Treating your pets is the first step in ridding your home of fleas. If you are seeing fleas on your pet, there will be thousands of flea eggs, larvae and pupae in your house and yard. Your pet should be on a flea preventative to help keep new flea eggs from being laid.
Understanding fleas is important in making sure your efforts are effective.
- Adult fleas (the ones that bite) spend most of their time on the animal, so treatment needs to include both the pet and the environment (your house and yard).
- Adult fleas lay 50 eggs per day which then fall off the pet and into the environment. Flea eggs will hatch into flea larvae. Eggs and larvae are present in greatest numbers where your pet spends most of its time.
- Flea larvae transform into pupae that are surrounded by a cocoon. It takes 2-4 weeks (sometimes longer) for the pupae to hatch into adult fleas. The cocoon is resistant to insecticides. Many household and outdoor insecticides lose their potency before pupae hatch. Thus, you need to be persistent in repeatedly treating your pet's environment.
Treating the house and yard is essential for success, since 90% of the developing flea population is in the environment (house and yard). The easiest and most effective option is to have a professional pest control company treat for fleas. Please ask for a recommendation for a local pest control professional.
Prior to having the house treated you should:
- Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum! This removes flea eggs, larvae and pupae. It also stimulates the pupae in cocoons to emerge more quickly, allowing your treatment to kill this resistent stage of fleas. Don't forget the edges of rooms, upholstery and under furniture. Discard your vacuum bag immediately (if bag-less, empty into outside trash) to prevent fleas from hatching inside the vacuum and re-infesting the house. Continue to vacuum daily until you are no longer detecting fleas.
- Move items off floors, especially under furniture and in closets, to increase accessibility for treatment.
- Remove pet food and water dishes, cover aquariums and turn off aquarium aerators. People and pets should be removed from premises (excpet for the person performing the treatment).
- Wash, dry clean or replace all pet bedding.
If you are interested in treating the house and yard yourself, please follow the recommendations below. For all products make sure to read and follow directions carefully to ensure safety.
There are many options when choosing a product to treat the interior of the house. Our favorite is Flea Busters Powder (a borate product) that can be obtained through our hospital. This product has a duration of effect of up to a year if not mopped off floors or shampooed out of fabrics.
If you elect to purchase an interior treatment product other than Flea Busters Powder, you should select an aerosol and fogger (bug bomb). Foggers produce a fine mist which disperses downward like rain. An aerosol sprayer should be used to make sure areas under furniture are treated. The product you select should contain an insecticide to kill adult fleas and insect growth regulator (IGR) to halt development of flea eggs and larvae. The most effective insecticides are in the permethrin family and are derivatives of the chrysanthemum flower. The most effective IGRs are methoprene (Precor) and pyriproxyfen.
Treatment of the yard should also involve an insecticide and IGR. The compounds recommended for house treatment (borate, permethrins, methoprene and pyriproxyfen) are also available in different forms for treatment of the yard. Sevin dust and organophosphates (ie. Malathion, Dursban) are also effective but can be more toxic than the chemicals listed previously. A spray composed of microscopic nematode eggs (a parasite that attacks flea larvae) and is a more environmentally friendly option.
Remember, getting rid of fleas is not a 'one shot' process. Persistent treatment of the environment and monthly administration of an effective flea preventative to all pets are essential to success.
Please contact our veterinarians at Animal Medical Hospital in Saint Petersburg, Florida (FL) at 727-896-7127 for more information.