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The fleas are gone why is my pet still scratching and licking?

There are two possible causes. First is flea bite dermatitis (FBD) the other is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). They sound similar but do have different causes. Fleas themselves can cause itching due to the direct irritation from their bite. This is FBD. In contrast with FAD which is an allergy to flea saliva means that your pet\'s immune system produces substances that magnify the severity of itching.

With FBD the skin is normally red and inflamed, which raises its temperature and humidity and creates the perfect environment for bacterial and fungal growth.

Most of the damage in FAD is caused by self-trauma, the animal scratching itself. The first symptom you may notice is severe itching and inflammation of the skin. The dog will scratch and bite at affected areas often causing damage to the skin that may develop into circular, red painful sores called hot spots. These hot spots can occur anywhere but are most commonly seen along the back and at the base of the tail.

Many owners don\'t know that itchy cats don\'t scratch as much but instead groom, so while they think the cat is frequently washing itself they don\'t realize that it is actually very itchy.

In a multi-pet household, your other pets may not have the same symptoms. Not all pets are affected with FAD.

FAD is more common in atopic (the genetic predisposition of an individual to produce high quantities of IgE in response to allergens) but any breed of dog or cat can be affected. Flea allergic dermatitis is uncommon in animals less than six months of age, and the average age range is 3-6 years. However, any age of animal can suffer flea allergic dermatitis. There is no sex predisposition.

We recommend that you can contact your vet if you suspect either of these conditions. Lumino does have free samples of Canine Cool Balm for Hot Spots if you would like to try it.

Can DE for Pets be used to repel insects?

Yes sort of, but it is not the recommended procedure. It is only a repellent if you use too much. Clumps of DE look like mountains to insects they do not usually want to walk over them

When DE gets wet does it still work?

Yes, once DE dries out it will continue to work. Depending on how it got wet it may wash away and be ground into the soil where it won\'t be as effective.

If DE stays dry how long is it effective?

It actually stays effective as long as it is dry. However, as it gets covered with dust or dirt over a period of time, it becomes less effective.

How much square feet of carpet and floor will a nine-ounce canister of DE cover?

If applied correctly it should cover about 2,000 square feet.

Why haven't I heard more about DE before now?

DE is a naturally occurring product that can't be patented.  That means it is of little interest to the drug companies.  Many individuals buying DE are doing so because of referrals from family or friends.  DE doesn't generate enough profits to pay for the advertising and marketing that supports OTC and prescription drugs.

Many people claim DE is especially dangerous if inhaled, is this true?

NO.  There is confusion because Food Grade DE and Commercial Filtering DE have the same name.  Filter grade DE is heated to over 1,000 degrees and then fluxed with additional chemicals to crystallize it.  These additional step makes it a valuable filtering agent, but also cause it to be dangerous to people and pets.

The World Heath Organization states that DE needs to be less than 2% crystalline silica to be generally considered safe. Filter grade DE is 60% crystalline silica. Filter grade DE is dangerous and should be handled with extreme caution.

All Lumino DE is less than 1/2 of 1% crystalline silica and all other sediments that are considered unsafe by the FDA are below harmful limits. This is four times more than the recommended maximum for safety. Lumino DE is a fine powder, and should be used with caution, as any powder should be, by those with respiratory complications, such as asthma.

How do I use DE in food storage?

The recommended ratio is one cup of DE for every forty pounds of grain or legume product. This is approximately one cup of DE for a five-gallon container. Both the DE and grain need to be dry for even coating and equal distribution. Mixing smaller batches makes this easier.

What is the life cycle of a flea?

It is important to understand the life cycle of fleas when dealing with them. Especially if they reappear after you have gotten them under control.

The time it takes to complete the life cycle from egg to adult varies from two weeks to eighteen months, depending on the temperature, humidity and the amount of food available.

A typical flea population consists of 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, ten percent pupae and only five percent adults

When they first hatch, adult fleas have one immediate priority: eating. Most survive only a week without feeding, but some can survive for 20 to 62 days before feeding if conditions are conducive. Once they have had a sufficient meal of blood, they mate. After a blood meal, the female flea lays an average of 20 to 30 eggs per day.

Female fleas need to keep feeding on blood to ensure their metabolism stays in balance while they are laying eggs. Adults on a host animal can live for over 130 days, but if they become dislodged they need to rapidly find a new host, or quickly hop back onto the original host. They die within four days of losing their host.

Eggs are loosely laid in the coat of your pet. They are wet and sticky when first produced but dry out and usually drop from an animal within a few hours. (More than 70 percent fall off within eight hours of being laid).

The time taken to hatch is totally dependent on environmental factors, with the ideal temperature being around 77 degrees F. Eggs can dry out and die, so like all the other life stages they need high humidity. Freezing conditions will also kill eggs, so those laid outdoors in the fall may not survive the winter in colder areas.

The lack of legs means that larvae cannot move very far from the place they emerge from the egg. They need a protected environment with moderate temperatures and high humidity. Larvae are attracted to dark places. They are normally found indoors in floor cracks and crevices, along baseboards, under rug edges, deep in carpet pile and in furniture or beds.

Outdoors, they develop in sandy earth (such as children's sandboxes, space under the house or under bushes) where a pet may rest or sleep. Some 83 per cent of fleas develop in carpets in the home. Exposure to full sunlight kills larvae while water can drown them, so heavy rains or flooding will reduce the larval population.

Larvae must feed quickly in order to survive; unfed they die in three days. On average, larvae take between a week to 12 days to fully develop, molting through three larval stages. Once fully developed, they weave themselves a silken cocoon in which they pupate. Pupae are sticky and whitish in color. Pet hair, carpet fibers, dust, grass cuttings and other debris stick to the pupae and help camouflage them.

