How Mother Nature Repels Fleas


By Nikki Johnson, Chief Dog Officer & Canine Behaviorist

One pest none of us want to deal with are fleas. At Pickle’s Playland we try to focus on not only smelling great but also repelling insects, such as fleas, inside and outside of our Playlands. We take many measures to ensure we repel fleas every day.

In our Playlands you will find Lavender, Eucalyptus, Orange, Lemon, Sage, Clove, Thyme and Mint! Yes we use at least 8 different natural repellents every day.

Why are fleas such a big deal?

I don’t think any of us like uninvited guests or parasites. So we probably don’t need a long list of reasons we all want to avoid fleas. That being said knowledge is power and the more you know the safer you and your pets can be.

Flea bite anemia is a lesser known issue and occurs most commonly in very small animals, such as puppies and kittens. The anemia begins with a normal infestation of fleas, but without treatment the fleas quickly multiply. Because fleas feed off of blood they cause the small animal to be anemic from feeding off of the animal so often that the animal’s body can’t product blood fast enough to stay healthy.

Fleas have saliva just like all of us. This saliva is transmitted to you and/or your pets when bitten. That’s right there are fleas that also feed on humans! The saliva of fleas is highly irritating to many pets. This is why they scratch themselves, sometimes causing wounds such as hot spots. Some pets are so allergic to fleas that their fur falls out and hot spots occur quickly.

Ingesting fleas can cause internal issues for pets and can cause even more parasitic infections. Fleas sometimes carry tapeworms inside their bodies. So if your pet ingests a flea they could also be ingesting tapeworms. Once the flea is ingested the tape worm is protected again stomach acids, because of the body of the flea. The tapeworm keeps growing until they’re able to make it to a safe location in your pet’s body, past the stomach acid. Then the full infestation occurs. Tapeworms range from 1/2 inch – 12 inches in length and are white. Most people notice the worms in their pets’ feces when the worms are around the size of a grain of rice. They are easily treated by your veterinarian.

How Pickle’s Playland uses plants to repel fleas:

  • There are plants such as Lavender, Sage and/or Thyme planted in pots inside our lobby and/or various rooms around the Playland. Plants are at a safe height to keep out of the mouths of dogs when in the play rooms and lavender rooms.
  • The Pickles Spa uses shampoo infused with Mint, Cinnamon, Cedar, Clove and Rosemary for a fresh smell and to help our furry friends stay flea free.
  • Aroma therapy diffusers emit Lavender and Eucalyptus 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. This not only helps our Playlands smell great but help dogs to feel more comfortable with us, as it repels insects.
  • During our nightly mopping we add Lemon and/or Orange oils to our mop water. Afterwards the mop bucket usual gets poured outside to help water the plants and create a natural barrier around the entry of our lobby. Because we use vinegar, essential oils and only safe cleaners this is safe for our gardens.
  • The cleaning supplies we use to clean our Playlands are infused with Lavender, Peppermint and Lemon. These are cleaners used to clean the windows, our furniture, laundry and throughout the day to clean up after doggy messes.
  • Hidden beneath the furniture and away from from the reach of dogs we have pouches of dried natural insect repellent plants. These pouches include Peppermint, Thyme and Lemongrass.

How do I know if my dog has fleas?

The most common sign of fleas is scratching. If your dog seems to be scratching more than usual it could be due to fleas. You’ll want to check your dog’s body for fleas if you think they are scratching more than normal. Some dogs aren’t allergic or irritated by flea saliva. So your dog might show signs such as small missing patches of fur or hot spots.

The most common places for fleas to accumulate on your dog includes:

  • The stomach in the area between their thighs. This is because the fleas are best insulated on this part of the stomach.
  • The back and base of their tail. This area has thicker fur on some breeds, which helps to insulate the fleas. It also gives better access to their rectum to hide if the dog gets wet from things such as rain or a bath.
  • Behind, under and around the ears. Being so close to the ears, especially on dogs with floppy ears means the fleas can run inside the ear canal if the dog gets wet.

What’s the best way to bathe my dog if it has fleas?

When bathing your best friend you most likely start out by dampening their coat with water, kind of like a pre-rinse. This is a great practice and helps shampoo move through your dog’s coat in a more efficient way. However when bathing them to remove fleas you do Not want to tell the fleas something bad is about to happen to them. So if you pre-rinse your dog the fleas will run to hide inside of your dog in any way possible and/or jump off to hide on you or into the room you’re in.

Start the bathing process by directly applying the shampoo from the bottle onto the most common places for fleas to hide: At the base of their tail / on their back, Around their ears but avoiding the eyes and on their stomach. Then cover the rest of your dog’s body with the flea shampoo. If you have a dog with a very thick double coat you may need to apply a very small amount of water, but use it as sparingly as possible. This will trap the fleas in the shampoo, much like tar for humans. AVOID YOUR DOG’S EYES WHEN USING FLEA SHAMPOO! You don’t like shampoo in your eyes, your dog doesn’t either! Use a facial shampoo on your dog’s face or just water.

Most flea shampoos require the shampoo to sit on your dog for 5 – 10 minutes to be effective. After 5 – 10 minutes of waiting (follow whatever the bottle of shampoo says to do) rinse your dog off, check them for fleas and repeat if you find fleas that haven’t died.

You should repeat this process every 1 – 2 days for 1 – 2 weeks because if your dog has fleas, there are fleas in your home and/or yard. Fleas jump off of their hosts periodically to find other hosts and can live in the environment for up to 2 weeks without feeding.

If you have any questions or would like advice about how you can help your dog be flea free give us a call today!

To find out what kinds of plants might work best for you, your dog and your home you can find some great info here: 20 Plants That Naturally Repel Fleas

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