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By Chic Miller

Let me start by making one thing clear – I HATE fleas. No one hates them more than I do. I spend much of my spring and summer spraying, powdering, and bathing my ”family” to prevent these dreaded little beasts from becoming unwanted guests at Bella Vista Farms. Did I mention that I HATE fleas?

A flea is an evil, wingless, brown or black small blood sucking insect with three pairs of elastic powerful jointed legs. They never tire, easily jumping 10,000 times in succession without stopping, the length of three football fields. The flea’s body is flat laterally and higher than it is wide, so that it can move quickly through fur. They are aggressive and tenacious. A female flea can consume a blood meal of 15 times her body weight, daily. There are over 2200 species in the world, existing for as long as mankind. The most common is called the cat flea. Given the choice, the adult flea will spend its entire life as an unwanted guest on your beloved family member. One single female flea can produce up to 50 eggs per day, 2000 in her lifetime. These eggs are pearly white and resemble dandruff. They can lay dormant from three weeks to two years in the perfect warm, humid environment of 60-90 degrees. Eggs produced on your pet fall off, releasing larvae that live in cracks and crevices for up to two weeks, go through a cocoon stage, becoming what is called a pupa. In 1-2 weeks they emerge as a small flea, hop back on your pet and repeat this endless cycle. Normally you will see only 1% of the fleas on your pet. Dogs with fleas tend to scratch the back half of their body. Black particles that resemble coffee grounds above the base of the tail that turn red when wet are sure fire evidence of flea infestation. Freeing your pet of fleas will prevent flea allergy dermatitis, anemia and tapeworm.

SO, LET’S GET RID OF THESE VARMINTS! Some of my tried and true home remedies are simple and inexpensive. Dawn Dish soap and ½ cup apple cider vinegar as a shampoo is my favorite. Baby powder sprinkled on your dry, clean dog suffocates fleas. Sprinkling salt on your dog or a salt water rinse makes fleas hopping mad. Avon Skin-So-Soft in water as a rinse or an olive oil rub also works well. Fleas hate lemon extract – 1 teaspoon diluted in 2 cups of water and used as a rinse also heals flea bites. Brewer’s Yeast or garlic on food will come out the pores and drive off fleas. Cleaning floors with strong pine cleaner and white vinegar, or salting cracks and crevices is a sure bet. Pick and choose or mix and match!

In conclusion, due to living in our rural areas with flea carriers such as mice and squirrels, please check your pets carefully and often so as to have a happy, healthy flea-free pet. So, until next month – more fun facts to follow! Questions? Call Chic.


Chic Miller

Bella Vista Farms Animal Sanctuary

4301 Lower Gas Point Road

Cottonwood, CA 96022


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