How to Keep Fleas off of Your Pets

How to Keep Fleas off of Your Pets

Does your dog love the great outdoors? Then chances are he’s coming in contact with some unsavory pests. When it comes to free-loading on a furry friend, fleas are notorious hitchhikers that can eventually end up inside your house. Don’t worry, there are simple solutions to keep fleas off of your pet.

All About Fleas

Fleas are tiny, wingless parasites that feed on the blood of other animals to survive. Because they are so small, they can easily go unnoticed in your pet’s fur. Even if you find them, it may be difficult to identify them. They can’t fly, but they have six long legs that make it easy to jump great distances from host to host. Brown to reddish brown in color, their bodies are hairy, thin, and flat.

Does Your Dog Have Fleas?

If you suspect your dog has fleas, the best way to find out is to thoroughly inspect his fur using a special comb. These crafty creatures tend to hide in warm, hard-to-see places like armpits and groins. Or, give your dog a bath, and examine the water in the tub afterwards. The fleas look like tiny, dark specks floating in the water.

Keep Fleas off of Your Pets

There are several methods to prevent fleas from feeding on Fido. And some natural methods work just as well chemicals, but are safer for your pets, the humans that apply them, and the environment.

  • Dehumidifiers. Fleas can’t survive without humidity. Create an unfriendly environment for them by using dehumidifiers in your home for a few days. This will kill them, as well as their eggs and larvae.
  • There are plenty of flea collars on the market that are chemically treated to keep away pests. And you can even make your own natural version by adding a couple drops of an essential oil like cedar, eucalyptus, or lavender to a handkerchief and placing it around his neck. These essential oils naturally repel fleas.
  • Fleas have an aversion to the smell of cedar. Use cedar wood chips in your yard by mixing them in with mulch, or create a wood-chip border around the outer perimeter.
  • Citrus is a natural flea repellant. Before your dog goes outside, lightly rub freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice into the fur. It should help ward off the parasitic pests. But be careful, citrus oil extracted from the rind can be harmful to cats and dogs. Only use juice from the fruit pulp.
  • Fleas dislike vinegar. And a pet who has been treated with a vinegar concoction is just as undesirable. Make a natural flea repellent with one part water and one part apple cider vinegar. Put it in a spray bottle and spritz your pup all over, avoiding the eyes. Then, let your pet dry naturally. This is good to do before you let your pet out to play, and it can be repeated as often as you like.

Maintaining a Flea-Free Pet

Prevention is the best defense against fleas. Keeping your pet in good health is key, because these parasites prefer to feed on weaker hosts. Give your dog a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and regular vet check ups.

Because dogs tend to pick up fleas outside, maintaining your yard can help deter these pests from picking on your pet. Remove leaf piles, rubbish, and old outdoor furniture so that fleas have less places to hide and lay eggs. Also, regularly mow the lawn, prune bushes and trees, and weed. Fleas like moist, shady areas and a neat yard gets more sunlight. If you think you have an infestation in your yard, give it a heavy soaking with the hose. Flooding your yard washes away fleas and their eggs.

Keep it clean inside your home as well. Make sure to reduce clutter and vacuum regularly. Wash your pet’s bedding often, and dry it on high heat for at least 15 to 20 minutes. This kills fleas, larvae, and eggs.

There are many ways to keep fleas off of your pet. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] to find out more on how to keep your yard and home free of fleas and other pests.

8 Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Fleas

8 Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Fleas

If you are a fan of four-legged friends, chances are you’re going to have to deal with fleas at some point. These tiny parasites nourish themselves with blood from animals, and sometimes humans, to survive and they often choose your pets for their feeding frenzies. Minute in size, they hide well in fur and can often go unnoticed for a while. Whether they are in your home, yard, or on your pet, fleas are difficult to destroy. Chemicals that are used to do so can be dangerous if used incorrectly. But there are plenty of ways to naturally get rid of fleas – and they are budget friendly, too!

Home Remedies

If you’ve found fleas around the house, but don’t want to use harsh chemicals on your pet or in your home, here are some gentler – and affordable – ways to fight fleas.

