If you have pets and have been paying something like $20 per month per animal for flea control chemicals like Frontline Plus®, Advantage®, and Revolution® at the veterinarian’s, try some of these indoor flea control solutions. See if you can get away from those toxic chemicals which are not good for you, your animals, or the earth.
Gently sprinkle a very thin layer of food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) on the floors to which your pet has access, leave for a few hours, overnight, or preferably a few days, and then vacuum. DE is off white powdered fossilized diatom remains of algae with silica cell walls. Its sharp particles puncture the exoskeletons of insect bodies, the insects dehydrate and die.
Food grade DE is totally harmless to humans when ingested or rubbed on the body and is in a lot of the foods we eat since farmers feed it to livestock to kill worms. Wear a face mask and do not throw it around in the air and breathe it. Any powder in the air or even dust can irritate your lungs and eyes. Use only food grade DE and not the kind for pool filtration which is treated with chemicals and is harmful to pets.
Wash your pets’ bedding in hot water and continue vacuuming once every two to three days, putting down more DE in places where the vacuum does not reach well. Keep DE inside the vacuum cleaner to kill any that get sucked inside. DE is safe to use on pet bedding but be careful about getting it on your pets directly, especially the eyes, nose and mouth. It can dry out their skin, but DE must be used dry and does not work if wet.
Buy a flea comb with the tiny metal teeth and flea comb your pets every day while you see fleas and every three days when you think they’re gone. Focus on the base of the tail. If you see black particles in the hair there, shake some on a damp paper towel. If they turn red, that is blood in flea feces and you need to treat for fleas.
If your pet is scratching itself often or is getting bald spots and skin bumps, it may be suffering from flea allergy dermatitis or may have a bacterial or yeast infection from scratching. This could require an antibiotic or anti-fungal medication from the vet.
Remember it can take as little as twelve days to two weeks for flea eggs to hatch into new fleas, so be persistent with the DE/vacuuming routine until a couple flea generations have been killed. New fleas can ride inside the house on pets or people and restart the cycle. Keep flea combing so you catch the new ones early.
To test for the presence of fleas in the house, put a little soapy water overnight in a flat white dish on the floor near where your pets tend to sleep with a desk lamp shining down on it to attract the fleas. They will get caught in the water and you will find them there in the morning.
Bathe your pet regularly in water with a gentle soap that does not irritate their skin, not a chemical flea shampoo.
Do not use the following:
- flea bombs. They are poison. About four years ago I had a cat who ran back inside the house as the door was being closed where three flea bombs were spraying and she later died of throat cancer. No proof that the flea bombs caused her death, but the five other cats who remained outside are still healthy.
- flea collars. Again, poison.
- boric acid AKA boracic acid, orthoboric acid, borax, sodium borate, borate powder, sodium polyborate or any other form of …borate.
- Fleabusters which is mainly boric acid.
- flea killers containing synthetic pesticides like organophosphates or carbamares which can cause convulsions and respiratory arrest, both in pesticide-treated pets and children handling them.
- any type of essential oils, including tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) and Pennyroyal oil, on pets for any reason. They can cause allergic reactions and have toxic effects. Cats in particular are very sensitive to odors and usually prefer even their litter unscented. Try rubbing peppermint oil scented lotion on your skin and watch your cat’s reaction.
- “natural” flea sprays containing pyrethrin. It comes from the African chrysanthemum (Pyrethrum) and pyrethrins and pyrethroids can be toxic and expose your pets to more chemicals.
- garlic and/or unprocessed brewer’s (nutritional) yeast added to pet food to make the pet’s skin unattractive to fleas. They will probably refuse to eat the food anyway. Do Not give any food containing garlic, onions, chives or shallots to cats as they are toxic and can damage feline red blood cells to the point of death. Animals who are yeast intolerant will develop a skin allergic reaction to brewer’s yeast.
Long-term use of pesticides and toxic chemicals can lead to kidney failure in addition to other medical issues in your pets. Some veterinarians believe that cancer in pets may result from flea chemical treatments. The best flea prevention is keeping the house vacuumed, pet bedding washed, and pets bathed and combed.