In order to keep fleas and ticks away from your dog, you need to treat your dog, yard, and home all at once. Treating only one or two areas will allow fleas to thrive in the untreated parts, re-infesting your dog.
This article will explore the many different ways to keep your indoors free of fleas and ticks. It will also teach you how to choose the best methods for treatment in your home.
First, know your enemy. You will be able to definitively tell your dog has fleas if you find flea dirt, which is dried blood left by fleas that are feeding off your dog. 10% of the fleas in your home are on your dog, in adult form. The other 90% are in your carpet, bedding and furniture. These are normally in egg, larval or pupal form. Killing the adult fleas on your dog can help reduce the number of eggs laid, but by the time you notice a few adult fleas, the rest of your home is infested with thousands of immature fleas waiting to grow up and attack. These fleas can take as little as 3-4 days to mature, or they can wait for months or years before the time is right to hatch, so it is very important to kill all forms of fleas in the house at the same time you treat your dog.
There are two main ways to combat the fleas in your home. You can use natural methods or chemicals. Most of the time, you will want to use a combination of methods for the best results.
Natural methods of controlling fleas:
- Vacuuming thoroughly:
You should vacuum all carpets and rugs, as well as any upholstery, that cannot be washed daily until all signs of flea activity have been gone for a week or more. Ideally, the vacuum bag or cup should be emptied after each time, and the debris taken to the outside trash inside a close bag. This will keep the eggs from hatching and crawling back out of the vacuum. It is not recommended to put a flea collar inside a vacuum bag if you have an older vacuum with bags that cannot be dumped. The result could be toxic fumes, which will not help anyone.
- Wash all bedding and upholstery covers:
Hot water and soap kills flea eggs and larvae. You should wash all dog bedding every two to three days in hot water. Any human bedding, clothes that have been out where fleas can get to them, and furniture slipcovers should be washed, again in hot water, at least once. Keeping clothes off the floor and put away in drawers will help keep them from being re-infested.
- Thoroughly sweep and mop all hard floor surfaces:
Fleas prefer carpet to hard flooring, but eggs can hide in crevices or dust bunnies, so you will need to sweep thoroughly and mop with a safe disinfectant cleaner or just hot soapy water.
- Apply diatomaceous earth powder to bedding and soft surfaces that cannot easily be washed:
This very fine powder is natural and completely safe for humans and dogs – you can even eat it! It works by cutting and dehydrating the flea eggs and larva. Often sold for use in fish aquarium filters, it can also be found in many health food stores.
Often you cannot achieve 100% control using only natural methods. When adding chemical treatments to your arsenal, it is important to use them correctly, and choose the right chemicals for your needs.
Chemicals come in several forms:
Foggers give the greatest coverage with the least effort. They are, however, arguably the most hazardous. Follow the directions carefully. As a general rule, all pets and humans must be removed from the home for several hours when using foggers. Fish tanks must be removed or completely sealed off. Pilot lights and electrical appliances that could spark must be disconnected. The fogger sends a vapor that kills all forms of fleas into every nook and cranny of the home. This vapor is toxic and flammable. A spark could cause your home to explode, so again, follow directions. After use, and airing out, all flea eggs and larvae should be dead. Vacuum them up, wipe off any areas where food will be, and you are done.
Powders are meant to be sprinkled over carpet, rugs, and upholstery. After a certain length of time, you need to vacuum the areas where you sprinkled powder. These work very well on areas where they come into contact, but if you miss a spot, you miss fleas. Apply thoroughly for best results. Generally, children and pets should be kept away from treated areas until the powder is vacuumed up. A nice thing about powders is that you can treat one room at a time.
Sprays work in the same way as powders, but are left on the areas they are applied. They have a better residual effect, but do leave chemicals on your living areas that pets or children can contact. Be very careful to prevent access until dry. Again, if you miss a spot, they will not be very effective against fleas.
Pills, such as Program, work very differently. Fed to your dog on a monthly basis, they cause the female flea to lay eggs that cannot hatch. These pills will not harm adult fleas, or existing eggs, but can be very helpful when used in combination with other methods. They break the flea’s life cycle, so that once you kill the existing fleas, they are gone for good.
Whatever methods of indoor flea control you choose, be sure to use them according to manufacturer instructions. Make sure to use them at the same time as treatments for dogs and yard. Hitting the fleas in all three places they are found will ensure you and your dog enjoy a life free from pests in no time!