Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital’s Blog
Flea Control and Prevention
For many pet owners, there isn’t much worse than the dreaded flea infestation. These tiny pests can cause serious irritation and health issues for cats and dogs (as well as people), and can be a pain to get rid of once they’ve infested your life.
The best controls are preventive measures! Preventing fleas is an ongoing process but a necessary part of being a responsible pet owner. To help keep these parasites from invading your home and infesting your pet, you should examine your four-legged friend regularly and keep your home and your pet’s bedding clean and dust-free. Take a close look if you begin to notice your pet relentlessly scratching himself.
Your pet should also be using a year-round parasite preventative to help keep your pet, your family members, and your home protected against this pest and the damage it can cause.
Protecting Your Home from Fleas and Insecticides
In addition to preventative treatments, and regularly cleaning your pet’s coat and bed, you will want to maintain clean floors, carpets, and bedding throughout your house. Be sure to vacuum under beds and furniture, and in the corners of your home where fleas like to congregate.
Your pet can get fleas in spite of your best efforts though the chances are much lower. If it happens, you will likely choose to use a “flea bomb” or other insecticide inside your home to get rid of the infestation quickly. If using these poisons, it’s best to err on the side of caution and go above and beyond what the safety instructions advise.
There’s quite a bit of work involved to be sure that a flea bomb works thoroughly yet is safe:
- Remove all your pet’s bedding and toys from the house. Wash them thoroughly in hot water before letting your pet have them back, or destroy them and start fresh. Likewise, remove your own bedding and wash it thoroughly before use.
- Remove stored items from closets and from under beds; not only will this keep these items from absorbing excess fumes, but it will also allow all areas of the house to be accessible to the fumigation. Wash these items before returning them to storage.
- Remove all human and pet foods and pet dishes. Be certain to wash your own pots, pans, dishes, flatware, etc. before using them after the fumigation.
- Vacuum, mop, and disinfect immediately upon entering your home (and before letting your pet and children in). This step ensures that excess insecticide is removed and won’t come in contact with your pet.
Be vigilant about taking precautions if using flea bombs and the like in your home. Even if a product says it’s pet-safe, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Protecting Your Yard
Your house is not the only area frequented by your pet. You will also need to take steps to treat and protect your yard, too.
More often than not, fleas will be found in refuse or compost piles that create a shady, moist, and humid space for them to multiply. The best way to keep your yard flea-free is to keep your yard free of areas such as these.
If you are unsure whether your yard itself is infested, the easiest way to check is to put on white socks (calf-high would be good) and walk around your yard, especially those places where your pet hangs out the most to rest, play, or dig. If fleas are present, you will be able to see them easily against the white of your socks.
Once you’ve established that fleas are present in your yard and treatment is needed, focus your insecticide treatment on those places in the yard that your pet frequents most. Use a hose to water down gardens, trees and other areas of the yard that are already shady and moist until they are flooded; fleas thrive in such areas but cannot survive a flood.
Once treatment is complete, and you have waited a few days for your yard to recover, follow these preventive measures to keep fleas away:
- Keep your lawn dry
- Use cedar chips or plant Pennyroyal in the yard; fleas have a natural aversion to both of these substances
- Maintain a trimmed yard open to sunlight; fleas don’t thrive in hot sun
- Keep refuse to a minimum, and keep your pet away from compost piles, etc.
It is important to use follow-up treatments on your yard, usually within ten days of the initial application. Continual treatments should also be used in your home and on your pet until you’re sure that the flea infestation has lost the war not just the latest battle.
If you are unsure which flea control treatment is best for your pet and home, or if your current treatment seems to be ineffective, please contact us for information or suggestions on protecting your pet from this nasty, annoying parasite.