Pet Peeves - Part 1: Fleas
by Leonard Rego
Ever had a friend who kept eating out of your lunchbox every single day, without even being polite enough to ask permission? Your pet feels the same way about fleas. Difference is, your pet itself is a 'free lunch' to this parasite!
No one loves to piggyback more than a flea does. And chances are your pet has more than a few of these bloodsucking annoyances lurking in its fur, which make their presence felt even more when it's chomp-time.
Take me to your flea-der
That would be the mother flea. She's a hardworking little insect, and can lay as many as 600 eggs in a month. She needs a drink of blood in order to be strong enough to lay these eggs, and after she's fed off your pet (or off you, even!), she'll find a cosy spot in a crevice, crack or even the couch to do her laying.
600 eggs a month equal roughly 20 a day. Adults can live for as long as eight months without feeding, as long as they don't emerge from their cocoons. But when a travelling delicatessen passes by (a.k.a Bowser the bulldog), their 'blood radar' kicks into action and they wake up for a midnight snack.
Making fleas flee
Chemicals are not a great idea, especially when there are little kids in your home, so let's look at some other ways to keep these fellers at a safe distance.
Indoor solutions - How to battle the bugs on your own turf:
Soapy water and candle: Before going to bed, fill a pie pan with ¼ inch of water and a squirt of dish soap. Next, place a small tea light candle in the centre of the pan, and place it in the room you think is flea-infested.
The fleas will be attracted to the light, jump in the pan, and drown in the soapy water. Do this every night until you find no more fleas in the pan.
Mothballs in the vacuum cleaner: Place a few mothballs in the vacuum cleaner bag - they're supposed to kill adult fleas and eggs after they've been vacuumed up.
Borax: Ask your pharmacist for some Borax. Use four parts Borax to one part salt, and sprinkle this on the carpet. Let it stay for about half-an-hour, and then vacuum the carpet. But be careful - if you have little brothers or sisters playing or crawling on the carpet, this may not be a good option, as Borax can make them sick.
Outdoor solutions - How to get them before they get in:
Nematodes: Nematodes are tiny little worms that feed on fleas, and if you're lucky, you'll find a garden pack of beneficial bugs containing nematodes at a store that sells plants. Use this in your back yard or garden
Plants: Plant pennyroyal, fennel or basil in the places your pet visits most often in your yard.
Cedar wood: Shavings of cedar wood in the dog house will help to keep fleas away.
Fleas release me!
So we've covered inside and outside - now we look at how to get them off your pet's back once and for all.
Flea dips: Use a good flea killing shampoo in your pet's bath, and let him or her stay there long enough for the fleas to be killed.
Topical flea killers: This is probably your best bet. Ask your vet about topical flea killers - he or she is likely to recommend using it once a month.
Combing: You can try and use a flea comb regularly. To prevent them from jumping off the comb, dab them with a cotton swab dipped in petroleum jelly.
Don't forget to rinse the comb in soapy water to kill them, though!
Garlic: If you can feed your pet garlic pills, its blood can start tasting unpleasant to fleas.
That'll teach those fleas, once and for all, that there's no such thing as a free lunch!
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Copyright © 2004-2005 Leonard Rego. All rights reserved.