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How to Get Rid of Fleas On Your Pet and In Your Home

Updated on August 5, 2015

Fleas can be a nuisance, to say the least. They are right up there with cockroaches on the list of things I hate. To make matters worse, getting rid of fleas can be quite the challenge. Many people make the common mistake of treating just the animal, then treating the house. In order to effectively get rid of fleas in your home and on your pet, it is vital to treat both the home and the pet at the same time.

The Pet

There are several methods you can choose from to get rid of fleas on both dogs and cats. If the flea infestation is particularly horrible, try using all of these to get rid of them quicker. Even if the flea infestation is not that bad, try using a variety of different methods to make sure this ordeal doesn’t take up your whole summer. It’s much better to work your ass off for a few weeks than to work at it a little bit every day for months and months.

Flea Collar. Flea collars will not be enough to completely rid your four legged friend of fleas, but they will drastically help. If the flea infestation seems to have taken over your house, every little bit helps at this point. Flea collars are also excellent if your animals go outside, as they will help to prevent fleas from coming back into the home on your pet.

Topical treatments. These are quick and easy to use. I know, there are tons of home remedies out there that work just as well as pesticides. Personally, I like the simplicity of flea medicine, and my cats have yet to have an adverse reaction to any of it. I did try the Hartz version, and it literally did nothing. I then bought some Advantage for my little feline friends, and it worked miracles on their fleas. It’s also pretty easy to use. You simply hold your cat, and squeeze the medicine onto the back of their neck, ensuring that it doesn’t run down their fur. To do this, just squeeze a little bit at a time.

Oral Treatments. The name of this one is pretty self-explanatory. Many oral treatments are only available through veterinarians, and are said to work because they inhibit the ability of the larvae to reproduce. I personally have never used them, but I have not heard anything bad about them either.

Flea Bath. Despite the collars and flea medicine, you might still see a stray flea here and there. You don’t want to ignore that one little flea, as it’s very easy for fleas to get out of control and your ankles to be covered in flea bites. That one little flea may be a female that is about to lay forty eggs in the next twenty four hours. Check the label or with your veterinarian if you are using a flea solution that contains chemicals, particularly after you have put any type of flea treatment that contains pesticides on your pet. Other products that can be used in place of pesticides while giving your animal a flea bath include:

  • Dawn Dish soap
  • Vinegar (don’t actually give them a bath, simply soak them in vinegar)
  • Baby shampoo
  • Lavender oil in soapy water

Flea combs. These work in a similar manner to lice combs. If you happen to have a lice comb, you can really just boil it and use it on Fluffy. The two products are almost identical. The one problem with flea combs is that occasionally the fleas will simply jump off of Fluffy and onto the furniture, etc. The flea comb is great, but should be used in addition to another flea treatment, not in place of one. Flea combs can save you from digging around Fluffy’s three inch long fur to find them all while you’re shampooing her though.

The House

Now that Fluffy isn’t scratching anymore, you still are not quite done yet. You still have to treat the house. This can seem like a daunting task, but it’s really not that bad. There are several options available for your home, including both chemicals and natural alternatives.

Foggers. This are the flea bombs that you have more than likely hear people talking about. You cover up your electronics, let them go and vacate the premises for a predetermined number of hours. I’ve never used a fogger personally (I’m terrified that it will somehow damage electronics), but I have heard good things about them. On the downside, foggers often miss tight spaces, like behind the couch.

Flea Sprays. They make industrial strength flea sprays that are guaranteed to kill these little annoyances. Sometimes flea sprays are seriously lacking in strength, much like their topical treatment counterparts. I’d advise you to go with flea spray that comes from a reputable company, from a brand that you trust. I like Advantage and have found that it works amazingly well. You can usually find it on Amazon cheaper than in stores (check out the link to the right. When I posted that it was almost fifteen dollars cheaper.) If you’re not a fan of the pesticide route or are looking to be a bit more cost effective, there are also wonderful ways to make your own natural flea spray from things you either already own or can pick up relatively cheap at the grocery store.

Vacuum. Your vacuum is your new best friend. The ultimate ally in the battle against these blood sucking pests, you need to use it at least twice a day, if you have the time. Vacuum up places that your pets commonly lay or spend time, as well as harder to reach areas like behind the couch. After you’re done, either burn the bag or make sure to at least put it in a sealed plastic bag. If you already have some plastic grocery bags around the house, just toss it inside and tie it up. For bag less vacuums, empty the contents into a sealed plastic bag after each vacuum.

Natural Remedies. The internet has a plethora of home remedies that can be used to effectively kill fleas. Over the years I've tried all three of these. None were enough to rid the house of fleas, but they definitely helped.

  • Build your own flea trap. Simply place a bowl of either vinegar or dishwashing liquid in each room. Then, place a desk lamp with the light pointing at the bowl. You can also surround the bowl with candles. Keep in mind this is intended for night time, and make sure not to leave candles unattended.
  • Salt. Put a large piece of rock salt in each room. You can also sprinkle table salt on carpet after vacuuming. The fleas will eat the salt upon hatching, effectively killing them before they get the chance to reproduce.
  • Boric Acid. Boric acid works similar to salt, and should be used in the same manner that is mentioned above.

Which Method Should You Use?

Now that you’ve read all about the various options you have to get rid of fleas, the ultimate question is which one do you use? While I haven’t used all of these myself, I recommend a combination of all of the above. For example, start with your cat. Get either a topical or oral treatment first. Then, continue to give your animal daily baths (if possible), and comb them with a flea comb or manually pick off any fleas that you see. Also, invest in a flea collar for some additional protection. With the house, use a combination of treatments. Either bomb or spray the house, but continue to maintain your stance against fleas following that. Vacuum at least once daily (burning or sealing the vacuumed particles in a sealed bag), and then sprinkle salt afterwards. Use flea spray in the areas that are hard to reach with your vacuum. It will be a lot of work at first, but if you remain consistent your flea infestation will be gone in a couple weeks, if not sooner. That’s a lot better than trying to stay one step ahead of a critter that can jump for months.

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