Fleas are one of the most dreaded pests, and with more than two thousand different types of fleas in the world, they can create a real headache. It’s normal to dread having to get rid of fleas in the house, and it can be hard to evict the pests once they’ve taken up residency. Fleas bites can cause an allergic reaction in dogs as well as humans, and the pests don’t always discriminate between species. Kicking the bugs out of your home so you and your dog can enjoy an itch-free existence is important.
Eradicating a flea infestation doesn’t have to be a losing battle though. There are many solutions to get rid of fleas at home, though some have proven to work much better than others. From the moment you see the first flea, time is of the essence. Even if you only see a few, fleas infestations have a way of growing quickly, and the more there are, the harder it will be to get rid of them.
Determining The Source
Before trying to treat your flea problem, it’s important to figure out where the infestation came from. If they came from your dog or other pets, which would be evidenced by constant scratching, it’s time for a trip to the vet to have a flea bath and pick up some preventative topical medication. Dogs can get fleas from being around other animals that have them, spending time in dog boarding facilities, dog parks and more. It’s also possible for other humans to bring the nasty bugs into your home by accident on their clothing. If the fleas came from family or friends, it’s a good idea to let them know so they can address the issue in their own homes.
An easy way to determine where the fleas are congregating is the evidence of flea dirt. This black or dark reddish substance can be found where fleas congregate, and consists of flea waste. In addition to being gross, the more flea dirt there is, the more fleas there could be lurking in your home.
Wash Everything Before Treatment
Once you discover an infestation, it’s understandable if you want to get rid of the fleas as soon as possible. After you’ve treated your dog and any other animals that may be carrying fleas, it’s time to focus on getting rid of the fleas in your house. The first step to achieve this is to do some serious cleaning. Fleas love anywhere dark, dry and warm, which translates to pet beds, furniture and your bed, if you allow your pets to sleep there. The best way to deal with this is to wash everything that could have come in contact with your dog, including all pet beds, sheets, and any washable covers on furniture. These items should be washed in the hottest water possible. (Check care tags first!)
Also vacuum all the floors as well as couches and any other areas where the fleas may be hiding. Empty the canister or place the bag into a garbage bag and take it outside to prevent any fleas from escaping back into your house. Once all the cleaning is done, it is time to start killing flea eggs and any adult fleas that survived.
How to Get Rid of Fleas
There are several ways to kill fleas in your home including both chemical and natural options. Whether you use a chemical or natural option is simply a preference, although care should be taken when using chemicals, especially if you have birds or small children.
Electronic traps plug in and attract fleas over a period of weeks. This can be a slow eradication method and is not always completely successful, as they don’t address flea eggs, and depend on the flea being near enough to be attracted to the trap.
Nylar, also known as Pyriproxyfen, is an option recommended for those that are looking for an option that works well but isn’t toxic to mammals. Nylar only needs to be applied once a year and works by mimicking juvenile flea hormone which prevents eggs from hatching and young fleas from becoming adults. It’s considered safe for birds and other pets, though there could be some danger if you have fish and it gets in their tank.
Flea ‘Bombs’ and Chemical Sprays
For some extreme infestations, this could be the only option. If an infestation is bad enough that chemicals need to be used on fleas in your home, your best bet is to bring in the professionals. They will come into the home with chemical compounds to eradicate fleas more quickly than with more natural methods. Chemicals can be dangerous to birds, reptiles and fish, in addition to dogs, cats and children in the home. It’s a good idea to find another place to stay while your home is being treated, especially for your furred and feathered family members.
As far as pets are concerned, there are countless products that can be used for getting rid of fleas. These products include shampoos, sprays, topical medication, and more.
Natural Flea Remedies
Lavender, rosemary and other essential oils are considered a natural flea killer, and are generally considered non-toxic for dogs when used properly. A couple of drops can be applied to areas around the house such as baseboards. There are also various herbal sprays available for purchase that can potentially help you get rid of fleas. Cats can be sensitive to essential oils, however, so make sure you do your research on behalf of any felines living in your home.
Made of the fossilized remains of ancient creatures called diatoms, diatomaceous earth is a white powder that kills adult fleas and breaks flea eggs. For flea control within your home, make sure you purchase food grade powder to protect you and your pets from any additives that could be added for outdoor pest control. To kill the fleas, sprinkle the power over affected furniture and carpet. Let sit for 12-24 hours and then vacuum the powder, and hopefully dead fleas, up.
Please note: while the powder is non-toxic, breathing it in is not recommended for humans or dogs. Keep kids and pets out of the treated area until the powder has done its job and has been vacuumed up. It’s best to use a shop vac or other filterless vacuum for this, as the powder can clog a traditional vacuum filter and damage the motor. It’s recommended to repeat this every week until no fleas are detected.
This natural powerhouse also can kill fleas! Mix 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar with 3/4 cup water in a spray bottle for a homemade flea spray. Use the spray on any water safe surfaces you’ve noticed fleas on. You can also add vinegar to the wash when cleaning color safe pet beds and linens.
For natural flea treatment options for your dog, our handy natural flea care article has some great suggestions.
How to Keep Fleas Away
It’s important to kill all of the fleas in your home as even a few left alive can lead to another infestation fairly quickly. There are several steps that can be taken to prevent fleas from coming back, even if your dog brings a few hitchhiking bugs back from your adventures.
Make sure to vacuum regularly, and wash pet bedding at least once a week in hot water. Also be sure to purchase preventative treatments for pets. These treatments are normally applied once a month and often help to prevent other pests such as ticks.
Getting rid of fleas in your home can be a daunting task, but it can be done. With all of the options for eradication, everyone can find something that will work for them. Keeping your house flea free will allow you and your dog to live a happier, more comfortable, pest free life.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.