With Spring in full bloom and summer on the way, flea control is on any pet owner’s mind. With a mild winter and a warmer than usual spring we may see an even higher increase in infestations than usual. Not to worry, there are many effective ways to eliminate these pests and with a few preventative measures you can keep your yard and home flea free and help your pup avoid these annoying, painful and potentially dangerous pests. Attempting to control fleas on any pet is a multi-step process. Adult fleas spend most of their time on an animal, but the flea eggs, larvae, and pupae are found in abundance in the environment such as in carpeting, rugs, bedding, and grass. For every flea that you see on your pet, there are likely to be hundreds of eggs and larvae in your home and yard. Therefore, a truly effective flea control program always includes treating the environment as well as treating your pet. These are the essential steps for a successful flea control program:
- Remove fleas from the indoor environment.
- Remove fleas from the outdoor environment.
- Remove fleas from pets.
- Keep immature forms of fleas from developing.
Ingredients of pet flea control products can vary and include adulticides, chemicals that can kill immature forms, insect growth regulators/development inhibitors, or combinations thereof. The choice of products will need to be based on the extent of the flea infestation; the species, breed, health status, and age of the pet; the environment; presence of other pets; and special family needs (e.g., infants, people with asthma) and should be discussed with your vet.
Flea Control in the Indoor Environment
Indoor flea control involves mechanically removing all stages of the fleas, killing any remaining adults, and preventing immature forms from developing.Start by vacuuming thoroughly, especially below drapes, under furniture edges, and where your pet sleeps. It is estimated that vacuuming can remove up to 50% of flea eggs. Vacuum DAILY in high traffic areas, WEEKLY in others. Each time, seal your vacuum bag in a plastic bag and discard it immediately.
Use a safe product that will kill any remaining adult fleas and also stop the development of eggs and larvae. This can be in the form of carpet powders, foggers, or sprays and should be purchased at and discussed with your local vet.
Foggers are especially good for large open areas. Surface sprays can reach areas such as baseboards, moldings, cracks, and under furniture where foggers cannot reach. Choose the product(s) you use with care, taking into account the presence of children, fish, birds, persons with asthma, etc. Again, your veterinarian will help you choose the best products for your situation
Wash your pet’s bedding WEEKLY and treat the bed and surrounding area. Area’s that your pet spends a lot of time in such as beds, chairs, crates, automobiles, garage, etc, should be cleaned on a very regular basis as this can do much to prevent infestations from occurring in the first place.
Flea Control in the Outdoor Environment
Flea control in the outdoor environment generally involves eliminating the habitat in the yard and kennel areas where fleas are most likely to occur. Fleas tend to like it where it is moist, warm, shady, and where there is organic debris. They will also tend to be where pets spend more of their outdoor time. So be sure to concentrate on areas such as patios, under porches, dog houses, etc.
Rake away any organic debris such as leaves, straw, grass clippings, etc., to disturb the flea habitat.
Wild animals such as opossums, raccoons, other small rodents and also stray domestic animals can carry fleas. Try to discourage these animals from entering your yard, being careful to not inadvertently feed them by leaving trash or food unattended for long periods. Never feed them directly.
Flea Control on Your Pet
Now that we’ve taken care of the fleas in your home and the “hot spots” in your yard, it’s time to eliminate and prevent the fleas that are actually on your pet. There are a number of flea control products for use on pets, including once-a-month topical products, sprays, dips, shampoos, collars, powders, oral, and injectable products. Discuss these different treatments with your vet to decide which ones are the best fit for your dog and your family. With any product applied directly to the pet, you may see some live fleas on your pet for a short time after application. In order for the fleas to die, they must come into contact with the insecticide, and absorb it.
Remember, that not until ALL of the fleas in your home have died, you will probably still see some fleas, even on a treated pet, since some immature forms may continue to develop. This is especially true if you had a big flea problem to start with. Persistence is the key here. It is essential to keep following an effective flea control program for a long enough time to get rid of all of the fleas, in all life stages. This may take several weeks to 6 months or more, depending on your particular situation.
Flea Combs: Flea combs are often overlooked as a valuable tool in removing fleas. Your pet will love the extra, hands-on attention he gets as you comb through his coat. Flea combs are absolutely non-toxic and are the best method to use on ill, pregnant, or infant pets. Be sure to choose a comb that has 32 teeth/inch. Comb your pet and then place the fleas you comb off in detergent water, which will kill them.
The best flea control is always flea prevention. Using preventative products carefully discussed and chosen by your vet will help keep fleas away and prevent a flea problem from developing. Also remember to keep your yard free from inviting flea habitats, long grass, organic debris, and trash that may invite wild or stray animals to your property. Keeping your pet well groomed and his favorite spaces vacuumed and regularly cleaned will also do much to prevent future infestations.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and that they will help you avoid and prevent fleas from becoming guests in your yard, home and pets this season. By taking the necessary precautions and knowing how to effectively treat any outbreak, you and your furry friends are set to make the most of the upcoming summer months!