If you have a pet, it’s likely that at some point you had to fight off a flea infestation. Hopefully it was just a minor one, but no doubt it was a frustrating and annoying experience at the very best. In this article we will share with you three steps to combat a flea infestation. For a more detailed guide, check out this guide to getting rid of fleas the fast and efficient way.
Step 1: Treat Your Pet
Your pet, however much you love it, is the reason why there are fleas in the first place. As it is the source of the infestation, it should be treated first to avoid a recurrence of the infestation. Some symptoms of flea infestation in your pet are patches of hair loss, excessive scratching, and scabs. If you can identify the problem early, that is ideal because you can nip the problem early. In any case, you still have to treat your pet, and it starts by giving it a bath. Use the warmest soapy water that your pet can tolerate and drown the fleas. You can even add a cup of vinegar to the mix which will make the fleas abandon the host due to the smell. Of course, there are also commercially available flea shampoos.
After the bath, you need to groom your pet’s hair to remove any lucky fleas that survived the bath. Have a jar of hot soapy water nearby and dip the comb into the jar each time you pick up a flea. When grooming your pet, pay closer attention to the neck and tail which are common flea infestation areas. For added effectiveness, you can give your dog a flea tablet, which will cause any fleas that bite your dog to die. Note that the effects of these tablets only last for about 24 hours. There are also topical flea medications for your pet that you can apply if you so choose. Flea medications vary from animal to animal; make sure that you buy the correct flea medication for your type of pet and do not use them interchangeably. If you dislike using chemicals to treat your pet, you can opt to apply citrus essential oils solutions on your pets; fleas and insects are repelled by it. However keep in mind that this will be most definitely a much less effective route.
Step 2: Treat Yourself
And no, we don’t mean to a luxury bath and spa. While fleas prefer animals, they’ll take humans in a pinch, so after treating your pet, you’ll need to make sure you are flea-free as well. Aside from thoroughly checking all your clothes and just practicing clean hygiene in general, you can also use citrus essential oil applications as a repellent. They also smell pretty great, which is a nice bonus. A chemical alternative is to use mosquito spray (make sure it contains DEET, or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), which you can spray on your socks and trouser cuffs.
Step 3: Treat Your Home
While adult fleas may prefer to live on your pet (in actuality, only 10% of the adult flea population lives on your pet while adult fleas themselves only make up 5% of the total flea population. That means that for every one adult flea you find on your pet, there are about 199 other fleas in your home at all stages of the lifecycle) its eggs are usually found on your carpet. The egg hatches after one to two weeks and a larvae emerges. The larvae feed on the dried feces and blood of the adult fleas and after a few weeks enter the pupae stage and weave a cocoon, which usually protects them against insecticides.
You need to machine wash all of rugs and bedding in the hottest temperature setting possible. For carpets get a powerful vacuum and go to town; vacuum your furniture and upholstery as well, especially those that cannot be washed. Vacuuming is very important because it can pick up fleas in the pupae stage which may be unaffected by insecticides. Make sure you use a new vacuum bag. A bonus benefit from vacuuming is that even if they don’t suck up all the pupae, they cause them to hatch prematurely, allowing the fleas to be killed by insecticides.
To kill the fleas, try borax or diatomaceous earth. Simply sprinkle them over your carpet and other areas; note that borax is not safe for pets as it is a mild toxin while diatomaceous earth is completely organic and non-toxic. Due to the flea’s lifecycle, the vacuuming and eradication process needs to be constantly repeated until the infestation is has been completely eradicated, which may take up to a couple months.