FLEAS
 
 Keep your pet away from fleas. Fleas and ticks can cause real problems. Amie was hypersensitive
to flea bites, developing huge, red welts that she had to scratch. Keep your pet indoors if it is
sensitive. If you find small black specs on bedding, check for fleas. Flea season begins when nights
are warmer than 50 degrees.

I thought it was impossible for Amie to be exposed to fleas. She used to lounge on a screened-in
porch and the wild cats that sleep outside the porch can transmit baby fleas through the screens.
For several years in a row we had terrific battles with fleas. One vet recommended using
Pyrethrum spray, a flea growth regulator. Can use daily. This was a waste of energy and Amie
hated to be sprayed. We used a Pyrethrum shampoo and it seemed to have no effect on the fleas.

I tried using a "natural" flea collar made with the oils of eucalyptus, pennyroyal, citronella, and
spearmint. It irritated her. When her fleas got bad, we would take her to the groomer for a
medicated bath. She smelled for a long time after these baths and would scratch and scratch. A
natural pet book suggested a daily soaking in a bath of warm, not hot, lemon juice water. If I had
sores from flea bites, I wouldn't want to soak in lemon water, but we did it. We would put her in
bath water and pour water over her. Then we would count the dead, drowned fleas. When the flea
count went from over 30 to under 10 and we stopped.

By far the fastest, easiest, non-invasive way of treating her fleas and the flea larva was to sprinkle
the entire house with diatomaceous earth.  And we would rub it on her skin. Diatomaceous earth
is the fossilized shells of one-celled organisms that lived in water. It is odorless, nonpoisonous,
non-chemical, long-lasting, EPA approved, not harmful if licked or swallowed. The diatomaceous
earth from The Natural Pet Care Company is 100% food grade. It will kill fleas and other hard-
bodied insects 12 to 36 hours after contact. The particles clog the flea's breathing holes and
scratches its shell, causing dehydration and death a day or two later. The dust kills larva. (I've also
used it for carpenter ants).

Most vacuum cleaners can blow out fleas and larva in the exhaust. I have a hepa filter vacuum
(Miele) which traps the fleas when vacuuming and shuts the air intake opening so they can't get
out. With daily vacuuming and sprinkling of diatomaceous earth we were able to stop the
infestation faster than any other method.

In 1996 we tried Advantage flea adulticide in a drop that goes on the skin. Amie's skin was in
bad shape and she was very uncomfortable. It made her itchier and Claudia said to stop it and to
keep her indoors.