Fighting Fleas: What to Do for an Itchy Pet

You’ve done everything you know how to do to keep your pets from getting fleas, and suddenly you find them scratching away. It’s a frustrating scenario but one that’s all too familiar for many pet owners. Fleas pass through four stages of life—egg, larva, pupa and adult—any of which may be present on your pet, in your house or around the yard. If you do find that these itchy insects have hitched a ride on your pet, don’t wait to take action.

Check Your Pets Thoroughly

The presence of flea dirt is a sure sign that you’re dealing with a flea problem, and the first thing you should do is wash your pet. This removes the adult fleas in mild to moderate infestations. Once your pet is clean, go through his or her fur with a fine-toothed flea comb to remove any remaining bugs. You may need to repeat the washing and combing several times to ensure that all the fleas are gone.

Consider applying a natural flea control remedy after bathing and combing your pet. Make a lemon water infusion by boiling cut lemons and letting them steep overnight. Apply the resulting mixture to your pet’s skin. Alternatively, you can steep fresh rosemary leaves in boiling water for 30 minutes. Dilute this mixture in warm water, carefully soak your pet with it and let his or her fur air dry.

Clean Up the House

If your pet has fleas, you can bet your house does, too. Gather up all of your pet’s bedding and any other linens or clothes he or she might have come in contact with. Wash everything to remove fleas and then put the load in the dryer for at least 30 minutes to kill the eggs.

Vacuum your entire house as thoroughly as possible, getting into all the corners and cleaning in the crevices of furniture. If you can, rent a water-based vacuum or steam cleaner to get deep down into the carpets. Mop floors that can’t be vacuumed to ensure that the whole house is clean.

Before using any chemicals to rid your house or animals of fleas, always check that they’re safe for your pets and your family. Ask your veterinarian for safe recommendations.

Clear Up the Yard

Rake leaves, mow the lawn and clear out any areas that your pets spend a lot of time in. Consider adding cedar wood chips to high-traffic areas. Nematodes are a good natural solution to outdoor flea problems as they kill fleas without posing a threat to other life.

Double Check at the Vet

It’s always a good idea to take your pet to the vet for a checkup after a flea infestation. Fleas may carry worms that can be ingested when your pet bites at the bugs. Your vet can test for this and recommend a good flea treatment to prevent the parasites from coming back in the future.