How to Rid Your Home & Pet of Fleas
Not only are fleas pesky to your pet, but they can invade your home and torment human hosts with annoying bites. Getting rid of fleas requires diligence, patience and time--generally several weeks to months. Fleas love warm and humid conditions and they are therefore not only a seasonal problem in some parts of the country. Getting rid of fleas is necessary for a happy and a healthy pet and home. Follow these steps to get rid of fleas in your home.
1. Get rid of fleas on your pet. Fleas usually come into your home on the body of a warm-blooded creature such as your dog or cat, then multiply. Talk to your veterinarian about flea related diseases that you pet should be evaluated and/or treated for.
a. If possible, give your pet a bath with soapy water (Dawn dish soap is a easy and readily available soap that works well). Continue to bathe your pet weekly until fleas are under control, and every two weeks after that until you are sure your home and pet are free of fleas.
b. Remove any fleas from your pet using a fine-toothed pet comb designed for flea removal, and drop the fleas into soapy water to drown them. Doing this daily while monitoring the amount of fleas removed can help you get an idea on how your control strategy is working.
c. Apply a topical, spot-on product, such as Frontline, Revolution or Advantage to your pet every 30 days. These products break the life cycle of fleas, however this process can take up to 3 months to complete. Over the counter and generic products are not effective at controlling fleas. Spend the little extra money and get a product proven to work and backed by a satisfaction guarantee.
2. Religiously clean surfaces where your dog or cat spends the most time. These are the areas where fleas, eggs, larvae and pupae are most likely to be found. This includes cleaning concrete floors in basements and garages. Wash pet bedding in hot, soapy water weekly. Be careful when picking up the bedding materials as you can spill larvae and eggs.
3. Vacuum carpets thoroughly and often (at least 4 times per week), paying close attention to corners, cracks, crevices and basements. Adult fleas can live and escape from vacuum bags. Therefore after vacuuming, place the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic container. The bag can either be discarded or put in the freezer for a day to kill the fleas and then used again. Even if you already have an active infestation, vacuuming can pick up adult fleas as well as pupae. The vibrations produced while vacuuming also stimulates pupae to hatch therefore speeding up the process of flea hatching. If you have a bag-less vacuum cleaner you still need to freeze the chamber to kill the fleas. Vacuuming them up inside your house is counter productive if you're going to release them into your yard or garage when you dump the vacuum canister!
4. Spray carpets with an insecticide such as micro-encapsulated pyrethrins. Repeated applications may be necessary. Use chemicals with caution and read labels carefully. Remove all pets from the house while using any spray or fogger. Read product labels regarding how long pets must remain out of the house.
5. Combine the insecticide (which will kill adult fleas) with an insect growth regulator, which will break the life cycle of the flea. Follow directions carefully.
6. Remember, just because it is cold outside doesn't mean you can forget about flea control, it's still warm in your home!
7. The life cycle of the flea means that it can take up to 3 months to recover from a flea infestation. Steps 4, 5 & 6 may need to be done more than once. If you've gone to the effort to do all of the above steps, be sure to have the follow through necessary to completely remove fleas from your home.
8. Call a pest control company if your efforts are unsuccessful. Such companies are well-equipped to deal with flea infestations.
9. Keep your pet on a topical spot on flea treatment continuously to prevent a new flea infestation in your home.