Moonlighting: Fleas

October 4, 2012

Lord have mercy, it’s flea season. While they can hop onto your pet at any time, fall is the prime time for the little critters to move in. The nights are getting cold – much more cozy to hitch a ride on Fido or Fluffy and snuggle into some warm fur.

Having had dogs for many years, we’ve developed a system of flea warfare. The most important thing is sequence. After all, if you do things out of order, the fleas can repopulate somewhere you’ve already cleaned and you waste most of your effort.

First, think about where your pet goes. If you’ve seen a flea in your home, then obviously you have a housepet. Does the pet have access to every room? If not, you can pretty safely disregard those areas when you’re treating. Does the dog or cat travel in your car? In more than one car? You’ll have to plan on treating those as well.

The first thing is to vacuum really, really well. Gather up pet bedding and blankets, and wash them in hot water. Vacuum especially well where the pets like to sleep. Get the upholstered furniture, get under the bed and along the baseboard. Sometimes it’s a good idea to use a flea powder on these areas first, then vacuum up powder and fleas both.

Before you do another thing, take the vacuum outside and empty it or change the collection bag. Don’t just put it in the woods, unless you’d like to give the fleas a second chance to live with you. Put the vacuum dust in a garbage bag outside the house. If you have the bagless type of vacuum, clean the collection bin with hot soapy water before bringing it back inside.

Put Fido and Fluffy in the car, and set off aerosol flea bombs inside the house, according to the directions. Remember to cover or remove toothbrushes, pet food bowls, and fish tanks. Put old towels or newspapers under the aerosols to minimize too much flea spray on your carpet.

Now, go for a nice ride. In a couple of hours (according to the directions) come home and air out the house. Leave the pets in the car for now, and set up everything for flea baths. Get Fido by his leash, and walk him directly into the shower or where ever you do your dog-bathing. Wash him down with a good quality flea shampoo, and follow the directions for how long to leave it on his fur. One satisfying reward is to watch dead fleas swirl down the bathtub drain. Once he’s clean and well-rinsed, you can let him loose in your flea-treated home. Repeat with Fluffy.

OK, think you’re done?? You aren’t. Remember the car? Use another flea bomb inside your car or cars. This time, don’t snap the aerosol dispenser tab so it locks, just release some of the fog inside the car and shut the doors. Leave it until morning, but open the windows wide as you drive to work.

You can use flea powder or other products to help prevent outdoor fleas from repopulating your pet. Veterinarians have products you can spray on your pet to render any remaining fleas sterile and minimize any re-infestation.

The best watch-word is to know your pet and take immediate action when you notice unusual scratching or chewing. Fleas are much easier to eliminate before they’ve built flea-condos in your carpet.


© 2012, J. Cools

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