How to get rid of fleas on dogs, cats, and in the house
If your pets have fleas, congratulations!
Not because the pets you love and care for are besieged by fleas, of course – but because you’ve come to the right place.
We have your back on this. Here at My Pet Defense, we are flea experts. And we can assure you that, unlike many other problems in the world, fleas are totally treatable. Annoying? Yes. But absolutely treatable.
So, first thing’s first – DON’T LET FLEAS FREAK YOU OUT.
This guide will lead you through the process, explaining how to get rid of fleas. Rather than having fleas jump off your pets only to go somewhere else to lay their eggs, you will learn how to kill fleas, and how to prevent them from coming back.
We know that when your pet has fleas (which usually means your house has fleas too) you want answers FAST. So this guide is designed for you to scroll and easily find specific advice on:
- How to get rid of fleas on a dog.
- How to get rid of fleas on a cat.
- How to get rid of fleas in your home.
- How to get rid of fleas in bed.
- How to get rid of fleas in the carpet.
- How to get rid of fleas in the yard.
- How to get rid of fleas on puppies. (It’s different from what you do for older dogs.)
- How to get rid of fleas on kittens. (Again, different from what you do for older cats.)
- How to remove fleas from dogs. (Once fleas are dead, you can remove them from fur.)
- How to remove fleas from cats.
- How to kill flea eggs.
- How to kill fleas naturally.
And, because often, when we look for advice, we may not even know what we do not know, we’ve sprinkled FLEA FACTS throughout this guide to tell you important information about fleas that could help as you treat your pets and your home for fleas.
How to get rid of fleas on a dog.
It can be heart-wrenching to see your cute, cunning, or courageous canine scratching and biting due to fleas. Of course, you want to provide relief right away. Luckily, you have several options to choose from:
- Purchase a safe and reliable flea shampoo or topical treatment that’s specifically made to kill fleas on dogs. You can purchase these in a store or online. And since shopping online gives you a variety of options to choose from, it’s a good idea to keep a product on hand so you can use it immediately. That is the benefit of something like My Pet Defense’s monthly subscription program, which sends ZoGuard Plus regularly, so you have it when you need it. ZoGuard Plus has the same ingredients as Frontline but costs less.
- Mix up a home remedy: 1 cup warm water, ½ cup regular or apple cider vinegar, ½ cup baby shampoo or mild dish detergent. For larger dogs, make a larger batch using the same ratio of ingredients. Put this mixture into a spray bottle and soak the dog with it.
- Give your dog a simple bath with warm water, with or without mild shampoo.
- Use a flea comb to pull out fleas, larva, and flea dirt (a.k.a. flea poop). Immediately immerse the comb into warm water to remove the residue on it to ensure it doesn’t go back into the fur.
- Consult your vet, who may prescribe flea pills. Follow the directions, which usually involve putting the pills in the pet’s food. Once the pills are eaten, they kill fleas within 30 minutes.
Many flea treatments can dry out your dog’s skin. My Pet Defense’s Skin and Coat Supplement, which includes salmon oil and Omega 3s, helps revitalize their skin. And, it is heart-healthy, too!
FLEA FACT: Fleas go through four life stages: Egg, Pupa, Larva, and Adult. Products that kill Adult fleas may kill some of the other stages, too, but may not kill them all.
How to get rid of fleas on a cat.
Getting rid of fleas on a cat takes slightly more caution. Okay…a lot more caution. Instead of treating cats all over as you would for dogs, spot treatments work better for cats. Cats cannot handle some of the treatments and ingredients that dogs can; for example, permethrin is a common ingredient in flea treatments for dogs, but it’s highly toxic to cats. Essential oils, which are often used in natural flea treatments, are also toxic to cats.
While you can bathe your cat with warm water and a mild soap like baby shampoo, good luck! This is not a recommended method – bathing a dog is difficult enough, but if you’ve ever tried to bathe a cat, you can understand why this may not be the best idea!
Besides, cats are excellent self-groomers. To treat your cat for fleas:
- Spot-treat only with products made with mild ingredients that are completely non-toxic for cats. Your cat will definitely try to lick it.
- Try the product on one spot first and wait to see what happens. Some cats may find the product or mixture repulsive, though they will usually lick it anyway. But, if they bite at the spot or seem very frustrated, the product you chose might not be the best method for them.
