How to get rid of fleas in your house, on your pets, and how to stay rid of them once they're gone – a step-by-step guide to flea control.

Some good tips on getting rid of fleas without chemicals

fleas in yardHere’s a very good article on some good natural and non-toxic methods of getting rid of fleas without chemical insecticides or other such treatments. Lots of good info, some of which we already covered in the page on natural flea control, but there are several other tips we didn’t mention. Definitely worth having a look at, especially if you prefer to avoid chemical treatments.

Practice pre-walk grooming. Brushing your dog before you go outside for a walk or job gets rid of excess hair and mats, so you can find ticks more easily when you return.

Stay away from the danger zones. Keep your dog’s play area free of high grass, where the teeny bloodsuckers are just waiting to latch on. Ticks also thrive in shady areas and in woodpiles, so it’s best to keep your dog out of these parts of your yard. Also, keep the lawn mowed low in spots where your dogs most like to hang out, to deter a tick invasion.

Go herbal. If you like, you can sprinkle a canine herbal repellent onto your dog’s coat and massage it in. Just wash your hands afterwards, and read the label beforehand to make sure none of the ingredients will harm any cats you have in the house. It’s also important to note that not everything labeled “natural” is always safe.

Products containing linalool or d-limonene can cause serious side effects in some pets. (As a general rule of thumb, never use any dog flea or tick products on cats, or vice versa.) And never use human products containing DEET on your animals–it’s toxic to them.

Before going into the house, perform a thorough examination. Use a flea and tick comb to scan your dog’s body for ticks, but pay particular attention to ticks’ favorite hideout spots–around your dog’s ears, armpits, and paws, suggests Arden Moore, pet expert and author.

Don’t panic if you find a tick. Put on a pair of gloves to protect yourself from harmful bacteria the tick could harbor, and grab a pair of tweezers (ideally, a pair you’ve designated for pet use only). Grasp the tick’s body near the head, and pull straight up and out, slowly, and without twisting, to remove the bloodsucker. Kill the tick by dropping it in a jar of rubbing alcohol, and dab the affected area on your dog’s skin with (different) rubbing alcohol.

Take care inside. Your tick prevention doesn’t stop outdoors. In the house, vacuum frequently and wash pet bedding once a week, preferably using plant-based detergents that are less harsh on the environment.

Evict mice. Make your property inhospitable to mice, who, along with deer, carry ticks. Make sure outdoor garbage cans are always covered, and store pet food inside sealed containers. Depending on where you live, you might try inviting kestrels, small (and beautiful!), mice-devouring hawks, to your area with a kestrel box.

Build your dog’s immunity. While the jury’s still out on this one, some pet owners who make their own, natural dog food for their pups say they pull fewer–or no–ticks from their animals after switching to a homemade diet. If you decide to make your own dog food, just be sure to know what you’re doing, and talk to your vet or consult a holistic pet expert first–some ingredients can be lethal to your pet, and you have to make sure they’re getting the proper ingredients to stay healthy. To help you get started for once-a-week home-cooked meals and treats, check out Real Food for Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes to Please the Canine Gastronome (Storey Publishing, 2001).

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