Is your cat or dog continuously itching and scratching due to flea infestation? Are the frustrating little insects finding their way from Rover and Fluffy into your carpets, or worse, onto your skin? Before you run out and buy another round of flea-killing toxic chemicals, you might want to consider some less harmful natural alternatives.
Synthetic pesticides may do the job, but can be poisonous to pets (and the children who play with them) as well as to the fleas they are intended to kill. The chemicals can be absorbed into the pet?s (or child?s) skin, and in turn, into the bloodstream. The most usually used synthetic flea killers can cause convulsions and respiratory problems, and long-term management can even result in kidney failure in your pets. These are serious risks ? but they can be evaded by employing some natural flea-control measures.
The first step is to know your enemy. Fleas can be a major nuisance, and can be quite difficult to get rid of ? they cannot even be killed by freezing temperatures. Their legs are so powerful that they can jump nine inches into the air ? making pet-to-pet or floor-to-pet leaps all too simple. Fleas feed on the blood of your cats and dogs, but they spend most of their time away from your animals, laying their eggs in shady places in your house (such as floor cracks) – which is why your first line of defense is in and around your home.
There is a rather new flea control method available for use in your yard – it is a spray made from freeze dried worms or nematodes which are normal flea predators. The worms are reconstituted and sprayed in outdoor areas around your home. A popular brand name is Interrupt, which can be purchased from many veterinarians.
The other outdoor flea repellent is diatomaceous earth (a kind of fossilized algae). It clings to the flea?s shell and ultimately penetrates the coating, causing it to die of dehydration. (You?ll want to use food grade diatomaceous earth, not the type used in swimming pool filters.) It can be spread around your yard with a garden spreader, and can also be rubbed into your pet?s fur and sprinkled on his bedding.
Special consideration should be given to areas inside the home as well. Your pet?s bedding have to be washed often, and tumbled dry in a hot dryer to kill fleas. It is important to vacuum floors habitually, paying special awareness to the dark, damp areas where fleas love to lay eggs. Remember to dispose of the vacuum bag right away, otherwise eggs can hatch and re-infect your home.
Boric acid powder can be sprinkled onto clean carpets to keep fleas at bay (but test a tiny area of your carpet first, to make sure it is colorfast). Boric acid compounds are obtainable commercially, specially for flea control purposes. There are natural treatments which can be applied directly to your pet?s fur, without any chemical side effects.
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