fleas! help!

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    So I took my dog with me to visit my mom in another state. AFTER we showed up she informed me that her pit bull had been itchy for a few days. Sure enough, since we have been home my poor pup has been scratching non stop. The kitten seems fine, she got a dose of revolution a few days prior (and did not come with us). I gave my dog front line the day we go back, waited two days then gave her an oatmeal bath, but she’s sill itchy. She gets front line monthly, but I’ve heard before that it doesn’t always work great. I’ve never had flea problems before, I know they stay in your home even if you clean the dog, just reinfecting your dog. Most answers online say to flea bomb the home and use flea shampoo on the dog, are there any safer/natural alternatives that actually work?

    I haven’t seen any fleas, but I read online to scratch her fur on to a wet paper towel, and if the black speckles turn red it’s most likely flea dirt, which has blood in it. I did this and got red speckles, so I am assuming it’s fleas. She has allergies but since we got home her itching has been non stop, even in her sleep. I’m even a little itchy!

    Thanks in advance for any help!



    H Sophia,

    I’ve had to fight fleas on my foster dogs. This is what has worked for me — first I wash the dog with a shampoo or soap that has tea tree in it (Dr. Bronner’s is a soap with tea tree that is the right ph for a dog’s skin – any castile soap is). Toxed has recommended Dr. Bronner’s mint soap as well. When bathing you will want to wet the head first as I’ve read that the fleas will scury towards the ears for protection — starting with the head will block them. Make sure to get soap everywhere but ears and eyes (in between toes as an example). Rince off and towel or blow dry.

    Once dry I apply food grade diatomaceous earth down to the skin by parting the fur and taking a pinch of the DE between my fingers and making sure it gets on the skin not just the fur. Then I rub it in the area. (DE looks and feels like white flour but it actually has sharp edges. Those edges are harmless to us and our dogs (unless too much is inhaled) but are deadly to insects. They damage the exoskeleton and cause the insect/flea to dehydrate causing death.) I apply the DE from the top of the head to the beginning of the tail and across the back. If the dogs fur is light colored you can see the flea dirt and apply where it is seen. I have found that it is not necessary to do the entire dog — just head and back (I’m guessing this is the area where they feed?). I don’t spare the DE when I appy it but you do want to make sure to keep dust clouds down as breathing it in is not great for the lungs. I rebath and reapply DE about once a week or evey other week. DE can be a bit drying but after the fleas are dead and no more is applied the coat will go back to normal.

    I also have a bottle of premade essential oils that are flea deterants. I’ll spritz some of that on all the dogs as a preventative. Here’s a premade product (there are others available) http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/natural-flea-and-tick-control.aspx

    In the environment you want to vacuum (including baseboards and furniture that can’t be laundered etc). You also want to wash any bedding.

    A few fleas is really not that hard to get rid of but if you don’t address it an infestation can develop and that can be a royal pain to battle.. Hopefully you have caught it early enough that one or two baths and one or two DE applications is all it will take along with vacuuming and laundering. If you end up with an infestation there’s more you can do but for now this, in my experiene, is a good start.

    Good luck!!!



    PS — knowing a fleas life cycle helps in going to battle with them.. The flea lays eggs and the eggs hatch (and look like tiny worms). The worms (called the larval stage) develop a cocoon type barrier (called the pupal stage) where they transform into an adult flea (like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly). Once the transformation is done they emerge as what we know to be a flea. Most products will not kill a flea when they are in the pupal stage. And, the flea can stay in the pupal stage til the right conditions for emerging are present. IF you vacuum well, launder items you can that have been slept on you can eliminate a good deal of the fleas in the pupal stage. The pupal stage is also why you want to rebath, reapply DE and relaunder at least once after a few weeks and then several times more if necessary.

    There are other natural things you can try if necessary. You can also try a different flea product but I would definitley wait until the body has been able to eliminate the Frontline. Applying too many chemicals weakens the immune system making it even harder to fight off fleas etc.



    Hi Sophia,

    Insects are far more resilient than mammals. So much so that by the over use of chemical insecticides we’ve inadvertently produced pests that are immune to them. The chemical companies keep producing and selling more harmful chemicals in response. These poison our pets. So I’m copying a post that I originally shared on the Mercola Healthy Pets forum. Just in case you want to go that route.

