Friday, December 9, 2011

How I Conquered Fleas

Before I get started sharing what seemed to actually work with ridding fleas naturally, can you please stop reading and find some wood to knock on?  K thanks.  I'm a little worried that just blogging about the fleas being gone will cause them to come back and worse than before.  That's usually how it works, right?

It's been a week since my last flea post and things are going well.  I didn't think they would be going so well, in all honesty.  The day after I posted about everything we were doing to get rid of them, I found no less than a dozen fleas on Hurley.  This after a flea shampoo bath, apple cider vinegar rinse and cleaning the house from top to bottom.  I admit - I was ready to throw in the towel and pick up some Advantage or Frontline.  I couldn't believe after all that effort that he could still have so many fleas.

So I diligently combed through every last hair on his body.  When I saw a flea, I drenched the area in the flea spray I've been using, which killed/immobilized the flea so I could then pick it off and flush it down the toilet.  It was the most thorough exam I had given him to date and removing all those fleas manually seemed to do the trick.  Since then, not a single flea on him.  The Hubster has found one on Maggie and Sadie had a few that same day I de-flea'd Hurley but none since. 

I tried a lot of things - like almost every natural remedy where I could find any anecdotal accounts of it working.  If someone had success with it, I was probably trying it.  You can view the complete list of what I tried here.

Not everything worked.  Here's what I found most useful:

Daily Inspections:  I used a regular people comb to go through the dog's hair every single day.  I sprayed any fleas I found with Ark Natural's Flea Flicker Spray.  A direct shot was enough to kill the fleas most of the time but I flushed them anyway for good measure.  I also looked for signs that they had been bitten or scratching and treated those areas with PalDog's Boo Boo Gel.  After that fateful dozen flea day, I found less and less evidence of new flea bites on the girls.  On Hurley, I never found any bites so I just imagine he doesn't react as strongly to the bites as the girls did.  I have to say - everyone should spend this kind of time inspecting their dogs.  Hurley now lets me move him around, comb him, mess with his paws, flip him over, etc with hardly a protest.  I also know where every mark is on their bodies, every scar, every splotch of dark skin and I'm sure that familiarity will help with identifying problems in the future. 

Apple Cider Vinegar:  I started with putting a tablespoon in the water bowl but found the dogs were drinking less so I switched to a spoonful in their food each time they are fed.  I believe this to be the #1 reason why I am not finding fleas on their coats.  I've seen evidence of a few bites but no actual fleas on them, which means that my attempts to make the dogs inhospitable flea hosts is working.  I am going to do a couple more ACV rinses over the next few weeks and continue with the spoonful in their food through the end of the month.

Frequent Vacuuming:  Since the dogs are no longer themselves places where the fleas want to hang out, vacuuming the carpet in our den daily was key to getting rid of fleas and their eggs.  Apparently there has been a scientific study that determined this is a highly effective way to actually kill fleas. It's not just about getting them out of your carpet - the vacuum itself will kill most fleas.

Those are the solutions I found most effective - which is not to say that the other things I tried didn't have any efficacy.  Rather, I think my all-hands-on-deck approach to solving our flea problem was a big part of the reason why it eventually worked.  I will continue to use the flea shampoo (when I find a flea), flea spray (as a preventative, will apply before trips to the dog park, hikes, camping trips and weekly during the worst part of flea season) and Diatamaceous Earth (to de-pest our house from all sorts of critters, fleas included).

I'm so thankful that we seem to be coming out of the worst of it and we'll soon be back to normal in our neck of the woods.  I can see that Sadie and Maggie are already more comfortable and I'm so thankful for that.  I hate seeing them itchy and miserable. 


  1. So glad you were able to find something that worked. I am very interested in the Apple Cider Vinegar in their food.

    I'm going to bookmark for future reference.

  2. I've never heard of the ACV in their food (or water) I use the bugoff garlic tablets from springtime inc and I use a spray when we go out.

    Our bigger issue this year has been ticks. They are AWFUL.

  3. @jodistone
    We're very lucky to not have any tick problems so far! But after this bout with fleas, I'm going to be diligent about using a spray as a preventative. I've dealt with ticks on previous dogs and they are awful. I don't envy you!