Eliminating fleas

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You’ve successfully eliminated the fleas on your dog, but they keep coming back.  Sometimes the nasty things even jump on you!  What do you do now?  In order to be completely flea free, you need to turn your attention to both your home and your yard.
Fleas reproduce by laying eggs, which hatch into worm-like larvae. The larvae spin cocoons and become pupae. An adult flea emerges from the cocoon. In a population of fleas, about half are eggs, and about five percent are adults. Female fleas can lay eggs only if they’ve had a meal, but once she’s eaten, she can lay about 20 eggs at a time, for a total of 500 eggs during her lifetime.
The flea usually lays her eggs on your dog.  Because the eggs are completely smooth, they slide off and land in the environment. In homes, the eggs sink into carpet fibers and floor cracks. Outside, flea eggs settle into the soil. In the right conditions, the eggs hatch into larvae in about 12 days. After a week or two, flea larvae spin silk cocoons. They attach pieces of dirt and debris to their cocoons as camouflage. If food is plentiful, the adult flea emerges after about a week. Otherwise, the flea may stay in its cocoon for up to a year.
In your home, you need to eradicate the fleas, the larvea and the eggs.  The first thing to do is to clean completely.  Vacuum thoroughly, making sure you empty the canister or throw away the bag immediately afterword, as the eggs can hatch in the vacuum and the larvae fall out into your  in your home.  Sweep and mop tile, wood and ceramic floors, and pay special attention to cracks, crevices.
Wash your dog’s bedding and toys, too.  If your dog sleeps in your bed, wash your bedding as well.  Vacuum upholstery as well.
You can purchase powders and sprays that will work in your home, you can “fog” your home, or you can hire a commercial company to come in and treat.  If you do this, make sure you choose a product that will kill fleas at all points in their life cycle, not just adult fleas.
Your yard is another place that will harbor fleas, flea eggs and flea larvae, so it’s important you deal with it, too.  Your lawn needs to be mowed to the proper height.  Fleas and ticks love long grass, so you don’t want your lawn to be too tall.  Very short grass will discourage spiders and ants, which prey on fleas.  Of course, you may not want spiders and ants in your yard either, in which case cut it short!
Don’t overwater your lawn.  Fleas and ticks prefer moist environs. An overwatered or poorly draining lawn is attractive to them, so ensure you’re not putting too much water on your lawn.
Keep the rest of your yard tidy.  You can eliminate places fleas and ticks hide and lay eggs by removing yard debris such as bricks, stones, discarded pots and the like.
Consider putting cedar mulch down in places where your dog likes to play or rest, and mulch the border of your yard to make a barrier.  Fleas and ticks don’t like cedar so they won’t inhabit these areas.
Because fleas like cool, moist shady areas, eliminate these as you can.  Prune trees and shrubs to allow more sunlight to enter your landscape.
Do what you can to discourage wildlife.  Warm-blooded animals such as squirrels, deer, rabbits, raccoons, and feral cats can carry the blood-suckers into your yard. If such critters visit regularly, consider ways to reduce your yard’s appeal. Squirrels, for example, are drawn not just by squirrel feeders but by bird feeders too.  Think carefully before adding these to a part of your yard the dogs will visit.
You can also consider using food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) in your yard.  DE is a fine flour-like powder with cell walls made of silica, a component of glass. Fleas can be cut by the sharp edges, which causes them to dry out.  DE is not toxic, does not have any residual problems, and because it is a mechanical killer versus a chemical killer, resistance to DE is not a problem.  You may need to use large amounts of it to have an effect in your yard though, so you may wish to use it only as a barrier.
With a three-pronged approach that addresses fleas on your dog, in your home and in your yard, you should be able to keep these nasty blood-suckers at bay!
Karlene Turkington, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, is a lifelong animal lover who has been training dogs for over 20 years. Readers are welcome to send their questions to: info@TrainMyK-9.com. Information provided here is a basic overview of issues. Specific health or behavioral concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian or qualified animal trainer or behaviorist.

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