Monday, 29 October 2012

Jerk Infestation (Flea Talk)

Left: What they look like in my mind. Right: Img. from Pet MD
*Edited Oct.30th, 2012*

Okay, so this post is going to make you feel itchy, but it's important for anyone out there with a furry companion. When I used to work around pets, one of the most common questions I would get was "how do I get rid of fleas?"; there are lots of answers to this question, but I'm going to let you in on what I do to prevent fleas, and how to kill the little jerks if they show up. FYI, this post is in reference to the cat flea, which is the type of flea that most commonly snacks on cats and dogs in North America.


There are tons ways to subdue the creepies from chowing down on your fuzz balls. Most vet offices have several different options for prevention treatments (pills, shots, topical things, ect.) that you can give your pet on a regular basis. Depending on the intensity or variety of pests/parasites your environment is host to, these preventatives could be your best bet.

I prefer not to give my pets monthly treatments. Though things like this are recommended by most vets, I just don't like giving my furries a chemical dose every month for something they don't have. I'm lucky to live in a place with a climate that keeps most threats to a minimum, so I go a more natural route (this is not an option for everyone, I'm just sharing another method). Fleas hate the smell of cedar and pepermint (but I love them!). I tend to toss a bag of peppermint tea (un-used) or cedar balls into any dark, nook-like areas around my home, and in any places that my pets like to lie down. Most bugs and mice hate this stuff too, and it makes your house smell nice, so triple bonus! (CAT OWNERS BEWARE: essential oils are toxic to your kitty compadre, so stick with the real deal balls and bags... that's what she said.) You can also buy flea collars that have these ingredients in them, so your pet's bling can be functual and stylin'.

This next tip is a wee bit contraversial, but what the hay, I'll share it anyway. Though any significant amount of garlic may be toxic to your pets, you can sprinkle a little bit of garlic powder over one of their meals a day. Fleas hate the taste of blood with garlic, so this will encourage them to jump ship. This might be something worth bringing up with your vet before you give it a try. Not all vets are supporters of methods like this, so if you are interested in taking a more 'natural' approach to pet care, do some research in your area to see if there are vets focused in that area of expertise. My dad would call this "Nikki's hippie apprach to pet care".


I check my pets over every night while I brush them (yup, every night. I'm obsessive and they're dirtbags). You can buy flea combs to do this, or just pay close attention to your pets skin. Fleas look like little black bugs. They move fast and they jump like olympians. If you see something scurry in the fur, you might have a problem. The easiest way to tell though, is by checking for flea poops. They are little black clumps, no bigger than a crumb (think, the worst confetti ever). Wipe a few of these clumps onto a piece of dry, white paper, put a dab of water on each one, and then squish them. If the spots turn red, you've got fleas. Flea poop is made majorily of blood, hence the red color.


Time. To. Murder-kill. At this point I do give my pets the vet recomended treatment. I still hate the stuff, but it's the quickest way to make your pets comfortable and flea free. If you have a lot of fleas (like, if you can actually see the little ass hats running around with your naked eye), this is the best option. Feverfew is also dandy! You need the feverfew leaves (not the tablets) so that you can make tea with it (just like you would do with any other tea. Let it steep for about ten minutes, then use a coffee filter to strain out the liquid into a bowl. Once the liquid has reached a comfortable temperature, pour it all over your pet (in a tub) and let them soak in it for at least ten minutes. Feverfew will paralyze the fleas, then you can wash them off after. I actually found a really helpful video about this here

You and your house need taking care of too. Fleas won't live on your body like they will on your pets, but you are still tasty to them, in fact, fleas usually get into your home by hitching a ride on you! A shower will clean you off, but your house is a different story. Toss a flea collar into your bagless vacuum and get going. Don't miss any spots! The flea collar will suffocate any adult fleas that get sucked up. Hope your washing machine is hungry, because you're about to do A LOT of laundry. Any clothes, curtains, plush toys, blankets and coverings need to be washed. Hot water and into the dryer, if possible. Remember, fleas are built for extreme temperatures. Put all of your clean things in new/clean garbage bags until you get the house all scrubbed. Fleas love making babies more than bunnies, so even though you've got the adults under control now, their eggies still haven't hatched. You're going to need to vacuum everyday for a few weeks. If your problem still persists after all of this effort (these friggers were built for the appocalypse), you may need to look into an exterminator.

