If you have pets, you know that summertime is the prime season for fleas. As I discovered yesterday, it's much cheaper and easier to prevent a flea problem in your house than to treat it. For example, a $40 monthly treatment of something like Advantage or Frontline may sound expensive, but once you have fleas in the house you'll need to spend money on flea bombs or carpet spray to get rid of the fleas and eggs in the house, as well as treating your pets to get rid of any fleas they are carrying
I've done some research to find out some tips for preventing fleas from moving into your home.
Prevention is better than cure!
* pre-treat all your pets with a treatment like Frontline or Advantage. You may want to start doing this as early as November to make sure they're protected when flea season starts. These products work by cutting off the breeding cycle of the fleas. If you do this vigilantly you greatly minimise the chance of getting fleas. Set a reminder in your calendar of choice to reapply every month.
* sweep wooden floors, vacuum carpets and rugs and your pet's bed regularly. As a rule of thumb - if pet hair collects there, it's a pet bed, whether it's an old towel they like to sleep on, their designated bed, or your couch.
clean the outdoor areas where your pet hangs out too - eg doghouse
* if you have a garden, plant lots of pyrethrum, pennyroyal or mint, which are deterrants to fleas. A planter near your front and back door, or near the doghouse, sounds like a good plan.
If your pet has already picked up fleas (contact with another animal or from visiting an area with fleas), you'll need to do the following:
* The number one priority is to kill the fleas that are biting your pet and causing it pain. You can buy tablets for this from your vet, or anti-flea shampoo. I got tablets called Capstar from my vet - these kill all the living fleas on the pet within one hour. But you need to make sure you kill the fleas and eggs in your home too, or they'll just jump on the pet and start the cycle again. After you've used the product and the fleas are dead, use a fine tooth comb to brush your pet and get off any dead fleas and flea dirt.
* Clean your bedding and the pet's bedding - a normal hot cycle in the washing machine will be enough to kill any fleas or eggs which may be present
* Vacuum the house - particularly carpeted areas and around the pet's bed area/areas. Throw away the bag afterwards - it has flea eggs in it! As a precaution, spray the vacuum bag with flea spray too.
* Flea bomb or flea spray the house. You can focus just on carpeted rooms if you prefer. There's a range of products out there. Remember to keep your pets away when you're using these products, and don't use them near food. Pay attention to the instructions on the label!
* Once you've bombed or sprayed, vacuum again, to get rid of the dead bodies and eggs
* You'll need to stay vigilant about keeping pets, carpets, rugs, sofas and bedding free from fleas. Keep vacuuming regularly.
* I bought my de-fleaing products from my vet because I trust their product advice, but you can
shop around to save some money - you can buy fine tooth combs and flea bombs/spray from the supermarket or chemist.
The vet told me yesterday that if your pet gets to go outdoors, you need to be prepared for them to pick up fleas sometimes. It will be harder than if your pet is indoors only. You can flea treat their outdoor bed/hangout area.
Want some more information? I found a Victorian government page which told me more than I ever wanted to know about how fleas eat and reproduce, as well as how to treat flea bites in pets and humans.
Photo by pkavitha1.