Often, focusing on killing fleas in your home is the best way to rid your cat of fleas. With self-grooming, cats will take care of removing any leftover fleas on their bodies.
FLEA FACT: Cat fleas and dog fleas are actually different species, but either type of flea can feed on both cats and dogs. The most common flea found on both cats and dogs is actually the cat flea.
How to get rid of fleas in your home.
If your pet has fleas, it’s likely that adult fleas, as well as fleas in their other three stages, are also around your home whether you see them or not. Fleas are jumpers, meaning they will jump onto other surfaces, and eggs and larva can roll off onto floors and furniture.
Getting rid of fleas in your home requires a thorough cleaning, and afterward, keeping up on your regular cleaning. This will keep fleas from re-infesting your home and your pets. To get rid of fleas in your home, follow this step-by-step guide:
- Vacuum ALL of your floors – carpets, hardwoods, tile, vinyl, etc. Use a new vacuum bag; this will allow better airflow, which will clean better. And, throw away the bag after every cleaning.
- Vacuum all upholstery using attachments designed to clean in crevices and behind cushions.
- Carefully remove your bedding and your other loose and washable items (see the following section, “How to get rid of fleas in your bed.”). Wash these in hot, soapy water on your machine’s longest washing setting, then dry in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes.
- Repeat cleaning your floors, furniture, and surfaces daily until no signs of fleas remain.
FLEA FACT: Fleas can jump amazingly far for their size. If you could jump the way a flea does, you’d jump 295 feet – 10 times farther than the best long jump ever recorded. You’d be in the Guinness World Records book for sure!
How to get rid of fleas in your bed.
When you realize you have fleas in your bed, it can be terribly upsetting. Those fleas have a lot of nerve getting into your bed, don’t they? After all, they’re DOG fleas or CAT fleas, not HUMAN fleas! But, in their defense, they don’t know it’s your bed…they just rode in on your pet.
Take a deep breath and follow these steps:
- First, remove all of your bedding – including mattress covers, pillow shams, and anything else that’s removable. Do this carefully by rolling the edges into the center so that the fleas don’t jump and the larva doesn’t roll onto the floor.
- Then, carefully carry your rolled-up bedding to the washing machine. Wash this in hot, soapy water on the longest timed setting. Dry in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes.
- Spray or sprinkle your mattress and box spring with a product designed to kill fleas on beds.
- Keep your bedroom door closed from now on, only letting your pet in after you’re completely sure that they are flea-free.
FLEA FACT: Flea eggs are smooth all over. This makes it easy for them to fall off of pets and onto floors or into cracks and crevices where you don’t see them. They will stay there until they hatch!
How to get rid of fleas in the carpet.
If your pet has fleas, chances are your carpets are full of fleas in all four of their stages. The fleas fall off your pet and stay hidden in the carpet fibers, going from stage to stage until they become adult fleas and are ready to jump, jump, jump onto your pet.
Follow these steps to get rid of the fleas in your carpet:
- Vacuum thoroughly every day – or even several times a day when your pets have fleas.
- Consider treating your carpets with products designed to sprinkling on carpets and kill fleas. Follow the directions – this usually involves applying the product all over the carpet, letting it settle in and sit for a given amount of time, then vacuuming the product up along with the dead fleas. You should be sure to vacuum all over the carpet to get up all the product and fleas.
- As always, when vacuuming, use a new bag. And throw the used bag away promptly after each vacuum session.
FLEA FACT: When female fleas bite their host, they automatically lay eggs. In fact, fleas can’t lay eggs unless they eat a meal first!
How to get rid of fleas in the yard.
It’s important to get rid of fleas in your entire environment. This will include your yard if you have one. Even if you just have indoor cats, those fleas came from somewhere! They may have gotten into the yard from another animal. This could be anything – your neighbor’s dog, cat, rabbit, or any type of wildlife they may have encountered. And, once the fleas are in the yard, it’s just a few long jumps into your house!
You can get rid of fleas in the yard with these steps:
- Clear your yard of leaves and other debris. This will cut down on the number 0f places where fleas can hide and keep it that way.
- Mow the grass. Long grass is a convenient place for a flea to hide while waiting for a pet host.
