Fleas On Your Pets

When it comes to a flea infestation, people and their pets have one thing in common: Fleas are willing to bite both. These tiny insects are found on dogs, cats, birds and other wild animals. They reproduce quickly and can carry diseases, including tapeworms, canine heartworm and even the bubonic plague. However, there are effective pest control methods for fleas. Because of this, knowing how to get rid of fleas is as easy as reading through these steps.

How to Get Fleas out of Your Carpet

1. Know the basics.

It is common to hear the phrase "house flea” used when battling an infestation, but this term is misleading. There are actually about 2,000 different flea species. The types most often found near people include human, cat, dog, sticktight and Oriental rat fleas. Treatment methods are the same for all types; however, cat fleas are responsible for most home infestations.

2. Check your pets for signs of fleas.

Cat fleas can infest both felines and canines, especially those that are allowed to roam outdoors. Symptoms include excessive scratching, small black flecks on your pet’s coat and small red areas where bites have occurred. A quick way to determine if you have a problem is to check your animal’s underbelly – where fur is thinner – to see if live fleas are visible.

3. Check your home and yard for fleas.

Once fleas are confirmed, you will need to see how far into your space these pests have spread. While they require a live host, fleas spend up to 90 percent of their time on the ground or surface in areas where the host is active. When checking these areas, pay special attention to pet bedding and any areas of high activity. Look for small black flecks as well as live fleas. A good way to check flooring is to put on a pair of white socks and slowly walk through the space. Fleas are attracted to body heat and should jump onto the socks, where they will show up as small, dark moving spots. The white sock trick can also be used to walk across any areas of the yard where pets spend a lot of time (dog houses, decks, patios, shady spots, etc.)

4. Find the best flea treatment.

Flea treatments for cats and dogs will differ slightly. Flea collars, topical products (dip, dust, spray or liquids) and flea shampoos are some of the most common options used for flea prevention. Dosage and effectiveness vary by both product and the type of animal. Call your veterinarian if you want an expert opinion on which treatments to use for your specific pets.

5. Don’t forget to treat the environment.

How to kill fleas in the house is different than the methods used for an outdoor space.

Indoor treatment starts with cleaning. Vacuum surfaces where pets are often present, disposing of the vacuum bag away from your home. This will help remove fleas, flea eggs and flea feces. Pet bedding — and any human bedding that has contact with your animals — should be washed in hot water to kill any fleas that may be present. Using a steam cleaner kills all stages of the flea life cycle. Additionally, there are chemical options that are effective against fleas. If you are unsure if your situation requires the use of chemical control methods, call a pest management professional.

Outdoor treatment is only necessary when a high number of fleas have been found. Adult fleas don’t live long if they lack access to a host. The best flea treatment outside is to apply an approved insecticide to areas where pets play and rest, the edges of the foundation and any decks or patios you may have. You may want to have a pest management professional treat crawl spaces below your home for fleas, as well, as flea-infested feral animals may enter into these locations.

6. Be patient.

Successfully getting rid of a flea problem will take a few weeks. Fleas in the pupal stage are resistant to conventional treatments. This means they will hatch after your initial eradication attempts. By continuing to vacuum or steam-treat surfaces where fleas were initially found, as well as following the instructions for reapplications of flea control products to your furry friends, you can ensure that these new fleas die quickly.

7. Don’t live in fear.

There’s no need to flea the scene if you suspect these pests are in your home. Also, don’t let the possibility of fleas stop you from bringing home a new puppy or enjoying playtime with your feline or canine companions.

Now that you know how to get rid of fleas, you can take stock of your animals and home. If you discover a problem, pick the best flea treatment method for the situation and send those pests packing.