Fleas can cause a lot of troubles to your pets. These tiny pests can prove to be dangerous if left untreated. There are many ways you can manage these pests, and keep your pets healthy. Read on to know the different options available for this problem.

Fleas are brownish pests seen during the summer months. But, in the southern parts of United States, these pests pose a year-long menace. These pests live on your pets by sucking blood. Most types of fleas do not have wings on them. But, they can hop or jump upto 40 times the length of their body, and almost 80 times their body-height. However, they have robust claws. Their powerful claws damage the skin of your pets. On top of it all, these pests are tough to kill.

Fleas undergo four distinctive stages as part of their development. These four phases are egg stage, larva stage, pupa and adult. Your pet’s body becomes the breeding ground as fleas lay eggs on them. If your pet is not having enough food (read: low immunity levels), the odds of fleas laying more eggs are high. The lair of your pet – where it sleeps or takes rest – becomes the place where egg becomes larva. Soon after reaching its adult stage, fleas look for blood to reproduce. Intake of blood makes females to develop matured ovaries and males to form testicles. These developments mean they are ready for reproduction.

What happens when fleas bite?

Fleas often find mammals and birds as their hosts. The common mammals they infest include human beings, cats, dogs, squirrels, rabbits and mice. In general, vertebrates that are warm-blooded are more likely chosen as hosts. Fleas are also known as carriers of plague. Fleas that infest rodents can cause plagues among humans. Wildest outbreaks of plague in the Europe are attributed to fleas. During wars, fleas have also been used as bioweapons to cause epidemics in warring nations.

Flea bites can cause itchiness on the skin. Top surface of the skin experiences an inflammation at the site where flea bites. It often resembles the bite of a mosquito. Flea bite causes a medical condition called dermatitis (more specifically called as dermatitis caused by flea allergies). Once bitten, inflammation and itchiness can continue for a few weeks. Loss of hair is one outcome of the condition. This occurs due to the continuous pecking or itching of the skin. In very remote instances, flea bites have also caused anemia and other blood related disorders.

Treatment of flea bites

Among humans, itchiness caused by fleas is cured with skin creams with anti-itch properties. These drugs are often categorized under a genre called hydrocortisones or antihistamine drugs. Among topical treatments, lotion of calamine is found to be work effectively against itchiness triggered by fleas. In the United States, nearly $ 4.5 billion is spent for treatments to pets. A sizeable share – nearly 60% i.e., $ 2.7 billion – is spent on veterinary care. About 40% i.e., $ 1.7 billion is towards grooming services for pets. You need to know treatments used for dogs may not go well with cats. Likewise, some of these medications can be extremely dangerous to pet-owners or people nearby. In a flea’s lifecycle, nearly 2/3rd of the time is spent near your pet’s kennel or the immediately surrounding areas. So, proper disinfection is needed to keep fleas at bay to prevent likely attacks on pet-owners.

Try these standard techniques to ensure your pets and homes are free from fleas. (1) Use a powerful vacuum cleaner for removing dust particles, (2) Ensure to keep the vacuum bags sealed while clearing them off, (3) Wash your pet’s fur with an appropriate shampoo and (4) As your pet’s dry skin can attract fleas, ensure to moisturize the skin regularly. The other methods to keep fleas away are – treat your carpets with dried or fresh pennyroyal shoots (shoots and leaves of this plant is a known repellent of fleas), treat your pets with garlic and yeast (aroma of these substances are widely believed to keep fleas away) and keep all your clothes clean (it is recommended to wash your clothes with soap and mildly warm water). While giving a bath to your pets, use a blend of rock salt and lavender oil.

You can also consider spraying this mixture in the kennel and the usual haunts of your pet.

Make a solution by boiling lemon in water. Apply this solution on your pets before giving them a bath. Wash this solution away by using soap and water. You can also use the rind of orange instead of lemons.

If you have a home garden, plant a few marigold plants. These plants are endowed with natural powers to keep pests such as fleas at bay.

Coconut oil as a treatment option

Coconut oil is widely used for several problems associated with the skin. The oil is endowed with unique anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Studies indicate – making your dog to ingest coconut oil leads to reduction of risks associated with flea attacks. A few studies also reveal the benefits of using it on your pet’s skin. Coconut oil has many health benefits. Key benefits include-

Presence of excessive amounts of lauric acid: The chemicals naturally available in lauric acid are known to keep fleas off as well as kill such pests. Coconut oil is also used as a renowned tick and flea repellent.