- Trim bushes and trees to let more sunlight into your yard – fleas hate light!
- Spray the lawn with a flea killer made for lawns.
- Keep wildlife out by fixing any holes you have in your fences and doors, or add additional fencing.
- Fleas and eggs love a moist environment. Keep moisture in your yard down by watering your plants only as much as needed to keep them healthy, not more.
And, be sure to keep up on indoor cleaning and keeping your pets flea-free, so their fleas don’t make it to the yard!
FLEA FACT: Fleas will hatch in about 12 days if conditions are right, starting with a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, if it’s colder, eggs can exist in a dormant stage for up to a year.
How to get rid of fleas on puppies.
How to safely get rid of fleas on puppies depends on the puppy’s age. For puppies that are under 6 weeks old:
- Do not apply topical treatments of any kind. Instead, comb through their fur with a flea comb to remove the fleas and their eggs. Tweezers can be recommended, but you won’t be able to remove eggs with tweezers; flea combs can remove both fleas and eggs.
- Have a sink or bowl full of water ready, and immediately immerse the comb in the water to get the fleas and eggs off the comb.
- Go over all the fur, especially around the tail, where fleas often hide and lay eggs. Repeat this process daily to ensure your puppy is flea-free; any remaining eggs will continue to develop and hatch.
For puppies 7 or 8 weeks old:
- Look for flea treatments that can be used on puppies that are 7 or 8 weeks old. This will be specifically noted on the product. Follow the product’s directions.
- In addition, comb through their fur as directed in the above steps for younger puppies.
Puppies over 8 weeks old can safely be treated with products such as ZoGuard. Be sure to wash your puppy’s bedding, too, as explained in the section, “How to get rid of fleas in your bed.”
WARNING: Since fleas feast on your pet’s blood, having fleas can make puppies anemic, sometimes severely so. Check their gums: if the gums are pink, the puppy is OK. If the gums do not appear pink, call your vet right away.
FLEA FACT: Flea larvae spin cocoons around themselves, then camouflage the cocoon with dirt particles so they won’t be recognized.
How to get rid of fleas on kittens.
Is there anything sadder than seeing a kitten trying to fight off fleas? The problem is that kittens under 8 weeks old cannot be treated with topical products. Your best bet to treat a kitten with fleas is to use a flea comb every day, twice daily if possible. Go through your kitten’s fur to pick up fleas and their eggs. For a how-to on using the comb, see the steps outlined in the section “How to get rid of fleas on puppies.” The process is the same for kittens as for puppies.
Then, clean your house as directed in the section, “How to get rid of fleas in your home.” Cats may not have beds the way dogs do. If you got them a bed and put them in it, they would likely turn up their noses and slink away, insulted that you would dare to tell them where to sit or sleep. Still, they often gravitate to one or two spots they like, so it is important to clean those areas. If these spots have any cloths, towels, or bedding on them, wash those items thoroughly following the steps in the section, “How to get rid of fleas in bed.”
FLEA FACT: Female adult fleas can live for 100 days and layover 500 eggs in their lifetime.
How to remove fleas from dogs.
If you use a flea treatment to kill the fleas on your dog, you will want to remove the dead fleas from their skin and fur. You can get rid of the fleas one of two ways:
- Use a flea comb to remove the fleas and their eggs. See the section “How to get rid of fleas on puppies.” for directions on using the comb.
- You may use tweezers to pick off the fleas.
FLEA FACT: If you’re treating one pet for fleas, you should treat all your pets at that time too. This way, you can break the cycle of fleas jumping from one pet onto others.
How to remove fleas from cats.
The methods described above in “How to remove fleas from dogs.” are the best way to remove fleas from cats as well.
How to kill flea eggs.
Flea eggs usually roll off your pet and onto the floor, making them easy to vacuum up. Use a fresh bag every time you vacuum for fleas, and carefully throw the bag away after each vacuuming.
How to kill fleas naturally.
If you don’t want to use products containing chemicals, you can try natural methods first. First, review the section “How to kill fleas on a dog.” and follow steps 2, 3, and 4. Some additional natural methods include:
- Dish Soap: Mix one part water with two parts dish soap. Put the mixture in a bowl or on a dinner plate. Place one container on the floor in the middle of every room where you have fleas. For best results, it is recommended to do so at night because fleas are more active during this time. Change the mixture daily.
