Getting Rid of Fleas

Pet Health and Safety  •  Pam Karkow  •  Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I will never forget waking up, as a kid, with red, itchy spots covering my legs.  They weren’t mosquito bites and I didn’t have chicken pox.  Nope, they were flea bites.  Our dog had a bad case of the fleas, and she didn’t mind sharing.  My mom immediately set to work ridding our house of those pesky insects, and bathing our golden in a special flea shampoo. 

Flea life cycle

Fleas can come from many places.  Let’s break down the life cycle of a flea.   A flea begins his life as an egg, then develops into a larva, then pupa, and eventually exits its cocoon as an adult.  This flea, who likes hanging out in the moist, shady areas of your yard, then jumps onto your pet, who’s lounging lazily in the shade as well.  The flea’s buddies are busy getting cozy with other wildlife like racoons, rats, mice, and squirrels.  When you go outside to call your pet in, you collect more fleas on your shoes and/or pants and now there are three potential carriers of fleas into your home. 

Indoor pets are at risk too

If your pets are indoor pets, you might wonder if you face the risks shared above.  The answer is yes!  Even if your cat never ventures outside, he is still in danger of contracting fleas.  Why?  Because fleas love a warm body, and are happy to get a ride in on another pet or on you and then to jump onto your cat.  So, it is important to be prepared when it comes to fleas and your pets.

Prevention is key

We all know the best defense is a good offense, so the first order of business is to invest in flea prevention.  PetPartners knows it’s important to protect your pet from flea-bites and other complications due to a flea infestation, but that flea prevention is not free.  PetPartners wants to bear some of the financial burden of protecting your pet with their Defender and DefenderPlus plans, which provide reimbursement for flea/tick prevention.

How to get rid of fleas

Already struggling with a flea infestation?  In the December 2018 Real Simple feature The Vets Will See You Now, Liz Koskenmaki, DVM, recommends an over-the-counter treatment, like Capstar.  This treatment will kill the fleas in about a day.  While using this treatment, it is also important to give your pet regular baths, in order to rid your pet’s fur of the dead fleas.  Bathe your pet weekly until the fleas disappear for good.  After the bath, apply a shampoo infused with cedar, eucalyptus, or lavendar, all scents known to repel fleas.  Adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your pet’s diet may also help to improve his skin health.  This is especially important when you are giving frequent baths which may dry out your pet’s skin.  Other options for flea control include combing your pet with a flea comb (be sure to dunk the comb in a bowl of water periodically to “drown” the fleas), washing and drying bedding and carpets frequently, and keeping your yard neat and tidy so it is not a habitable home to fleas.

With our tips, you should be on your way to staying flea-free! 

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