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Why many dogs get fleas in the autumn and what you can do about it.

4 CommentsThursday, 11 October 2018  |  Kate

While it’s counterintuitive to think fleas could be a problem as autumn gets into its stride it’s actually very common, and pretty easy to fix. You just need to understand how your dog is getting fleas then treat it accordingly.

Why does my dog get fleas in autumn?

There are two reasons for this:

1. As it gets cooler outside, dogs are spending more time inside where it’s warm, and the heating goes on.
2. Flea pupae, which have been lying in wait in the carpet, sofa and floorboard cracks are now hatching because their preferred host, your dog, is around to hop on to.

Why fleas need my dog to survive?

Fleas need your dog to facilitate their lifecycle.

A female flea lays up to 50 eggs a day on your dog. Flea eggs are white and a bit smaller than a grain of rice. The eggs are shaken off as your dog goes about his business. Eggs land on the carpet, his bed (or yours), and between the floorboards.

After a few days or weeks, the larvae hatch. They move along the floor or rug using tiny hairs on their bodies, finding food (dirt, fleas faeces and dust – which as we know is mostly dead bits of human skin). Speaking of skin, is yours crawling yet?

When the larvae are large enough, they spin themselves into a protective cocoon (pupa) while they develop into adults – just like a moth or butterfly. And there they wait….and wait….and wait, until it’s ‘time’.

The adult flea can stay safely tucked up inside it’s cocoon for months or even years until the conditions are right for it to hatch for maximum effect; it will only emerge if it’s pretty sure there’s a host close by, which it detects by vibration, changes in temperature or even a change in carbon dioxide levels as your pet breathes close to the carpet.

The pupa hatches, jumps on to your dog, lays it’s eggs and the whole process repeats itself.

And this is why autumn is the perfect time for hatching fleas, when your dog spends more time inside the house and the temperature goes up.

Prevention and cure are one and the same.

So how do I get rid of fleas in my house?

Two ways:

Give your house an autumn clean and/or a use a fogger and your home and dog will be flea free in no time. This also works for any mites in the house. 

Floors

Using DE

Sprinkle the floors, stairs and any furniture your dog walks, sleeps or sits on with Diatomaceous Earth (DE). DE is microscopic silica that slices into the eggs, larvae and pupa and dehydrates them to death. I would also treat the floors and seats in the car too. 

DE looks and acts like a very fine talcum powder. It’s safe to use in the house but we recommend wearing a mask, shaking it on close to the surface you’re treating and keeping the dog out while you sprinkle it on, until it’s settled and you’ve brushed it in.

Brush it into the hard floors, carpets or furniture then leave it for 24 hours. DE is so fine it will brush into cracks and fabric easily and doesn’t need you vacate the room for a day. As soon as it’s brushed in it’s business as usual: humans and pets are fine to be let back in.

The next day, vacuum the floors, carpets and furniture. All the dead eggs and larvae will be sucked up and your house is clear. If you think you have quite the infestation you can repeat the process again and that should clear everything.

Bedding

Take all the bedding and blankets the dog uses, and wash them on as high a temperature as it says on the label and dry thoroughly. Don’t put the bedding down again until the DE has been vacuumed up use something temporary. Wash your bedding if he likes to lie on there too. If you would like added protection spray the bed and anywhere you dog lies (test fabric on furniture first, and I wouldn't recommend it for leather) spray with Skinny Spray a couple of times a week. This will repel fleas, ticks and mites, on the dog and the bed.

Using a Fogger

This is especially good if you're only treating one or two rooms in the house. Though it's perfectly fine to use them to treat the whole house. Our flea fogger only needs you to leave the room for 10 minutes. After that it's safe to enter and use, for pets as well.  Simply set off the fogger and leave the room. After 10 minutes or so you can re-enter the room. Voila! Your room is now free of fleas.

The dog

Now all you have to do is treat the dog.

Before you apply any spot-on treatment give him a thorough wash with Skinny Dip shampoo, leave it on for 10 minutes then rinse. This will go a long way to killing all the fleas and eggs on him, and take the itch out of any flea bites he’s already incurred.

If you only treat your dog when he has fleas then get down to the vet and get a veterinary flea treatment. Anything from the supermarket or pet shop won’t do the job, and you need a one hit wonder right now.

If you want to go natural after that then put him on Billy No Mates but this will take 6 weeks to work to full effect, which is why you need the spot-on in the meantime.

So, your home, dog, bedding, soft furnishings and floors are now a flea free zone and you are at liberty to get cosy for the winter, safe in the knowledge your dog will remain unbothered by fleas or mites until Spring.

Happy hibernating!

This article is an extract taken from my book My Itchy Dog – How to keep your dog in prime health and away from the vet!

If you’d like more top tips on your dog's itchy skin, allergies, bones, good dental health, fleas and worms you can buy it here.

Thanks for reading.


Chrissie Barrow
Friday, 12 October 2018  |  15:11

Please be aware that Neem products can increase the frequency of seizures if your dog is prone to them


Kate
Monday, 15 October 2018  |  10:20

Hi Chrissie,

This is a common misconception about neem.

Neem LEAF is safe to eat, people all over the world take it daily, use it in toothpaste and it's fine. There is no evidence that it causes seizures.

The problem lies in neem OIL which is only for use externally. You would have to ingest a lot of it but it should never be used orally, only on the body.

So: always use neem leaf internally and always use neem oil externally.

And you'll be fine.


Renate Heywood
Saturday, 13 October 2018  |  13:08

I have my dog on a Vet medication for fleas. But just wanted to say that I own the book My Itchy Dog and love it. It is my dog bible. Thank you!


Kate
Monday, 15 October 2018  |  10:22

Hi Renate

It's about whatever works for you and your dog.

Thank you for the lovely compliment on the book though. If anyone would like to read it go to Amazon or directly to My Itchy Dog

Thanks again.