If you have always had pets, chances are you’ve encountered every pet owner’s nightmare: fleas.

The major problem with these blood sucking-insects is that they’re not just irritating; they can wreak havoc on your pet’s skin and impact your cat or dog’s health.

And they multiply astonishingly quickly – once you have a large infestation, it can be extremely difficult to control. By the time you spot a single flea, it’s usually already too late.

Here’s everything you need to know about these pests and how to get rid of fleas in your home for good.

Identifying Fleas

Here’s a horrifying fact: the adult fleas you can see on your pets only represent 5% of the infestation. That means that the other 95% of adult fleas, larva, and pupae are hiding somewhere in your home or yard. That’s why it’s important to be thorough when dealing with an infestation.

The most obvious signs of fleas on your pets include excessive scratching and gnawing, hair loss, pale gums, skin irritation, and flea dirt (excrement) in your pets’ fur. If you have a severe infestation, you may also notice small red bites around your ankles and knees.

How to Get Rid of Fleas

The first step to take when you notice signs of fleas is to treat all of your pets. There are many products (flea dips, shampoos, powders, tablets, spot-on treatments) available that are designed to kill fleas – but be sure to consult with your vet to determine which treatment is right for your dogs or cats.

It’s essential to kill the fleas on your pets on the same day you treat your house to prevent re-infestation.

Once your animals have been treated, wash all your pet’s bedding in the washing machine on a high-heat setting. If your pets sleep in your bed often, wash all of your bedding too.

Vacuum your entire house thoroughly, paying close attention to areas under beds, corners, gaps in wooden floorboards, carpets, and furniture. When you’re done, seal the vacuum cleaner bag in plastic and dispose of it outside. Now, it’s time to bring out the big guns.

The most effective way to kill all the remaining fleas is to call a professional pest control company to fumigate your house, but you can also go the DIY route.

Choose an insecticide that contains chemicals to target all stages of the fleas’ lifecycle – such as methoprene and pyriproxyfen – and treat your entire house with it. Keep all pets and people out of the house for a few hours, and be sure to ventilate every room by opening all the doors and windows.

After you’ve treated the house and your pets yourself, there’s no guarantee that the infestation won’t come back. Just a few fleas or eggs could start the infestation cycle all over again in just a few weeks. If the fleas persist, repeat the entire process until they are completely gone. When it comes to flea infestations, persistence is key.

To stop the infestation from reoccurring, you can also get a professional exterminator to treat your yard, or you can try introducing beneficial nematodes to your garden to keep the flea population down.

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