Even the cleanest of homes can sometimes end up with a flea infestation. Even if your dog seldom goes outside, fleas can hitch a ride on your clothing as you go in and out, or be picked up from the vet’s office or grooming salon. If you’ve gotten fleas, here’s a few tips on how to get rid of fleas in your home fast.
Step One: Give Your Pet a Flea Bath
Although part of our plan for getting rid of fleas includes treating your pet with a topical flea treatment, theirs good reason to give your dog a flea bath first. Topicals work by killing any fleas that bite our dog—but they have to bite your dog first!
That means if you just let the flea drops do their work on their own, your dog is stuck with an itchy red bump for every flea they kill. That’s a lot of suffering when a quick bath can kill hundreds of fleas pretty quickly.
My favorite flea shampoo is the Tropiclean Flea Relief Shampoo (Ad: Chewy.com / Amazon) When I worked as a groomer, we used this shampoo because it brought relief from the itching as well as killed the fleas. We also liked that it was all natural and didn’t harm the pets.
To kill the fleas, let the shampoo sit on your dog full strength everywhere except on the dog’s face (it will sting the eyes) for at least 3 minutes. If the fleas are very bad, fleas may crawl into the eyes, nose, mouth etc. of your dog. This is why flea baths alone don’t work—they find ways to escape!
Flea shampoos work by suffocating the flea, so even if all you have is your dog’s regular shampoo letting it sit for a long time will help kill the fleas. This shampoo is just great because it has some repellent features and soothes that itchy skin as well. If you’re wondering how frequently you should bathe them, remember that dry skin is probably less itchy and uncomfortable than flea bites.
Check the labeling on the individual flea shampoo you use, as ones containing chemicals will likely have safe upper limits.
Step Two: Treat the Pet
If your dog isn’t already on 30 day flea protection, getting flea drops is a great start. Call your veterinarian and ask them which brand they recommend, as they can vary in effectiveness depending on your location.
As an example, we use Advantage II (Chewy.com / Amazon.com) for our pets when they pick up fleas, with flea inspections happening regularly. We also treat our pets before going to the vet because try as they might, vets can’t keep fleas from coming into their office.
When we mentioned to the vet a pet-included vacation, they suggested a switch to one that protects against heartworm. We never would have known if it wasn’t for our veterinarian.
They can also caution you against any topical flea medications that have caused issues in the past.
Topical flea treatments will kill any fleas that bite your dog but won’t kill fleas just wandering around in your home. Step two helps take care of them.
Step Three: Vacuum Like Nobodies Business
Vacuuming is a safe, natural way to kill fleas. According to one study, a vacuum can kill 96% of adult fleas, but more importantly, 100% of flea eggs and larvae. Flea eggs and larvae are often immune to flea bombs, so this is a great way to get all the bugs.
Even if you have hardwood floors, borrow a vacuum and vacuum everywhere. Use an upholstery attachment to get your furniture, vacuum under your bed, etc.
This may be even more effective than flea bombs, as per the same study, fleas are becoming more resistant to chemicals as they are exposed to them. Vacuuming is definitely the best way to go.
Step Four: Wash all Bedding
Wash your dog’s beds, blankets, and also your own! Anything that can make a trip through the washing machine should head that way. Washing is a great way to remove eggs and larvae, as well as any adult fleas who weren’t smart enough to jump off.
Adult fleas only make up about 1% of the flea population, so it’s important to take care of the other 99% in the form of eggs, pupa and larvae or the adult population will only reemerge later!
Step Five: Repeat as Necessary
The four previous steps may be enough to break the flea life cycle on its own. Adult fleas must feed on an appropriate host to reproduce, and if they bite your dog with flea protection on, they will die. Vacuuming thoroughly and washing what you can will help kill many of those fleas so there’s very few to try and reproduce.
Unfortunately, if a flea has already bitten your dog before you caught on to the flea situation and reproduced somewhere you didn’t vacuum, those eggs will hatch and start the cycle anew.
Be prepared for this, and vacuum a second time a few days later, along with rewashing the bedding. This is to catch any new flea eggs, larvae, or newly turned adults before they can bite your dog. You won’t need to reapply flea protection until 30 days, so that step is one you can skip.
With just flea protection, it takes about 3 months to break the cycle, but with vacuuming and washing bedding, the time will be greatly shortened.
There are no estimates on how short that might be, but a good guess would be a couple of weeks. Fleas can survive a long time and in some pretty crazy conditions, so give it all you got when trying to get rid of these horrible parasites.