You notice a tiny black dot on your pet’s fur, but before you can reach for it, it disappears into your pet’s coat or leaps into the air. Sometimes, you won’t be able to see the fleas on your pets, but they’ll be miserably itchy and may have flea dirt – flea droppings that consist of your pet’s blood, appearing as black pepper-like flakes – on their skin.
Why Fleas Are So Hard To Get Rid Of
You can use multiple methods of control to kill every flea you see – but if you’re not exterminating the ones you can’t see, they’ll just keep coming back.
Flea eggs make up half of the flea population, and yet, it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever see one. They’re smaller than a grain of sand, and one adult female lays around 40 per day. Eggs can sit unhatched for weeks, so you may think your infestation is over, only for them to repopulate later on.
You need to take a multi-step approach to exterminate fleas at every life cycle. Eggs, larvae, and pupae can all become embedded into the fibers of your carpet. Adult fleas make up just 5 percent of the population, so if you’re only after the ones you can see, you won’t make much progress.
The Trick To Giving Your Pet A Flea Bath
Your pet will be the biggest source of fleas, and they’ll keep getting itchy bites until they’re treated. So, you’ll want to give them a flea bath right away.
The method you use for washing your itchy pet matters more than what you use to wash them with. Your goal is to immobilize the fleas and drown them. This can be achieved with most soaps. Be sure to create a thick lather, starting at your pet’s head and neck, feet and ankles, and tail, as that is where the fleas will go to escape. Once your pet is covered in a thick lather, do not rinse for at least 5 minutes.
The flea bath is working if you’re able to see fleas crawling to the surface of your pet’s coat, appearing weak and disoriented as they die. Comb through your pet’s soapy fur to ensure no fleas survive.
Is Dawn Dish Soap The Best Option For Fleas?
You may have heard that Dawn dish soap kills fleas when you use it to wash your pet. Dish soap is very drying, so it quickly penetrates the fleas’ exoskeletons and dries out their internal organs, while making it difficult for them to move as they drown in the water.
But dish soap is also very harsh on your pet’s skin. It dries out their natural oils, which can leave them more vulnerable to sores and infection. If you must use dish soap, use it no more than once per month, and rub a moisturizer like a coconut oil on your pet’s skin afterward.
Treating Your Pet With A Flea Preventative
Once you wash your pet, you’ll need to treat them immediately so they do not pick up more fleas.
Chemical VS Natural Options
Many products used to repel fleas on dogs are deadly to cats. Never use a dog flea product on a cat, and keep your cat away from your dog until the treatment has dried.
Chemical flea products, such as K9 Advantix and Frontline are generally safe for pets and have been researched to ensure they kill fleas without harming animals. However, these products can cause side effects, such as skin irritation, lethargy, seizures, even death.
Natural options, on the other hand, are generally safer. Don’t try mixing essential oils on your own, unless you’ve researched every ingredient, and, preferably, are being advised by a holistic veterinarian. You can also try commercial, holistic flea products like lemongrass-based Wondercide, but most natural products have to be applied more frequently than chemical products, and may not be as effective.
Choosing a natural or chemical product is a tough decision you’ll have to make for your family. Always research each product and check for recalls before making a purchase.
Fleas and other pests can gain resistance to chemical treatments, but not most natural ones. For best results, you can combine chemical and natural remedies. Just don’t apply both to your pet on the same day; if your pet suffers a bad reaction, you’ll need to know the cause.
Getting Rid Of Fleas In Your Home
Once your pet is washed and treated, you’re ready to treat your home and environment for fleas. It’s best to do all of these things on the same day, as a select few fleas may be resistant to your pet’s flea treatment. Eradicate your flea population in one fell swoop, and they probably won’t reappear.
Vacuuming is very effective at killing and removing fleas, at all life stages, from your carpets. For good measure, use a home spray on your carpets, as well as any areas that cannot be laundered or vacuumed. Use a home spray like Adams or TropiClean Natural as a chemical-free option. Remove pets from the area until spray has dried.
Wash any fabrics that come in contact with your pet. Any clothes that are on the floor, your pet’s bed, blankets, etc., only need a trip through a washing machine; use hot water and regular detergent. Also be sure to treat the inside of your car if it may have been infested.
Getting Rid Of Fleas In Your Yard
Getting rid of fleas outside of your home is less of a priority. It’s unlikely that your entire yard will be infested. Fleas like moist, shaded areas, and may live in dog houses, wood piles, around trees or sheds. An affordable, relatively natural way to de-flea your yard is to spread diatomaceous earth over infested areas.
Preventing Fleas In The Future
Once you’ve spent the day treating your pet and your home, you probably won’t want to let another infestation occur. The best way to keep fleas out of your home is by keeping them off your pet. Whether you use a chemical preventative or a natural one, keep it up so fleas are never tempted to jump on your pet.
Healthy pets with strong immune systems are less likely to be targeted by pests and parasites. Adding fresh foods to your pets’ diets can boost their immunity, adding another layer of defense.
Have your pets ever had fleas? What did you do to get rid of them?