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Managing fleas when you are keeping pets at home

Readers Lounge - By Derrick Oluoch
Fleas are quite difficult to get rid of especially after they have set home (Shutterstock)

As a pet owner, the thought of your dog or cat having fleas worries you. Fleas, the tiny wingless insects that feed on an animal’s blood, can also become a problem to you as they can bite both you and your furry friends. Flea bites can cause intense itchiness and might cause skin infections and hair loss in pets.

Fleas are quite difficult to get rid of especially after they have set home. As thus, it is a good idea to be aware of what you are up against so that you can begin the process of getting rid of them as soon as possible, before they get comfortable.

Flea bites can cause intense itchiness and might cause skin infections and hair loss in pets (Shutterstock)

As you strife to keep your home free of fleas, it is important that you understand the life-cycle of fleas. An adult flea lays a lot of eggs that may fall off your pet and end up finding their way all over your house. These eggs then hatch into tiny larvae, so small that you can barely see them.

Like the eggs, these larvae can also end up all over your house including on your sofas, carpet and even bed. The larvae spin a cocoon and once mature they emerge as adult fleas - then the cycle starts again.

Fleas feed on blood (Shutterstock)

We look at some of the techniques you can consider to get rid of fleas in your home:

  • Calling the vet

It is recommended that you ask your vet for recommendations when your pets get infested. You need a product that will treat fleas at every stage - from the egg stage to the adult bug. Most flea treatments take only a one-month dose to keep the fleas from making you and your pets itching.

If you find yourself battling fleas yet your pet is on a flea treatment product, you can consider asking your vet for an alternative.

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Also, when treating your pets, ensure that you treat all the pets in the house, including the little ones.

Vacuuming lowers the number of the fleas and their eggs from your house (Shutterstock)
  • Make vacuuming a regular chore

If you are struggling with fleas in your house then you should consider regularly vacuuming your house. Regular vacuuming lowers the number of the fleas and their eggs from your carpets, curtains, and furniture.

When vacuuming, ensure you also clean the areas where your pet spends time such as eating areas and where it sleeps.

When done, empty the vacuum cleaner bin in garbage bags and put outside your house right away so that the fleas don’t get a chance to sneak back.

If regular vacuuming isn’t proofing as successful as you’d wish, you can consider sprinkling some salt or baking soda on the carpet and furniture before you start vacuuming. The baking powder and salt both harm the fleas by cutting them and drying them out. After sprinkling come salt or baking powder, and if you like both, you should leave it on for about 24 hours, or even for a couple days, then you can vacuum it up.

If you have an extreme flea invasion, you can consider having your carpets and curtains steam cleaned as the heat kills the fleas. While the heat might not kill all the eggs, you can consider steam cleaning again after a while to get rid of fleas that will have hatched.

For the worst cases, you may want to call an exterminator.

  • Wash pet bedding, carpet in hot soapy water

Regularly wash your pet’s bed, arguably every week, in hot soapy water. The hot soapy water kills the fleas.

If your pet slips into bed with you or with your children, then you should consider also washing everyone else’s bedding in hot soapy water.

A flea comb does a pretty good job when it comes to removing fleas from your pet (Shutterstock)
  • Use a flea comb

Well, this technique feels a little bit outdated but it still does a pretty good job when it comes to removing fleas from your pet.

Take your pet outside and use the comb to clean it, focusing on the base of the tail and the neck area. When done, deep the comb in warm soapy water to rid it of fleas.

Other than helping you remove fleas from your pet, regular combing also gives you an impression of the effectiveness of your flea control efforts.

  • Wash your pet

After vacuuming the house and washing the bedding, you need to give your pet a bath. Regular bathing of your pet also helps rid your home of fleas. It doesn’t have to be a flea bath as basically any soap is likely to kill the bugs. However, ensure that the soap you use is safe for your cat or dog.

Bathing your pet regularly helps get rid fleas (Shutterstock)
  • Consider your compound

If you live in a home with a compound, you need to control your pets even outside the house as they can still pick up fleas outside the house.

You may want to keep your lawn mowed and clear of wastes and leaves and fallen branches. Fleas like dark, humid and shady spots.

Also keep your pets out of areas where other animals, especially wild animals with fleas, may crawl. Ensure you also treat your kennels or dog runs to ensure that the bugs are cleared all round.

However, as you embark on various techniques to rid your house of fleas, you need to ensure that whatever you do is safe for you and for your pets.

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