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"Why do I have fleas?" This is a question we hear all the time. Many people stop using flea control in the winter because it's cold outside and they think the fleas are dead. However, flea eggs hide in the carpet. When they hatch, the flea lifecycle starts all over again.

If your cat never goes outside, you can still get fleas. When you walk through the grass, fleas jump on your clothes because they are looking for a warm body. Once inside the house, they jump off you and onto your cat. Then the flea lifecycle begins in your house.

Here are a few facts about fleas:

  • Adult fleas represent 5% of the flea population. The other 95% of the population are eggs (50%), larvae (35%), and pupae (10%).
  • Flea eggs, larvae, and pupae are not on your pet. They are hiding in the carpet, pet bedding, furniture, along the baseboards, in the cracks of hardwood floors, etc.
  • One flea can lay 40 to 50 eggs a day.
  • Flea eggs are not sticky. They roll right off your pet.
  • The pupae stage of the flea lifecycle can survive in the environment for 6 months.
  • If you see adult fleas today, it has taken 6 to 8 weeks to get to this point. It will take at least 6 to 8 weeks to get out of the problem.

Flea control products kill the fleas. In the process of dying, they rise to the top of the hair coat. It is normal to see more fleas when your pet has been treated with a flea control product.

If you treat your pets without treating their environment, the fleas will mature and head for the nearest warm body, which is probably you or your children.

For more information on fleas, click this link to read the March 2010 cover story in Veterinary Practice News, "Fleas Persist, But Reason Isn't Resistance" .

Controlling Fleas

The easiest way to control fleas is to use flea control products such as Advantage Multi (fleas and heartworm), Frontline, Vectra, etc. These are applied once a month and kill the fleas.

If you get fleas, there are two basic rules for to get rid of them:

1) All pets must be treated.

2) Treat pets and their indoor/outdoor environments.

Day Before Treatment

Vacuum all carpeting, upholstered furniture, under furniture, along baseboards,in closets, and under beds. Fleas like dark areas where they can escape both room and sunlight.

After vacuuming, remove the vacuum bag or empty the canister into a plastic trash bag. Seal the trash tightly and discard in the trash outdoors.

Treatment Day

Pick up all washable throws, blankets, comforters, pillows, and pet bedding. Launder all of these items in hot (or warm) water. Do not put washable items back into the environment until pets and areas have both been treated.

Treat the house thoroughly yourself or have a professional do the job. We sell "Knockout E.S. Spray" which has an adulticide to kill the adult fleas and an insect growth regulator that precents flea eggs and larvae from developing. Apply a good, even spray to all carpeted areas, along baseboards, and around room perimeters. Spot-treat additional areas where flea larvae hide in dark areas such as under furniture, between furniture cushions, and your pet's favorite resting spots. Make sure carpeted areas are dry before returning your pets.

Apply a monthly flea product to all pets. It kills adult fleas and inhibits growth of flea eggs and larvae.

Treat the yard with a product such as "Knockout". Treat low-light, moist areas of the yard under shrubs, trees, mulched areas, decks, and porches. If you have a crawl space foundation, make sure it is sealed so that wild animals cannot get under your home and further spread fleas. Place any outdoor rugs or mats in the direct sunlight every few days.

After Treatment Day

Use a monthly flea treatment during the year and yes, even in the winter.

If you have a severe flea infestation, re-treat your home in 10 - 14 days after the first treatment. Be sure to repeat the "Day Before" and "Treatment Day" steps when re-treating the home.

If you give your pet a bath, do not use soap-based shampoos. They strip the flea control product off your pet's hair coat and leave your pet vulnerable to fleas. Your veterinarian carries shampoos that are not soap-based.

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