FLEA – that dreaded four-letter word that pet parents dread.
According to research done by the Department of Parasitology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University in Alabama, fleas spend only about 20 percent of their time on your pet; the rest of their lifespan is spent free-ranging in your home. So it’s easy to understand how quickly a flea infestation can get out of control.
If your have carpets, fleas like to reside in the pile, hopping on to your pet for a quick snack and then embedding themselves back in the carpeting. The problem is that it can take only one bite from a flea for a cat or dog to develop allergy dermatitis causing her hair to fall out. It can also lead to tapeworm, which in turn can cause diarrhea, weight loss and even seizures.
So, strictly speaking, the war on fleas has to be fought on two fronts – on your pet and, more importantly, if you are to win the battle, in your home.
It’s important to remember that people can bring fleas into an environment too. Even if you see only one flea in your home, it’s important to go to work immediately.
Your vacuum is truly your weapon of mass destruction.
There are special ultraviolet vacuum cleaners on the market designed to deal with fleas. They use UV light in the “C” spectrum (UV-C) to deactivate the DNA of flea eggs, along with dust mites, bacteria, viruses, germs and molds, thus destroying their ability to multiply. It’s a worthwhile investment if you live in a part of the country that is constantly plagued by a flea problem.
It’s important to get out all the tool accessories that come with your machine so that when you have finished vacuuming floor areas, you can turn your attention to your furniture. Use the crevice tools to get into all the nooks and crannies such as where carpets meet skirting boards, the sides and backs of couches and around the cushions and include all the mattresses, both human and pet ones too.
Once you have finished, remove and throw away the vacuum cleaner bag immediately because the fleas will live inside it.
All pet bedding, your bedding and any cushion covers that are washable should be thrown into the machine on the hottest setting the materials will allow.
Your vacuuming routine should be daily until you are sure the problem is eradicated.
When it comes to indoor environmental control, there are three types of products, namely foggers, inverted sprays, and powders that can be used in conjunction with your vacuuming routine.
It’s important to follow all label directions and ensure that pets are kept off of treated areas until dry and even longer if that’s what the label suggests. If you are dealing with elderly, sick, or debilitated pets it’s always wise to check with your veterinarian before using any product on or around your pet. Also remember in a multi-pet household some products deemed safe for dogs are toxic to cats so be extra vigilant when reading labels.
If you do resort to such treatments, it’s a good idea to steam clean your carpeted areas afterwards – and vacuum again!