    “IPM Fleas
    I use a method that my daughter and I developed when she went off to college (with her dog) and discovered her apartment and yard were infested from the previous renter’s cat and the abundance of ferel cats that frequented her yard. My daughter is an IPM entomologist and started her professional career at age 15. Here’s what we worked out.:

    The first thing to consider is breaking the flea life cycle, which is: hatch out of eggs laid in textiles or litter, feed as nymph, metamorphasize to adult, hop on dog, mate/feed, hop off, lay eggs, repeat…

    Bathing your dog regularly is a great way to interrupt the flea reproductive cycle… if they don’t reproduce, no resident fleas.

    I use a fragrance free, non toxic detergent. I am currently using naturoli’s soapnut shampoo. Its extremely mild and nourishes the skin and coat. All the pet shampoos (even the hypo-allergenic ones) at pet stores have stuff I wouldn’t use, therefore, I won’t put it on my dogs. Occassionally I use a few drops of a REPELLENT, non toxic pet shampoo along with the detergent. I use Earthypet, for the drops. I get it at http://www.allnaturalcosmetics.com Its very fragrant, and more than 1 drop per small dog, 2 for med-large hurts me. I can only imagine how much it offends the dog. (For your sick dogs, I’d avoid the aromatics until they recover!) One of the ways you can monitor if the VOCs are too high for your dog is, “do they rub their face on the carpet?” That indicates that it is hurting their noses.

    Keep in mind that your dog could still have gotten flea born diseases when you used a pesticide, as it takes a while for the resident fleas to get killed. A repellent, like lavender and rosemary oils, keeps the blood feeders away, and therefore prevents insect vectored diseases.

    When I bath my pom. I fill up the laundry sink and have her sit in it for 3-5 min. I protect the ears and nose. I also watch for fleeing fleas and squish ‘em. Make sure they pop. You will also see them swimming in the tub. Squish those too. Washing them down the drain isn’t enough. They hop back out. Also for the first several weeks, check your dog, down to the skin in a well lit area for fleas. Use a desk lamp. The fleas will come to the warmth. You’ll still have to comb through all her hair and examine all of her skin. If she’s picked up a tick, or cheat grass, you will find it during this procedure. Don’t forget to squish the fleas. When you aren’t seeing them or their “dirt”, you can move your bath times to less frequently, but monitor to find the best schedule. I bath more frequently during heavy hatches. Contact your State University, Experiment Station Entomologist for the timing of the heaviest hatch(es) in your area.

    Next: frequent laundering (weekly to every 2 weeks) of your dogs bedding, with borax as a laundry booster: 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load. Borax residues form crystals in the fabric, which scratch through the exoskeleton and cause the adults to suffocate. I love that part! (dry on Hot) Fleas lay their eggs near where your dog habitates, in fibers: Carpet, upholstry, bedding. Flea nymphs hatch out and start feeding on what’s in their environment. Residual borax is consumed and kills the nymphs.

    For control in carpets and upholstery, I wash them (steam clean) with borax solution. Its also a great way to get out petroleum and oil stains… as well as odors. Unless something happens, I shampoo a couple of times a year, like during major hatch cycles. (spring) and at the end of the summer to minimize the indoor population. The borax crystalizes after this too, and kills both adults and nymphs.

    So, this method kills by drowning or suffocating the adults, poisoning the nymphs, and drowning/frying the eggs. It is an intergrated, (non invasive) pest management practice or IPM.

    There are a number of things you can do to deter mosquitos from feeding on your pet. The aromatics work by repelling, but you can use garlic, (one of Shawna’s favorites!) Or complex Bs make the blood unpalatable to insects. I have frequently fed brewer’s yeast to get the Bs, but I’m hearing some downsides. Get a good supplement. Healthy raw foods with lightly cooked broccoli and other cruciferous veggies (see Dr. Becker’s book for amounts) are high in sulfur, and that repels mosquitos. Tumeric and curry (garam masala) have healing properties as well as making you “not a biting insects preferred snack.” Hope that helps! :-)

    I also mix up a spray bottle with water and some of Dr. Bronner’s Castile, mint oil soap. It repels mosquitos. I use this as a spray-on during peak seasons or heavy hatches. I went to the coast a few years back in May. I used this and everyone else in the campground was slapping mosquitos, regardless of “off” and deet, and I didn’t have even one, near me. It lasted all night. As you probably know mosquitos vector heartworm. So this little preventive measure goes a long way in protecting pups from heartworm.”

