The Fast Way to Fight Infestations And Get Rid Of Fleas
There are few things pet owners dread more and wonder how to get rid of fleas. These leaping, biting, relentlessly resilient bugs are one of the biggest downsides of owning a dog. If they’re not spotted and eliminated quickly, either on your dog or elsewhere in the house, they can infest sofas, mattresses, carpets and other soft furnishings. Fleas are a serious pain. Fortunately, what fleas are not is indestructible.
There are several things you can do to kill fleas already present in your home and prevent more from hatching and continuing the infestation. One of the most effective methods is surprisingly simple; use a vacuum cleaner to capture fleas and eggs in common hiding spots. While it’s not an immediate fix – it takes time to disrupt the breeding cycle – repeated, thorough vacuuming is very effective. You might want to consider a dog muzzle to avoid bitting when you search for flea signs on your dog.
Getting Rid Of Fleas – The Basic Steps
If you’re currently dealing with dog fleas in your home, try the following steps to control the infestation. First, vacuum the entire house as thoroughly as possible. Pay special attention to rooms where your dog spends a lot of time. Fleas like to stay close to the animal they’re feeding from so you can bet they’ll be hiding on your pet’s bedding and blankets.
Run the vacuum over crevices in your sofa and any other deep folds in your soft furnishings. The longer, thinner attachments are great for this. Insert them deep into sofa sides, wiggle them around furniture legs and hold them close to cracks in skirting boards and tiles. When you’re done, remove all the detachable cushion covers.
Put as many removable covers as you can into the washing machine. This means cushion covers, duvets, pillowcases and other types of bedding. Remove the soft exterior from your dog’s bed or blanket if you can. All of these soft fabrics need to be washed at 140° for ten minutes (minimum) to kill any fleas that may be hiding within them.
Don’t replace the covers until you’ve treated the rest of the house with a suitable flea killing spray or powder. Dry them on the highest heat possible but keep them isolated (away from untreated fabrics) if you haven’t yet dealt with other areas of the home. If you don’t do this, you risk having to start all over again.
Flea control products can be very useful but only if their formulas are proven to eliminate flea eggs. Products which exclusively kill adult fleas are only partially effective. It is extremely difficult to track down and rid a home of every single flea. As it takes just two fleas out of two thousand to restart an infestation, you can’t rely on this method.
Any bug-killing spray you use must also eliminate the flea’s eggs. This is the only way to interrupt the insect life cycle and prevent repeat invasions.
Getting to Grips with the Flea’s Life Cycle
Getting up close and personal with the fleas in your home is probably not your first choice of weekend activity. However, the more you learn, the better you’ll get at avoiding these maddening little biters. The key to permanently eliminating infestations is understanding the basic makeup of their populations.
According to pest control experts, only five percent of the fleas in a home at any one time are grown adults. The majority of the population is made up of flea eggs. They account for almost sixty percent and they grow quickly. After hatching, fleas must complete a larval and a pupal phase. Together, these account for around forty-five percent of the fleas in an infestation.
The point is, successful elimination lies with the juvenile fleas. You can spend time chasing the adults around but, by the time you’re finished, another nasty, nipping brood will be ready to mature. By all means, deal with the adults as and when you spot them. However, don’t waste too much time tracking them down. They’re not your real target. Until the eggs and juveniles are gone, spraying for adult fleas is largely futile.
How to Eliminate Flea Eggs for Good
Flea eggs are surprisingly fragile considering how tough it can be to get rid of them. Spraying pesticide products throughout your home is one option. Although, if you’re worried about chemical use, know that flea eggs are destroyed by vacuuming. They cannot survive being vacuumed. Do it frequently and thoroughly until the infestation is under control.
The largest volume of eggs will be on and around the areas where your pet sleeps. Using a hose attachment, run the vacuum along crevices and push into deep pockets and folds. Vacuum every two to three days to break the flea’s life cycle and prevent more eggs from hatching. If you have deep pile carpets, find a vacuum attachment that directs the suction power straight down and run it across every inch of fabric.
Tips on Permanently Destroying Flea Larvae
Flea larvae are the tiny, almost invisible bugs that hatch from the flea’s eggs. They have two more life stages to complete before they become fully grown biting adults. Don’t be fooled: they are no less dangerous from an infestation perspective. The flea larva is sensitive to sunlight, so you’ll find these unwanted guests buried deep in dark nooks and crevices.
This makes them difficult to eliminate. The best strategy is more thorough vacuuming. Like flea eggs, flea larva can be destroyed with a vacuum cleaner. You may not be able to reach them all but regularly removing the flea’s waste materials (particularly broken eggs) significantly decreases their chance of survival. The larvae eat any broken eggs that aren’t going to hatch. If you vacuum them up, they’ll run out of food and eventually die.
Killing Flea Pupae Before They Mature into Adult Fleas
The final juvenile life stage for the flea is the pupal phase. These fleas are the toughest and hardiest because they’re protected by a cocoon. They’re a bit like a ticking time bomb. At any point from seven to nineteen days into the pupal phase, they can spring out as fully grown adult fleas and start biting.
