Fleas are very bad right now in NW Indiana.  Learn about these nasty little critters and how you can protect your pets…

The Flea Life Cycle

Fleas are highly productive; a pair may produce 20,000 fleas in three months.

Eggs hatch after two to 12 days into larvae that feed in the environment – generally on digested blood from adult fleas and other food matter. The food required at this stage is microscopic, and even clean carpets often offer plenty of food to the larvae.

The larvae are little wiggles about three or four millimeters long; you may see some if you inspect your pet’s bedding carefully. Larvae molt twice within two to 200 days and the older larvae spin a cocoon in which they remain for one week to one year. When in this cocoon stage the young flea is invulnerable to any kind of insecticide and to low, even freezing, temperatures. Only sufficient warmth and the presence of a host can cause them to emerge. This long cocooning period explains why fleas are so difficult to eradicate.

To get rid of fleas in your house, you must break this cycle.

As a practical matter, this means you’ll almost certainly have to repeat your flea elimination efforts a few weeks apart to catch the fleas from the larvae that didn’t get destroyed the first time around. This is also why it is essential to address the problem of the eggs and larvae as well as the adult fleas.

Eliminating Fleas

It’s not enough just to rid your dog of fleas. Fleas don’t spend all their time on your dog, but will hop on when they need a meal.

The eggs can be shed anywhere your dog spends time – including your own bed, if you share it! Your house and yard must also be treated to prevent re-infestation.

If you use a topical preventative, now is the time to apply.  K9 Advantix II is an effective product to kill AND repel fleas, ticks, and other bugs on Dogs.  Advantage II is available for your Cats.  The Hydrant sells both 2-packs and 4-packs.

Knowing that some pets have a reaction to topical flea and tick treatments and require a no-chemical approach, we also provide some natural alternatives that are less toxic to pets and their families.

Alzoo makes a safe monthly topical application made from natural oils and ingredients that will repel fleas.  Without harsh chemicals, Alzoo is safe to use around children and other pets.

An important part of flea prevention is treating the environment your pet lives in. Only adult fleas live on your pet.  Eggs, larva and pupa are found in the bedding, flooring, and couches and might be living in your yard. Vacuum your carpets and wash bedding often until you are sure the fleas are gone.  We also recommend using Flea Vac when vacuuming.  Flea Vac (sold at the Hydrant)is an all natural, safe and environmentally responsible solution for treating fleas in your home.  By using these pellets made with bentonite clay mixed with essential oils, Flea Vac is highly effective at killing 100% of the fleas inside the vacuum.  Flea Vac also makes a vacuum hose attachment that allows you to suck the fleas right off your pets!

Bathing your dog often using a natural shampoo can help in the fight against bugs.  Earthbath’s Orange Peel Oil Shampoo for Dogs is great for flea prevention due to its concentrated citrus oil.  This shampoo also calms & relieves the itching that comes from insect bites, including mosquito bites and flea bites. In addition to thoroughly cleaning your pet, the concentrated citrus oil in this shampoo will bring out the coat’s natural highlights and generate a brilliant sheen. Orange Peel Oil is the natural oil rendered from oranges and is very effective at killing fleas.  Ask for Earthbath Orange Peel Oil Shampoo at the Hydrant!

Diet is everything – Healthy dogs aren’t good hosts for parasites.  Fleas (like any parasite) are more attracted to the weak animals.   I’ve seen this with my own eyes… three dogs standing in a group – two dogs who were eating high quality diets including raw and freeze-dried raw diets had no bugs flying around them while the one dog eating a low quality kibble diet had a swarm of bugs around him.  Enough said.  Let the Hydrant help you select a healthy food that will boost your pet’s immunity and natural ability to repel insects.  We always have samples and the time to talk with you about pet foods and proper nutrition.

To check for fleas, brush through your dog or cat’s hair with a flea comb. Doing this above a white sheet or white paper allows you to see if there are actually fleas.  Flea dirt is flea feces, which appears on your pet in small, dark clumps which is a clear sign that your pet has fleas. Flea dirt is usually easiest to see on the stomach of your pet. This is where their fur is the lightest color and the least thick. Flea dirt can also be found on your pet’s bedding so make sure to check there.  If you have doubts about whether or not what you’re seeing is flea dirt or just normal dirt, there’s an easy test. Grab one of the small black clumps with a wet paper towel.  If that black clump is flea dirt, it will turn a reddish color once it gets wet.