I have a confession to make. My dogs have had fleas. We have a lot of feral cats at my house. A LOT! As a result, my guys, even on flea prevention, pick up a few fleas. We do treat the yard and play yards with Bayer Flea control granules that contain Imidocloprid (the active ingredient in Advantage).
However that is not enough to keep every flea at bay here in South Georgia.
We live in an area where fleas are impossible to control no matter what you do. You see, we have fleas the size of watermelons and as tough as armadillos! Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but it feels that way.
Clients who take immaculate care of their dogs will sometimes have a few fleas, so imagine how bad it can be when they don’t take care of their dogs or forget their prevention for the month! We had a schnauzer in the shop yesterday that had so many fleas that we had to spray the trash can and take out the trash after she was groomed, and this was AFTER a flea bath and AFTER a Capstar! The white towel she was sitting on was covered with at least 200 fleas. It was sad really. This was an inside dog!
I refuse to allow that type of infestation at my home or shop, and with 30 dogs it could get out of hand really quickly if I didn’t stay on top of it.
We generally use Comfortis for flea prevention, but we have also been known to use Capstar as soon as we start to see any fleas on the puppies and then apply Frontline or Advantage (depending on the dog). That takes care of the fleas on the dogs, but of course there are always some in the house as well and you need to take care of them as well.
At the grooming shop, since we see so many fleas on the pets we groom, we use Capstar (with parent’s permission of course) and do basic flea baths as I have discussed earlier in previous posts, but we do know that some of them may escape into the room.
I dislike pesticides. They are dangerous and not as effective as other methods. To solve the fleas in the house or shop without harsh or dangerous sprays, we use a simple flea trap.
You can buy flea traps that use night light bulbs and sticky paper to catch fleas, but you can also make your own that works just as well or better.
To build a flea trap you need a small lamp, a bowl of water and a drop of dishwashing detergent.
Simple? Yes. Effective? ABSOLUTELY!
I use a gooseneck lamp like you would use on a desk with a 40 watt bulb. The light attracts the fleas at night and will help clear up infestations in a matter of days. It works great because the fleas hop towards the light, and then end up in the water drowning. We use a drop or two of dishwashing soap to help break the surface tension of the water, which means the fleas drown faster and fall to the bottom of the bowl instead of floating.
You can see the small specks in the pan above and those are fleas.
Here is a close-up of two dead fleas, and the only good flea IS a dead flea.
So when a client comes in and has a lot of fleas and they keep saying they need to have the house treated, or that they have already had the house treated and yet there are still fleas, tell them about this simple, safe, effective way to eliminate fleas in the house. It is much safer than toxic chemicals and just as effective.
But what about emerging fleas? A pest control company needs to come back several times to spray again and usually people fail to have them come back. The ones that hatch out after a few days have to be killed quickly or they lay more eggs and we start the entire cycle over again.
This method catches them early before they can lay more eggs.
It is much more cost effective than a pets control company as well!
Let’s do the math.
• Lamp $9.99
• Bowl $2.00
• Water negligible
• Dish soap negligible
• Electricity maybe .50 a day
Now, I run a flea trap in my dogs room all night every night, even if I don’t think there are any fleas on my dogs. It prevents a problem from beginning. After a week of grooming, I set two flea traps at the shop: one in the bathing/drying room and one in the room with my cage dryers. I rarely have to use one in the grooming room but it isn’t a problem to move a lamp in there if we think there is an issue.
On Tuesday, after a weekend off, generally I find no more than 3-4 fleas in each trap. After an especially bad day I am able to set one and catch whatever managed to survive our flea killing regimen.
I know mobile groomers and shop groomers who set bombs off when they have a problem but in 10 years I have never had to do that. I do not have fleas in my shop or house and I credit a simple thing like a flea trap to preventing infestations.
I know the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true it is” but in this case it isn’t. It works. It’s easy. It’s safe. It’s inexpensive.
And I will say it again. The only good flea is a dead flea!