Absence of stinging effects: There are no known adverse side effects associated with coconut oil. Especially, if you rub the oil onto skin, the oil never stings or causes irritation.

Cost-effective: Coconut oil is one of most budget-friendly products available in the market. It can also be applied to other parts of the body including stomach and mouth.

Odor: Coconut oil is known for its ability to remove unpleasant odor from the affected parts.

There are two ways in which you can administer coconut oil to your pet – (1) applying the oil onto your pet’s skin and (2) having your pet ingest the oil.

Appling coconut oil on skin

In order to apply the oil on skin, get organic and unrefined coconut oil. Keep away from bleached or deodorized oils. Apply a small quantity (2 grams or a half-spoonful) of coconut oil on your palm. Gently rub your palms and make the oil to become soft. Once softened, apply it on legs, stomach and back. If you see any skin surface bitten by fleas, take needful care to massage those areas with the oil.

It is a good practice to massage the body upto two times each day.
For better results, you are advised to follow these steps- (1) bathe your pet before applying it, (2) after applying, comb the fur; you may even spot fleas (mostly dead ones) coming off onto your comb and (3) clean the body with a cloth; perform these steps regularly for better results.

Ingesting coconut oil

As your dog will ingest it, take needful caution to buy the best form of coconut oil; you may choose to get extra-virgin form of this oil. Precautions are needed not to get bleached or refined oils. These may be made without the essential nutrients that are naturally available in coconut oil. On the same note, you may also need to avoid bleached coconut oils. The best place to find unadulterated oils is either natural food markets or drug stores.

One of the best ways to make your pet ingest coconut oil is to mix it with food. The right dosage is a teaspoon (nearly 3.5 grams) for every 10 pounds of pet’s body weight. You may start it in low dosages – say at 1/3rd of this dose initially. You can move towards the full dose gradually. You can also make your pet ingest coconut oil directly from a ladle.

Needful precautions

Ensure you do not make your pet to ingest coconut oil in full dose right away. Some pets may find it difficult to digest, and may develop diarrhea or other digestive disorders. If your pet weighs 18 lbs you can have it ingest half-teaspoon of coconut oil initially. Move towards the full dose of 2 spoonsful steadily i.e., wait for your pet to get used to ingestion of coconut oil.

Take needful steps to restore the omega-3 balance in the diet: This is needed as a diet laden with omega-3 oils can result in gastric problems such as indigestion. If dietary supplements containing omega-3 oils are already added to the diet, provide such supplements on alternate days and feed your pet coconut oil in between.

Disinfecting your home and surroundings with coconut oil

You may also need to keep your home and immediate neighbourhood free of these pests. As fleas are known to remain active for long (can remain dormant as well), you may need to care for your home and surroundings regularly. Your bed and carpets are the common places where fleas may rest. One effective way to keep your environs safe is to mix coconut oil with water in a sprayer. Sprinkle the mixture on your towel, bed and carpets. This mixture is an effective way to keep fleas away. The power of this unique mixture (i.e., coconut oil and water) also drives and kills other pests from home.

In essence, fleas are pests that live by sucking your blood. Most fleas are wingless. But, they can leap upto 80 times their body-height. Fleas are however known to have very strong claws; they damage hosts’ skin with such claws. Fleas develop in four stages namely eggs, larvae, pupa and adult. The host’s bodies can be a breeding ground as eggs are laid on them; especially those not eating enough and are low on immunity.

Coconut oil has several anti-fungal and anti-bacterial capabilities. The key benefits of coconut oil are – (1) presence of excessive amounts of lauric acid, (2) absence of stinging effects, (3) easy on your purse and (3) has a pleasant aroma. You can administer coconut oil by either applying onto the skin or ingesting the oil.

If you are applying coconut oil on skin, stay away from using bleached, excessively refined or deodorized oils. Instead use only organic oils. Massage the body upto two times each day.

On the other hand – for ingestion, choose extra-virgin form of the oil. The best way to ingest coconut oil is to mix it with food. But, you can make your pet ingest directly from a ladle as well.

You can also blend coconut oil with water. Sprinkle this mixture on your bed and carpets. This mixture is a proven approach to keep fleas at bay. This unique mixture (i.e., coconut oil and water) is also known to have capabilities to kill several other pests.

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