    Hope that helps!



    OK great, thank you both so much. We just home earlier this week, and I can’t see the fleas, only dirt, so I’m hoping it’s just a few that I can take care of quick.

    One more question, my mom uses apple cider vinegar for everything. She says I can spray down the cat and dog with a vinegar water mixture and this will repel the fleas while I take care of the house- does anyone know if this works or if it will harm either of them? I know it’s not toxic, but I don’t know if it will affect their PH balances. I know my mom used to use it to bathe our boxer (she frequently chased down skunks,lol) but my dog is a bit older and has had her fair share of health problems so I’m a bit more gentle with her.



    Wow, that’s a good question!! ACV won’t hurt the dog — it actually helps with digestion (especially in senior dogs). All of my dogs get ACV, with their food, regularly. BUT, I don’t know if it will momentarily shift the skin ph. My guess is yes it would — a dog’s skin is alkaline and ACV is definitley acidic. But, because it is also antiyeast, antibacterial etc I think the temporary ph shift would be of no concern.. Hopefully others will post if they disagree or have relavant info..

    PS — Toxed is right!!! I use garlic like your mom uses ACV :)…



    I can tell you it does not work for fleas in Florida, though some essential oils work this way. Vinegar is very acidic and should be diluted 1 cup per gallon of water if it will be against the skin.



    Thanks Patty :) Are Florida fleas more robust than Nebraska fleas? Hee hee I chuckle but makes me think of slugs. Slugs in Nebraska are tiny little dime, or smaller, size creatures. First time I saw a slug in Seattle I bout fainted. Almost the size of a newborn human.. HOLY SMOKES!!!



    LOL Shawna, Oregon’s the same. Those Nebraska slugs would be considered hatchlings.

    Florida fleas are more resilient. Their growing season is year round with one of the highest pesticide application rates in the Union. Only the strong have survived! They also have more hatches per year than areas with cold winters. It’s a lot tougher to stay on top of them down there. There’s no respite.



    OK, I think I will give it a try since I have a bunch handy and don’t have too much time to be out searching today. We’re in MI so maybe the fleas are different since the weather is so different.

    If it doesn’t work and I decide to try something like lavender and rosemary oils (as toxed mentioned), do I just apply these directly to the skin? How much do I apply? Does anyone happen to know if either are safe for cats (she’s 4 months)? The dog is 50lbs, she’s a golden and either border collie or lab mix, but she has the coat of a golden retriever (if any of that makes a difference!). I feel terrible she’s so itchy, as soon as she got done having a bathe yesterday she passed out for a few hours because she hasn’t been able to sleep well, so anything to keep her more comfortable while I’m trying to get rid of them!
    thanks so much!



    Hi Sophia,

    I have small, glass 4 oz. spray bottles that I use. I put sterilized (boiled – cooled) water in them then add the organic essential oil or soap to them. The mint oil soap spray, was just enough so that it doubled as a travel hand cleanser, and didn’t feel sticky or gummy. When I mixed up a separate insect repellent for hatch seasons, I used mint oil soap, 3 drops, o. Essential: lavender, 2 drops, rosemary 3 drops, lemon grass 4 drops. You can play with it, to see what you like and works. Spritz it on bedding and upholstery too. :-)



    Be very careful when using essential oils. they are not safe to use on cats. I’m not sure of the reason why, or what exactly it will do to a cat, but any product we have in the store where I work that uses essential oils says clearly on the bottle that it is not safe for use on cats.



    Good reminder momofmutts,

    We were speaking specifically about dogs, but a cat owner might try it on their pet. :-o

    I remember from my childhood that cats are much more sensitive. We knew a guy who found a flea bitten, filthy stray and thinking to adopt it he brought it in and bathed it using Lysol brown soap. The cat died. The vet said their skins are so thin & porous it gets into their blood.

