Fleas are one of the most common problems faced by dog and cat owners. They cause discomfort for your pet and can also infest your house.
Preventing Fleas on Your Dog and/or Cat
If you are not already facing an infestation, using preventive methods to keep your pets free of fleas is the best way to keep them under control. There are numerous preventive medications that can be used to prevent fleas on your dogs and cats. Some of these medications include:
- Topical products that are applied to the pet’s skin every month (i.e. Frontline Plus®, Advantage®, Promeris®, Revolution® and many others)
- Oral medications (Capstar®, Comfortis®)
Always read and follow the label directions when carefully when using any of these products on your pet. Never use a dog product on your cat. Consult your veterinarian to determine which product is best suited to your pet.
Flea Control for Pets
If you are seeing live fleas on your dog or cat, you are faced with controlling a pre-existing infestation. The one or two fleas you may be seeing on your pet translates into hundreds to thousands of fleas in your home, assuming your pet lives indoors with you. This is because that one flea you see has more than likely already produced numerous eggs. These eggs roll off of your pet and end up in the pet’s environment, where they continue to mature. Once mature, these fleas will also seek out your pet. Understanding this fact is important in understanding how to control fleas.
Once flea eggs are present in your home, they are difficult to destroy or eliminate. Flea eggs and immature fleas can live in carpeting, in cracks in other types of flooring (hardwoods, tile, linoleum, vinyl) and in upholstery and bedding. A newly hatched flea egg may take 1-3 months or longer to develop into an adult flea, depending on the environmental conditions in your home. For this reason, flea infestations generally persist for at least one to two months at a minimum even when flea control methods are instituted.
Flea control measures should include:
- Treating your pet with an effective product to kill the fleas that actually contact your pet. The products listed above can be used. There are also natural flea products and methods that can be tried and their efficacy varies from one situation to the next.
- Vacuum all surfaces in your home, including all flooring surfaces as well as the upholstery on furnishings. Vacuum thoroughly and often (daily is recommended).
- Once finished vacuuming, discard of the contents of the vacuum bag outside of your home so that fleas do not continue to reproduce and grow inside of the bag and reinfest your home.
- Wash all bedding, especially the bedding where your pet sleeps, in hot water (if possible).
- Keep your pet away from low-hanging trees and shrubbery and do not allow your pet access to other protected areas (such as under porches or in crawl spaces). Wild animals may bring fleas into these areas and even in the colder months, the conditions in these areas may be amenable to flea infestation and reproduction. Keeping your pet away from these areas will help prevent your pet from being exposed to overwhelming populations of fleas.
If your home is already infested with fleas, remember that you may still continue to see live fleas for at least a month or two after flea control measures are instituted.
Preventing fleas from infesting your dog or cat and entering your home is the most effective way to control fleas. Once your pet and your home is infested with fleas, it becomes more difficult to control the infestation. However, control is not impossible with the proper methods.