  1. Dishwashing soap can be used not only to wash your dog, but also to create traps around the home. Fill shallow bowls or plates with soapy water and put a candle in the center or nearby. Place the dishes around the house – fleas come to the light and land in the water, but the detergent makes it hard for them to jump back out.Don’t waste time or money with expensive chemical shampoos to wash fleas off of your pet. Give your dog a bath using dish detergent and the fleas should come right off. Make sure to start with the neck, because these pests will jump to a pet’s head to avoid the dish soap.
  2. Borax, salt, or baking soda. These common household ingredients help kill fleas, especially in carpets or upholstery. These products kill fleas, and better yet, dry out the eggs so that you won’t have to fight the battle again when they hatch. Remove items from the floor or furniture and vacuum carpets and upholstery. Using a shaker container, sprinkle one of these products heavily all over, using a brush to work it into the furniture fabric and a broom to get it deep into the carpet. Wait a day or two, and then thoroughly vacuum again. Each time you repeat the vacuuming process, seal up the vacuum bag in a plastic trash bag and dispose of it outdoors immediately.
  3. Make your own natural flea collar using essential oils like citronella, lavender, or eucalyptus. Regularly add a few drops of the oil to your dog’s collar or to a handkerchief that you can place around his neck.
  4. Set up dehumidifiers in an infested room. Fleas need humidity to survive, and by decreasing the levels in the air for a couple of days, you’ll create a deadly environment for them as well as their eggs and larvae. Afterwards, vacuum thoroughly.

Naturally Get Rid of Fleas in the Yard

  1. Nematodes. Harmless to people, pets, and plants, these tiny beneficial worms come in a spray form. Once applied they will feed on larvae (flea and other insects as well).
  2. Cedar wood chips. Fleas dislike the smell of cedar. Use the wood chips in with your mulch or create a border around the yard and you’ll keep pests away.
  3. The pennyroyal plant (Mentha pulegium) is another natural repellent for fleas, as well as other insects. But only use these plants in areas where pets don’t have access. Eating pennyroyal can prove toxic for cats and dogs, so if your pet likes to nibble in the yard this may not be a good solution.
  4. Flooding your yard washes away fleas and their eggs. If your yard is infested, give it a heavy soaking with the hose.

Stay Flea Free

Now that you are flea free, you’ll want to stay that way. Keeping your home and yard clean and clutter-free always helps.

Vacuum regularly inside your home. Treat your pet’s bedding, and yours if necessary, by washing it. Run it through the dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes. This should kill fleas, larvae, and eggs.

Outside, rid your yard of leaf piles, broken plant pots, and old outdoor furniture. Pests have less places to hide and lay eggs. Next, mow the lawn, prune, and weed–fleas like moist, shady areas and a neat yard gets more sunlight.

To find out more on how to naturally get rid of fleas and other pests, contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone].

Lawn Weed Library: Ground Ivy

Lawn Weed Library: Ground Ivy

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), while technically not considered an invasive plant, is known by amateur gardeners, lawn-care professionals, and property owners alike as one of the most difficult perennial weeds to control. This unwelcome guest spreads quickly to form a dense carpet, often crowding out the plants or grasses you have chosen to grace your yard.

Also known as creeping Charlie, alehoof, cat’s foot, field balm, gill-over-the-ground, and runaway robin, this persistent ivy was introduced to North American soil with the first settlers and used for both ornamental and medicinal purposes. Although it is common in moist or disturbed locations and prefers shady areas, the non-native perennial can also thrive in sunny spots.

Identifying Ground Ivy

One of the first plants to flower in the spring, ground ivy sports tiny, blue-violet flowers that cluster in groups of three atop squarish stems. The heart or kidney-shaped leaves of the plant have scalloped edges. Ground ivy is a member of the mint family, so it gives off a mild, minty scent when the leaves are crushed or mowed. But probably its most notorious characteristic is its system of trailing stems that give the plant its creeping reputation. Nodes on the stems allow the plant to root into the soil in multiple locations, making it hard to weed out the entire plant without some of it surviving and re-populating. The low-creeping nature of the plant also helps it to survive a pass from the lawn mower.

Ground Ivy Prevention and Control

If you catch ground ivy in the early stages, you may be able to remove it by hand, but weeding will only be successful if it’s in a small area, and you have to completely eradicate the entire root system, otherwise, it will just come back. Weeding is best done when the soil is slightly moist and loose, like after a light rain—be prepared to repeat the process. As soon as possible, reseed the areas in the lawn where you’ve removed ivy, or other weeds may pop up to take its place in the sparse grass.