There are three stages of metamorphosis within the cocoon, the last being a pre-emerged adult. Pupae are hardier than larvae but are still susceptible to drying out in low humidity, as well as to insecticides. The ideal climate is re 80F with more than 50 percent humidity. Pupation takes between 5 and 14 days, however, pre-emerged adult fleas may remain resting in the cocoon for a prolonged period until conditions are more appropriate. Pupae can survive a cold winter or a very hot summer in a state similar to hibernation, commonly referred to as \'overwintering\'.  They can remain in this stage for up to six months without feeding.

The detection of pressure or motion (such as a host animal walking past or lying down on them) or heat of 90 to 100F (the body temperature of a dog or cat is around 101F, but the fur is a little cooler) stimulates the adults to emerge from their cocoons. Many heated homes are warm enough for the flea life cycle to continue year-round without the need for overwintering.

Families returning from vacation often trigger a wave of flea emergence. The house has been empty with no hosts for fleas to feed on, so the adults have died out. However flea eggs have hatched and the larvae have pupated. New adult fleas have fully developed inside the pupal cocoon but remained in hibernation, awaiting the trigger for emergence.

Unfortunately for the returning family, they are greeted by hundreds of hungry fleas. Good flea control means more than controlling the adult fleas visible on a pet, as they are only a small part of the flea population. It also means controlling the immature stages, such as eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment to reduce the overall population.

Reference: Lyon, WF (1997). Fleas. Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet.

My dog has very sensitive skin. Will this powder cause dry skin?

Some dog and cat breeds have much drier skin than others. Nutrition can further exacerbate this condition. If your pet has extremely dry skin do a "patch test" first to determine how their skin reacts to DE.

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What is your position regarding "spot on" flea repellents?

"Spot-Ons" are advertised heavily, recommended by trusted veterinarians and represented as safer, easier to use alternatives to the older pesticides.  But is the new mix of neurotoxins really safe for pets and your family?

Organo phosphates (aka Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon, Dioxathion and Malathion) and carbamates (aka Carbaryl, Methomyl and Propoxur) were among the original chemicals in flea/tick treatments. Both work by interfering with the transmission of nerve signals. Unfortunately these effects are not confined to the pests but eventually caused enough animal damage and death, that the EPA removed some of them from the US marketplace.  Many of these ingredients are still used in flea collars and flea bombs.

These were replaced by the "Spot-On" treatments.  They are represented by four general categories of insecticides.  The active ingredients of three of them (imidacloprid, fipronil, permethrin) work by disrupting the nervous system of insects.  The fourth type, whose active ingredients are methoprene and pyriproxyfen insect growth regulators (IGR).  They don\'t kill but interrupt the flea\'s life cycle.

These insecticides are promoted as being absorbed into the skin layer where they stay as a reservoir.  Results of radio-labeling produce far different results demonstrating that the chemicals are absorbed systemically.  They were found in various organs and fat and also excreted in urine and feces.

Though supposedly safer, all of these ingredients have been associated with laboratory animal health defects.  The severity of reactions to these new insecticides range from:

  • minor skin irritation, skin sloughing, hair loss
  • body twitches/tremors
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal and lumbar pain
  • whining, barking, crying
  • lack of coordination from stiffened limbs, unsteady gait
  • organ damage to liver, kidney, heart, lungs, spleen, adrenals, brain, gonads
  • increased miscarriages and smaller offspring
  • elevated aggressive behavior, learning disruption
  • animal carcinogen and possible human carcinogen
  • death

These responses are cause for alarm indicating high levels of acute and chronic poisoning from even short-term use.  There has not been sufficient time to evaluate long-term cumulative use.  Also unknown is the potential for synergistic effects from the combined impact of multiple exposures to different chemicals.

The corporate and federal response to these risks has been to amend the product label to include:

  • Additional dosing information,
  • Distinguishing between cat and dog products,
  • Improving label clarity and
  • Addressing uncertainties about inert ingredients.

While these recommendations are worthwhile and necessary to provide more information to the consumer they miss the underlying problem.  It is not the product label but the products ingredients that cause harm.

Even following these new label directions is not sufficient.  Pyrethrin, permethrin and phenothrin can cause severe adverse reactions in cats and ferrets.  These are recommended for use on dogs only, but in mixed pet households cats receiving secondary exposure via contact with treated dogs are suffering from the effects.

Many organizations (NRDC, HSUS, HSVMA) including the EPA are questioning the short and long-term effects of their use.  Our pets have become often-unwilling test subjects.

Not every pet exhibits symptoms from these "Spot Ons".  Adult healthy animals are less likely to manifest problems compared to animals that are very young, old, or suffering from chronic disease.

As a pet guardian you need to evaluate benefits and risks of pesticides.  This should include acknowledging the consequences of increased insect resistance to ever expanding, more complicated and possibly more toxic pesticide formulas.

If you do decide to use flea and tick products, follow these simple steps to help prevent problems:

  • Never use dog treatments on cats, and vice versa
  • Always be certain of your pet's weight before purchase to ensure proper dosage
  • Don't split one "large dog" dose in half for two small dogs (or combine two "small dog" doses for one large dog)
  • Read and follow all instructions when using these products
  • Do not use these products on elderly or pregnant animals

How to tell if your pet has been poisoned:

Symptoms of poisoning by flea/tick treatments may include salivating, dilated pupils, tremors, vomiting, hiding, shivering, and skin irritation.

What do the English call small black cats?