Flea control and prevention for your pet both inside and outside is very important for the health of your animal. Fleas cause problems such as itching and scratching near the flea bite. In most pets the itching is mild, but occasionally cats, dogs, and rabbits become allergic to flea saliva and develop severe itching, hair loss, and skin damage from scratching and biting at the site. If untreated a skin infection can develop. Every pet deserves to live flea-free. Flea control and prevention will stop the transmission of diseases to pets and people.
Parrots rarely get fleas, but they can get them from walking on the ground outside of their cage. Parrots can also get fleas from other parrots or when interacting with cats or dogs, and even rabbits.
Talk to your veterinarian about oral treatments that can be added to your bird's food or water. There are prescriptions that will kill flea eggs and prevent the problem.
3 "P's" Control Flea Infestations
- Pets (controlling fleas on your dog or cat)
- Premises (controlling fleas in your environment - indoors and outdoors)
- Persistence (controlling fleas, an ongoing battle)
- Some fleas jump 150 times their own length - that compares to a human jumping 1,000 feet - a flea broke a record with a 4-foot vertical jump.
- