equals one gallon. Sitting your dog in a tub, pour the mixture until he or she becomes saturated. It is suggested to forego rinsing off your pooch and allow the coat to naturally dry.
i) Apple Cider Vinegar: Adding a small spoonful of natural apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water bowl causes the liquid to become rather acidic, which is distasteful to dog fleas. If your canine dislikes apple cider vinegar in their water, you may dilute the vinegar with 50% water and use it as a citrus repellant in a spray bottle instead.
j) Natural Powders: Herbal powders that contain rosemary, rue, eucalyptus, wormwood, pennyroyal, or citronella helps cure dog flea infestations. Sometimes, tobacco powder is known to provide decent results. These kinds of powders not only treat dog coats, but are also used to treat infested locations about the home, followed by a good vacuuming.
k) Garlic: Some dog owners swear by adding garlic to their pet’s daily diet as a helpful cure for dog fleas. Dogs should receive a small quantity of garlic, which supposedly causes the dog to “taste” awful to fleas. Some owners have grated a small amount of fresh, raw garlic into their pet’s food (about Ĺ to three cloves). The dose depends on the size of the dog. It is suggested that for every 30 pounds of pooch, you should crush one clove of garlic. Some holistic health professionals propose warming the garlic to make digestion easier. Garlic treatments are not meant for daily use.
l) Brewer’s Yeast: Rubbing brewer’s yeast on the fur of dogs is said to serve as a natural flea cure. You may also add a nutritional brewer’s yeast to your dog’s food, which supplies the system with B-complex vitamins, providing a boost in immunity that helps repel fleas. A half-teaspoon is the recommended dose.
m) Vitamins and Supplements: Give your dogs a B-complex vitamin supplement to increase their defense against fleas. Smaller dogs should receive 50 milligrams once per day, while larger canines receive the supplement twice daily. You may also consider adding Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid supplements to your dog’s diet.
n) Powdered Kelp: Adding powdered kelp or seaweed to your dog’s food bowl may help detract fleas. The recommended dose is one teaspoon.
o) Quantum’s 100% Natural Herbal Skin Conditioning Spray: To repel fleas, you may use herbal skin conditioning sprays found at the local health food stores. The essential oils and other extracts, such as St. John’s Wort, rue, neem, wormwood, basil, black walnut hulls, rose geranium, eucalyptus, and tree tea, are main ingredients of the Quantum brand .