Fleas are every dog owner’s worst nightmare but if you have more than one dog (let alone five) it’s absolute HELL. We recently had a really bad flea outbreak in our home and I wanted to share how we finally got rid of them after almost a month of trying to exterminate them; how our days and weeks had looked like while battling these annoying little bugs and how we are now making sure our prevention techniques are much more current, updated and various than before!
1. How it Began
The first flea outbreak we ever had was last year and I’ll admit it was Chilly who brought fleas into the house. The outbreak was rather short and the fleas died in about a week or two. We bathed the dogs twice, we combed them, we gave them preventative serums, Chilly got an anti-flea collar and that was the end of it.
As a result of that experience I realized that Chilly has an incredibly sensitive skin and is prone to itching and irritation. Within a couple of months I ditched all chemical products, including the collar, and decided to look into natural flea-prevention options. We bought a spray that is a natural repellent and it worked incredibly well. It was the first year when we didn’t get any ticks, on any of our dogs. Even the mosquitos didn’t touch them, so we figured we were safe for fleas too.
Until one day, last month, we woke up into a household swarming with fleas. Apparently a big enough amount of fleas won’t care about the spray repellent. Hard to tell which of the dogs brought fleas into the house this time around but it was such a big amount of them that it gave me nightmares.
It’s likely that Ruby was the main culprit because she had the most of them, they were literally crawling all over her. No matter how much we washed her, she kept getting new ones - and we couldn’t figure out how!
From her they must have jumped on Ursha and the rest of the house; that’s how my dogs got them too. Everybody was scratching all day long. It was one of those situations when you wish you could call it an annoyance but you basically feel your sanity slipping from your hands. We braced ourselves for two weeks of constant washing, bathing and vacuuming.
2. What we tried - what worked, what didn’t
First we tried a regular anti-flea shampoo on the adult three dogs. It didn’t do much, other than irritate Chilly’s skin. We figured we’re going to need a natural option because Chilly is too sensitive to chemicals and Ursha is a puppy. My mom found natural shampoos in one of the local pet stores and we decided to give them a try. Surprisingly, they worked super well! They managed to kill the majority of the fleas and we repeated the washing twice a week, on all four dogs. (Disclaimer: at the time we only had four dogs, but by the time I’m posting this we’ve been joined by another rescue named Ringo. <3 It just took me forever to write this, haha!).
We washed all of the dogs’ bedding every two or three days. The laundry machine is already going non-stop in this house, but this took it to a whole new level. Washing the bedding of four dogs plus the mats that are scattered around the house (in the kitchen or the hallway) for the dogs to lie down, plus our own bedding (because pups are allowed on the bed) was incredibly exhausting and time consuming. I hated getting out of the bed some days because I knew that the first thing I have to do is put everything into the washing machine. And I had to coordinate this with the other bedding being washed as well as everyone’s clothes. To say that it was insane is an understatement.
We also vacuumed the whole house literally every day and for what it’s worth I called my grandmother one day and told her: “I vacuum every day now. You’d be so proud of me.”
We still used the natural spray repellent that I mentioned before, as well as another homemade lavender spray for spraying the household; their mats, the floor, their beds, our beds, every single surface the dogs lie on - so, every single surface in our house. We also had a big carpet in our living room chemically cleaned. I don’t think we’ve ever done as much cleaning before. ;)
After two weeks of this process, you’d expect the fleas to be exterminated. But somehow after this entire ordeal they were still crawling all over our dogs! I was at the end of my wits and felt like I am going to lose my mind. This flea fight has caused us much time and even more money.
After googling for the millionth time what else could we try, I came across an electronic flea comb. It sounded like a really good idea and I have never heard of it before, since most of the articles I read didn’t mention it at all. I bought it online and prayed that this was the solution we’ve been waiting for.
It turns out that the electronic flea comb was exactly the solution we needed!
Despite all of the bathing and washing, somehow the fleas either jumped right back on the dogs or stayed there in the first place and didn’t die from shampooing. The electronic flea comb managed to find and kill those sneaky fleas! We combed the dogs constantly with one flea comb for an extra week and finally finally finally the situation started looking manageable.
After the last bathe-wash-comb-spray cycle, the fleas seem to have left completely. Halle-freaking-lujah! I am so thankful to have found the flea comb because without it I honestly don’t know what we would have done. We couldn't possibly figure out where the fleas were coming from - could be from the vet or from bushes on our street or from any of the neighborhood’s dogs. Maybe even from the stray cats that live around here.
The way this comb works is that it electrocutes the fleas the second they make contact with the comb and also destroys all of their eggs. It’s safe for dogs and humans, even the most sensitive dog in the universe (Bailey) was totally fine with it. I highly recommend it if you have a flea outbreak because it will really make your work A LOT easier and much quicker!
Don’t get me wrong, the washing and bathing is still super important, but this comb will literally kill any flea still left on your dog. Works like a charm!
3. Prevention tips and tricks
I’m taking prevention a 1000 times more serious now than I did before. For years I just used anti-flea serums on Bailey but Chilly has brought a more chemical-free life with him and I don’t regret anything. I’ll still be using the natural spray because at the very least it worked super well against ticks and mosquitos. I was scratching myself all summer long because of so many mosquito bites and the dogs were fine - in the end I started spraying myself with the damn spray too, haha. We’ll continue using our homemade lavender spray (water + lavender essential oil) for spraying the surfaces every now and then. We found that it worked really well and even during the outbreak I couldn't find any fleas on the dogs’ beds when I started using this spray!
I’ll also be using coconut oil on their skin and fur more often now; not only does it have a great many benefits, it’s also a natural flea-repellent recommended by our vet.
I’m looking into which foods are a great supplement to prevent fleas too; I already heard of garlic and am collecting ideas on how to sneak it into the pup’s meals. If you have an idea please share it in the comments!
Winter is coming (shameless Game of Thrones reference), so I think I’ll be able to sleep easily during the cold months as fleas aren’t common in the winter. But once hot and humid season comes along again we’ll be looking into some natural sprays and repellents for our backyard and the grassy surfaces the dogs like to lie or play on.
It’s not always easy having a whole pack of dogs but I can promise you it’s NEVER boring! ;)
Tell me, have you ever faced a flea outbreak? How did you fight it? What helped and what didn’t? And most importantly, did you buy yourself a giant chocolate after the whole thing was over or was that just me?
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