Today’s topic was written by Jenn, our senior tech. The weather’s getting colder, but the fleas aren’t finished yet. We’ve seen a TON of cases, so Jenn wanted to review how we tackle a flea problem. -Dr.H
Fleas, fleas, and more fleas! That seems to be the trend this time of year. We always recommend preventing a flea infestation from happening by keeping pets on a topical foe preventative all year long. Once your pet has fleas, it can be an uphill battle to get rid of them.
A flea infestation usually begins 6-8 weeks prior to the first flea you notice on your pet. By the time fleas are seen, there can be thousands of flea eggs, larva, and pupae in your household. If you have multiple pets, the numbers dramatically increase. There is no magical medication that can kill the whole flea population or infestation in an instant. It will take three to six months to rid your home of an infestation.
The first step in controlling an infestation is to apply topical flea preventative on your pets. Select a product that is applied to the pet’s skin, not just on the fur. Also be sure to choose a dog product for dogs and a cat product for cats. Some dog products can be dangerous if applied to cats! Once the product is applied, any adult fleas on your pet will be killed within 12 hours and the flea’s life cycle has been interrupted.
However, there is a whole population of immature fleas hiding in your home while they mature into new adult fleas. It can take as little as 21 days for them to grow into adult fleas after hatching from an egg. These fleas will appear on your pet, which may seem like the product isn’t working. You may even see more fleas on your pet than before. The topical prevention will kill these fleas before they have a chance to bite your dog and reproduce. This begins to reduce the size of the infestation in your home.
As long as the pet is on a topical flea preventative consistently, applied every 30 days, the product will stop flea reproduction and control an infestation in about 2-3 months. Severe infestations may take longer to fully destroy.
You can help reduce the population in the home environment by taking some specific steps. All furniture should be vacuumed. All floors (carpet or wood) should be vacuumed. Throw the vacuum bag away after vacuuming. All linens and anything pets sleep on should be washed in the laundry if possible. Treating the house with a flea spray will also help kill fleas in the environment. Be sure to follow the directions on the product!
In summary, here are the key points to remember when dealing with a flea infestation:
All pets in the household must be on topical prevention
Prevention must be applied every 30 days
You will still see fleas on your pet, but they are on their way to being dead
It can take 3-6 months to fully control an infestation
Environmental control is also very important
And most importantly: It only takes ONE flea to start an infestation! Prevention is always better than treatment.