Fleas are a nuisance nearly all dog parents will have to deal with at some point.
So what are fleas? According to Webster, a flea is any of an order of small wingless bloodsucking insects that have legs adapted to leaping and that feed on warm-blooded animals. They can grow up to 2.5 millimeters long, and are dark or reddish brown in color.
When fleas bite, not only is the bite painful to our pets, but their saliva contains a substance that is irritating to our pets skin. If you see your dog (or cat!) scratching or biting at its fur, fleas could very well be the reason. To check if your pet has fleas, part the fur and look for the fleas themselves, and for the presence of “flea dirt.” Flea dirt looks like like coarsely ground black pepper, but it is quite far from a tasty seasoning. It is actually made up of blood and the feces of fleas. If you’re unsure if you’ve found flea dirt or regular dirt, put the bits on a paper towel and wet them. If the particles turn red, you guessed it, your dog has fleas. Areas to inspect closely on your dog include the base of the tail, the armpits and the groin area.
So you’ve checked your dog and confirmed that they do, in fact, have fleas. Now what? First, we have to eliminate the fleas on your dog itself. For help with this, look no further than your kitchen! Good ole blue dawn dish soap will not only kill the fleas, but give your dog a deep cleaning in the process. When you first get them in the tub, wet their neck and soap it all the way around so that the fleas don’t migrate to your pets head during the bathing process. (Check out our video with tips for bathing your dog here). After you get them completely soapy, you can use a flea comb to make sure you get not only the fleas, but their eggs too.
Next, you need to treat your home. You’ll need to wash absolutely everything you can that your dog has come in contact with. This includes not only their bedding, but yours as well. Be sure to toss in any toys that are machine washable too. You also have to worry that the pests have invaded you favorite armchair you enjoy relaxing in, so any cushion covers that can removed should be added as well. Then you’ll need to vacuum your couches and chairs with an upholstery attachment. You’ll need to very through and get in every nook any cranny possible. Be sure you empty out the vacuum a dispose of the waste outside of your home immediately. If you want to be sure you rid the earth of a few extra parasites for good, you can also freeze contents over night.
Now we move on to the carpet. Normal vacuuming won’t be a able to lift up all the flea eggs out of the carpet. You’ll need to get a flea treatment powder that was made for carpet and sprinkle it over not only your carpets, but your rugs too in order to be sure you get them all. Since the carpet treatment will need to stay on for at least an hour, an expert tip from our dog training team is to apply it while you’re on your way to bed so it can sit undisturbed over night, and you don’t have to play a bizarre game of "the floor is lava". Just don’t forget to leave your vacuum plugged in and within arms reach of the bed for you to use in the morning.
Okay, so you have the indoors cleaned as best as you can. The next important thing is to treat the yard! If you have a back and front yard, you'll need to make sure that you get rid of the fleas that live in your beautiful greenery. Fleas and ticks are mostly found in the environment, then hop onto your dog as if they were going to a restaurant. There are many yard sprays you can just hook up to your hose and spray your yard with to kill the fleas and ticks in your outdoor spaces. Making sure you treat the outdoors will ensure that your dog won't get infested again as soon as they go outside. Additionally, there are professional services you can hire to spray your yard for you.
Finally, you’ll need to prevent a flea infestation from happening in the future so you don’t have to go through all these steps again. Which brings us back to the culprit that brought the fleas in the first time, your beloved dog. The absolute best thing for your dog, is to get them a once a month treatment and be sure you never miss a dose. Your vet will pick the one best suited for you, but some brands of the monthly flea treatments even double as a heart worm preventative.
While having these uninvited guests make themselves welcome in your home can seem overwhelming, fleas infestation woes can not only be fixed, but kept at bay for as long as you have pets.