When you know you have fleas, procrastination won’t help; you need to take immediate action to nip your flea problem in the bud. Otherwise, the band of renegade fleas will multiply into a fearsome army with reinforcements on the way.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that they can be killed. They aren’t indestructible, even if they are invasive.
To wipe out the tiny enemies once and for all, you first have to understand them. Fleas aren’t indestructible, but they are elusive and tricky. With a hard outer shield, a spring in their steps that allows them to leap over tall buildings in a single bound – flea-sized buildings, that is – and a size that’s almost invisible, you have to respect their strengths before you can conquer them.
First, fleas are hitchhikers. If you think your pet can’t have fleas because it never comes in contact with other animals, think again. If you’re sure you couldn’t have fleas in your home because you don’t have any dogs or cats, you might be surprised. Fleas can be introduced into your home by hanging onto the leg of your pants just as easily as they can hitch a ride with a dog. If you’ve been brushing up against a neighbor’s dog pen or even sitting in the yard where fleas are hiding, you could be the culprit guilty of allowing the invaders to enter your home.
Next, fleas are fast multipliers. The eggs they lay can roll off a dog’s back into your carpet imperceptibly, and there they’ll lay for weeks or months. When they hatch, you’ll really have a problem.
Finally, fleas have a few disadvantages that can be exploited in your quest to wipe them out completely. First, they’re drawn to light. That’s important. Second, they can’t fly, so you can focus your battle efforts on the floor and possibly any furnishings your pets frequent. Last, fleas can’t resist the force of a vacuum. Now we’re talking.
The first step to kill fleas once and for all is to stop them at the source. If the fleas came from a chance encounter that’s unlikely to be repeated, this is easily solved. If, on the other hand, your pet is particularly flea-prone, this step will be much more involved.
If you suspect that your pet has fleas, don’t despair. Sure, it makes you sad that your puppies could be the source of such pests, but it doesn’t mean they have to stay flea-beaten. First, give your puppies a bath with a mild shampoo.
How to remove fleas from the pet
If your pet’s flea problem is especially severe, make him a sudsy bath using Dawn dish soap. Since Dawn cuts grease, you won’t want to use this frequently to avoid drying out your pet’s skin. Still, it can wipe out the flea problem in a flash. The reason Dawn dish soap is so effective is that it coats the insects with a thick film, suffocating them on contact.
If the fleas aren’t too established, try using an oatmeal-based baby shampoo like Aveeno or any dog shampoo. Start at the neck; if you start at the back of the pet, the clever fleas may retreat to the head, and THEN you’ll really have a problem.
Once you’ve given your pet a bath, the fleas on your pet should be defeated completely. You’ve won the battle. Unfortunately, the war’s only just begun.
That’s because the fleas inside your home will jump right back on your animal and take the place of their vanquished comrades. Your next plan of action is to rid yourselves of the fleas in your floor. How?
Removing fleas from the carpet
First, sprinkle salt, baking soda, or borax into your carpet. Run around on it, stamp it, and make sure it settles completely into the fibers. After a few hours, vacuum your carpet completely.
Why does this matter? The salt, baking soda, and borax are all desiccants: that means that they absorb water. Since fleas thrive in moist places, the simple treatment dehydrates them. It also scratches their exoskeletons and causes them to bleed to death. It may sound insignificant, but you’ll be amazed how well it works. Then, by vacuuming the carpet completely, you’re removing all the dead fleas and much of the microscopic larvae.
Lest you think it’s over
Notice I said, most of the larvae. It’s likely that some will remain, and that’s why you’ll need to repeat the simple procedure every couple weeks until you’re completely convinced that you’ve won the war against fleas, once and for all. While you wait, leave a few flea booby traps in areas where you suspect they may congregate.
Flea Booby Traps
To make them, simply place a flat pan of Dawn dish soap mixed in water under a night light. Fleas are attracted to light, and they also seek moist places. By the time they jump in the pool and realize it’s a trap, it’ll be too late.
Back to the source
Finally, you’ll have to make sure that the fleas are totally removed from your yard or dog pen. Diatomaceous earth, a fascinating little marine fossil found by the truckload as if they were dumped in a colossal mudslide, is a fine powder that strips fleas of lipids and dehydrates the insects, killing them easily. If you use it in your dog pen, take care to keep your dog out for a while since the diatomaceous earth could be irritating to your pet. Still, it should be welcomed if it gets rid of the fleas once and for all.
Now you have a story of triumph to share with any of your friends who may be likewise invaded by this unwelcome foe. Tell them the tale how you killed your fleas instantly and vanquished their offspring. If your friends decide to follow your advice, your legacy as a hero will be established for generations – of fearful fleas, that is.