Now that warm weather is upon us it brings with it one of my most hated pest, fleas! Having battled fleas on my pets, both cats and dogs, I know how hard they are to deal with. I hate fleas!
As you can see we have a fluffy Siberian Husky, the last thing we need are fleas. Last summer when she was just a puppy she came home from the breeder infested with fleas. My battle with them was epic, I couldn’t have the fleas infest our very hairy Tonkalayan cat as well. I tried every kind of home remedy I could find on the internet before I finally threw in the towel in took her to the vet for a dose of Frontline. Read about my epic battle with the fleas last year click here.
Really the best way to keep fleas in check with by treating all your pets with a monthly flea remedy, I had used topical Frontline Plus drops for flea and tick control initially. I switched to NexGuard chewable bites, it’s a bit pricier but it’s easier to administer, I don’t have to dig thru 2 layers of fur to get the drops on her skin. I still use Frontline Plus for the cat. Another brand I’ve used is Advantix II and Sentinel. Both Frontline Plus and Advantix II are available at Amazon.com, but do far I’ve not found NexGuard and Sentinel on Amazon, but they may be on other sites. There are many other brands out there, but check with your vet before you give your pet any of them. You also must know your pet’s weight as the dosage will vary according to size.
Other products out there include sprays, powders, and collars. I’m not a big advocate of any of them, I find them either ineffective or too messy and we can’t have any of them in our house as my grandkids are allergic to many things.
There are also homemade remedies you can try. For natural homemade flea remedies click here. First you may need a bit of info about fleas and what to look for before you can begin to get rid of them.
First off understand that fleas have a life cycle: egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. In order to get rid of them you must eliminate all the stages in a flea’s life cycle. In many cases by the time you see the fleas marching across your pet’s face they’ve already laid eggs which is why it’s so easy to have a flea infestation before you even know you have a flea problem. This is why prevention is really the key and initial treatment must address all the stages of a flea’s life.
If your pet is indoors you will also need to treat your home as fleas have a nasty habit of jumping and hiding in carpets, furniture, etc. and the first thing they do is lay eggs. Pupae can lie dormant in your carpet for months, even years until conditions are right for the adult to come out. Vacuuming carpets and furniture specially the areas your pet frequents (bedding, blankets, etc.) is a must. Remember to dispose of the vacuumed debris in a sealed bag immediately after you vacuum.
Having said that how you may ask will you know if your pet has fleas.
Here are the signs to look for:
1. Scratching – flea bites are very itchy, if your pet has fleas your pet will constantly scratch, this could be an indication of flea bites
2. Black Specks on the pet’s fur – usually found by the hair shafts or on the skin these specks are actually flea “poop” or flea dirt- they are composed of the blood meal the flea has consumed. Comb your pet’s fur regularly and look for these gross specks, they sort of look like pepper. If you’re not sure that the black dots you see are flea dirt wet a paper towel or cotton ball and dab it on a spot, if it turns reddish brown as it dissolves then you more than likely got fleas.
3. Adult fleas – at times, specially if your pet has a lot of fleas you will actually see the nasty things crawling or jumping on your pet. Usually they are more visible around the face area or the legs and paws, your pets generally have shorter fur in those areas.
What do you do if you find fleas? Take action at once!
*Clicking on a linked product name/picture will take you to an Amazon Affiliate Link making it easier for you to purchase that product if you wish.
1. Get rid of the ADULT fleas and their eggs that are on your pet! Capstar tablets will kill adult fleas in about 30 minutes, you will literally see dead fleas fall off. NexGuard, Advantix, and Frontline Plus will kill adult fleas within 12 hours.
* Capstar kills only adult fleas and can be given daily, but it will not kills eggs, larvae, or pupae. I’ve used this on my cat, it works perfectly, but you still have to get rid of the eggs, etc. I only use it for immediate results and administer one of the other treatments as well. I wouldn’t recommend using it daily as I’m not sure what effects long term use would have, and also it can get very expensive. *NexGuard does not kill eggs, but they claim that they will kill adult fleas before they can lay eggs.
I didn’t start using this until my dog had been on Frontline Plus for a few months and had no fleas, so I don’t know how it would work as an initial treatment.
*Frontline Plus and Advantix kill fleas in all stages of life. When I found a flea on my Husky I chose to use one of these.
*Sentinel kills eggs before they hatch, it also protects against heartworm; but it does not kill adult fleas. When I use this product for initial treatment, when I find a flea, I use it in conjunction with Capstar and a homemade flea bath. I want to kill adult fleas immediately, but I’m very obsessive about fleas.
You should treat all your pets for fleas even if you only see fleas on one of them. If it’s on one pet it will more than likely infect all the others.
Consult your vet before you administer any of the above products as there are age restrictions on them and dosage will depend on your pet’s weight and health.
If you use a topical treatment you will not be able to bathe your pet for about a week. Bathing will wash the treatment off.
2. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum! Vacuum carpets, baseboards, couches, and everything in your house that could be safe harbor for fleas and eggs. Empty vacuum bags and canisters after every use. Seal all the debris you remove from vacuums in airtight bags before you throw them away to prevent fleas, eggs, and larvae from falling or jumping out and re-infesting your home and pets. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupae can lie dormant for a very long time, the vibration from anything passing can awaken them and they will hitch a ride on you or your pet.
3. Wipe down and mop hard surfaces including plastic pet toys, to pick up any eggs or larvae that may have gotten on them.
4. Wash pet bedding, towels, stuffed toys, and all fabrics where fleas can hide. If possible wash them in hot water and dry them in the dryer. High heat will kill all eggs and larvae.
5. Don’t forget your car, even if your pets haven’t ridden it, fleas could have hitched a ride on anyone who rides the car. Vacuum and wipe down carpets, seats, consoles, and the trunk.
6. If you have a major infestation you may have to hire a professional extermination company to fumigate your home and yard. Be sure to ask them what chemicals they use and how they will affect your family and pets. If possible find a company who uses environmentally safe products, these are usually toxic to fleas but safe for humans and animals. Should you choose to use a professional exterminator they will advise you to treat your pets and clean and vacuum your house to ensure that the infestation is cleared up. For extreme cases fumigation may have to be redone to get rid of all the fleas.
7. Once you have gotten rid of the fleas be sure to put your pets on a monthly flea regime. You do not want to go through the first 6 steps again!
I’ve also used some homemade remedies, some of them work immediately, others I’m not so sure. If you’d prefer to try natural homemade remedies click here to read my post Natural Home Remedies to Rid Your Dog of Fleas.