Do you think that a small flea found on your beloved pet will do no harm? Or you fancy that fleas live on stray animals only? This tiny creature can ruin both the pets and their owners’ lives. How to get rid of fleas must be the question of the first urgency because fleas would not go away on their own accord.
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To realize how dangerous they are, it is necessary to know several facts about these small blood-sucking insects:
- The flea life cycle is from several weeks to 1.5 years. It depends on the temperature of the environment: the lower the temperature is, the longer a flea life cycle is;
- A female insect is able to lay 500 flea eggs in 2 months, which get scattered all over its living environment: on the floor, in gaps, on carpets, pavements, and on the ground;
- Flea larvae survival rate is 80-90%;
- Flea larvae feed on waste, so they can survive without animals;
- A flea can live half a year without food;
- If the temperature drops, flea larvae moderate their activity but do not die;
- Fleas can live not only on animals but inside buildings as well. When in need of food, they start searching for prey;
- One dog can be home to 200-250 flea larvae;
- Fleas can be the transmitters of various diseases (plague, viruses, infections, tapeworms).
Hence, if you have found even a single flea on your pet, this is a wakeup call, and immediate action is necessary.
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How to get rid of fleas on dogs
Have you noticed that your pet started itching and biting its hair out? Has your dog become nervous or does it scratch itself? Have a closer look at your pet, examine the skin, and pull the hair apart in the most delicate places – on the stomach, the neck, and in the armpits. Your dog is likely to have a flea infestation.
How to find out if a dog has a flea infestation?
It is quite easy to spot the presence of flea infestation. Pulling the dog’s hair apart, you will notice white grains resembling salt. Those are flea eggs that will soon develop into a new generation of flea larvae. Instead of white grains, you can also spot black grains of a smaller size – flea dirt, a mix of flea waste products and blood meal.
When bathing the dog, flea larvae move to dry parts of the dog’s body, including its head, and start jumping aside. In case of severe flea infestation, the dogs may lose hair. If you have spotted fleas on your pet, immediate action should be taken. Otherwise, flea larvae will reproduce quickly and will irritate the animal.
How to choose the best flea treatment for dogs?
Such choicecan only be made carefully, based on the age and condition of your pet, as well as on recommendations of veterinarians and dog breeders. Follow the instruction and observe precautions when using any of flea remedies.
There are several ways of how to get rid of fleas on dogs
1. Chemical treatment
Chemical treatment is based on using various chemical substances that repel or kill fleas.
- Drops are probably the best flea treatment for dogs and the most simple-to-use treatment, popular with dog owners. These flea remedies are sold pre-dosed in droppers and are to be used on the dog’s shoulder. Being absorbed through the skin, these flea killer drops start acting in the blood, causing flea paralysis. If you have more than one pet, it is necessary to use flea drops on all of them and refrain from bathing the pets after the treatment. Drops are suitable for almost all animals except for pregnant and lactating females, and puppies less than 4 weeks of age. This remedy to get rid of fleas is efficient, economical, and simple-to-use.
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- Flea killer sprays are analogous to drops but they have a wider treatment area and must be handled carefully. Use flea sprays in the open air only, and avoid spraying this flea killer remedy in the dog’s eyes and on its head. The owner must wear protective gloves and make sure the dog does not lick this chemical during the walk. This may cause intoxication, vomit, chill, or allergy. Sprays are best to be used as an additional or emergency remedy during long walks.
- Seresto flea collar is one of the best flea treatment for dogs. This is the most popular and comfortable flea killer remedy that has constant action, does not annoy the pet, and permits bathing the dog (the Seresto flea collar should be taken off before bathing and put on when the hair is dry again). Seresto dog flea collarcontains toxic agents, so they are not to be used with pregnant and lactating females, as well as puppies aged less than 6 months. The Seresto flea collar lifetime is about 5-7 months.
- Shampoos are a less effective remedy that remains active for about 7 days only. This flea treatment should be used in a complex with another treatment. If you have noticed flea larvae on your dog for the first time, flea killer shampoo will help to repel and get rid of fleas. Yet, to kill fleas, their larvae, and eggs, a more efficient home remedy for fleas is needed. Phyto shampoos are based on herbal decoctions and are suitable for puppies older than 2 months.
- Pills to stop a flea infestation are rarely used by dog breeders due to a large number of side effects. This flea remedy does not kill them but prevents their reproduction. Flea killer pills must be given to the dog on a monthly basis. They have a nice sweet taste, and animals eat them with pleasure, but this chemical substance may have a negative effect on the dog’s body. I highly advise consulting with your vet before using such treatment. Besides, this remedy to kill fleas is rather expensive and costs 5-10 times more than any other flea repellent.
