Fleas on Dogs

Everyone hates fleas, and certainly so do our dogs and other pets that are vulnerable.

Here are some common flea myths:

1. A clean house won’t get fleas. Hardly true. Fleas can enter your home either on a pet, on you, or they can hop on in by themselves! It has nothing to do with house cleaning. (Though I suspect a really dirty house could be worse. Vacuuming is important.)

2. Fleas don’t bother in the winter time. Actually, fleas can find a nice warm home on animals that live outdoors, such as local wildlife or “outside dogs” in your neighborhood. They can hide as dormant in your yard, too, in cracks or under objects near the house.

3. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Insects are geared for three things: eat, reproduce, survive. It’s all they do. And they are very good at it. It’s important to kill fleas at all stages of their life cycle – adults, eggs, larvae. And this takes time. If an adult has laid eggs,

then you kill it, the eggs will hatch and you must start all over again. One flea can lay thousands of eggs in its lifetime.

4. My dog is healthy – he won’t get fleas. It’s true that healthy animals are less vulnerable to infestations, but it’s not a guarantee, especially if there are huge numbers of them in the environment.

5. Natural products don’t really work. Oh, yes they do! They may not be as fast or easy as the common chemical products, but they do work. You may have to be more diligent (such as applying something more often), but your pet’s safety is worth it.

6. Chemical products are safe and easiest to use. No, they are not. Easy yes, but not very safe. Some animals are more sensitive to some chemicals, and they can compromise your pet’s health. I almost lost my dog last year to a “pest collar” that was impregnated with a chemical

that was advertised as safe and natural. She was extremely sensitive to it and we almost lost her.

7. A good flea collar is all my dog needs. A flea collar is the least effective of all the flea fighting techniques there are. When new, the chemicals in it can be risky. See above. And that means anyone touching the dog can be affected by the chemicals, too. Anyway, the collars also “fade out” and lose their effectiveness.

8. Just let your vet get rid of your dog’s fleas. OK, if you want to spend that much on vet visits. But be aware that most vets use traditional chemicals. If you prefer to leave it to your vet, at least find a holistic practitioner who knows how to safely treat your dog with natural products.

9. If there are only one or two fleas, no big deal. As mentioned in No. 3, the eggs laid by one flea will hatch later, whether the mother is dead or not. Kill one and 20 will replace her immediately.

10. Fleas only live on animals. If you believe that, why are you scratching? Just kidding. But not entirely. They can live under your carpet, floor tiles, couch cushions, and certainly in your yard. I’ve seen people with little red spots on their ankles from the fleas hiding in their carpets.

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