Fleas are no fun! But as long as your puppy, dog, or kitten is older than 7 weeks (and not sick and doesn’t have stitches so can be safely bathed), here are seven steps that we’ve found effective in eliminating fleas even on super flea-infested puppies, dogs or kittens. Can’t say we’d suggest try this bathe & soak method on an adult cat however! For adult cats or other pets you can’t bathe, simply skip step #2. To make these steps easy to follow, we’ll call your pet “Fluffy”.
1) Prepare a flea-free holding room
Contain Fluffy in a room (like the bedroom) or crate. Super-clean a ‘holding’ room (not the same room with Fluffy in it), ideally with a hard floor, like a 2nd bathroom where you will not be bathing Fluffy, or the kitchen. Remove & machine wash in very hot water any fabric items from the room like towels, curtains, rugs. This is so in step 4, you can put Fluffy back in this now flea-free holding room while you de-flea the rest of your home.
2) Bathe in baby shampoo
Wet with water & super lather Fluffy up with lots of baby shampoo or Dawn dishwashing liquid and soak for up to 10 minutes – or less time if that’s all you both can stand it! (We do not recommend a toxic “flea” shampoo, because we want to apply Advantage in step 6.) Then rinse and watch the dead fleas go down the drain. If there are a lot of fleas, shampoo & rinse again until you see very few or no fleas when you rinse. Towel dry.
3) Flea comb
Comb all of Fluffy with a flea comb, start at the head and work your way to the tail. Have a dish of baby shampoo sitting on the side to quickly dunk & kill the fleas that you get with the flea comb. If Fluffy is still damp, gently dry fur completely with a hairdryer on low.
4) Close Fluffy in the holding room
Make sure room is warm enough so Fluffy doesn’t get cold. Small kittens/puppies may do best left with a warm hot water bottle under the flea-free freshly laundered towel you leave them on (monitor that they don’t chew it), or snuggled with a helper person.
5) Treat with flea control from your vet
Ask your vet what flea control product they recommend for your pet. Some products require you wait 24 hours or more after a bath before application. For pets 8 weeks old and older, we like Advantage® II because as soon as Fluffy is totally dry, you can apply it right away. Reapply as directed (usually monthly) so you don’t have to repeat steps 1 to 6 again!
6) Super clean your house
Vacuum rugs, sofas, curtains & hard floors. Dump vacuum bag immediately in the trash OUTSIDE your home. Wipe all hard surfaces with damp cloth. Repeat daily for the next week. Also… machine wash anything you can (pet beds, your bed blankets/sheets) in hot water. When you’re done, you can let Fluffy out of the holding room! Repeating the super cleaning at least once a week, daily if possible, to reduce the chances of missed flea eggs hatching and the cycle starting all over again. We also find treating crevices, carpet, and fabric with food-grade Diatomaceous earth (as explained by a vet, here) can help tremendously with ongoing flea control.
7) Check & treat for worms
Fleas often means they’ll get tapeworms. Take Fluffy to your vet to get tested and dewormed within the next week or two, or sooner if you see the rice-like worm bits when they go to the bathroom, stuck to their fur, or in their bedding.
That’s our 7 steps to a flea free Fluffy and home. You can now enjoy your itch-free and healthy life together!
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