It happens at least once to every pet owner. Your pet starts scratching uncontrollably, rubbing up against furniture, or biting its skin. You might even see little black bug-like things crawling underneath the fur or on your white countertops. You bring your pet into the vet, and they comb it with a special comb only to confirm your worst suspicions: your pet has fleas.
Fleas can be an irritating problem, but unless you've let it go way too far, it usually isn't anything more than a nuisance for you and your pet. However, you do need to do your best to get rid of the fleas, and there are many ways to do that.
If your dog or cat has fleas, that probably means it is not on some type of flea prevention. Flea prevention usually acts in two ways; it kills the fleas that bite your pet, and it stops the flea larvae from growing and the eggs from hatching. This doesn't mean that once you put flea prevention on your pet that fleas will not be able to get to them at all. Rather, it means that once the fleas bite your pet, they will die which prevents them from laying eggs, which will hatch into more fleas. If you give your pet flea prevention, fleas can and will still bite your pet, but it will not turn into a larger infestation.
There are many brands of flea prevention out there, and all them are effective. The most important thing to remember, though, is never give flea prevention intended for dogs to a cat, and vice versa. Cats and dogs have different systems, and giving them something that is intended for a different animal can kill your pet. Some prevention comes in pills and some in a gel that you put on your pet's skin.
Either way, you usually have to administer the treatment once a month to ensure the best results. Some people do this all year round, and some people do it just in the spring and summer, when fleas are alive and attacking. Remember, though, that fleas can lay dormant for up to 90 days, so if you stop flea prevention in the winter, you could have a problem on your hands when summer comes around.
Powders, Sprays, Baths, and Bombs
Once your pet has fleas, you probably want to get them on some type of prevention right away to kill the infestation on your pet. If you do this, giving your pet a flea bath is no longer necessary, though you may want to in order to give your pet some immediate relief. You can find flea bath products in any pet store.
There, you will also find other options for cleaning your house, such as flea powders and sprays, as well as flea bombs. There are varying opinions on the necessity of these products; some say they are necessary to kill the fleas - which they do - and some say that those chemicals do more harm to you and your pet than they are worth. Regardless, be sure to follow all the instructions on the package carefully when using these products.
Whether you use powders, sprays, or flea bombs, a thorough cleaning of all the surfaces your pet touches is necessary. You'll want to wash all blankets, sheets, pillows, coverings, etc., that your pet comes near. Keep in mind, fleas can jump 150 times the length of their bodies, so if you allow your pet in the bedroom, for example, you'll need to wash your sheets even if you don't allow it on the bed.
Then, you'll need to thoroughly vacuum everything you couldn't wash: carpets, couches, curtains, etc. If you have a bag vacuum, throw the bag away immediately. If you have a canister, take it outside and empty it immediately. Fleas will still live in the vacuum and can crawl out to re-infest your home. Once you do a thorough cleaning, continue to vacuum every few days for about a month.
Remember: Don't do anything before you consult your vet! They have the best advice for your pet.