Ground ivy can sometimes be successfully destroyed by using a broadleaf weed control, but time is of the essence. It needs to be applied in the spring and fall, and keep in mind you need to repeat the process the following year. When applying the treatment, only lightly coat the ivy leaves—don’t let it soak into the soil as it may damage or destroy other plants or grasses.

Because ground ivy thrives in disturbed areas, sparse lawns, and shady locations, keeping your lawn healthy can keep you one step ahead of an infestation. Chances are, if the ivy is doing well in your lawn, your grass is probably not in good shape. The best way to deter this weed from taking over is proper lawn care—trim trees to increase sunlight and water, fertilize, and mow grass regularly. Also, fix any drainage problems and test the acidity of your soil. Unfortunately, this persistent weed is hard to eradicate completely, so your best bet is to control it as much as possible or call in a lawn-care professional.

To learn more about managing ground ivy or other unwanted weeds, contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone].

How to Identify a Tick Bite

How to Identify a Tick Bite

During the warmer weather we take to fields, forests, and other outdoor oases to relax and have fun. But the great outdoors–and even our yards–are also where ticks call home. These blood-sucking bugs are most active during the spring and summer months, just when we become more active outdoors. They hide out in tall grasses, trees, and shrubs, waiting for a passing animal or human. Then ticks attach themselves and feed freely over a period of time. For the most part, tick bites are usually harmless. But in some cases, ticks can deliver dangerous diseases like Rocky mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and the most notorious, Lyme disease. We’ll teach you how to identify a tick bite so you can keep you, your family, and pets safe from harm.

Identifying a Tick

Related to spiders, these parasitic pests are eight-legged arachnids that come in different shades of brown, reddish brown, and black. And although they range in size from smaller than a pinhead to as big as a pencil eraser, ticks get larger as they feed on blood, sometimes becoming as big as a marble. At this point they may be greenish or blue in color.

Caught in the Act

Many symptoms of tick-borne diseases don’t show up right away, but rather in a couple days to a few weeks. Fortunately, tick bites are easy to identify because the culprit is usually still attached to the skin and feeding. These pesky parasites sometimes stick around for days or weeks at a time. And because it takes at least 12 hours of feeding time before most tick-borne illnesses are transmitted, that gives us an opportunity to get rid of the bug before it bugs us.

Where to Look

First, you need to know where to look. Although these parasites are perfectly happy feeding anywhere on your body, they prefer warm, moist locations, so the first places to check are the groin area and armpits. The next place to check is the scalp or any areas that have hair, since the hair provides a perfect hideaway for pests. Ticks love to target the area around or behind the ears, so be sure to check there on both humans and pets. Once they find the feeding spot they want, they bite into the skin and begin sucking blood.

How to Identify a Tick Bite

It’s possible that the tick fell off or dropped off after it finished feeding, so it’s good to know what to look for when the tick isn’t present. Within a few days after you’ve been bitten, you may see a single, red spot about a half inch in size. The redness is an allergic reaction to the tick’s saliva. Because tick bites can look like other bug bites, such as mosquito, it’s important to keep track of anything that looks suspicious. Examine the bite often during the next 36 hours to see if it expands or becomes more red or raised. And definitely note if it takes on the appearance of a bull’s eye, since this circle around the bite is a surefire symptom that a tick has been feeding.

Signs and Symptoms of a Tick-Borne Illness

Once you’ve identified the bite, be sure to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Red rash near the bite area
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Aches, pains, or weaknesses in joints or muscles
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Preventing Tick-Borne Illnesses

When you spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s a good idea to check yourself–and your pets–regularly. This way you can sometimes catch the creatures before they start feeding, and then brush them off of your clothes or remove them from your skin before they bite. If you remove the tick yourself, make sure to clean the bite area with alcohol. You can save the tick in a small jar or plastic bag and have it identified by a professional.

To get rid of ticks or other pests, or to find out how to prevent an infestation in your yard, contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone].  We can help you determine the proper method of treatment and eradicate the pests once and for all.