If you’ve ever owned a pet, you may think you know all there is to know about how to get rid of fleas, but the truth is most pet and homeowners will restrict their extermination efforts to eradicating the infestation that directly affects the animal. While this is an important first step, it most certainly isn’t enough to qualify as proper flea extermination.
As most people know, fleas cannot survive in the absence of a host. They are parasitic insects, which live on the body of a host organism, on whose blood they survive. At the moment, the most common type of flea in North America is the cat flea, contrary to the popular belief that says dogs are the number one carrier. The human flea is also well represented in terms of population numbers, but it is far less common than any sub-species of fleas that live on furry animals (rodents, canines, felines, etc.). Here is a brief outline of the proper way to get rid of fleas, before the infestation escalates and requires a more serious approach.
- Spot the infestation: this will usually occur when you notice that your pet (or a fellow human, in the case of a human flea attack) is scratching excessively, repeatedly, in the same spot. In the case of pets, bear in mind that they should be monitored daily for parasites, during the usual brushing of the coat.
- Address the pet’s problem by taking them to a veterinarian. In the case of a dog, they will be weighed and prescribed a special anti-flea solution, whose effect will manifest within a few hours. The solution is usually applied on the back of the animal’s neck, where the fleas will gather as they try to escape its effect. Do not bathe the pet until then and ask your doctor for further doses of anti-flea solutions, in case you have other pets at home. Some vets will choose to apply a shot to the animal, which will kill the fleas faster than the local solution.
- Have the doctor thoroughly examine the animal’s coat for eggs and flea feces. Feces are small and black and will often clump up on the animal’s skin, in the case of a massive infestation. They, as well as the fleas’ eggs, might be more difficult to spot on darker skin tones.
- Collect all fabric items that the animal has come into contact over the past week and wash them properly. In order to efficiently make use of the detergent’s cleaning properties, you will need to wash the fabrics in hot water (over 130 F).
- Call in a flea control expert to have them disinfect larger fabric-covered items, which cannot be machine washed. These may include carpeted surfaces, couches, bed mattresses and headboards. This step is very important, as flea eggs can be dropped and hatch just about anywhere.
Remember that fleas tend to return, especially if your animal goes outdoors on a regular basis. Check in with your doctor as often as possible and consider investing in an anti-flea collar for your pet.