Chances are that if you have a pet, your pet has had fleas at least a few times. And if your pet has had fleas, you know just how miserable it can be for them: constant scratching, itching, biting, and rolling around, all to try to get rid of those tiny little biting insects. Fleas are wingless, with hard bodies that make them difficult to kill, and they have mouths adapted for piercing the skin of their “victims” and sucking out their blood. They are nasty little critters that can make life pretty annoying for your favorite furry pet.
As we know, the local pet store sells plenty of toxic products designed to kill those fleas dead in no time. But if you are busy trying to protect yourself from toxic chemicals, why not try to do the same for your cat or dog? The chemicals usually found in flea meds – lufenuron, methoprene, imidacloprid, permethrin, and (S)-methoprene – are quite toxic to humans and come with warning labels. The labels say “call a poison control center for treatment advice” which says to me that these products can’t be all too healthy to apply all over your pets. Thankfully for us pet owners, there are safer alternatives and some behaviors we can implement to help keep our best friends flea and scratch free.
Anti-Flea Activities Humans Can Implement
Comb your pet regularly.
They may not like it, but combing your cat or dog regularly helps remove fleas, dead skin, dandruff, and crusty blood spots. Rinse the comb often as you use it, to send those fleas down the drain and off the animal!
Vacuum your home often.
Using a broom is nice, but doing so can just move fleas and their eggs from one place to another. By using a vacuum, you can suck them all up and dispose of the bag when you are done. Make sure you do the floor, your furniture, under the bed and couch, and of course inside your pet’s house (if they have one.)
Cut your grass.
If your pet has a favorite spot in the yard to hang out, keep it dry, cleaned up and cut short. This can help keep the flea population down.
Wash your pet’s bedding often.
Use hot water with soap, and wash often to help kill those fleas.
Nontoxic Anti-Flea Concoctions
I use food grade diatomaceous earth all over my house, inside and out, for keeping ants and cockroaches at bay. It is an amazing substance made from the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. I sprinkle it around the foundation every month or so as well as put it in the back of my kitchen cabinets and under the sink. It seems to work well, and it works for killing fleas, too. Some people actually use it on directly on their animals, but I haven’t done that yet as it can be dangerous if inhaled directly.
Give your pets baths as often as they (or you) can stand to do so. Use Dr. Bronner’s soap to make sure your pet isn’t replacing a toxic flea med with a toxic soap!
Good old fashioned baking soda.
Some people use it to unclog drains or make their fridges smell better, but it can also be used to kill fleas by dehydrating them.
Try cedarwood oil.
Some people swear by cedarwood oil as a way to control fleas, and the EPA has stated that it is “demonstrably safe.”
Keep the humidity down.
Fleas love warm, wet areas, and by keeping your home drier you can somewhat reduce the amount of flea eggs that survive to adulthood.
The next time you see your cat or dog scratching furiously because of fleas, consider trying a nontoxic alternative to those chemical bombs normally sold in pet stores. If none of the natural tips work, don’t feel too bad about using a store bought solution though; after all, we do want our pets to be comfortable, right?