Spring is here and that means longer and warmer days, flowers blooming and FLEAS! In our three-part newsletter, we will tell you more about fleas, ticks & lice and how to treat them naturally. My pets make up a huge part of my life, and since I regularly foster too, I naturally wanted to learn how to treat my pets with natural products and methods to keep fleas away. There are many flea preventatives out there, but many of them are full of chemicals that could have harmful side effects.
Understanding a flea’s behavior and what attracts them can help keep them away. Fleas prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and high humidity levels of 75-85%. Once a flea finds your pet and attaches itself, it will begin sucking its blood and laying eggs every day. These eggs will fall off your pet into the yard, bedding, and carpet or wherever else your pet spends time. After a period of time the egg larvae will hatch and live among the outside environment, carpet fibers and cracks in wooden floors, feeding on skin scales and organic matter until they mature. Fleas will reach maturity when environmental conditions and host availability are just right.
They become attracted to your pet by the warmth of their body heat, movement, vibrations and the carbon dioxide from their breath. The adult flea can jump up to a foot high, attached itself to your pet and begin feeding. Chemical make-up can also be factor. If your pet has a different level of skin secretion and carbon dioxide output, it can make them more attractive to fleas than another pet in the same household.
How do you know if fleas are causing all that itching? Here are a few things you can do to inspect your pet for fleas:
1. Fleas like to hide in the warm dark areas of your pets, so check the belly area, inner thigh and groin to provide yourself the best chance for spotting them.
2. Check for flea feces. Which is sometimes referred as “flea dirt.” It looks like tiny specks of pepper scattered on the skin surface. Pick a couple of pieces off your pet and place it on a wet paper towel. Wait a few minutes; if it turns red, then your pet most likely has fleas.
3. Behavioral signs: If you notice your pet is restless and scratching, licking or chewing their fur more than normal. There is a chance your pet might have fleas.
If you suspect your pet has fleas, all animals in the household, along with the indoor and outdoor environments will need to be treated. In the next part we will discuss how to naturally prevent and treat fleas, what to look for in your flea treatments and how they impact these pesky little bugs.