Over the past few days, you may have noticed that your cat or dog has been scratching itself more often. Wondering what’s going on, you decided to take a closer look at your pet. When you parted your pet’s fur with your fingers, you saw a couple of fleas scurry away.
Now you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of the pesky little critters. They’re bad enough when they’re torturing your dog or cat, but on top of that, who wants them in the house? You need to deal with your flea invasion.
Okay, fleas aren’t the worst thing that could have happened. They’re not something that needs to become a permanent part of your life. You’ll want to get rid of them as quickly as you can, for your sake as well your pet. Fleas can transmit intestinal parasites like tapeworms when they are ingested by a cat or dog, plus their bites are irritating. Scratching at flea bites can lead to a skin infection.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to eradicate the fleas on your pet and in your home.
First, speak with your vet and get your pet on a vet-approved/prescribed flea and tick preventive. Liquid topical flea preventives are effective, easy to use, and available in a variety of brands. Typically, they start killing the fleas on your pet within just a few hours of application. With regular, as-directed use, preventives can help prevent future flea invasions.
A topical preventive will de-flea your dog or cat, but you also need to work on your house. Fleas do not spend their entire life cycle on their host, and females lay eggs in their environment – not on your pet. It’s a lot more likely that all stages of the flea life cycle are now living in your carpet, your furniture’s upholstery, and maybe even in your bedding.
Second, gather up all your washable throw rugs, bed linens and blankets. Add your pet’s bed(s) and any washable cloth or plush toys to the pile. Wash them in hot water and dry them on the highest heat they can tolerate. Any fleas and their eggs will go down the drain or be cooked by the drier’s heat.
Third, vacuum your home’s carpeting and upholstered furniture – several times. Make sure you use the attachments that will let you get down into all the areas that are hard to reach. As soon as you’re done, dispose of the vacuum bag or dump the contents of your vacuum’s dust bin somewhere where fleas or eggs can’t get into your home.
Hopefully, these steps will eradicate the fleas from your pet and home. Be diligent. Vacuum and launder washable items more frequently than normal until you’re sure all the fleas are gone. The topical flea preventive should keep fleas away from your pet, but you might have missed a few eggs or adults in your home despite your efforts. If so, consider using an indoor flea insecticide – preferably one with an insect growth regulator (“IGR”) component to prevent fleas from hatching and maturing. You may consider contacting a pest control service to eradicate the remaining eggs/larvae.
Applying one dose of topical flea preventative on your pet is not enough to ensure that you will not see fleas again. The nature of the flea life cycle is such that a new batch of fleas can hatch and present themselves weeks to months later. It is best to keep your pet on monthly flea prevention year round to prevent a future infestation. This will, in turn, break the cycle of fleas in your home.