How to get rid of a flea infestation
FACT: there are four stages in the flea lifecycle; eggs, larvae, pupae and adult fleas. Only adult fleas live on the pet, while the rest live in your home and garden environment.
1. Correctly apply an appropriate flea treatment to all cats and dogs in your care. It will kill any more that jump on and also sterilise the female fleas so that any eggs she lays will not hatch. Discuss suitable treatment with your vet/vet nurse.
FACT: Female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day.
2. Vacuum the home thoroughly, ensuring you move and vacuum under all furniture and in all nooks and crannies. Do this even if you have wooden or laminate flooring. This will mechanically remove some of the eggs, larvae and pupae in the home environment.
FACT: flea larvae can live between cracks in the floorboards.
FACT: flea larvae move away from light.
3. Wash your pet’s bedding at 60° to remove some of the immature-stage fleas.
4. Thoroughly spray all floor space in the home with a household spray – this may require more than one can. You need to spray it everywhere your pets go – don’t forget the car! This will kill the eggs and larvae in the home that come into contact with the spray. Remember to move furniture and spray underneath.
FACT: insecticidal home sprays do not kills the pupal-stage fleas.
5. Encourage the pupal stage of the life cycle to hatch out into new adult fleas, so they will jump onto your treated pet and die. This can be done by giving them warmth, vibration, CO₂ and humidity. To provide these stimuli:
- Turn up the heating in the home;
- Place wet towels on warm radiators or bowls of hot water on the floor and boil the kettle in different rooms in your home;
- Vacuuming will generate warmth and vibration and encourage pupae to hatch.
6. When new adult fleas emerge from the pupae they will jump onto your treated pet and die. These fleas will be seen on the pet before they die.
FACT: eradicating the pupae from the home can take several months. Therefore it is normal to continue seeing live fleas on pets for this period.
7. Thoroughly vacuum the home again 2 days after application of the household spray, including all the places you do not normally get to (under the sofa, between sofa cushions etc.)
FACT: regular vacuuming will help speed up the removal of eggs, larvae and pupae from the environment.
8. Ensure your pets have their usual run of the house. As the adult fleas emerge from the pupae they want to jump onto your pet to feed. If the pets are not around the fleas will jump onto you and bite you instead!
9. It may take several months to remove all life stages from your home. Until the environment is free of healthy eggs, larvae and pupae you will still see fleas on your pet as they emerge from the pupae.
10. Once the flea infestation is eradicated, year-round preventative treatment is advised.
- It can take months to rid your house of fleas – a single treatment will not be sufficient.
- Treat all the areas your pets frequent such as the car, outbuildings, dog kennels etc.
- For effective flea prevention (once the initial infestation is eliminated) you should continue treatment 4-6 weeks all year round with an appropriate treatment.
- Fleas can live and breed all year round in your home.
- Prevention is always better than cure.
- Any breaks in treatment will leave your pets at risk of picking up fleas again. Once on your pet they will start rapidly breeding and laying eggs (50 per day!) which will infest your home.
- If you fail to keep up with regular treatment, your home and pets are at risk of re-infestation.