There are few sounds that cause a pet owner’s heart to sink like the telltale “thump thump thump” of an itchy pet scratching themselves. That aggressive scratching almost always points to one dreaded cause: fleas.
These blood-sucking pests multiply quickly and can cause an infestation before you even know they are there. Here’s what you need to know about how to get rid of fleas before these tiny bugs become a bigger problem.
If you have fleas in your home, they will gravitate to your pets. Check your pets immediately if your dog or cat starts scratching. If you see bites or little black dots, you probably have fleas. You may see fleas hopping on your rugs, carpet, or draperies – or tiny black flea eggs in your pet’s bed, your own bed, on furniture, or in your rugs.
Be aware that not all tiny, hopping insects are fleas, though. Springtails (including the variety erroneously called “snow fleas”) are often mistaken for fleas. Unlike fleas, springtails do not bite. They have soft bodies, unlike the hard-bodied, difficult-to-crush fleas.
In humans, flea bites look like tiny red dots and are often surrounded by reddened halos. Bites tend to cluster in groups, usually on the lower legs and feet. While itchy and uncomfortable, bites fade within hours or days – depending on healing speed – and how much you scratch them.
Flea bites can get infected with too much scratching. Infected bites take longer to heal and may require a course of antibiotics. Some individuals experience flea allergies… which cause stronger reactions and longer healing times.
Flea bites look similar on animals, but they may be hard to see because of thick fur coverage. If your pets are scratching, biting, chewing, or licking themselves more frequently than usual… you probably have a flea infestation. Scabs, rashes, hair loss, or hives may occur as the infestation intensifies. Like humans, pets can have an allergic reaction to flea bites. This reaction causes a rash, raw or bleeding areas on their skin, and even hair loss in the affected area.
Without a host, fleas live only a few days to two weeks. On pets, they survive an average of eight days to two weeks – although some can live for up to a year in ideal conditions. The problem is that a female flea can begin laying eggs within two days of its first blood meal, and those eggs can hatch as soon as 24 hours later. This creates an exponential increase in the number of fleas within days… and an infestation is born.
Because of fleas’ rapid reproduction and ability to hide almost anywhere, getting rid of them is notoriously difficult. A pet may scatter flea eggs to all corners of your house, where they hatch and start the cycle all over again.
To get rid of fleas, you need to develop a battle plan to fight them everywhere they hide and at every stage of their development. Whether you use the services of a professional pest control technician or attempt to DIY, fighting fleas requires products containing both an adulticide (to kill adult fleas) and a growth regulator (to kill eggs, larvae, and pupae).
To reduce flea eggs, vacuum floors, rugs, and furniture thoroughly – and wash bedding or anything else your pet has touched. Steam cleaning or mopping with hot water can help kill flea eggs on your floors and around your baseboards.
Bathe your pet with soap and water, and carefully groom all over with a flea comb – paying close attention to the areas around their face, neck, and tail. Your veterinarian can recommend topical and oral medications to control fleas.
Be aware that you will need to treat your yard or other outdoor areas where your pet spends time. If you do not keep fleas under control in your yard, they will find their way inside and reinfest your home.
Dealing with a flea infestation can be overwhelming, but you do not have to fight it alone. Fox Pest Control’s experienced and professional staff can make a personalized pest control plan to protect you, your family, and your pets from these tiny menaces. To learn more about the right treatment for your home, contact Fox Pest Control today.
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