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2. Traditional remedies
Traditional remedies to eliminate the flea infestation are safe both for pets and their owners but not always efficient at the same time. Fleas are repelled by the smell of certain plants, and this is what the action of this traditional natural flea repellent is based on.
- Decoctions of chamomile, wormwood, or tansy will do no harm to the animal. Regular preventive use of this natural flea repellent will protect your pet from fleas.
- Garlic is an excellent natural flea repellent. Crush several cloves, add one glass of water, let the decoction infuse for 12 hours, and then rub it in the dog’s shoulder.
- Pinewood sawdust repels fleas as well. Stuff the dog’s mat with this natural flea repellent sawdust, and fleas will never approach your pet. If the dog lives outdoors in a kennel, you can scatter sawdust around the kennel, thus keeping your dog safe.
- Essential oil shampoos to prevent a flea infestation can be made at home. Take several drops of gum, lavender, and tea tree oils and blend them with water and alcohol. Such a decoction has a nice smell and acts well as a natural flea repellent. Castor oil not only protects the dog from fleas but also has a positive action on the hair. This substance can also be used for permeating a fabric collar, the latter being as efficient as a chemical one but safe.
- Coal-tar and laundry soap for bathing a dog are good at repelling any blood-sucking insects.
3. Innovative treatment
Innovative treatments are based on the latest inventions. Such advance flea treatment is expensive yet efficient but its drawback is the lack of long-term trials and tests. Most commonly an innovative flea remedy is a new type of flea collar.
- Flea killing radiating collars generate radiation which is safe for the dog but intolerable for fleas. There are no long-term tests for such collars, so they are rarely used due to the danger of causing side effects.
- A biological collar is the safest means to get rid of fleas, suitable for puppies and pregnant female dogs. Such collars are made of rubber permeated with herbal extracts and essential oils.
- Ultrasound collars or lockets are an expensive but efficient dog accessory to get rid of fleas. They send a certain wave spectrum which repels fleas within a particular radius from the dog. The innovation works well both with fleas and ticks.
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4. Mechanical treatment
Mechanical treatment to get rid of fleas is used for pregnant and lactating female dogs as well as for puppies aged less than 4 weeks. This home remedy for fleas is based on brushing fleas with a flea comb and removing insects manually. In order not to harm the future progeny, it is necessary not to put the dog under stress. That is why even simple bathing can lead to undesired consequences, while the use of chemical substances is prohibited since it may cause the death of future puppies.
In such cases, it is better to consult a veterinary or to protect the pregnant female dog using a flea comb.
Flea preventive measures for dogs
In order to avoid the flea infestation process, it is better to take regular preventive measures and follow several dog care rules.
- Keep your home clean, use disinfectants, clean the dog’s mat and toys. If you live in a detached house, do not let stray dogs on the premises.
- Walk your dog on dedicated dog runs and avoid contact with other dogs.
- Examine your pets after walking in order to prevent flea infestation.
Where can the dog get fleas? It is a common mistake to think that a dog can get the flea infestation while running on the grass. In fact, this would cause a dog get no more than one or two fleas. Yet, the most dangerous places are basements, entrances, underground crosswalks, and waste bins, since flea eggs are laid in damp and warm places. As for stray animals, they are literally covered with fleas from head to tail. Running near basements, entering the house, or going up the stairs, a dog can get insects which it will subsequently bring home. To get rid of fleas you should start from disinfecting entrances, basements, staircases, and waste chutes.
How to get rid of fleas on cats
Unlike the majority of dogs, cats mostly stay at home and can sleep on sofas or in their owners’ beds. Hence, owners can also experience flea bites on themselves. If you noticed that your cat has become nervous, scratches itself frequently, or uses its teeth to catch something in its hair, this is the first sign that you should examine the pet and, probably, start the flea treatment. In order to detect fleas on cats, you can comb the cat’s hair on a sheet of white paper. Jumping insects will be clearly visible on paper.
There are several types of insecticides to get rid of fleas: drops, shampoos, sprays, collars, pills, injections. Before opting for a particular treatment, it is necessary to study the instruction, learn about possible side effects, and take your pet’s condition into consideration. The best way is to consult a veterinary and to study the working principle of such treatments.
- Shampoos are the most intuitive and safest flea treatment for cats. There are cat hypoallergenic shampoos with herbal extracts.
- Drops are to be used on the shoulder so that the cat could not lick the substance. Flea treatment for cats in the form of drops have a long-lasting action; they get accumulated in the skin and provide efficient protection against blood-sucking insects. Flea killer drops must be used in strict compliance with the instruction which suggests weighing the cat and looking up the volume of the remedy in the weight table. It is forbidden to exceed the dosage since it may lead to intoxication.
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For applying this flea remedy, pull the pet’s hair apart and put the drops on the dry skin. After completing applying the treatment, the owner should abstain from bathing the cat and should keep the pet away from adults and kids for 48 hours. Not all cat flea drops are suitable for pregnant and lactating cats or for kittens. This is always mentioned in the instruction.
