Step 0: Breathe – You’re a Great Pet Parent
We know it firsthand: having fleas can feel embarrassing. It brings us back to that day in elementary school where the nurse checked everyone’s head and we were the one with lice (or today, and our kids got sent home with lice). Even if we know it’s not true, there’s this voice in the back of our head saying, “good pet parents don’t have this problem.”
If you’re dealing with fleas, you’re not a bad pet parent and you’re not alone. We’ve been there, we believe in you, and we’re here to help.
Step 0.5: Knowledge is Power
To understand what makes fleas such a significant problem, we first have to understand their life cycle. Only 5% of the flea population is in the adult stage, and the other 95% are a big problem. Fleas start as eggs. One flea can produce 20-30 eggs per day and up to 2000 during its lifetime. After 2-16 days, larvae emerge from the eggs and are highly sensitive to light, often burrowing in cracks, crevices, and carpets. Eventually the larvae molt, spin a cocoon, and enter a pupa stage where it can withstand insecticides and cold temperatures.
Each stage of the flea lifecycle presents its own set of challenges, and it’s why you can still end up with a flea problem even after flea-bombing your entire house. The only way to truly eradicate fleas is to treat your pet, home and environment in a structured, comprehensive way that addresses each stage of the flea lifecycle.
Our 3-step plan follows, along with a variety of product recommendations for each step. The exactly right products for your situation depends on your pets, home and lifestyle. If you come into the store, we can better help you choose the right products for your specific situationWe’ve all be there, and we promise not to judge.
Step 1: Provide Immediate Relief
Fleas are super uncomfortable for your pet. Not only do they cause itching, but animals can develop an allergy to flea saliva that can cause redness, bumps, scabs, and hair loss. If you think your pet has fleas, the first thing to do is give them a flea bath.
Bathing your pet with just water is fine. If there are only a few fleas, you’ll likely drown them. But for the best results, a flea shampoo is the way to go. The important thing to know about flea shampoos is that there are two main types: Pyrethrin based and essential oil based.
Pyrethrin Based Shampoos, such as Bayer’s Advantage Shampoo, kill fleas, ticks, and lice. They are good for use on dogs and cats, as well as puppies and kittens over 12 weeks.
Pet Food Express carries two brands of essential oil based shampoos: Natural Chemistry and Tropiclean.
Natural Chemistry has cat and dog formulas, which are appropriate for use on pets of all ages. It kills fleas and ticks on contact, and is effective for black flies and mosquitos as well. If your pet has sensitive skin, Natural Chemistry also makes a soothing oatmeal formula.
Tropiclean Soothing and Maximum Strength Flea and Tick shampoo kills fleas, ticks, and mosquitos, plus it repels fleas for up to seven days. This is extra strong flea shampoo is great for larger infestations of fleas.
If you have multiple pets in your household, they all need to be treated.
Step 2: Environmental
Before bringing your now flea-free pets back into the environment, it’s essential that you treat the environment. As we mentioned before, flea eggs often fall off the animal and the larvae burrow in your carpet, upholstery, cracks and crevices. The most common ways to treat the environment are foggers, sprays, and powders.
Foggers can be used in the home only when you and your pets are not present. They work by releasing a mist that mushrooms up and falls back down. They do not go around corners or under furniture so they should be paired with a spray or powder to get the job done. Foggers are most effective in large open rooms. If your space is smaller or has lots of furniture, a spray or powder will be better. With all environmental treatments the longer you let them sit, the better they will work.
The inside is not the only environment you may have to treat. If your pet spends time in your yard, you’ll need to make sure you eliminate those fleas as well. Bayer, Tropiclean, and Natural Chemistry all make yard sprays.
Step 3: Preventative Maintenance
Once you’ve eradicated the problem, it’s time to take steps to make sure you never have to do this again. Preventative measures ensure your pet stays safe from fleas, ticks, and other pets in the future. Pet Food Express recommends topical treatments or flea collars as the most effective prevention methods.
There are a number of topical products Pet Food Express carries, including Advantage II, Advantix II, and Frontline Plus.
Advantage II is great for both dogs and cats over the age of 7 weeks. It kills both fleas at all stages of their life cycle, as well as lice. Advantix II is for dogs only and kills fleas at all life stages, as well as ticks, mosquitos, and lice. Plus Advantix II repels ticks and mosquitos. Frontline Plus is for dogs and cats over 8 weeks of age and kills adult fleas and ticks, as well as flea eggs and larvae. Topical treatments require a monthly application.
Seresto Flea and Tick Collars offer protection for dogs and cats, and are effective for up to eight months. These collars efficiently kill and repel fleas and ticks, as well as killing lice in dogs.
Please see the chart below to compare Pet Food Express’s collection of flea and tick prevention products.