Lying awake at night worrying about fleas? Wondering where to start in your fight against these little critters? Getting itchy just thinking about it??
Behold the mighty flea comb.
This tiny-toothed wonder is considered by, well, nearly everyone to be your pet’s first line of defense against that dreaded pest, the flea. It takes some time and dedication, for sure; but faithful combing of your pet not only greatly reduces the chance that fleas will get out of control. It also protects your pet and your family from toxic flea preventives that can harm your pet and your children.
Armed with a flea comb, your sharp eyes and a certain measure of patience, you can ferret out any fleas and even their eggs before they have a chance to cause a problem. Daily combings are, of course, ideal, especially if you live in a high-risk area. If your dog or cat enjoys being combed – our Kitty considers it the high point of her day – combing for fleas can be a special time of bonding with your pet.
Flea combs come in all sizes, shapes, colors and prices. You can pick up a small plastic one for as little as 59 cents (which may be just fine for a small, short-haired pet); or you can spend between $6 and $9 for an ASPCA dog comb. You also have a wide choice of handles -- plastic, wood, ergonomically-designed or “memory gel” grip -- and teeth: metal or plastic, long or short, single or double row, even rotating teeth to help smooth out tangles. Check the Internet, of course (Amazon and Petco have good selections); but you may want to head to your pet super store or boutique to see which ones feel good in your hand. Your choice will depend on the size of your pet, the length of his hair, and his sensitivity to combing.
Once you have your weapon of choice, all you need is a bucket of hot soapy water for dunking any little critters you may find. Be sure the sides of the bucket are high enough to prevent escapees. If your pet is especially squirmy or objects to a brushing, enlist some help.
Here are some simple suggestions for a successful flea hunt:
- Find a quiet place where your pet feels comfortable and safe (and perhaps where she can’t scamper off). Combing outside will ensure that you don’t bring into your house any eggs that may drop off during combing. If you must work inside, lay down a white sheet to catch any fleas that make a run (or jump) for it.
- Start combing near your pet’s face and work your way to his tail. Comb in the direction of the hair growth, paying special attention to his face and neck as well as the area just in front of his tail, favorite spots for fleas. Don't forget his belly! (Combing will also reveal any ticks that may have hitched a ride on your pet. Their favorite spots are ears, armpits and paws, even between the toes.)
- Look for fleas as well as their droppings, tiny black specks that turn red when wet.
- After every few strokes, swish the comb in the soapy water, which will kill any fleas.
- Once you're done, dispose of the soapy water and hose down the area. If indoors, carefully fold up your sheet and toss it in the washer with hot water.
There are several other simple, natural ways to be sure fleas don’t get a hold on your pet or your home. Look for our upcoming article for more tips on how to prevent fleas safely and naturally, without toxic chemical preventives!
If you or your pet gets a flea or tick bite, spray it immediately with PurSpray to soothe itching and prevent infection. Use PurSpray to clean your hands after handling a tick! It's far more effective than soap and water. Try PurSpray Pet Care today!