All about fleas
Having said that, fleas are tiny parasitic insects that do not have wings and so do not fly. They feed exclusively on the blood of animals and birds. The flatness of their bodies enables them to move inconspicuously through the feathers or furs of any host they choose and their mouths have parts that enable them to easily pierce the skin and suck blood.
Even though it is not common, human beings can be bitten by fleas also. But this would only happen as a last resort.
Fleas from your dog or cat may latch onto your skin and suck blood; this is extremely rare, however.
No matter how sharp the claws of your pet are, they hardly ever successfully and effectively get rid of fleas. They make your pet very itchy and due to the intense scratching over time, your pet may end up drawing blood or even causing a deeper harm to itself.
How to tell if there are fleas in your home
How can you tell if you have fleas? Fortunately, detecting fleas is simple, as these insects leave a trail of evidence in their wake that is easy to spot! If you think you may have fleas in your home, keep an eye out for the following signs of infestation.
The first thing to do when looking for fleas is to thoroughly check your pet’s coat and their bedding for signs of the insects. If you see lots of small, roundish, black flecks on the skin or fur of your animal, this could be flea dirt – AKA, flea poop. Flea dirt is a mix of excess ingested blood and other waste products that the flea leaves wherever it goes and is a sure sign of an infestation.
Live or dead fleas
Fleas are instantly recognizable from their mighty jump. If you see bugs hopping around in the fur of your pet, their bedding or on your carpets or furniture, there’s a good chance they’re fleas!
Flea eggs are harder to spot than flea dirt. This tiny, smooth eggs are deposited in the fur of animals, but will quickly drop off to land on carpets and furnishings around your home. Check your pet’s bedding for white dots, as this could be an indication that fleas are present and breeding in your home.
The bites of fleas are easy to spot on your skin. These little red bumps are most commonly found on the ankles and lower legs, often in clusters or lines of 3 or 4. They are maddeningly itchy but won’t swell up as much as mosquito bites typically do.
Itchy, scratchy pets are the number one sign of a flea infestation. If your cat or dog is scratching a lot, fidgeting or chewing at their fur round the clock, check them for fleas immediately. Part their fur and look for live fleas, flea dirt or eggs in their coat and on their skin. You can also use a flea comb; a fine-toothed comb that can be used to pull the insects out of their fur for closer inspection.
How to know if your pet has fleas?
Knowing if your pet parrot or your beloved dog has fleas or not is pretty easy. Even though they cannot be seen as easily as a fly, there are some signs that give them away and below are a few of them:
- Unusual scratching, biting and licking of different body parts. Fleas have the tendency to latch onto animals and hide in areas which are not easy to reach, especially for the animals. Fleas can either crawl into the feathers or furs of your pet or they can jump, with the ability to reach as far 50 times their body size, in one leap. When you see your pet frantically trying to scratch, lick or bite hidden areas of its body, that may be your first sign that it has been infested with ticks.
- Loss of hair or feathers. In the quest to satisfy the intense itching brought on by fleas, your dog or any other pet may pull out its fur or feathers but this is just one way that this could happen. Some animals just have a severe allergic reaction to fleas and may react by losing hair or feathers. You may need to take it to your vet to check for fleas, just to be sure.
- Flea waste. Sometimes, you may notice some small objects falling off of your pet’s body, objects that are mostly dark. If you suspect your pet of having fleas, you may want to check the objects because they could be waste passed by fleas which are usually made up of blood which was digested. How would you know? You could pick up some of those dark objects and place it on a white surface, then wet them. This is to make it easy to see the real color. If they become reddish-brown, then you have an infestation.
- Gums growing pale. When a person or an animal is anemic, one of the ways it shows is through the paleness of the gums. Since fleas feed on the blood of animals, it could show in the gums of your dogs or cats, especially if the infestation is severe. If for some reason, you cannot check your dog’s or your cat’s gums for this, you could visit the vet.
- Red blots on exposed skin. The underbelly of most animals is usually without hair. So if you notice strange red blots or patches that were not there before, you could have fleas on your hands.
Some cats and dogs can have allergic reactions to the saliva of fleas and that is one way the allergy could show. If you see it, consult your vet.
Another important thing to note is that fleas do not remain exclusively on your pets. If not properly checked and on time, your home may become infected, too.
Fleas have the tendency to hide and hold onto carpets when they jump from animals. So as you are treating your pets, you may need to check around your house for fleas.
But don’t worry; this review will show you the best way to get rid of fleas and the best flea spray to use.
What to use to get rid of fleas?
There are various methods of getting rid of fleas if you happen to have an infestation. You can even develop some home remedies for fleas in the house if you know what to do. For example, you could mix some detergent and water in a shallow dish and place it on the floor with some light pointed directly into the water. Water and detergent are said to be poisonous to fleas.
The downside to this is that you would have to wait for the fleas to hop into the bowl before they are killed. Even though light attracts them, it’s a gamble whether they would actually take the bait.
One of the fastest and most efficient ways to get rid of fleas in your home is to use a flea spray. Apart from a natural flea killer like diatomaceous earth powder, flea sprays also work like magic when used well. However, some flea sprays cannot be used on your pets; they could be toxic and deadly for them. The first and best approach to treating your pet of a flea infestation is to take it to the vet.
