How to Rid Your House of Pesky Fleas
My Misfortune With Fleas
In 2012, I had a severe infestation of fleas. Both of my cats died in September. Although I can't prove it was solely from the fleas, I know it contributed to them dying. I can't even recall the first time I saw a flea, as this was the first time I had ever had them.
Both of my cats were kept inside, which is another mystery of how we had them so badly. My one cat, Santapaws, was an elderly stray with thyroid disease that was on medication for his illness and had already been weak—and the fleas exasperated him. My other cat, Naps, was also a stray I'd put at about 5 years old. Both of my cats were generally healthy, eating, playing, and happy before we got fleas.
I later read that empty homes can house fleas in a dormant state. We had moved in December of 2011 to our current home. The fleas appeared in Spring of 2012. Both of my cats became extremely anemic, and it seemed that no matter what I did to kill the fleas, I just couldn't get rid of them. I lost both of my babies in September. On the 7th, I chose to put Santapaws down, because he was in need of blood transfusions (yes, he was that sick). And on the 17th, Naps died in my arms from what appeared to be a heart attack. Three vets told me he had most likely had an undetected heart condition known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.
I'm writing this article to hopefully prevent this from happening to someone else, their family, and most of all, beloved pets. I have both of my cats buried in our backyard, and I've been thankful to keep them with us, if only on the property. But I miss them daily and the memories of how they went haunts me. And I hope to prevent this for others.
I vow to never have fleas the way I did before, ever again.
Should You Call in a Professional?
For my situation, I did call a few local pest control companies. But first, I did a little research on how they get rid of fleas. After my research, I determined that it was not necessary for me to pay for professional help, especially since they wanted a minimum of $75 per treatment.
If you follow my advice, you will not need to get professional help.
The most important thing, however, is to follow through on the suggested treatments for a minimum of three months! It will be a lot of work, but you know what they say: time or money. Sure you can pay someone to do it, but they won't care about the results the way you will.
Things That Do Not Work for Flea Infestations
Save yourself time, money, frustration, and potential illness to your pets and family, do not bother with these options for pest control
- Flea Collars: Inexpensive, but they do not work. They cannot safely prevent or help an animal that is the host of a flea. Flea collars can be dangerous for cats. If they are not put on correctly, the animal can snag or hurt itself trying to get the collar off, choke, and possibly suffocate. They also have medication on the collar that can be toxic to your cat or dog. A flea collar does have one practical use, but more on that later.
- Flea Dips, Shampoos, and Skin Sprays: These are a waste of money and extremely toxic to cats. DO NOT BUY THEM! I cannot stress this enough! I personally think they should be removed from store shelves. This includes Hartz, Adams, and any knock-off or dollar store brand. Also, these chemicals are not interchangeable. What can be used on a dog cannot be used on a cat! You can unintentionally kill your pet.
- Household Flea Bombs: These are toxic as well and not safe for you or your pet. They can cause respiratory irritation to humans and pets and skin irritation. They also do not reach hidden corners and crevices of places that fleas like to hide and lay eggs. They distribute unevenly throughout your home, making even square footage coverage useless.
- Generic Topical Solutions: These are the squeeze tubes you find at a discount store for flea treatment. They don't work and are toxic! There are brands that work, which I will mention further on. But one thing you have to keep in mind is that you CANNOT give these to your cats in less than 30-day intervals, because these are chemicals and can hurt your pet if they are not given correctly. They can potentially kill your pet.
So What Does Work for Flea Infestations?
Because of how a flea's life cycle works, it is important to follow these suggestions for a minimum of 90 days. I know that is a pain, believe me, I've been there. But it is imperative to stop their breeding cycle. In some horrific situations, this may take longer (such as my sad situation did).
Once you determine you have a flea infestation, obtain these items:
- Dawn liquid dish soap
- Flea comb
- Advantage Plus (90-day supply minimum)
- Flea collar
- Precor IGR Insect Growth Regulator
- Lawn and garden sprayer (for application)
- Vacuum cleaner
- The most important thing to do is treat your animals first! They are the preferred host of a flea and are probably suffering immensely. It is also advisable to follow a flea program during the times of year fleas are active: spring–fall.
- Wash your pet gently and calmly with liquid dish soap. (Dawn only.) This soap will suffocate a flea and not harm your pet. Wash around the neck, and follow back through the rest of the body of the pet as best you can. As you wash your pet, the fleas will try to relocate to dry land. Make sure you wash the inside of your pet's legs and hindquarters very well. Fleas like to hang out in this location. Do a really good job when rinsing your pet. Start again by rinsing their neck and working back. Do not be surprised if the water runs red from your pet. This is a sign of a flea basically drowning. As it drowns, it excretes the blood that is sucked out of your poor animal. It's very important to treat your pet first, because all the blood loss can cause anemia. Another medication to use for extreme situations is Capstar. This medication works to immediately kill fleas on the cat's body. Sentry makes a version of Capstar that is very affordable and works safely for cats and dogs. You can buy this on Amazon. Please keep in mind this is a medication and you need to follow it exactly to avoid harm to your pet. Consult your vet.
- Treat your pet with Advantage Plus. Yes it is a little pricey, but believe me, other stuff will not work and just wastes your money. Advantage Plus is applied to the space between the pets shoulder bones every 30 days. It is absorbed into their skin and will go into their bloodstream. It is also waterproof. When the flea tries to feed on your pet, it will be poisoned and die.
- Wash your clothes, rugs, towels, and bedding in the hottest water possible.
- Next, you need to vacuum. Take the flea collar you bought and cut it small enough pieces to fit inside your vacuum cleaner bag or container. You can also use food-grade Fossil Shell Flour. Also known as diatomaceous earth, this stuff actually slices the exoskeleton of a flea and kills it. It can also be sprinkled throughout your home and applied directly to your pet's fur. This stuff is extremely safe, and you can use it as often as possible in place of medications for your pets. If you have a vacuum that is bagless, you will need to empty it after each use as far from your home as possible. Vacuuming is probably one of the best things in your arsenal against fleas. The vibrations from the cleaner cause flea eggs to hatch, and force fleas to come out of hiding. Vacuum anywhere your pets have been or like to spend time. This includes pet beds, furniture, carpet, everywhere. Vacuum any and all dark crevices in your home, along baseboards, in closets, in cupboards/cabinets, under beds, floorboards, air ducts, air vents, ceiling rafters, attics, and basements. Unfortunately, you will need to repeat this act at least three times a week for 90 days. Our home is 2640 sqare feet. I'd spend on average two to three hours vacuuming three times a week. It was awful, but it MUST be done.
- Next, prepare your Precor solution as directed, removing people and pets from your home. Also, contain any food that may be out. Spray the solution everywhere. All rooms, closets, cupboards, along with the floor, and around the exterior perimeter of your house. Lots of furry woodland creatures carry fleas, such as rabbits, squirrels, and deer. When spraying in your house, start in a room and work your way out. You may need to do this two times in 90 days, depending on how bad your situation is. This chemical is like bug birth control and prevents adults from being able to reproduce. It does not kill adults, that is what the other steps will do.
Within 90 days, you should have your problem solved. After the first few treatments, you may continue to see fleas bouncing about. Even if you only are seeing one or two, you should not stop any of the above steps. Fleas multiply very quickly, so it's very important to continue to follow-through on all steps until you don't see any, not even one.
Have you ever had a flea infestation before?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Rebecca