The step-by-step approach to treating fleas

Take a step-by-step approach to control a flea infestation

As I stepped outside and felt the warm moist Florida air, I was immediately taken back to this time last year when I went to Puerto Rico to visit my friend Miguel. Miguel has always asked me to visit but between my work and other local responsibilities I kept pushing and delaying. As soon as he picked me up he immediately wanted to rush home and tell me all the plans he had for each day. “First things first” said Miguel, “I know that you’re a pet lover and that you work at 1800PetMeds, so let me show you my new puppy.” As soon as he opened his front door, a beautiful golden Labrador retriever greeted me with the gentlest “kiss” and with eyes that spoke without words. Before I could get comfortable, Miguel introduced me to “Bear” and told me to pack some clothes for a day of hiking. Miguel explained that he was rushing because he had a trip planned for us to go hiking in the famous tropical rain forest called El Yunque.

El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the National Forest System and covers over sixty thousand acres of wilderness. I was glad that my friend Miguel had lived and worked in this part of the world all his life. At one point Miguel even volunteered to help track lost tourists in the city of Arecibo. Tourists sometimes go to Arecibo to visit the famous radio telescope and decide to travel into the local jungle without a guide. Getting lost if you don’t know what you’re doing in this part of the world is almost a sure thing.

As we got into the car to head to El Yunque, Bear also got in and did not want to get back out. He looked at Miguel and me with eyes that said “Please take me with you!!” Against Miguel’s better judgment and my better judgment, Miguel decided to bring Bear along. We drove for about 20 minutes and pulled over in the area that was supposed to be the beginning of our trail. We gathered some belongings in the car and stepped out to get a backpack from the trunk and let Bear out from the back seat. As soon as we opened the back door, Bear darted out and ran in the exact opposite direction of where we were supposed to be heading.

The next three hours were spent searching for Bear. We searched in every direction and must have called his name a thousand times and still there was no sign of him. Just as we were losing our voices and it was getting frighteningly close to nighttime, Bear came over to us with a small branch in his mouth as if nothing had happened.

The following day Miguel, his girlfriend Rachel and I came back for our hike at El Yunque and I got to enjoy a truly amazing one of a kind beautiful place. The rest of my days in Puerto Rico I got to do exactly what I wanted to do which was to sit on the beach with nice book in one hand and a cold drink in the other.

After I got back home Miguel called me with the news that Bear was infested with fleas. According to him, the fleas that Bear got during his El Yunque episode have gotten all over him and into every corner of the house. Miguel wanted to know what to do.

Flea4X shampoo

The procedure to get rid of fleas is to first give the pet a good wash with a flea killing shampoo that contains permethrin like the Flea 4X Shampoo. Permethrin is an insecticide that controls fleas (and ticks) on contact. It’s important when using a flea shampoo to treat every area of the pet’s body.

The following steps are very important or the fleas will not be eradicated:

  1. Spray your yard and all the areas that the pet walks with a yard spray such as the Sentry Yard and Premise Spray Concentrate.  This kills fleas before they enter into your home from outside.
  2. Use a good carpet spray to spray the carpets and upholstery and under furniture since dark areas are a favorite location for fleas to hide.
  3. Fog the home to kill all the life stages of the fleas. Foggers last long enough once sprayed to prevent re-infestation of the home.
  4. The home must then be cleaned really well and the pet’s belongings and bedding should be washed in hot water to kill any remaining flea eggs. Rugs must be vacuumed and furniture cleaned, tile and wood floors must be mopped and sweeped.
  5. The last and very important step after all that has been done is to put and keep the pet on flea preventative. While flea preventatives are an excellent way to keep fleas at bay, they will not work properly if the above steps are not followed.  The home will keep getting huge numbers of fleas hatching and hiding in crevices and in carpeting.

Getting rid of fleas is not as easy as most people think, and if not done properly the fleas will keep coming back or hatching weeks after the initial treatment. This can be quite frustrating to most people who try to avoid the important step of treating the environment along with the pet. Luckily when Miguel called me he was receptive to the instructions I gave him and within a few days the fleas were gone and still (a year later) have not returned.

If for some reason your pet is still scratching after proper treatment, it is important to discuss this with your veterinarian. A veterinarian may diagnose another reason altogether for the discomfort or itching. As always, the best way to keep our pets healthy and safe is to develop a good relationship with your veterinarian and by asking questions when something is not clear.  Additionally if you have any questions about your pet’s medication, you may give one of the 1800PetMeds pharmacists a call for assistance. It is never a good idea to use a product or give a medication to your pet that you do not fully understand how to use, or are not clear about the reason for its use.

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