Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Steps to Fight Flea Infestations

I remember quite well the time my childhood dog, Zach, got fleas. The fleas quickly infested not only him but the carpet in our finished basement, which was one of his favorite hangouts. I would jump from the stairs to each piece of furniture to cross the room to avoid the pinprick flea bites that were inevitable the moment my feet touched the carpet. It took weeks of vacuuming and carpet treatments until I was finally willing to touch the ground.

Perhaps my childhood memories make the situation a bit more dramatic than it actually was, but it does capture a real problem. You love your dog—but now he has fleas. This can quickly and easily turn into a nightmare. So—what do you do?

First, it’s important to know a bit about the pest we’re fighting. The average flea life cycle is 21 days, but they can survive up to 170 days. The adult fleas tormenting your pet only make up about 5% of the flea population. The other 95% is made up of fleas in the earlier stages of development, which can’t be seen. A female adult flea can lay as many as 1,200 eggs in one month. These eggs are not sticky, and therefore scatter from your pet onto your carpet, furniture, or anywhere your pet walks or lies down. Young fleas can survive dormant for up to 4-6 months. It’s easy to see how quickly a few pesky fleas can spiral into out of control situation.

With so many of the fleas not actually on your pet, you can see how important it is to do more than just treat your pet in order to be rid of the problem. Remember that flea eggs could be just about anywhere throughout the house. Meticulous and frequent vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping are essential. You should also wash all bedding and clean items such as pet bowls or the cat’s litter box.

Of course, don’t forget your suffering pet! Washing your dog thoroughly with flea shampoo has been a common treatment for many years. Flea sprays are becoming a more popular treatment method because they work so quickly. If you choose to use a spray, just remember that fleas will run to your dog’s head, so be sure to dab the spray solution on its head with a paper towel. Pills are also available for your pet that will kill existing fleas and even prevent further infestations for up to a month.

To fully eliminate fleas in your home, I would recommend using an indoor spray or flea fogger. These treatments will reach fleas in the areas your vacuuming cannot and will kill fleas in all stages of development. Siphotrol has some excellent sprays and fogs that are safe for indoor treatment. Adams is another reliable brand that offers both foggers and carpet sprays. These treatments are wonderful because they not only kill existing adult and pre-adult fleas, but they also prevent a reoccurrence of fleas in your house for a few months. Another helpful tactic is spraying your yard. Siphotrol, Adams, and Virbac all offer yard sprays. These sprays will repel fleas (and also ticks) that might be finding refuge in your yard.

Although discovering fleas on your dog might overwhelm you, a quick and thorough response is your best weapon in returning your home to a pest-free zone.