How to get rid of fleas in your house, on your pets, and how to stay rid of them once they're gone – a step-by-step guide to flea control.

Great Flea Prevention Tips from a Veterinarian

Check out this story in a South Carolina (where they have a lot of fleas) newspaper about useful flea control methods. It relates closely to the information on this website, including the importance of the flea life cycle, using self-directed sprays instead of flea bombs, and how to treat your yard when you have one, and outside pets.

I was worried the flea product was no longer working or the fleas were getting resistant. He reassured me I was doing everything right and that there is no evidence of resistance to the products prescribed by veterinarians to prevent and kill fleas.

The problem this year is that there are so many fleas, the products are being overwhelmed. These compounds are neurotoxins that are safe for pets but target insects. It takes time for the fleas to die and the higher the concentration of product the faster the products work. So early in the month, fleas will die quickly, but as the month, progresses it will take longer.

“Sometimes we will prescribe these twice a month,” Thomas said, “but you should check with your veterinarian before doing this.”

The egg, larvae and pupae stages of the flea life cycle make up 95 percent of the flea population. So the 5 percent of adults we see living on our pets are only a small fraction of the actual infestation. Thomas reminded me that to totally get a handle on the problem, I should not only treat my pets but also the environment that they live in — my house and yard. “Many wild animals can carry the cat flea and continuously keep bringing them back into your yard,” he explained.

Inside treatment
For my home, he recommended a self-directed spray such as Knock Out Area Treatment. Self-directed means the product can be sprayed in areas that need to be treated. He likes these better than foggers that put insecticide on the tops of furniture (where fleas do not live) and not underneath furniture (where they do). Most smooth surfaces, like tile or linoleum, do not need treatment either.

Fleas like areas where organic matter collects such as carpets, rugs, furniture and the cracks between boards in your hardwood floor. Vacuuming these areas before treatment may help for several reasons. It removes fleas, eggs, pupae and larvae. It may dislodge pupae from their cocoon, making them sensitive to the insecticide, and it gets the carpet fibers standing up so the spray can penetrate deeper.

Just remember to throw away the vacuum bag or empty and thoroughly wash the canister after you’ve finished. If you don’t, you’ve just given the fleas a new home and they might start coming out of the vacuum.

Washing pet bedding and human bedding (especially if your pets sleep with you) in hot water and detergent should kill all stages. In severe infestations, bedding should be replaced.

Outside treatment
Since I live on rural Johns Island with lots of wildlife, Thomas stressed that I must treat my yard to fully get this under control. Fleas like shaded areas the most — under trees, stairs and decks as well as in mulch. These are the areas to concentrate on.

He recommended raking up mulch and removing/restricting pet and wild life access to the areas under stairs and decks. He also recommended the use of a broadcast sprayer such as Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer, which contains the same ingredient as the Advantage I was applying to my pets.

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