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Fleas – the thought of them makes you itch but may also make you cringe as you consider the nasty problem of ridding your home of these tiny invaders. With some patience, persistence and the following steps, you should be on the right track:
Step 1 - Treat your pet(s)
Wash your pet with soapy water or a low toxin flea shampoo. You may want to use a flea comb and dispose of the fleas in hot soapy water. Treat all animals in the house simultaneously.
Flea control products used in the past such as flea powders, collars and dips are slowly becoming obsolete. The latest, more effective treatments are top-spots, which are much safer for both pets and humans and are usually applied monthly. Examples are Advantage, Frontline and Revolution. Ensure the product you use is safe for the animal you are treating, i.e., don’t use a treatment for cats on your dog. If in doubt, check with your vet.
As only 5% of the flea population lives on the animal, killing fleas on your pet will not solve the entire problem. Flea eggs, larvae and pupae can be found virtually anywhere so only killing the adult fleas is just part of the solution. It is imperative that you isolate your pet and get rid of the fleas in your home.
Step 2 – Clean all surfaces where your pet spends a great deal of time, especially their bedding, using the hottest water cycle.
Step 3 – Remove, wash and/or dry clean all bedding in the home.
Step 4 – Vacuum all floors, carpeting, rugs, draperies, furniture, nooks and crannies thoroughly and often. Once you have finished, discard the vacuum bag.
Step 5 – Have all your carpets and rugs steam cleaned or shampoo them yourself using an insecticide carpet shampoo.
Step 6 – You can try some “do it yourself” products like foggers or an aerosol “bomb” which are available from your vet or pet store. You and your pets (including birds and fish) must temporarily vacate the premises prior to using this remedy. These products may contain IGRs (insect growth regulators) which disrupt the cycle of the flea by preventing eggs from hatching, killing the larvae and preventing the adult fleas from reproducing.
Step 7 – If all else fails or the fleas return even after completing the above steps, you may want to hire the services of a pest controller who can spray the house for fleas.
Step 8 – Don’t forget to treat the outdoors too. There are a number of yard products available to treat fleas outdoors. Don’t spray near flowers or vegetables.
Step 9 - Once your house and pets have been treated for fleas, try not to let them come in contact with other pets that may be infested. One visit by a dog or cat with fleas can start the cycle all over again.
Step 10 – Prevention is key. Treat your pet with a monthly flea treatment as mentioned above. Fleas are worst in the summer months and early fall, so it’s important to start your flea prevention strategy in late spring. However, a heated, winter home may provide the perfect setting for fleas to breed so don’t forget about the preventative measures in the cold months as well.
If you’ve had the task of ridding your home of fleas, what worked or didn’t work for you?