To Flea Or Not To Flea?  How to protect your dog against fleas in the summer months.

 In these summer months, we dog owners need to be our own defense department. We have to gather an arsenal of weapons against an unseen army of fleas and ticks. This army can ambush our sweet furry ones overnight and cross over into our homes and bedrooms without being seen. Worried? Don’t be.

Fleas and ticks are always the enemy when the weather gets hot. At the first sight of a flea or tick, everyone in my household starts to get itchy and paranoid. I get especially freaked at night when my pug Francis hops up on the bed. What could be lurking underneath her fur? There is nothing worse than being woken up by a tick crawling up your leg or neck. Yuck! To put an end to these worries, I follow some simple steps to win the war against summer’s invisible invaders.

The first line of defense begins in your yard. Keep the lawn mowed to the shortest height possible. If you have a small yard or your dog has a favorite place to hang out, spread diatomaceous earth on the ground. Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder made up of fossilized organisms called Diatoms. These little gems help break apart flea eggs and dry them up before they can grow into adult fleas. You can purchase Diatomaceous earth at your local hardware store or gardening center. If you have a yard where you can put potted plants, consider growing mint, rosemary, fleabane daisies, geraniums, lavender, and lemongrass. These plants repel fleas and ticks and help keep them out of your yard. If you live in a rural area, plant plenty of oregano, black eyed susans, and lemon balm to help deter deer. Where there are deer, the ticks follow.

Keeping your dog’s environment and coat clean is just as important as having a tidy yard. Once per week, wash all of your dog’s bedding in hot water with a natural, unscented detergent. If your dog sleeps with you, make sure you throw your own bedding in the washer once a week. Vacuum your floors daily including furniture and corners. Keeping your dog’s coat clean with daily grooming is the key to an effective battle plan. Whether your dog’s coat is short or long, daily attention is needed to check for pesky critters trying to hitch a ride inside.

Brushing your dog’s coat will help remove fleas and ticks plus your dog will love you for it. Not only will you be spending quality time together but brushing helps to stimulate the circulatory system, distribute their coat’s natural oils, and remove toxins. Before brushing, try this excellent flea test. Moisten paper towels and stand your dog on them making sure the towels extend beyond the size of your dog’s coat. If little specks of dirt fall on to the towels and turn red or brown, your dog has fleas. Another great grooming technique is to go monkey on your dog. Preen and pick through their fur like a chimp to see if you can find any ticks paying special attention to their ears, tail, belly, and toes. What happens if you find a tick? Put a spot of apple cider vinegar on the tick, place a tweezer as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull the tick straight out. Clean the bite with some antiseptic, raw honey, or diluted lavender essential oil. I recommend that people keep ticks in a sealed bag for at least a year. Your vet may need the tick in the event your dog starts feeling sick and they suspect a tick borne illness might be the cause. Most ticks have to be attached for 24 to 48 hours to transmit most of the diseases that they can carry.

The last and most vital part of your battle is to repel fleas and ticks using your dog as bait. To do this and win the war, you must fight from the inside out and choose a natural repellent that works. Fighting from the inside out means feeding your dog a healthy diet so they will not smell or taste good to both fleas and ticks. Feed a diet that is free from additives, fillers and by-products. Make sure they are getting enough immune builders like omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. A dog with a healthy immune system will be able to fight off and repel insects by using their skin’s natural oils. Choosing a natural repellent can be a work in progress. I always suggest purchasing a small amount of a product to see if it works. Avoid repellents that contain unsafe essential oils pennyroyal, wintergreen and clove. I am a big fan of making my own. The following recipe is effective and can be used daily. Start by making a tea of fresh or dried leaves of rosemary, lemon balm, and chamomile. Mix with 6 ounces of almost boiling water and let steep overnight. Strain the mixture into a small spray bottle and add 2 ounces of apple cider vinegar and 5 drops of lavender essential oil. Shake and spray all over your dog’s coat concentrating on the belly, tail, ears, and legs. The mixture will last 7 to 10 days if refrigerated.

The above natural pest control methods should help put your mind at ease. Summer is a time for long walks and playing in the sun. Don’t let fleas and ticks keep you from enjoying the outdoors. Step by step, you can have a great summer and a clean, healthy dog.

If you have a smooth coated dog, I recommend using a product called Chigger Block.  It can be purchased on Amazon.com or at ChiggerBlock.com. Apply Chigger Block to the top of the tail, under the tail, from the knee cap down, rub on the belly and the tips of the ears.  Apply it 1x per week for 3 weeks and then as needed.