The flea season, that is! (Don't worry, I think fleas are way too gross to put pictures of them on my blog!)
As much as summer's heat and sunshine is welcome, with it comes the fleas and other bugs. I hate using chemicals on my dogs to prevent fleas, so instead, I've come up with a series of things that work for me to keep fleas out of my house and off of my pets.
The number one most important way to prevent flea infestations in a house is to vacuum. I always put a cheap flea collar into the canister of my vacuum so that any live fleas sucked up will be killed by the nasty chemicals in the collar (though I would never put one of these collars onto my dogs or cat). As a flea preventative, I try to vacuum every couple of days. If there is active flea activity that I have noticed, I will vacuum at least once a day and sometimes up to three times per day. I also sprinkle borax on the carpets about once a week or so before vacuuming, as the borax can help destroy the fleas and flea eggs.
For the dogs, I have a few tricks as well. After every bath, the dogs are rinsed with a diluted vinegar solution. This supposedly changes the pH of their skin and makes them less appealing to fleas. I don't know about that specifically, but it does seem to help discourage fleas. If I have noticed any fleas on the dogs, I will bathe them with a pure castile soap, with lots of suds, that they soak in for five minutes. That is followed by a second round of soap with some neem oil mixed in (I want to try the Neem "Protect" Shampoo from Ark Naturals, but it isn't currently carried at my local store), then conditioner (which they also soak in), then rinse, with the vinegar rinse as the last step.
I also will mix up a flea spray using neem oil, a tiny bit of soap to dissolve the oil, and water. The spray is then used on the dogs, cat, pet beds, and carpet. The brand of spray I use is Ark Naturals, and I have tried two of their sprays. The neem oil spray, I add a little extra neem oil to it each time, as I have heard that neem can become less effective if mixed with water for very long. Neem oil by itself smells pretty nasty, so the spray helps the smell be much better, as well as using additional essential oils to discourage flea activity.
If we end up with a bad infestation, such as we had when I first moved into my current apartment, I am not opposed to using a very limited amount of chemicals to try to get ahead of the flea problem. The flea medication of choice for this is either CapStar for a quick flea killing action or Comfortis for an edible month-long flea preventative. I still find, however, that vacuuming the house and the use of borax on the carpet is just as effective, if not more so, as using chemical flea killing bombs, and without the nasty deadly chemical residues left over. All the on-the-dog treatments, however, are much more effective at preventing fleas than at treating an active infestation. The important part is to not let it get out of control!
How do you treat for fleas in the summer?
ETA: The area I am in does not have a lot of ticks, and those that we do have do not carry lyme disease, so ticks are much less of a worry for me and my dogs than people in other areas. In my lifetime in this area, I have had ticks on me twice total.
Me and the Flyball Dogs are off to Salem, OR for the weekend for a flyball tournament. If you are in the area, you should stop by and check it out. We'll be at the Marion County Fair at the State Fairgrounds, just follow the sound of the barking!