How to get rid of fleas in the house forever
« How to get rid of fleas in the house forever » | To get rid of fleas in the house, forever, pet owners need to be aware of several tricks and a combination of different actions to implement. So, in this blog we explain why pet owners should be actively concerned with problems caused by fleas and how it is recommended to get rid of fleas in the house by treating all the pets of a household and the house itself.
Why pet owners need to get rid of fleas in the house
Fleas are responsible for several problems in pets and humans. They cause both direct and indirect inconveniences such as dermatological conditions, due to their bites and saliva. Equally, fleas carry microorganisms responsible for diseases, some of which are transmissible to humans (zoonotic diseases).
Direct impact of fleas on pets and people:
- Flea bite allergy is also known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) or flea bite hypersensitivity. In dogs, it is recognisable by several signs such as pruritic, papular dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) or acute moist dermatitis (« hot spots »). In cats, one can observe pruritic papulocrustous dermatitis also called « miliary dermatitis » as well as hair loss due to the scratching (alopecia). To summarise, pets will be itchy, scratching, excessively licking and as a result display skin lesions accompanied with hair loss and sometimes bad smell. The solution to FAD is to get rid of fleas.
- Fleas might be visible wandering on the animal’s coat, although sometimes they might not be seen at all, especially in cats, or due to animals grooming excessively which reduces the live population of fleas. Therefore, pet owners might not always know their pets is suffering from a flea problem and it might come to a surprise, sometimes a shock, being made aware their house is also infested with fleas as a result.
- Intestinal tapeworms: Dipylidium is a known tapeworm present worldwide. A dog or cat swallows the flea carrying the larvae which then develops into an intestinal worm. The problem is usually benign and easily treated with a prescription medicine. Children can occasionally get infected with Dipylidium if they accidentally swallow a flea.
- Plague: in some areas of the world, fleas are responsible for transmission of plague to humans. Oropsylla montana (ground squirrel and other rodents flea found in the U.S.A.) and Xenopsylla cheopis (Oriental rat flea) are carrier of Yersinia pestis, bacteria responsible for the plague. There are several forms of the disease, which is contracted by humans after a flea bite, handling infected animals or through breathing of bacteria-containing droplets (pneumonic plague). Antibiotic treatments are available and effective in most cases. However, it is worth noting that if left untreated, the disease can be fatal.
Strategy to get rid of fleas in the house forever
To get rid of fleas in the house, pet owners must act strategically and tackle the problem from multiple fronts.
Here is what is recommended to do:
- Ongoing treatment of pets against fleas: It means it should not be interrupted because it leaves room for possible re-infestation. The problem will come back. All the pets in the household must be treated against fleas. Flea treatments are available to use on a monthly or a quarterly basis. Some products come as a « spot-on » (liquid in a pipette to squeeze between the shoulder of the pet) or oral chews/tablets or collars. It is worth noting that the most effective products contain active ingredients labelled as POM-V in the UK (only available under prescription made by a veterinarian after examination of the pet).
- Picking the right products: Use products that kill adult fleas but also products that will prevent insects from growing. There are different stages in the flea life cycle (2 to 3 weeks): egg -> larvae -> pupa -> adult. The goal is to neutralise all those stages so they don’t reach the adult form, which will reproduce and lay a new batch of eggs as to keep the infestation going. Be aware that fleas have managed to become resistant to some active ingredients, mostly found in products sold over the counter (OTC).
- Treating more than just the pets: Anti-flea products are also available as household products, aimed at treating the environment (for example the cracks in a wooden flooring). Always read carefully the labels of such products, as they can endanger other living beings, for example if there are fish tanks or other sensitive animal species sharing the living space.
- Remaining proactive: Don’t lower the guard and control the environment where pets and humans live in and interact with each other (indoor/outdoor). This can be achieved by frequent vacuuming and washing of floorings, upholstered furniture, pet beddings; or simply discarding them and getting new ones (especially when victim of severe flea infestation).
- Be cautious: Use anti-flea products for the species they are intended for as well for the specific age and be aware of lactating or pregnant animals. Always read the labels and follow the instructions. If you are not too sure, it is best to speak to a qualified and registered veterinarian to obtain advice tailored to individual situations. Vets can also examine pets, carry simple tests and tell owners if their pets have been visited by fleas or other parasites. If pets have fleas, the house will also be infested.