My dog, Pinkus, smells like a combination of skunk and stale popcorn. This is always a bad sign. I spotted a critter near his hindquarters and saw many small, black specs. It’s official-my dog has fleas. While Pinkus (and I) and just made miserable by fleas, they can cause other dogs to have a severe allergic reaction and can actually kill some dogs if left untreated. Flea infestations can lead to blood loss, anemia, and general debilitation.
Fleas are tricky to get under control because they go through four stages: egg, larva, cocoon, and adult. You may be able to kill the adult fleas but the other stages are just waiting to hatch another round of fleas. The adult female flea can live for several weeks on your dog. She sucks blood two to three times a day and can lay as many as 30 eggs a day. Eggs can fall off and develop in carpeting, cracks in floors, bedding, just about anywhere. They hatch into larvae that feed on organic material such as your own skin scales. They then become pupae or cocoons and hatch when conditions are good. Fleas like temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees and humidity of 75 to 80%. The entire cycle can be completed in only 14 days but the pupae can wait for as much as a year for conditions to be right.
Conditions must be right because Pinkus now has fleas. What can be done? There are some natural remedies. For example, you can rinse your dog in a vinegar solution because fleas hate vinegar. Other rinses could be lemongrass, peppermint, or citronella. Try putting a drop of lemon or rosemary oil on your dog’s collar. Fleas may be combed out with a comb but this takes the patience of a saint and neither Pinkus nor I have that kind of patience. Lavender oil between the shoulder blades may work and at least your dog will smell nice. Another idea is to cut six lemons in half and boil them in a quart of water then steep for several hours. Spray the lemon liquid on you dog being careful not to get any in his eyes. You might try diluting a flower scented shampoo in water and spray or rub into your dog’s coat and let air dry. Even if all these remedies don’t quite work, your dog will surely smell good. For bad breath but a possible flea repellent grate one half to three sections of garlic into your dog’s food. Dogs love garlic but fleas hate it.
I have to be honest. There are products that you apply between your dog’s shoulder bones once a month. Some brand names are Advantage, Frontline, K9Advantix and Revolution. I consider these to be one of the great discoveries of the 20th century. These things work! I apply Advantage between Pinkuses little shoulder bones and fleas are dead in a couple hours and they stay dead for at least a month. Flea eradication programs tell you to tear your house apart in a cleaning frenzy and bug bomb it and your outdoor areas. I have found these measures not to be at all necessary. Just apply that flea stuff on your dog once a month and you and your dog will be happy.
Pinkus and I are going on a little errand to his vet to pick up some Advantage.