Even worse, if a pupal phase flea senses there’s a viable host close by – your dog, another pet, a member of your family, etc. – they can mature almost immediately. The good news is, they must feed by biting within seven days or they die. So, buy a reputable brand of flea medication for your pet and use it to make the flea’s primary target toxic.
What Products to Use for Fighting Fleas in the Home
You can’t use flea combs to deal with a home infestation. These tools are largely used for detection; it would take far too much time to comb all of the adult fleas out of a dog’s fur. They can still be useful, however. They’re a great way to spot the signs of an early invasion. If you notice your dog has started scratching incessantly, a flea comb is a cheap and simple way to check for the presence for pests.
Choose a comb with very fine, closely spaced teeth. When you sift through your dog’s coat, you want to be sure nothing is slipping through the cracks. Adult fleas are easy to spot. They are large enough to see with the naked eye. Make sure you have a container of soapy water close at hand to dip the comb straight into when you find one. Don’t hesitate; eliminate the flea before it has a chance to jump out of your hand.
Insect Growth Inhibitors (Spray Products)
The best way to eliminate a flea infestation is with multiple pest control methods. Comb your dog’s fur but, at the same time, treat soft furnishings, vacuum regularly and use a growth inhibitor spray to prevent juvenile fleas from hatching. These non-toxic formulas are sometimes referred to as ‘growth regulators.’
Unlike mainstream bug killing sprays, growth inhibitors do not contain harsh chemicals. Instead, they are the natural substances emitted by the fleas to dupe them into remaining in their juvenile states. This prevents adult fleas from emerging and gives you more time to deal with their eggs. It is still necessary to capture and contain the dormant fleas in some manner. If you choose to use growth inhibitors instead of regular chemicals, make sure you vacuum regularly to destroy the latent eggs.
Insect growth inhibitors are worth considering for a number of reasons. They can be highly effective. They are far kinder on their environment than standard bug-killing chemicals. If you have any concern for children or pets who may be exposed to pest control products, these gentler formulas are a good choice. According to studies, fleas and other bugs are also less likely to develop a resistance to repeated use of growth inhibitors.
The most common types of insect growth inhibitor are Methoprene and pyriproxyfen. You’ll find the latter in a popular bug-spray called K9Advantix II. It’s a main ingredient in Nyguard and a host of other products designed for home use. Methoprene is the chemical contained in Frontline Plus, another bestselling flea control product. Many inhibitor sprays can be applied to outdoor spaces, but they have a shorter life span than they do indoors.
Oral Flea Medications
There’s a good reason your dog’s vet asks if you’d like a flea treatment with every new appointment. When paired with growth-inhibiting sprays, oral medications for pets can be extremely effective at keeping fleas at bay. While you can buy flea medication from regular pet stores, it can be tricky to know which product is best, 1800petmeds offers a broad selection so check it out.
When it comes to the health of your furry friend, nothing is too much trouble. Unless you’re absolutely confident in the suitability of an ‘off the shelf’ drug, we strongly recommend consulting with your vet. Often, prescription medications are a little pricier than store versions, but they tend to be a lot more powerful.
You can pick up cheap flea capsules from the nearest pet store. Or you can ask your vet to prescribe a medication to suit your dog’s breed and size. Two of the most commonly prescribed oral medications are Sentinel and Sentinel Spectrum, you may also want to check Nexgard. Both are manufactured by Virbac Animal Health, a provider of pet medications, shampoos, ointments and more.
These oral flea medications contain insect growth inhibitors much like the ones found in household sprays. To be specific, they contain lufenuron and milbemycin oxime. Some versions also contain praziquantel. The lufenuron deals with the fleas by disrupting their life cycle. The accompanying chemicals very handily protect your pet from other pests like roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.
If you apply an oral medication like Sentinel or Sentinel Spectrum, don’t forget these products are not designed to kill adult fleas. They help pet owners eliminate pesky infestations by tricking juvenile fleas into remaining immature. Therefore, to rid your home of all fleas, you’ll need to continue vacuuming and spraying on a regular basis. The oral capsules will deal with the developing bugs, but you still need to capture or kill the adults.
The Final Word On Flea Control In The Home
Considering the various life cycle phases of a flea may be unsavory but knowledge is the best weapon when it comes to pest control. Whatever you do, don’t waste weeks or even months attacking just the part of an infestation that’s visible to you. In the cases of fleas, the adults are not your optimum target. If you do not deal with the juvenile insects quickly, any adult fleas will just reappear within a few days or weeks.
It’s part of the reason fleas are notoriously difficult to get rid of once they’ve infiltrated a home in the fur of a pet. They’re not necessarily tougher than other bugs. Historically, we’ve just been approaching flea control strategies in the wrong ways. Once you get to grips with how and why they develop, it becomes much easier to target their weak spots and kick them out of your house for good.