- Diatomaceous Earth: Buy food grade Diatomaceous Earth (not the type meant for pools). Keep your pets out of the room and wear a mask, so you don’t breathe the Diatomaceous Earth in. It’s nontoxic, but like any fine powder, it has the potential to irritate your nose and throat. To protect your skin, cover your arms and legs. Sprinkle a thin layer of the Diatomaceous Earth everywhere, including on your carpets and upholstery. Leave it on 12-48 hours, keeping your pets and kids out for that entire time.
Do you have questions? We have answers.
Customers often ask us specific questions, and we answer as many as we can. Some of the most common, frequently asked questions are:
How often should you treat your dog for fleas?
This depends largely on how you treat your dog and what type of treatment method you are using. Treatments like flea shampoo should be used only when your dog has fleas. However, if you are using flea collars to prevent fleas, follow the manufacturer’s directions. They will advise you on how long the dog should wear the collar and how often to change it out for a new one.
How cold does it have to be for fleas to die naturally?
This is a trick question (or trick answer)! Those clever flea larvae can lie dormant as long as an entire year and hatch into a new infestation when you least expect it when it is colder. Don’t expect fleas to die out on their own without your help.
How do humans get rid of fleas?
Fleas greatly prefer to attach to animals, but they can attach to humans too. If you’re bitten, you can expect itching, redness, and swelling. If you think fleas are on your body, shower with warm water and soap daily. Use a flea comb to remove fleas from hair. Treat your house for fleas (see “How to get rid of fleas in your home.”). Sweep and vacuum floors daily to keep fleas out of the house.
How does salt kill fleas?
Salt has natural drying effects, so it dries out the flea’s skin and body until it cannot function and it dies. This is similar to how your skin dries out when you go into the ocean or swim in salt water.
How long does it take to get rid of fleas on a dog?
Every timeline is different, but expect getting rid of fleas to take as long as 3-4 months. This process depends on many factors, such as how bad your dog’s infestation is and how effectively you can treat it. Some treatments can kill individual fleas within a few minutes. But, since fleas have 4 stages of development, treatment may not kill at every stage. This means that new fleas will still hatch and will need to be killed with a new treatment.
How does Diatomaceous earth kill fleas?
Diatomaceous Earth contains silica, which is also in sand. It basically dries out the flea until it can no longer function and it dies.
How do vets get rid of fleas on cats?
Vets may prescribe “flea pills” that you put on their food. When the cat eats the pills, the fleas can be killed within 30 minutes. Some pills specifically target different stages of the flea.
How do I get rid of fleas in my house fast?
The reason fleas aren’t usually killed fast is that they have those pesky four stages. This means they’re continually hatching and very well may not be killed while in certain stages, so you need to keep treating your house. An option could be to call an exterminator, who would likely use insecticide “bombs” that explode in your home and will cover more or less everywhere in your home.
What can kill fleas instantly?
Some products can kill fleas instantly, but they can be harmful to your pets. For example, rubbing alcohol kills fleas on contact, but this can irritate your pet’s skin and can even make them sick if they lick even a small amount of it (which, of course, they will if you put it directly on their fur). So, please don’t do that to your pet! Rubbing alcohol can be used on the surfaces in your home that your pet doesn’t touch, so not high contact areas like the couch. Insecticide “bombs” will kill them instantly, too, but you will need to be gone from your house while it is being treated.
How long does it take for Diatomaceous Earth to kill fleas?
Diatomaceous Earth can kill full-grown fleas in about 4 hours. It will also kill some, but likely not all, larva. Diatomaceous Earth will not kill fleas in the pupa or egg stages.
How do you get rid of fleas in your bed?
First, remove all of your bedding – including mattress covers, pillow shams, and anything else that’s removable. Do this carefully by rolling the edges into the center so that the fleas don’t jump and the larva doesn’t roll onto the floor. Then, carefully carry your rolled-up bedding to the washing machine. Wash this in hot, soapy water on the longest timed setting. Dry in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes. Spray or sprinkle your mattress and box spring with a product designed to kill fleas on beds.
For more information about getting rid of fleas, go to www.mypetdefense.com.