Wow. I'm tired from just writing this, but I felt like sharing this information might be helpful to someone out there. We're currently going through a massive flea outbreak here, and a province wide backorder on the most popular vet treatment (which inspired this giant ramble). If anyone has questions, write them in the comment section, I love taking about pet stuff almost as much as I love putting food in my face!

Hugs and poops,


**I'm not a medical/veterinary professional. I have no professional training. I only write my opinion, which is based on extensive reading and personal experience. I am not liable for anything that happens if my information makes your world suck. Consulting your veterinarian is always an excellent idea.**


  1. People from all over will read blogs not just in your area so it should be noted that while natural methods might work in some parts of North America where fleas are not a big problem, such as Newfoundland, they do not work in others and it can actually be dangerous to not use something stronger on your pet if you live in a hot and humid climate year-round. Fleas are a huge problem in certain parts of North America and as such, preventatives like oral spinosad are the only defense against these critters. Fleas have become immune to many ingredients over the years because of overuse - including natural and chemical topicals. It is important to speak to a veterinarian in your local area before making any decisions as not all areas are equal when it comes to combating these pests. If you live in an area where fleas are not a big problem and you can get away with natural treatments and preventatives, consider yourself and your pet lucky as it's not the norm.

    1. Excellent comment! You're very right, I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who lives in Newfoundland. I've traveled a bit and I know that most places have a much harder time with parasites and creepy crawlies. I honestly wasn't thinking of anyone ever finding my little blog besides some of my friends, so I'm very glad for your comment! Preventatives such as cedar and pepermint are definitely worth the effort though, and feverfew is indeed a very helpful little herb. Thanks for taking a look at my blog and for comment! I very much appreciate it!

    2. I've made some edits to this post. Please take a look and let me know what you think :)

  2. Tammy Torraville10/30/2012 3:06 pm

    Awesome blog Nichole. I'm going to give the natural methods a shot since (as you know) Angel is so sensitive to everything the vets have prescribed for flea prevention!! The worst that can happen is he gets fleas and needs to be treated again. If his little body can even get a break from the meds it'll be healthier for him in the long run. :)

    1. Thanks Tammy, I really appreciate that! Sensitivities and allergies suck. They can make the tiniest problems into big ones. Has your vet recommended anything so far that he hasn't had a negative reaction to? It's hard to tell sometimes if it's a reaction to meds or just something environmental. I find it simpler to deal with fleas once they show up too :) haha
      Like Annoymous stated above, fleas have developed immunities to a lot of treatments, so I like to start from scratch and have more options.

    2. Tammy Torraville10/30/2012 6:32 pm

      I had him on Sentinel just for six months out of this year and he's had 3 skin rashes/infections since then, but nothing like the reaction from the topical treatments. I'll see how he handles the winter months without the chemicals in his system and hopefully no more antibiotics and steroids to control the infections. Then I'll start anew with natural treatments like you've mentioned. :D

    3. Poor Angel, he's so sensitive. Hopefully the winter will give you some time to figure out what bugs him so much. I hope he's more comfortable now! :)

  3. Thanks for taking the time to tweak the original blog post regarding fleas! Your "little blog" (as you put it) is cute and informative so why wouldn't it attract readers outside of your friends and family? I particularly like your popcorn tip and how you promote pet adoption. Keep up the good work and Happy Halloween!

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words, I really appreciate them. Also, a big thanks for your advice on editing the article. You sound like a fellow animal lover, it's great to hear from someone so passionate about the critters :)
      A very happy Halloween to you too (and your furries, if you have any)!