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Flea powders and sprays are relatively inexpensive methods of repelling fleas. Be cautious when applying these products, as the spray or fine powder can be irritating to the mouth and lungs if breathed in (for both animals and humans). Also be sure to use caution around the eyes, nose, and mouth. As these products will wear off the skin faster than a spot-on treatment, you will need to reapply them more often. Always read labels carefully before using flea powders or sprays.
For any level of flea infestation, light or severe, you will need to do a thorough house cleaning, and you will need to clean daily until the situation has been brought under control. Vacuum in every corner and along the baseboards, and throw out the vacuum bag when you are finished. Wash all of your dog’s bedding and toys with warm soapy water and vacuum the car too -- even if you do not take your dog into your car, since you may be carrying fleas on your shoes or pant-cuffs. Removing the majority of flea eggs and larvae present will help reduce the population of adults hatching in your home.
To further treat your home, you can use sprays and/or foggers that will kill the adult fleas, as well as the larvae and eggs as they hatch. These products are available at your veterinarian’s office or pet supply store. Care must be taken when using these products, as they can be toxic to fish, birds, cats and children. Read labels carefully and ask for advice from your veterinarian before attempting to use these products. In the face of a severe infestation, you may want to hire a professional exterminator to spray the house properly.
You can purchase ready-made "flea traps" from your local hardware store, or you can make your own. Sticky pads (some with lights attached) are laid on the floor, where the fleas become attached to the sheet while jumping around. This will help eliminate some of the adult fleas from the environment, but not the eggs or larvae. A home-made light trap is made by setting a small dish of soapy water on the ground near a light source at night (such as a small lamp or night light). Fleas are attracted to the warmth and light and will jump into the water, where they will drown.
If there are fewer areas for these parasites to live and breed, there will be fewer of them to be concerned with. Keeping your lawn, bushes, and trees consistently trimmed back will help reduce the population of fleas in your backyard. If you still have a problem, consider using the various yard sprays or granular treatments that are available from your veterinarian, pet store, or local garden center. Or, you might consider hiring a pest control service for regular yard treatments. Just be careful when using these products, as they can be harmful to pets, fish, and humans (you may want to warn your neighbors before each yard application so they can protect themselves from incidental contact with the chemicals).
For light infestations, a simple lukewarm bath will often take care of the fleas that are on the body. The water and soap are enough to get rid of the fleas, and if used along with a flea comb, the situation can be brought under control with little fuss. Dogs in particular are often agreeable to bathing in the yard with a hose, which can make the chore a bit easier. This must be followed up by a thorough house cleaning and another method of repelling the fleas (see above solutions), otherwise the fleas that are hiding in the floor and furniture will jump back onto your dog.
Image: Landon / via Flickr
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