If you live with more than one cat or dog and fleas are discovered on one of your pets, that could spell disaster for the whole fur family. Dealing with fleas in a multi-pet household can be a little trickier, so learn the best ways how to get rid of fleas in your house.
How Fleas Work: The Flea Life Stage Cycle
Ctenocephalides felis felis, the cat flea, is the most common flea and is extraordinarily contagious to both cats and dogs. Once a flea has jumped onto a dog or cat, it begins sucking the animal’s blood within minutes, breeds soon after, and then lays eggs within 1-2 days.
Once laid, the eggs drop off the host and, depending on temperature and humidity, can hatch within a few days to weeks. The higher the temperature and humidity, the faster the fleas hatch.
Fleas don’t waste any time, and neither should you! Oftentimes, by the time you notice fleas, immature fleas have been developing in your home or yard. Even worse, your home can be filled with flea larvae and eggs that continue to hatch, which is why you still might see fleas up to two months after starting flea treatments!
Treating fleas right away, and in a thorough manner, is the best way to win the war against these pests. Check out the steps below to learn how to best manage fleas on your pets and in your home.
How to Get Rid of Fleas
Step 1: Treat all the pets in your home.
Treat all cats and dogs in the household, regardless of whether you see fleas on them or not. You will need two medications: one that kills fleas and one that stops fleas from developing.
For dogs, Nexgard, Bravecto and Simparica are veterinarian-recommended products formulated to kill fleas quickly before they start reproducing. They are designed to keep killing fleas for an entire month. A medication that interrupts the flea life cycle by preventing immature fleas from maturing includes Sentinel for dogs.
Your veterinarian can advise you on how often to administer them to your pets. Expect to treat everybody for at least two months.
Over-the-counter products, such as Adam’s Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo, can kill fleas, but it can take longer, and they do not offer any residual activity, so you must shampoo your pet daily for effect. If you have a cat, avoid products with permethrin, which is toxic to cats.
If you have pets who weigh less than 4 pounds or are younger than 3 weeks of age, remove fleas by combing your pet with a comb that has been sprayed with Fipronil spray.
With all the products available, it can be confusing to know which to choose. Your veterinarian is your best resource to help you choose safe and effective products for your pets.
Step 2: Treat the environment.
The place where your pets spend most of their time is where the most immature fleas and eggs will be, so pet beds, human beds, under couch cushions, carpets and area rugs are the most common indoor places where baby fleas lurk. Wash all bedding and vacuum both sides of your couch cushions, under your couches and all of your carpets once a week for 3-4 months.
For the outside, porches (under porches, too!), mulch, leaf piles, outdoor pet houses/bedding and other places where your pets like to rest are where fleas will hide. These are the places that need to be treated with a product like Advantage yard and premise spray.
If you notice fleas on dogs and/or cats or in your home, keep calm and be patient—it can take up to four months (in the worst cases) to completely eradicate the infestation. To successfully eradicate the fleas, you must address the source of re-infestation—immature fleas in the environment and reproducing fleas—as well as kill fleas on the pets.
Eradicating Fleas Even Faster
If you have a severe infestation and don’t like the idea of waiting to eradicate all fleas from your home and pets, declare an all-out war on fleas by following these recommendations from Dr. “Flea” Michael Dryden.
- Treat all pets for fleas with products that are prescribed by your veterinarian and follow instructions exactly.
- Vacuum daily under all cushions and carpets for one month, and then once a week for an additional two months.
- Wash all pet bedding and area throw rugs three times a week for one month.
- Clean pet carriers daily or bar your pets from accessing them. Be sure to wash any bedding that’s in the carrier as well.
- Use an inverted aerosol insecticide on outdoor areas where fleas hide, such as Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer.
- Purchase flea traps and change them out weekly for two months.
As always, it is recommended to enlist the help of your veterinarian when dealing with multi-pet flea problems. Fleas can be sneaky creeps, but with the right products, plan and persistence, fleas can be eradicated.