Yikes! My Pet Has Fleas! What Do I Do?


Here’s the lowdown on getting your pet’s flea infestation under control:

  • First things first – a visit to your veterinarian is in order to stock up on some flea killing ammunition.
  • If your pet is heavily infested with visible fleas and flea dirt your veterinarian may orally administer a Capstar pill. This pill will begin killing adult fleas within 10 – 30 minutes and will continue to work for up to 48 hours but only on adult fleas.
  • You’re also going to need products to kill flea eggs and larvae on Fido and in your environment. This is crucial because the key to getting rid of fleas for good is preventing re-infestation. You see, the fleas you see on Fido are just 5% of all the fleas that have invaded the immediate environment. Those little guys have been busy laying eggs which are in all various stages of egg, larvae, pupae and adult throughout your home. It is important to note that all pets in the household need to be treated whether you have seen fleas on them or not. The adult fleas will go looking for a blood meal and any untreated pets will be unprotected and a source for a potential breeding ground. Your veterinarian can give you the best advice on how to select the right topical or oral products that will turn your pet into a “flea vacuum” for the next 4- 8 weeks as you deal with the remaining fleas in the home environment.

During this time you’ve got to get mean on clean:

  • Sweep your tile and wood floors. Then mop thoroughly.
  • Vacuum your carpets and upholstered furniture.
  • Take your vacuum bag outside immediately for disposal. Any eggs you’ve vacuumed up can hatch in the vacuum and come right back out into your home. Don’t let all your hard work be for nothing. Take the bag out!
  • Wash throw rugs, pet bedding (including the stuffing) and pet toys in hot water. Anything of this nature that is not washable is recommended to throw out.
  • At this point you are ready to use a spot & crevice spray, carpet & upholstery spray and/or a household fogger. Your veterinarian may carry these products. Reputable brands are Advantage, Sentry, and Virbac Knockout. You may also decide to spend the extra money an call an exterminator such as Orkin.
  • It is also advisable to treat the yard as well if your pet spends a lot of time playing there.

Fleas are more than just an unsightly nuisance that make you and your pet itchy. Some pets are very allergic to the flea saliva and can develop Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Even worse, fleas transmit multiple zoonotic agents such as those that cause cat scratch disease and typhus. Children and pets that ingest infected fleas can develop D. caninum (tapeworms). In the Rocky Mountain and Southwest states rodent fleas that our pets can pick up on walks can be vectors for bubonic plague.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends avoiding initial infestations altogether by practicing lifelong and year-round prevention programs.

While a flea infestation is not an easy thing to get under control quickly, following these steps diligently will help you prevent re-infestation.

dog with flea infestation

Good luck! And remember if you carry a Routine Care Rider on your policy, PetFirst can reimburse you up to your annual preventative limit for your purchases on flea and tick preventatives.



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