There’s no doubt about it: fleas are an aggravation you don’t need.

The problem is that a single flea can lay approximately 50 eggs a day so disposing of a single flea only represents a minute percentage of fleas that are setting up residence in your home. Since the average pet owner typically doesn’t realize their home is infested with fleas until its too late, you can see how this can quickly become a huge problem.

While prevention is always the better option, it often comes as too little, too late. When a flea lays her eggs, they first morph into larvae before changing once again into the cocoon phase known as pupae. These protective enclosures allow the infant fleas to remain dormant until the right time and/or temperature occurs which could take up to several months, depending on where you live.

The false sense of security that most pet owners have by erroneously believing fleas only exist during warmer months is a huge problem. That’s why flea control shouldn’t be considered as just a single dosage treatment but more of an ongoing battle.

How To Prevent Fleas

One way to prevent your pet from contracting fleas in the first place is to monitor where they go. Allowing your pet to roam freely puts them at risk of contracting fleas from other animals, not just other dogs or cats. If you take your dog to the park keep an eye out for other dogs who seem to scratch more than usual as this could be a sign of infestation.

Another way to perform a pre-emptive strike against fleas is to keep your home as clean as possible. When fleas progress into the pupae stage of being an egg, this poses a problem for pet owners since these eggs have no way to attach themselves to your pet. Instead, they tend to fall off of your pet and onto your carpet, your furniture, your clothes or you and your pet’s bedding. Since flea pupae prefer dark environments, they thrive in these places so keeping your carpets and rugs clean will help cut down on their population.

If you have carpet, you’ll want to make sure you empty your vacuum outside or you risk releasing the fleas you’ve just collected right back into your home. For vacuums with bags, make sure you throw away the bag as soon as you’re finished vacuuming. If your vacuum uses a canister, clean the canister outside right after using soap and hot water.

You also want to keep check of similar areas outside such as shady spots where your pet lays or an old rug they may use for outdoor bedding as these are prime locations for fleas to congregate. If you want to get a leg up on flea control and prevention make sure you keep your yard clean and freshly mowed. The cleaner the yard the less area a flea will have to reside.

If your dog is especially outdoorsy you’ll want to refrain from leaving food bowls outside, especially if you live in a rural area. Feral animals, both wild and domesticated, will wander around your yard looking for food and you can be guaranteed they aren’t wearing flea protection.

You also need to be aware that wild animals who carry fleas aren’t just a threat from the ground. Rats, squirrels and other small creatures can introduce fleas into your home from trees and bushes, as well. An excellent way to reduce flea infestations is to keep your pet’s fur as clean as possible. For short-haired pets you should run a fine-toothed comb through their fur before they enter your home. For pets with longer fur, consider having them shaved during the warmer months when fleas are most likely to occur. Some pet owners choose to use chemicals as a preventive measure.

While there are insecticides that target all stages of fleas, some pet owners might be hesitant to introduce chemicals into their home.

For those individuals there is another option available called diatomaceous earth, or DE. Considered to be nontoxic and safe for both children and pets, this powder is made from marine plankton and can be spread on all types of floors from carpet to wood and can even be dusted on furniture, sheets and other bedding, including your pet’s bedding.

How To Remove Fleas

Once your dog becomes infested, you need to act quickly since waiting only allows more larvae to hatch.

The most common method for treating fleas is topical lotions that are applied directly to the animal’s back. Your veterinarian can advise you on which ones are best suited for your pet. If you find that your home has fleas there are several solutions available. One is to fit your pet with a standard flea collar, which will only help to keep fleas off of them but won’t do anything for the infestation.

Another option is to use a shampoo specifically designed to kill fleas. There are lots of shampoos on the market that tout their ability to remove fleas from your dog so be sure to do some research into which varieties are most effective.

While this is a good step to take after the fact, it does nothing to protect your pooch from future infestations. Even if you regularly shampoo your dog with these products you still have to take an aggressive stance on prevention. There are also other pesticides that you can use in your home called indoor insect growth regulators, or IGRs, that are to be used on upholstery, flooring and pet bedding that cannot be washed. There are similar treatment options for your yard to help cut down on flea populations. As a last resort, you can use flea “bombs” which are canisters of insecticides that are released into a sealed house as a means of treating everything inside the home.

The biggest drawback to this treatment option however, is that it isn’t safe for humans or pets to return to the home until the fog has completely dissipated, which can run as long as an entire day.