Fleas: My Dog’s Souvenir from Our Adventure in Maine

 

Recently I took a trip to Maine as I’d never been to Maine before. I packed up my car with my dog and bags and off we went. My goal was to explore Maine through back roads, stopping along the way to see sights that were suggested by friends. I was also hoping to see a moose in real life rather than on the numerous signs along the roads. My trip was fabulous — Maine is definitely a state I will return to as its beauty was inspiring and there are still so many places I’d like to visit.

 

However, though my adventure to Maine was lovely, the adventure that continued for the next couple of weeks was anything but lovely as I learned more about fleas than I ever thought I would.

My dog, Sachi, came home with fleas. My best guess is that they hopped along for the ride from the ‘dog friendly’ hotel we spent one night in…

 

Sachi, in her nearly 13 years, has never had fleas and I had little to no experience with them or what to do to get rid of them! The first day home, Sachi was miserable and itching. Having no experience with fleas and my timely use of Frontline every month, their presence didn’t enter my radar.

By the second day, Sachi was more than miserable — she seemed to be losing her mind with the itching and chasing her tail. She stopped eating and was totally uninterested in going outdoors — I was carrying her outdoors and up the road and she would run back to the house as quickly as possible stopping every second to itch and chase her tail! I was totally at a loss as to what the problem might be until an ‘aha’ moment entered my consciousness.

 

I began a search with a flashlight through her thick undercoat and, voila!, I found 3 fleas! My research and learning began… I stocked up on flea shampoo, flea sprays, flea collars, herbs, essential oils and even a dusting powder (that I didn’t use). For the next week, I vacuumed, I did laundry, I bathed Sachi and repeated the process over and over again. I became convinced that fleas reproduce every nano second in abundance! And, yes, I began to fear that every itch I felt were fleas hopping onto me.

 

In my panic, the first few days I used everything flea related filled with fierce chemicals to be rid of them. Sachi had more baths in three days than she’d had in her entire life. My floors had been sprayed and vacuumed, sprayed and vacuumed until my house smelled like chemicals. When I realized that my dog, my cat, and myself were all feeling sick from the negative effects of chemicals that had never been present in my house, I stopped! There had to be another way, an alternative and more natural way!

 

Back to the drawing board of research and learning.  It was clearly time to change it up and get rid of both the fleas and the chemicals. I opened my windows to air out the house so that we could all breathe easier.

 

Though I do believe that the chemicals did help to rid the fleas and might even use them again if infested, I turned to what I know to keep them away. I gave Sachi more baths with a gentler, natural shampoo that I added essential oils to so her reactive skin could feel relief. I filled a spray bottle with water and essential oils to spray all the carpets and fabric surfaces. And, finally, I added brewer’s yeast tablets to her food to keep the fleas away. I have even been taking the brewer’s yeast tablets myself.

 

Here are some of what I learned in the process:

 

1. When using harsh chemicals to send the fleas running into the afterlife, read the directions on all the bottles & containers (which I did not do in my panic). Nearly everything says to use only every 3 or more days, NOT every day as I did.

 

2. Frontline, Advantix and any other topical application isn’t 100% foolproof – especially when staying in a flea infested dog friendly hotel.

 

3. The harsh chemicals did work but with negative side effects. However, my house smells much better with essential oils of Eucalyptus, Lemon Balm and Tea Tree Oil AND they worked as well as long as I was vigilant with vacuuming and laundry.

 

4. A piece of a flea collar tossed into each vacuum bag works to kill fleas that get vacuumed up so that you don’t need to discard the bag after each vacuuming (which becomes quite costly when vacuuming several times a day!). Though changing the bags more frequently seemed to be a smart precaution, especially if my vacuum was no longer being used daily. Remember, fleas reproduce in high quantity every nano second!

 

5. If you are going to travel and stay in a dog friendly hotel, consider packing essential oils to spray in the room BEFORE bringing in your dog. OR, carry along a flea “bomb” canister to clear the room before you spend the night. A friend suggested checking into the hotel, setting off the flea canister, go off for a walk, return, open the door and windows to air out the chemicals, and wipe off all surfaces before bringing in your dog(s), yourself, and your bags. Apparently, dog friendly hotels are not always as vigilant about cleaning to rid fleas between dog visits so if a room is closed up without guests for several days, guess what the fleas are doing while they wait?

 

6. I learned that cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar also rids fleas though doesn’t  kill them so I could only surmise where they would go to…

 

7. Brewer’s yeast has farther reaching benefits than warding off fleas. It is a natural source of B vitamins, the stress relief vitamins, and balances healthy gut performance. Definitely a permanent addition to our diets!

6. Essential oils (only several drops of each) of Eucalyptus, Lemon Balm, Tea Tree Oil, and Lavender are great for putting on your hands to massage your dog once the flea situation is under control. Sachi needed lots soothing for her irritated skin and the indignity of it all. Massage was a great way for us to bond and heal from the experience and to get the essential oils onto her.

 

That’s my flea story and I hope to never have another flea story! I almost prefer ticks to fleas any day!

 

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