How do flea sprays work?
Most flea sprays designed for use in the home are contact killers. These products instantly take down any insect they land on and can be used to quickly kill live fleas and larvae lurking around your home.
The most effective flea sprays contain insect growth regulators (IGRs), insecticides that disrupt the growth and development of flea larvae. IGRs may also prevent flea eggs from hatching, helping to prevent further outbreaks of baby fleas. By killing larvae and interrupting the insect life cycle, flea sprays containing IGRs can be used to dramatically reduce the number of fleas in your home.
Many flea sprays for the home also contain an active ingredient to exterminate adult fleas on contact. These will instantly kill adult fleas, helping to relieve your pets (and you) from those itchy bites.
What are the most common active ingredients in flea sprays?
The best flea sprays contain a combination of ingredients to tackle fleas at all stages of the life cycle. Some of the most commonly used IGRs and adulticides are listed below.
- Insect growth regulators (IGRs). IGRs are insecticides that mess up the growth and development of flea larvae, preventing them from reaching adulthood and breeding. They may also prevent flea eggs from hatching. Two of the most commonly used IGRs in flea sprays for the home are pyriproxyfen and Methoprene, both of which are highly effective in reducing flea populations.
- Contact killers. The most effective flea sprays will combine an IGR with a contact killer, an insecticide that takes down live fleas instantly. Permethrin is a widely-used and highly effective flea killer and is especially deadly to fleas when combined with other insecticides like fipronil.
Things to consider before choosing a flea spray
- Where it should be used? Some sprays may be used for both the indoors and the outdoors. But others may have the caution of where it should strictly be used to avoid poisoning. This is why it is necessary to read the labels well before buying. If you buy a flea spray that is meant to be used for just the outdoors for an indoor infestation, you would be looking for trouble. There is a reason it is meant for just the outdoors. And vice versa; many a household flea sprays do not work outdoors
- You also have to consider where you can spray it within your home without it having any negative effect. Not all sprays are safe to be used on furniture or on beddings. You may even be tempted to use it on your pet’s living area. If it is too toxic, you may end up with two problems instead of one. Note that some sprays are made specifically for use on pets, especially dogs. Those are safe to be used on them but you have to be sure before buying
- Is it safe for people to inhale, especially children? If you have kids at home, you may want to check before using any flea spray around them
- How well does it work? Being toxic doesn’t always equal effectiveness. As much as you don’t want a flea spray that is dangerous to health, you also do not want one that does nothing except take your money and cloud the air
- Affordability. Some flea sprays go for as low as $9. But don’t let the price keep you from getting the best flea spray for house and yard if you need it. Another factor that could affect the price is the amount of spray you may need. This would depend on the level of infestation. However, it’s still cheaper than having to hire a professional
Advantages of using flea sprays in your home
- Easy to use. A big part of the appeal of flea sprays is how easy they are to use in your home. Simply point and spray to immediately exterminate live insects, and thereby reduce the number of fleas in your home. Sprays containing IGRs can also halt the development of any larvae they come into contact with, repenting them from reaching egg-laying adulthood.
- Effectively kills larvae and adult insects in your home. Flea sprays can kill adult fleas on contact, immediately reducing their numbers in your home. Those containing IGRs also target flea larvae, preventing them from developing fully. This breaks the flea life cycle, helping you to effectively tackle your flea infestation.
- Generally safe to use around children and pets. Most flea sprays designed for use in the home are entirely safe to use around children and pets. However, it is important to always read the product label thoroughly and follow all recommended safety precautions.
Disadvantages of using flea sprays in your home
- Flea sprays often have no residual effects. Although flea sprays can work well to instantly reduce the number of fleas in your home, they are often contact killers with no residual effects. This means that, while they are great as an on-the-spot treatment, they must be combined with other pest control strategies if you hope to eradicate a large flea infestation.
- Flea sprays must be applied regularly. Most flea sprays are contact killers, meaning they only kill the fleas they actually land on. For every flea, you see there are sure to be dozens more hiding nearby, so it would be almost impossible to kill all of them in one session. This means that flea sprays must be reapplied regularly and must be used in combination with other control methods for effective flea extermination.
- Potential safety risks. Although the risks of using flea sprays in your home are minimal, caution must be exercised at all times when using any chemical around your pets. Some insecticides, such as permethrins, are very effective for reducing numbers of fleas in your home and are completely safe to use around dogs. However, cats are highly sensitive to these chemicals and may have a deadly reaction to the spray. With all animals, there is also a slight risk of an allergic reaction. Make sure to monitor your pets closely after you use any new product in your home for signs of illness.
How to use a flea spray?
So, if you are ready to spray those blood suckers away from your home, you would first have to thoroughly sweep and clean your house. Then, you can begin to spray.
Depending on the level of infestation, you may need to apply the spray over and again before you can completely get rid of fleas.
Be sure to focus a lot on hidden areas, not just open areas. Target, amongst other places; under your seats, in cracks and crevices, between boards and so on.
For your furniture, there are special sprays for them, even though a flea carpet spray can equally be used on them (there are flea carpet sprays, just in case you have been asking yourself how to get fleas out of the carpet). However, just as you can get one made especially for your carpet, you can also get a flea spray for furniture.