How can I keep fleas out of my yard? Is there something I can use that will be nontoxic to my pets? My dog is very small, so I am afraid to use Frontline on the dog.
Kent County Delaware
Flea management depends in part on where the pet normally resides. If the dog is an indoor dog, flea management needs to also include the home and areas the pet regularly visits (i.e., where it sleeps and spends much of its time). Flea management outdoors is often difficult, particularly because fleas in nearby locations that are not treated but could be visited by the dog can be a source of future reinfestation. If you are concerned about fleas, I would discuss Frontline, Advantage, Program, or Comfortis with your vet. The amount used probably varies depending on the size of the dog, and the vet could have suggestions regarding the amount needed for managing fleas on your pet.
To determine whether your yard has flea populations worth treating, walk around in the yard with white socks pulled up to your knees. The adult fleas will jump on the socks, where they can be seen easily. Yard sprays typically involve permethrin. Other products available for use are insect-growth regulators called pyriproxyfen or methoprene. Insecticides applications in the yard should focus on the doghouse areas and/or kennel, areas near the foundation, spaces under decks, areas along fences, and other areas where the dog runs, sleeps, and plays. Areas receiving direct sunlight seldom need treatment because flea larvae probably do not do well there. (NOTE: Identification of products in this answer are not specific endorsements of a brand, nor is lack of mention meant to criticize a product's efficacy.)
I am not sure what you are really after because all insecticides have a degree of toxicity; thus, they kill insects. Frontline and others mentioned above are routinely used on all sizes of pets, and if you have concerns, you should discuss them with a veterinarian. The insect-growth regulator is specific to insects and should have little impact on non-targets. I am not really aware of any noninsecticidal options for flea control, other than keeping the area the pet frequents clean.