In parts of the Central and Eastern United States warmer-than-usual summers, torrential rain, and lingering wetness in the last third of the season have created the perfect storm of fleas going into fall. Even areas that have traditionally been fairly flea-less are now fully-infested. Fleas are not fun and a feckless response to fleas is irresponsible.
I don’t know what kind of long term flea management you are planning upon: hovering over your pet all day with a small comb and a piece of Scotch tape, on-pet flea treatment, bombing the house with pesticide gas, burning the lawn, moving to the Arctic circle… certainly there are many options. But, to begin to restore your pet to sanity, you will have to get the fleas that are on your pet right now good and dead, good and quick.
Two methods for instant flea obliteration:
Neem Oil Shampoo and Neem Oil Conditioner: Pop off to the Health Food Store and pick up some Neem oil shampoo and conditioner. Make sure Neem is the first ingredient in the ingredients list. Neem, or Azadiracta indica, is an Indian tree. Its bark has medicinal, anti-fungal, anit-inflamatory, anti-viral and anti-ulcer properties and it is completely safe to touch and use on the body, according to the FDA, but it is very bad news for bugs.
Put your pet in the tub, but do not run water yet. In a plastic bottle, mix 30% Neem shampoo and 70% water and begin by soaping up your dog’s neck in a ring all around. Fleas run for high ground, so you want to cut them off as they run toward the top of the head. Now turn on the warm water; dampen and shampoo your pet. You may wash the head, ears and face, but avoid the eyes. Try to leave the shampoo lather on for ten minutes- do your best. Rinse well and use the Neem Conditioner as directed. Dry as usual. The fleas will be dead, the coat lustrous and the pet will stop looking hysterical all the time. Now figure out what you will do about the house. (Special thanks to Three Rivers Veterinary Clinic in Madison, NJ for this tip and technique.)
Lemon Joy Dish Detergent: Use the Lemon Joy dish detergent exactly as instructed for the Neem shampoo. You will not need to leave it on for as long. Your pet’s coat will come out lustrous and smooth, but Lemon Joy is a strong detergent. It kills the fleas by destroying the cuticle of their exoskeletons. And it does the job well. Multiple frequent shampooing with Lemon Joy will make your pet’s skin dry and itchy, so use it effectively the first time and then look toward household flea annihilation by whatever means you can approve and afford. (Special thanks to my dear friends Pat Eskierski, Mary Richmond and Fran Connelly for this tip.)
Let’s rid the world of fleas one pet at a time!