Treating flea infestations, first-hand experience from a pro

Treating flea infestations, first-hand experience from a pro

Following a busy period in our collaborator’s life, his Cockapoo missed 3 months of flea and heartworm treatment. That’s when Ctenocephalides felis moved in.

October 21, 2019

It was official: Walter and the household were infected with cat flea, the most common parasitic infection of dogs and cats in North America.

What to do?
Our first step was to make sure all our animals were treated with flea-killing medication. Winnifred and Nigel, our 2 tuxedo cats, needed to be treated, as well as Walter. There are numerous safe and effective treatment options available. Some are administered topically, while others are chewable. They may have activity against adults, immature flea stages, or both. Many will have activity against ticks, heartworm and mange (or some combination thereof). With all these options, it’s important that you seek advice from your veterinarian. They can help you select the right product for your situation and instruct you on proper usage.

Egg-laying machines
I knew that getting these fleas off Walter involved more than just treating him with anti-flea products. Once fleas start feeding, they become egg-laying machines. One flea can produce up to 50 eggs per day, and Walter may have been infected for the whole summer. These eggs could be found anywhere Walter was—rugs, beds, carpets, couches, and chairs. Under the right conditions, they develop into larvae, then pupae and finally adults. There were very small, white ovals and flea dirt (black-brown flecks of digested blood) in Walter’s favourite places. If we didn’t take care of these critters in our house, they would continue to grow and infest our animals, regardless of the season. My wife and I sure had our work cut out for us!

We started by gathering up all the bedding, blankets and towels Walter slept on (including our own) and washed them in hot, soapy water. While my wife was on washer duty, I did one of the most thorough vacuums that I’ve ever done. I had the “beater bar” as low as it went to make sure I pulled all the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults out of the carpets, furniture and rugs. This is not a “one-and-done” kind of affair. I knew that I was going to have to vacuum and wash frequently to make sure I physically eliminated all those life-stages. I also made sure that I removed the vacuum bag and got it out of the house as soon as possible to prevent re-infestation. All that hard work was NOT going to be ruined by an infected vacuum bag!

Call the pros
Finally, I called in a pest control specialist. These professionals deal with infestations every day. They know what insecticide product to use, where to use it and how often it should be used. When the technician came to our home, he inspected the house and our yard and recommended a targeted environmental treatment plan, treating both indoors and out. He also noticed a few areas around our house where small rodents could gain access … remember that wildlife can transmit fleas to our pets.

Moving forward
I learned a valuable lesson that summer. It took a lot of hard work, but we got our flea problem under control. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I am now militant about giving Walter his flea/heartworm/tick control medications. I also make sure to vacuum and clean on a more frequent basis, keeping an eye out for those tell-tale signs of fleas. I’m happy to report that our house has been flea-free for 8 years. L’il Walter (now an old man) still enjoys “Cockapoo in the wild”, except now there are no itchy consequences!

Read the first part of this two-part series, here.

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