Fleas are tricky. You may notice black, shiny bugs crawling through your dog’s fur or around your home. Smaller than a grain of rice, they quickly hide in your pet’s coat or jump when you try to catch them. For every one flea that you notice, there may be hundreds of its pesky relatives on your dog’s skin, in your carpet and on your furniture. Use these tips to eliminate fleas at every life stage so they’ll finally stop coming back.
Why Fleas Keep Popping Up
Many people will see a few fleas hopping around on their dog, then give them a flea bath, only for the infestation to jump back into action a few days later.
The fleas you can find on your dog represent just under 5% of the flea population in your home. One adult female flea can lay 40 eggs per day, so if even one survives a flea bath, they’ll repopulate very quickly. Eggs make up about 50% of the flea population. They’re white and smaller than a grain of sand. It takes anywhere from 48 hours to two weeks for them to hatch, depending on the warmth and humidity conditions.
Flea larvae feeds off of “flea dirt,” reddish-brown predigested blood that you can sometimes see in your dog’s fur. In 1-3 weeks, the larvae enter a pupal stage, which can last for months, even years, until the cocoon attaches to a new host. This is why fleas are so difficult to completely eliminate; pupae can hide deep in your carpeting and on your furniture.
To get rid of fleas completely, you need to get rid of them at all life stages. You need to treat your pets, treat bedding, furniture and carpets so there is nowhere for fleas, eggs, larvae and pupae to hide.
Natural Or Chemical Flea Treatments?
The first step to getting rid of fleas is to treat your dog. The longer your dog is infested, the more the fleas will bite and feed off of their blood. Eliminating the fleas’ food source will decrease their chances of survival. First, give your dog a bath, creating a thick lather with flea shampoo. You can use dish soap, though it’s harsh and may dry out your dog’s skin, even irritate it. After your dog’s bath, you’ll need to apply a flea treatment to keep the fleas from coming back.
Chemical flea treatments, including flea collars, spot-on monthly treatments and tablets usually work by killing fleas that come in contact with your pet. In essence, they are mild poisons that can be harmful to your pet over time. While many pets are treated with chemicals without any adverse reactions, you may seek alternative treatments if you’re concerned that your dog or someone in your household may be sensitive to chemicals.
Spot-on treatments tend to be toxic to cats, so if your cat tends to groom your dog, they can actually be poisoned. If you must use chemical-based flea treatments, watch for any signs of swelling, lethargy, excessive salivation, vomiting or uncoordinated movements. Use them in well-ventilated areas only.
Natural treatments are generally safer, but they often have to be applied daily. They typically work by repelling, not killing, fleas and other pests. Natural Flea Powder is one of the most potent natural flea control options. It contains diatomaceous earth, which dries out the fleas’ exoskeletons. Unlike chemical treatments, the fleas cannot become resistant to it. You can use it alone or in conjunction with other natural remedies. Another perk of using natural flea treatments is the fact that you can apply them as needed, for example, immediately before a hike in a wooded area.
De-Fleaing Your Pet’s Environment
You will need to treat every surface your pet touches to ensure that there are no eggs, larvae or pupae sticking around. First, load up the washer with your pet’s blankets and bedding and add MediPet Laundry Treatment. While that’s going, vacuum every room of your home. Vacuuming will kill most fleas life stages. Don’t forget to vacuum your car, and use pet-friendly environmental flea treatments as needed. You may need to vacuum, bathe your pets and treat their bedding daily for a few days in a row to ensure there are no tiny survivors.
Treating Flea Bites
Fleas leave small, red bites on your dog’s skin, and they bite humans, too. Flea bites on humans and animals generally do not need medical treatment, they typically disappear within a few days. Use an antiseptic to keep the bites clean and alleviate itching, MediPet Soothing Mist is great to have on-hand for flea bites and minor itching. Watch for fever, lethargy or swelling and oozing at the bite site, which could indicate an infection. See your vet if you have any concerns, or if you’re still having trouble keeping the fleas from bugging your pet.