A flea is a tiny, reddish-brown, wingless insect that survives on the blood of humans or animals, according to the Ohio State University Extension. They are able to move easily between the hair, fur or feathers of the host, which is why they are more likely found in pets. The can jump up to 7 inches high and 13 inches across. The human equivalent of such a leap would be 250 feet in the air or 450 feet across.
Flea Prevention is Key
Prevent fleas from ever attaching themselves to your dog by adding a little garlic to his food every day. The best way to do this is to make up a broth of chicken or beef (or buy it in a can) and add a tablespoon or two (depending on your dog’s size and tolerance for the taste) of garlic powder to it. You can pour this broth over your dog’s food or let your dog drink it straight. A cup or two of broth should be sufficient and even less can be used if mixed with your dog’s water.
Keep your lawn trimmed and fenced. A shorter lawn will create an inhospitable environment for flea larvae. Keeping it fenced will prevent your dog from escaping and hanging out with other animals that might have fleas. Be aware of this at dog parks also.
Wash and vacuum dog areas frequently. Vacuuming is particularly useful as it can remove larvae from strands of carpet they may wrap themselves around.
You can also spray your dog with tea tree and lavender oil mixed with water or denatured alcohol. Tea tree oil is a powerful smelling, natural anti-fungal that repels many types of insects.
Getting Rid of Fleas
Using oils mixed with natural insecticide will help you get rid of fleas permanently. Herbal shampoos are also helpful as they use natural insecticides in them. However, if your dog is infested, using only oil first will help not only kill the fleas but coat them, making them easier to remove with a flea comb. Oils of lavender, bergamot, pine, cedar, citronella, rosemary and geranium have all been effective in killing fleas, according to the OSU Extension.
Monitor for Fleas
If you are concerned that fleas have infested other parts of your house or are worried that they will return, one way to check for them is to put a dishpan for soapy water on the floor of the area of concern. Get a small desk lamp, and turn it on over the water. Fleas will leap toward the light and fall into the water. While this isn’t effective for getting rid of all of the fleas, it will give you an idea of where they are living.