If your dog or cat has ever had fleas, you know how hard this battle can be. Here’s the best strategy to get rid of fleas once and for all! Spoiler alert – it doesn’t involve flea bombs, flea collars, garlic, or diatomaceous earth! Here’s the steps to winning the battle.
1 – Make sure every animal with fur is being treated at the same time. This means more than just dogs and cats. If you have guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, you name it! Anything warm and furry can have fleas, and you want to eliminate all potential sources of flea reproduction! For the pocket pets, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about a safe product. (Revolution is a prescription liquid that drops on the skin, but is popular for the pocket pets.)
2 – Treat with the right products! The latest and greatest are a class of products that are in either oral or topical formulations. Examples are Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard, and Simparica. Talk to your veterinarian and choose the best product. Do not waste your money on over-the-counter products, garlic, diatomaceous earth. It won’t work and just prolongs everyone’s misery.
3 – Wash the bedding. Any place your pet likes to lay (can you his bed or yours!) can have flea larvae that fall off of him. Washing the bedding often (maybe daily if the fleas are bad!) will eliminate that.
4 – Vacuum! Your best weapon in the battle against fleas is in your closet! Here’s what makes vacuuming so effective. A flea brain isn’t overly smart. So when it looks for an animal to feed on, it looks for two things: warmth and vibration. Guess what your vacuum does – it heats up and it vibrates! So when you run your vacuum, the fleas are attracted to it! It’s a great way to collect the larvae that are in the house waiting to feast on your pet.
5 – Vacuum where it’s dark! Fleas are like little blood sucking vampires. They hide from the light. So they will hide deep in the carpet. They love under the furniture – where it’s hard to vacuum! So move the furniture and vacuum, even smooth floors, but especially carpet. Do it daily – and make sure you throw the contents out of your house.
6 – Toss the things that are beyond hope. I have had clients who just can’t seem to get ahead. Turns out, there’s something like a cat tree, or a bed that can’t be washed, that just keeps harboring the fleas. It’s a last resort, but sometimes it’s best just to dispose of these things.
7 – Treat for 3 months – don’t give up! It takes this long to get through the whole life cycle. We have to get the baby fleas (larvae and stuff) to hatch and work through the cycle so, basically, they can die.
8 – Optional – If you’re still having trouble, the addition of a flea birth control can really help! In cats, it’s a shot called Program. In dogs, there’s a heartworm preventative called Sentinel that contains Program. This medication prevents fleas from being able to reproduce, so it’s another weapon in the fight. Both are available at your veterinarian.
The combination of all of these aspects should get the fleas out of your life! If you have a lot of wildlife in your yard, or feral cats you feed, those can be great flea delivery systems, and can make it harder to rid your life of the fleas. But stay vigilant, and life will get better!