Oh no, my favorite 4-legged friend(s) have FLEAS!!! Now what do I do?!?
We get this question a lot at Apex Animal Hospital, and no matter what anyone tells you, there is nothing short of Napalm or burning the entire house down that will get rid of fleas in one treatment. I don’t care if your neighbor’s friend’s grandmother had a “special brew” of ghost pepper oil mixed with unicorn dust that they simmered over an open flame made from 1,000 year old redwood, it didn’t work. No, it didn’t.
Reputable exterminators can spray, bomb, fumigate, etc. to kill the LIVE fleas, and there are even some decent OTC products that one can try, but there is nothing that can prevent the unhatched eggs from hatching after the initial treatment. If they tell you they can, please refer to the paragraph above and find another exterminator, as this one is dishonest.
I am sorry to have to tell you that a true flea infestation takes a minimum of 6-8 weeks to get under control, sometimes and often times longer. If morbidly curious, you can look up the WHY by searching online about the life cycle of the flea, but I encourage you to just take my word.
Here’s my advice. Call a reputable exterminator to come kill the live fleas and give your infestation a good kick in the pants to get your family off to a good start. One of the best businesses we’ve heard of is called Flea Busters. Give them a call! Then, over the next 8 weeks, vacuum EVERYTHING aggressively every day, including all floors, couches, chairs, etc. This will help in the removal of some of the unhatched eggs and even possibly capture some of the newly hatched parasites. Be sure to toss out the bag if you don’t have a bagless vacuum, or empty the canister if you do, into a trash bag and seal it up tight before throwing it out in the garbage. Note, I said to throw it OUT in the garbage – do not leave it in your inside trash can. You will also need to launder pet bedding exceptionally frequently (your own bedding as well if your pets are allowed on the bed), and be sure EVERY dog/cat in the house is on a good preventative from your vet. OTC flea sprays and especially any “home remedies” don’t count – use the real stuff. While we are on the subject, a good heartworm preventative every month is even more important, as heartworms are fatal for our beloved pets. Prescription strength preventatives are available through a licensed veterinary prescriber only, for good reason. They are stronger at attacking the problem, safer for your pet and your family, and are a more targeted solution.
While ALL of the pets are ALL on the flea preventative at the prescribed interval, encourage them to go everywhere in your house. We hear of people that banish poor Rover to the garage or the basement if there are fleas hitching a ride, but this is a mistake! Armed with the medication on board, your pets are your own little private exterminators! It’s about time they earned their keep, right?!? The newly hatched fleas jump on them, are dispatched by the medication, and no harm is done to your pets. Remember, none of the preventatives are a “force field”, so you will still see fleas jump on your pet during this time, but the medication will kill them in short order.
I’m so sorry to bring you such lousy news. The first step of the process (exterminator) will drastically reduce your problem right off the bat, but ALL of the other steps above are crucial to truly be rid of the fleas. From this point forward, please be sure that all pets in the house are always receiving heartworm and flea/tick prevention every month year round! Again, YEAR ROUND!!! It does not get cold enough for long enough in our area to have a “kill off” of all of the mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and other parasites that are so easily protected against with simple prevention that costs less than pizza night out with your friends!