How Do You Stop a Flea Infestation?
To remove fleas from your house and your pet completely, it’s vital to attack the infestation at all four stages of a flea’s life. Destroying the eggs is particularly important. Also key is to kill fleas living on your pet; not only do fleas cause discomfort for your pet, but they will continue to lay eggs.
Remove Fleas from Your Cat or Dog:
There are several methods to remove fleas from your pet, with differing degrees of severity. Your veterinarian can advise you on which method is most appropriate for your cat or dog.
Shampoo: Flea shampoos will kill fleas on contact. Check carefully to see if the shampoo you purchase will also attack larva and eggs since some shampoos only target adult fleas, which only temporarily solves the problem.
Flea Powder & Sprays: Flea powers and sprays can be applied to your pet to kill fleas (both adult fleas and eggs). Again, check carefully when purchasing powers to ensure that it will kill eggs, since not all powders do. Note also that powders can cause your pet’s skin to dry out.
Flea Collars: Of the two varieties of flea collars, the most effective type emits a toxin that is absorbed into your pet’s skin. This toxin contains an insecticide that kills fleas. Other kinds of collars emit gas toxic to fleas—these collars are effective at eradicating fleas around your pet’s head, but do not have an impact on fleas further away on your pet’s body.
Spot Treatments: Spot treatments like Frontline and Advantage attack the flea’s nervous system. They also contain chemicals that attack larva and prevent eggs from hatching. These treatments generally protect animals from fleas for a month or more.
Oral Medicine: Most oral flea prescription medicines work by attacking the fleas in their larva or egg state, preventing fleas from reaching adulthood. Some newer medicines can also target adult fleas.
De-Flea Your Home:
You’ll want to attack removing fleas from your house at the same time as you work to get fleas removed from your pet.
Vacuum: Use your vacuum thoroughly – pay particular attention to any nooks and crannies, and go over carpeting multiple times. Vacuum carefully around the area where your pet typically sleeps. Vacuuming removes the flea’s eggs, which prevents the flea’s life cycle from perpetuating. The nozzle attachment of your vacuum will be helpful with corners, the baseboard, and along cracks. Dispose of vacuum bags carefully, since it contains flea eggs.
Wash sheets, towels, bedding, etc: Wash fabric on the hottest cycle possible, and dry on a high heat as well. If you have a dog bed, remember to wash that as well.
Insecticide: After vacuuming, you can apply insecticide to carpets and surfaces. The most effective insecticides contain Insect Growth Regulator, or IGR, which acts to stop fleas from being able to give birth. You can apply insecticide yourself, being careful to wash dishes and surfaces afterward, or use a professional. Insecticides come in the form of foggers or powders.
If you live in a warm climate prone to fleas—or if you’re having a particularly difficult time getting rid of the fleas in your house—you may find it helpful to remove your carpet entirely. Carpets provide a comfortable breeding ground for fleas, and are also difficult to clean completely. Keep in mind that fleas prefer warm, humid environments.
Prevent Fleas from Getting Back In:
Once your home and pet are flea-free, you’ll want to make sure to avoid tracking fleas back inside. Since fleas are capable of jumping nearly a foot vertically, it’s easy for dogs, outdoor cats, or you (from shoes) to track fleas back into the house.
There are a few simple steps to make your yard and garden an unfriendly habitat for fleas:
Trim grass: Keep your grass trimmed very short. This will increase the amount of direct sunlight, and create an inhospitable environment for fleas, who cannot survive in extremely hot and dry climates.
Spray Insecticide: Use your garden hose to spray insecticide on your garden and grass, avoiding spraying near vegetables and flowers.
Since flea eggs can take a few weeks to hatch, be mindful that this process may have to be repeated a few times until all eggs are eradicated.
By Madeleine Burry