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- Flea killer pills are used if the cat has dermatitis which does not allow applying the remedy on the skin. Fleas die 20-30 minutes after the intake. I recommend contacting your vet or reading the instructions extra carefully before giving any meds to your cat.
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- Injections are used only in case of severe flea infestation. The drug’s active period of this flea treatment for cats is up to 6 months, but it has numerous side effects and contraindications. It is recommended to make flea injections in vet clinics rather than at home.
- Sprays have quick action on fleas on cats. Yet, they are to be used in the open air or a highly ventilated room. 20 minutes after spraying, the cat should be combed and then bathed. An overdose of flea sprays is not allowed. Sprays can be used for treating the pet’s environment, its mat, and the doormat.
- Seresto flea collars are the most popular flea treatment for cats against fleas and ticks. They contain same insecticides as drops and sprays. These agents penetrate the skin and kill the parasites. Seresto flea collar is easy-to-use and has a long-lasting action (from 2 to 6 months). The only disadvantage of this flea treatment for cats is that it does not affect flea larvae and flea eggs. Besides, it is not recommended to use seresto flea collars together with other insecticides since this may cause an overdose.
If you have detected fleas on cats, the treatment must be started immediately. Cats are very sensitive to flea bites; they can develop allergy and flea dermatitis or start losing hair. Cat skin may get covered with wounds, and the pet will suffer heavy pain. The sooner the flea treatment for cats is used, the better for it and its owner.
The means for flea prevention
In order to avoid taking drastic actions, it is better to use flea prevention.
- Make sure your pet comes into contact with as few animals as possible and limit the time of its being in the street unleashed.
- Disinfect the pet’s environment, its mat, and toys.
- Use flea prevention remedies.
How to get rid of fleas in the house
When fighting against fleas on cats and dogs, you should not forget about their living environment – your home. Ectoparasites must be repelled on all fronts. Even if you have neither cat nor dog, you can bring fleas on your shoes, or they can penetrate your home from the basement or the attic. Such places are always infested with insects that live on stray animals, rats, and mice.
Fleas are already in your hair? Check out the guide on how to get rid of fleas on human body.
How to tell if you have fleas at home
At first, you may fail to notice that your home has become a place for flea infestation since they can live without food for a long time. Yet, as soon as they start looking for prey, you will definitely feel their bites. Flea bites in several places at the same time, leaving red blisters on your skin and causing severe pain. The spot of the bite itches a lot.
What to do if you have spotted fleas at home
- Shake out, wash, and iron all fabrics.
- Apply a flea repellent on the walls to the height of 60-70 cm.
- Shut all the windows and doors and treat the rooms with flea treatment for home chemicals (dichlorvos). 2-3 hours later air the rooms, vacuum them once again, and wipe all the surfaces with vinegar.
- Wash all the carpets or have them dry-cleaned.
- Armchairs and sofas should be thoroughly vacuumed.
- Pillows, blankets, and mattresses should be steamed with a steam generator and then dried in the sun.
- Repeat the cleaning in 7 days.
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Apart from the rooms, all adjoining spaces should be cleaned – balconies, annexes, and the entrance. If you live in a detached house, you should also clean storerooms, outbuildings, and the area of several meters along the perimeter of the house.
Make sure to clean all the mats and your pet’s carrier, as well as the car if you used it for transporting the pet.
Room disinfection methods
- Chemical treatment is carried out with the use of dedicated substances – insecticides. A spray is the most efficient flea repellent if the contact with insects has already taken place. Chemical solutions are used for cleaning all the surfaces, including skirting boards and furniture, while powders are to be scattered in hard-to-reach places and gaps.
- Traditional methods to get rid of fleas are based on using gum, lavender, and tea tree essential oils, or plants which are strong flea repellents due to their smell (peppermint, basil, wormwood, tansy, garlic, pinewood sawdust). These home remedies for fleas are safe, but at the same time, it is impossible to treat each hard-to-reach place.
- Professional disinfestation to kill fleas requires inviting specialists and is used in case of a severe flea infestation when no domestic treatment helps. Most commonly professional disinfection is conducted in basements and entrances.
- Mechanical way to get rid of fleas is based on pouring boiling water on the biggest congregations of insects. Such treatment may be used in housekeeping areas and basements.
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If you have noticed the first signs of the flea infestation on your pet, it is necessary to take immediate action. Choose the flea killer treatment carefully in each specific case, basing on the severity of flea infestation and particular features of the animal. Pay particular attention to pregnant and lactating females as well as to puppies – in such a case it is better to consult a veterinary or use traditional natural flea treatment.
The best way to avoid flea infestation is to take timely preventive flea control measures, examine the pets on a regular basis, and be careful when walking them.