    Essential oils are very powerful. I had read that, but you know how most of us are… We don’t believe it until we experience it.@@ Well, I decided to try clove oil for something. It cautions that it can promote blood thinning, and bleeding/bruising, and to stop using it if you start bruising easily. I thought, well I won’t have to worry about that, my bloods very thick. It wasn’t very long and, Dang! It was true!



    Thank you for clearing that up momofmuts! I know cats can be very sensitive so I would of done a lot of research before trying anything. The kitten just got revolution, which apparently works much better than front line, because she hasn’t been itching at all. I have vinegar and water in a spray bottle and have just been spraying them both down when I notice the itching gets bad (only like once a day). I also sprayed myself down, lol, but it seems to be working OK and from what I read online ACV is ok for cats as well-so I’ll stick to that. I lined the ground, bed, and couches with food grade DE today, so hopefully this will clear up soon. I plan on putting it on the dog after I bathe her again this weekend. I’ll leave the kitten alone until I see any itching or fleas on her.


    Hi guys, PattyVaughn was wanting to get a message to Weimlove. Patty is having trouble posting in the forum so I’m hoping this message reaches you on her behalf.

    My posts are disappearing on the forum right now and there is a poster there, Weimlove, that lives in Florida that is asking questions involving heartworm prevention and flea prevention that I would love if someone would relay info to. She is planning on going with Heartguard and there are a few dogs every year that turn up heartworm positive at the proper dose in Florida. Heartguard is losing its effectiveness, so she should discuss that with her vet too.



    I think the fleas (maybe) are gone, however my dog did a number on her skin. She ripped fur from her legs and I can see clusters of flea bites there. She’s still very itchy, to the point where she’s causing bleeding in her ears (which WERE recovering from infection) and very red skin. I am going to keep up with flea treatment as if they are still there, but is there anything safe to put on her skin for relief in the mean time? can you use benedryll ointment on a dog? She takes benedryl in the pill form for allergies, but I am not sure if there is a difference. Neosporin? homemade creams? Anything safe to rub in her ear? I’ve got to get her to stop itching them before she bursts an ear drum.


    Hound Dog Mom

    I always keep a jar of Dr. Harvey’s healing cream on hand for any sort of skin irritation.




    Hi Sophia,
    I checked out the product that HDM recommended and its a very good product. Nice find HDM!

    I use a salve make myself with coconut oil, beeswax & essential oils, or a water based iodine salve. I’ve also recently treated ear problems with astaxanthin. It works better than anything else I’ve tried. I get the caps from Dr. Mercola. Make a pin hole in one end & put one (5 lb Pom) or two (50 lb poodle) in each ear. I squeeze the rest in their mouths. Worked in just a few applications, with occasional follow ups as the toxins work their way out of the tissue.

    The itching & “allergies” are more likely due to the frontline & vaccine reactions than anything else. Hop over to the “vaccinating” thread and read my posts there, if you haven’t already. Then be sure to read my post on the “Detoxing” thread. If you clean up her diet & environment, and boost her immune system, you can relieve all those symptoms. It will take time. :-) But its worth it.


    Hey guys,

    We’re on the verge of flea season, aren’t we…

    As much as I’d like to avoid unnecessary chemicals, I plan to use up my on-hand supply of Trifexis for Sam and Heartgard / Frontline for Bella.

    I was looking at the Mercola Natural flea and Tick Defense: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/natural-flea-and-tick-control.aspx

    I wondered if anyone here had ever tried it and if so, what did you think of the results?




    Hi Betsy,

    I used it last year and didn’t have any problems. I’m in TX. My senior girl also liked to sunbath and lay outside alot and she and others didn’t get fleas. I haven’t seen mosquitoes yet around here but I’m sure they’re coming! At the end of the year I also tried out Halo Herbal Dip. I used it concentrated and put a couple drops 4 or 5 on their harness. It can be put on cloth. And also mixed with water for a spray. I would carry a collar with some drops on it out with me when I went out and I didn’t get bit either. I just bought some essential oil or eucalyptus citriodora to add a few drops to the mercola bottle. I also put in a little neem oil. I treated my yard with garlic, neem and cedar oil sprays last year too and once maybe last month. I have about 6 bottles in the cupboard. And none of my pugs got heartworm or tapeworms since I don’t give anything for that. They all had their check-up in April.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by  pugmomsandy.
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