Three Steps to Flea-Free

If they weren’t gross, blood-sucking parasites, fleas would be fascinating! Tiny, brown, wingless, parasitic insects that feed on blood – yours or your pet’s. Yuck!

Fleas are only 1 to 4 millimeters long, but their hind legs are so powerful they can jump up to 20 cm vertically and 40 cm horizontally. That’s something like a six foot tall man jumping 2400 feet (close to half a mile)! Amazing. Perhaps that why fleas made such good circus performers!

Can You Imagine?
Flea circuses were real entertainment in the early-to-mid 1900s. Fleas were ‘trained’ to perform as circus and carnival attractions. This training apparently included putting fleas in jars until they were trained not to jump, then harnessing them with thin wire and attaching props.

The super-strong hind legs of the fleas would allow them to propel objects much larger than themselves. Sometimes flea repellants were placed on lightweight balls to encourage fleas to kick them away. Add a few more fleas and the ‘kicking away’ becomes a soccer flea soccer game! Flea circuses declined around the 1960s, apparently due to our increasing hygiene and therefore a dwindling population of ‘performers’ to choose from. Perhaps also due to changing tastes in entertainment? We can hope!

Fleas can be entertaining… as long as you’re reading about their amazing jumping prowess and showbiz background as opposed to witnessing it first hand on your pet. What do you do if your dog or cat brings home some fleas this summer?

Easy Three-Step Process
You can find effective and economical flea and tick control products at your Pet Valu store. Talk to the pet specialists there about the products you need, then follow these three steps to rid your pet and home of an infestation.

STEP 1 – Treat Your Pet
Your first step is to provide immediate relief for your pet. Eliminate existing fleas with products like sprays, powder and shampoo that kill fleas on contact.

STEP 2 – Treat Your Home
More importantly, more than 90% of a flea infestation is NOT on your pet. It’s made up of eggs, larvae and pupae that are in your pet’s immediate environment. Flea eggs can lay dormant for months, so treating your home is critical.

Treat all carpet, upholstered furniture, pet bedding and your pet’s favorite resting areas with premise sprays, powders and foggers. It’s important to treat areas like underneath furniture and in closets, even if a pet has not been in the exact spot as the larvae that hatch will seek out dark, hidden places.

Replace any pet bedding (or wash in HOT water), and throw away that vacuum bag. Just sucking up a flea doesn’t necessarily kill it, and the bag is an ideal location to form a cocoon.

The protective cocoon of the pupal flea allows it to survive some home treatments. In order to be killed, fleas must first emerge from their cocoons and come in direct contact with the spray. It usually takes about one to two weeks for pupal fleas to emerge from cocoons so it’s not unusual to continue to see fleas for approximately 2-3 weeks after treating a pet and home.

STEP 3 – Maintenance
Choose a product with a residual effect for ongoing flea prevention, such as a topical ‘spot’ treatment or a collar. Products that contain Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) are proven effective at killing adult fleas and also interrupting the growth cycle by killing eggs and larvae.

Did You Know
Larvae spin cocoons in which they change into the shape of adult fleas (called the pupal stage). They emerge as adult fleas only under ideal conditions (humidity; presence of a ‘host’ animal). Fleas can remain cocooned for months, waiting for ideal conditions. Pupae are the most protected from flea control products.

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