To Flea or Not to Flea…

Well, actually there is no question: I’d say not to flea has it hands down, wouldn’t you? (Just makes a catchier blog post title…)

For exactly the third time in my 18+ years of being primary caregiver to a couple of four-legged butt-sniffing funny looking children who never grow up (but on the other hand, I’ll never have to pay college tuition for them), we have a flea infestation to deal with.

Crap.

Now, just for the record–even three in 18 years still leaves me comfortable with my decision not to feed them monthly pesticides like Frontline or its various siblings. Again, they are not flea preventatives at all, they just kill any fleas that get onto the animal, by keeping  a perpetual level of insecticide in the animal’s bloodstream so that any eggs that get laid don’t hatch. And my older dog (that’s him, in the photo–doesn’t he look pathetic? He’s made an art out of it.)  has all his life had issues with almost any chemical substance, and he’s on a highly regimented natural diet with no medications except heartworm during the months we need it up North, so I don’t like to stress his system with anything else.  And the EPA has cautioned about Frontline and such meds, especially where smaller animals are concerned, citing significant health risks.

It’s the old dog that got hit–our younger one I only found maybe three of the little suckers on, which is sort of interesting and bears out the theory held by many that fleas don’t like the blood of strong healthy dogs with good immune systems, they go for the compromised ones.  And having experienced this before, when I saw him get up from his nap and leave a lot of black flaky schmutz behind him, I knew what we were in for.

Anyway, I did an endlessly long post on this topic a couple of years ago (you may go read it if you like, so you’ll see what we were dealing with at 11:00pm last night–it’s a long post, but the second half is about flea removal), and last night once again I found myself in that delightful place where I had to practice what I preach.  All the bedding for 3 beds in the laundry, all the rugs, all the upholstery, all the pillows, all the everything vacuumed within an inch of its life.  That was my husband’s job.  Mine was to bathe two really unhappy dogs, and then to go over each of them several times with a literally fine-toothed-comb–you can get flea combs at any pet supply store, and they are handy and effective things.

The dogs will be bathed daily for two more days at least.  And we’ll do the full bedding-and-vacuum sweep again in 3 days, and then again a week after that.  With any luck that’ll do it…the hard part is just having to do it all at once; you don’t have the luxury here of saying, okay we’ll do these beds and vacuum upstairs today and get the rest tomorrow, you have to just nail it in one go. Which is a royal pain.

But no chemicals, no meds, no icky toxic residues left on my rugs or furniture or children.  Fairly small price to pay, in my opinion.

So…in the meantime, stop by the Green Phone Booth today--in a moment of truly synchronous irony, I posted over there today about my efforts to not wash my hair so often and try homemade recipes for “dry shampoo”–and I challenge any of my friends to really guess which days over the past two weeks I washed my hair with water and which days I used my Brilliant Alternate Plan…

(except for last night, I’m sure the yanked-back ponytail was a dead giveaway, that was my first attempt–not real successful–to skip two days of washing. But even so…)

Happy Friday!

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Posted on October 15, 2010, in pets and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I’m with you on the lack of flea meds. I can’t put those nasty chemicals on my dog, who also snuggles my kids. He has a very healthy diet and I give him garlic and brewers yeast to make him more distasteful to the fleas and ticks. So far we’ve had no problems at all, but it has only been 3 years.

  2. We’re going to try brewers yeast from here on out, and probably a little apple cider vinegar.

    Tell me, does the garlic give your dog particularly odiferous breath or anything? Ours smells like dead fish already, I admit I’ve heard of the garlic thing but have balked because of his already horrific exhalations…

  3. My daughter-in-law in Australia is a vet nurse and she uses a tiny amount of tea tree oil mixed with water as a spray. We tried it and it works as well as the nasty stuff. Years ago, I used to use Avon’s Skin So Soft (think that was what it was called) mixed with water as a spray and that worked too. Don’t have any idea of why it did but it did not make our more sensitive dog sick like the commercial pest killers which nearly killed him instead of the bugs.

  4. Tea tree oil is AMAZING stuff–seems like it’s this wonder-plant or something. I use it for zits, cold sores, diaper ointment, skin care, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, diffusers during cold season–like, EVERYTHING. Amazing stuff.

  5. Funny thing. I just launched into the “rid the house of the damn things” yesterday. The groormer found several on my long haired dachsie when she was bathing her. First I had seen in a long time and I can only HOPE she didnt pick them up at the groomers! No baths, just several flea combings a day and have washed about everything and vacuumed what you cant wash. Didnt find many fleas, one or 2 on the short haired guys but my longhair dachsie is a flea motel!
    Sure is rewarding to scrunch the little suckers when you get them on the flea comb!
    Tis the season…..
    I will try the tea tree oil. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. pet supplies should be environment friendly too that is why we always choose earth friendly pet supplies”.:

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