How to Eliminate Fleas in Your Home
When it comes to parasite infestations, fleas are among the most notorious and dreaded of them all, particularly as once your pet has contracted them, they quickly and silently make themselves comfortable in your home and are happy to munch on any blood source that come nearby – animal or human.
Once they are in your home, it will take more than just a quick vacuum to get rid of them for good.
What are fleas and where do they come from?
Fleas are small, wingless parasites that live on the blood of their host. They are surprisingly agile for something so small, and often pass from one host to another by jumping, meaning that it is possible to pick them up very easily. Unfortunately, fleas also reproduce at an exponential rate, with one flea capable of producing as many as 50 eggs each day. In fact, in your average flea population, only 5% are adult fleas. The rest of the infestation is made up of other stages of the flea life cycle, including eggs, larvae and pupae.
The flea life cycle typically tales 3-4 weeks, but can be quicker if temperature and humidity are ideal. This, combined with the fact that every female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day, means that what starts as a few parasites can quickly reach epidemic proportions in just a couple of months. Regardless of what stage of the life cycle they are at, fleas can live comfortably without a host for as long as 100 days, making it essential to treat both your pets and home environment if you find you are suffering from an infestation. Missing just a few of these pesky parasites will ultimately lead to their repopulation.
Eliminating fleas from your home
Many people mistakenly believe that it is enough to simply treat your pet for fleas. However, as we have discovered, fleas can survive without a host for many weeks. This means that it is essential to also treat anywhere in your home where fleas may be lurking.
Firstly, speak to our vet about treating your pet for live fleas. There are many different brands of flea treatment available, and our vet will be able to recommend which is right for you pet. Once the live fleas have been destroyed, you can focus on removing the infestation from your home.
The easiest way to eliminate fleas from your home is to vacuum thoroughly several times a day. Concentrate on vacuuming areas where your pet spends most of their time but give a good general vacuum to the entire house. Fleas tend to live lower to the ground, so focus on:
- cracks in tiles and floorboards
- under sofas
- between and under sofa cushions
- between folds in the curtains
- any other upholstered furniture
Once you have vacuumed, seal the bag immediately as this will prevent any fleas or eggs from escaping back out into your home.
We also recommend that you strip all bedding, towels and other similar items that your pet may have come into contact with. Wash these on the highest possible temperature to be sure that all traces of the flea infestation have been removed. If the infestation is very severe, it may even be advisable to destroy or discard these items.
Next it is time to consider using insecticidal shampoos on your carpets and soft furnishings. However, before you do this you should make sure that any children and animals are out of your home, as many insecticides are toxic if inhaled. Open all windows after using the treatment and after a few hours, it will be safe for your pets and family to return.
You could also consider investing in a flea bomb. This is a smoke treatment that kills any fleas in the area once it is activated. Again, you will need to remove any pets or people from your property while the bomb does its thing (including any fish), but it will be safe to return within a few hours.
For further advice on dealing with flea infestations, contact us to speak to our veterinarian.