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How to Get Rid of Fleas

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Fleas on your dog or cat can be extremely dangerous. Some dogs are severely allergic to fleas, and just one bite can trigger an allergic reaction. Fleas also can cause anemia with small dogs, puppies and kittens when they are constantly biting. Tapeworms are transmitted through fleas after your dog or cat has ingested the flea while grooming. It is essential to use a flea preventative for your cat or dog to protect your pet’s health. Be sure to handle a flea infestation quickly if you suspect your pet has one.

How to Spot Fleas

dog scratching behind his earSince adult fleas make up only about 5% of the flea population, it can be difficult to spot a flea infestation. If your dog or cat suddenly begins scratching, this may be an indication your pet has fleas. Check for flea dirt on your pet’s skin. Flea dirt is essentially flea feces and can best be seen easiest on your pet’s stomach, at the base of the tail, or on her favorite bed as tiny, dark specks. Flea combs like these can also be used to locate flea dirt and adult fleas on your dog or cat. Make sure the fine-toothed flea comb touches  the skin as you brush. Any fleas or debris will be caught in the comb. This method works best for dogs and cats with shorter coats.

How to Get Rid of Fleas

Getting rid of fleas on your dog or cat and in your home and yard can be challenging. That’s why we recommend using a flea preventative to kill pests before they multiply. 

Topical Prevention

Topical prevention is one of the more common options to protect your pets against pests. Products, such as K9 Advantix II and PetLock, use an ingredient that employs the natural oils on your dog’s skin and coat to spread the active ingredients. This will allow the product to cover your dog’s entire body. These products are applied to a small area on your dog’s neck once a month or to the base of your cat’s skull. There are many other topicals on the market for dogs, but we’ve found that most are not as effective as the two brands mentioned above. One of the many reasons we recommend these topical treatments is that they not only kill pests but also repel them. Other topicals and ingestible preventatives require the flea or tick bite the dog or cat before the flea or tick dies.

It is very important to note that dog flea treatments are unsafe for use on cats. Certain dog topical treatments are also unsafe for cats to come into contact with on your dog, typically during a 48 hour period after initial application. Be careful when selecting a treatment for your pets, especially when you have both dogs and cats who groom or interact with each other. Cat specific topical preventatives, such as Advantage II and Petlock II for Cats, are effective as monthly flea preventative solutions for your feline family members.

Flea Collars

Flea collars are another option for pest prevention, but 90% of the flea collar products on the market are not effective. The only flea collar we at Hollywood Feed trust is the Seresto collar by Elanco. This collar has its active ingredients infused into it during production. Other types of flea collars have preventative dipped or powdered onto the collar and don’t protect the entire pet or last very long. Most flea collars on the market only protect within a small area around the collar. The Seresto collar is effective for up to 8 months and uses the same ingredient as topicals to spread protection across your dog or cat’s entire body. If you are concerned about cats or dogs grooming each other with topical prevention, the Seresto collar may be a good choice for your pets.

Flea Sprays

Flea sprays are another option but can be time consuming. The sprays should be sprayed directly onto your dog and or cat, and while you don’t have to soak them, you do need to thoroughly cover your entire dog and or cat with spray and rub it in for it to be effective. Be sure to check if the flea spray you are using is safe for use around both cats and dogs if you live in a multi-pet household. Flea sprays usually last for 24 – 48 hours. If your dog or cat has fleas, her bed and living space are also home to fleas, flea larvae, and eggs.

It’s important to treat the pet’s bed, the area around the pet’s living space, your couches, rugs, curtains, etc. to rid your home of fleas and flea eggs and prevent the infestation from occurring again. There are also options for your pet, home, and yard that aren’t all natural, such as Advantage and PetLock, that will last longer and require fewer applications. 

Flea Shampoos

Shampoos are often effective at removing fleas that a dog or cat currently has on her but usually have no residual effects past 24-48 hours. Work the shampoo into a lather over your dog or cat’s entire body, using caution around her eyes and ears, and leave on for the recommended amount of time before rinsing. 

Should You Treat the Yard for Fleas?

Advantage yard and premise spray in flowers

If you are dealing with fleas on your dog and in your home, more than likely you also have a flea infestation in your yard. Therefore, it’s best to treat both your home and yard to get rid of pesky fleas for good.

Yard sprays are an effective way to kill and repel fleas outdoors. Most sprays attach to your garden hose for easy application. Most gallon sized yard sprays cover up to 5,000 square feet;  so you are often able to use the spray multiple times depending on the size of your yard. You’ll want to cover your entire yard and pay close attention to areas under bushes and trees where fleas and ticks like to hide. Elanco makes an effective, easy-to-use spray that lasts up to a month and kills and repels fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other pests. With the Advantage Yard & Premise Spray, you’re able to treat up to 16,000 square feet.

For an all-natural yard spray, Wondercide uses cedar oil as the active ingredient to kill fleas and ticks on contact. Wondercide Yard Flea & Tick Spray will cover up to 4,000 square feet using no artificial colors, fragrances or synthetic pesticides.

Treating your yard in addition to carefully using a spray indoors and flea preventative for your dogs and cats will ensure that fleas die and do not return. Spray your pet’s bedding with an indoor specific treatment, like Advantage Flea and Tick Household Spray, to ensure you’ve killed all adult fleas. For indoors, be persistent with vacuuming and washing your dog’s bedding and toys for multiple weeks to make sure flea eggs, larvae and pupae are being eliminated too. 

Make Sure You Kill All Life Stages of Fleas

Fleas can be tough to get rid of when there’s a serious infestation in your home or yard. It’s crucial that you take a comprehensive approach to prevent the flea population from multiplying rapidly. Make sure you treat your pets, home, and yard, and retreat everything within three weeks’ time to ensure you’ve gotten the adult fleas and flea eggs.

Related blogs: The Prevention Post: Say No to Fleas and Ticks, How to Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks: A Step-By-Step Guide, What Do Flea Bites Look Like

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Deborah Holloway

    Do you know of a Essenital oil that will kill and keep fleas off of dogs and cats

    1. Kate Lancaster

      Hi Deborah,

      Wondercide flea and tick products do include certain essential oils in small doses to kill and repel fleas. You will typically have to apply these sprays more frequently to keep the fleas away, but they are a safe, plant-based alternative to flea preventatives.

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