In certain parts of the country fleas are inevitable and sometimes no matter how proactive we are in trying to prevent flea problems, an infestation occurs. Not only is this dangerous for your dog or any other pets, but it is also dangerous for you and your family. Fleas cause itchiness and can sometimes lead to an allergic reaction in dogs and a very large number of fleas can cause other health issues such as anemia and increased susceptibility to certain types of infection.
Aside from annoying your dog, once you have enough fleas they will not differentiate between you and your dog. If you have an indoor dog and are in the unfortunate circumstance of noticing lots of fleas jumping around then you definitely need to take action and perform a flea infestation treatment.
Treat Your Dog – Phase 1
First things first, treat the main source of fleas – your dog. The first goal is simply to remove all existing fleas from your dog. The most effective way to do this is through products that kill adult fleas within 24 hours of being administered. It is important to note that this will only kill the live adults and not any eggs that they have left behind. To take care of the long term problem posed by the presence of the flea eggs you will need to move on to the step below.
Treat Your Dog – Phase 2
At this point you should have treated your dog with a fast acting agent to kill all the existing adult fleas and this is a huge first step. Once you have eliminated all the existing fleas, you need to administer a long-term flea treatment to your dog. These usually last anywhere from one to three months and have the added benefit of killing flea eggs and any new fleas that hop onto your dog after the treatment.
Be careful about bathing your dog during this step. Many of the products that are most effective are administered topically and leave a residue that remains in the top layer of the skin so that when new fleas bite your dog they come into contact with the agent in the topical treatment. Bathing your dog often will decrease the life of the treatment and may require more frequent applications. Also, b sure to read the instructions regarding application if your dog has recently been bathed – most products ask that you wait 24 hours after a bath to apply.
Treat Your Home
Unfortunately, fleas like to live in carpet and fabrics in the home and if you have a true infestation, then treating your dog will not completely eliminate the problem. Some of the most effective options for this are sprays and “bombs”. I have personally favored the treatment bombs where you and your pets leave the house for a bit and activate these bombs before you leave so that they disperse the flea treatment into the air while you are gone.
Sprays and powders are generally applied to carpet and then vacuumed up. Regardless of which option you choose, these treatments tend to be very effective and are an invaluable step in ridding your house of fleas. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, there are also commercial options for flea treatments where you can have a professional come treat your home.
Treat Your Yard
Similar to treating your home, you should treat your yard for fleas in order to eliminate them from an area where they have easy access to your dog who can then bring them back into the house. The method for treating your yard is very similar to that of treating your house – basically you want to apply a yard spray that indicates it will kill fleas. Make sure you follow instructions about when your dog can go back into the yard after the treatment is applied so that you avoid exposing your dog to the ingredients in the spray. Again, this is something that many commercial pest control companies will do for you as well.
The timing for the steps listed above is important – you have to do all of them at about the same time in order to wipe out the infestation in one fell swoop. If you wait a couple of weeks between steps you are already behind in effectively interrupting the life cycle of the fleas. Also, a comprehensive approach is important. If you truly have an infestation then you need to address all of these areas – just treating your dog is unlikely to be sufficient.
Once you have things under control don’t stop. If you have followed the steps above and eliminated your flea problem then you must stay on top of it to keep them from becoming a problem again later. You don’t necessarily have to keep treating your home and yard but please keep up with the treatments for your dog – at least until flea season has passed. For us this means monthly topical flea treatments from about March to November.
One final piece of advice – pay attention to other animals that could be bringing the fleas into your yard. If your neighbor has dogs with fleas or if there are wild animals such as foxes or feral cats near your property then these can act as easy conduits for fleas. If you are in this situation you may need to consider more frequent yard treatments in addition to treating your dog. Also, if you have cats and other dogs, they will need to be a part of the treatment regimen as well.
I have created another post to outline some of the best products to use when trying to get rid of a flea infestation and this post can be found here. I hope this helps provide a do-able plan of attack for flea problems and, as always, if you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.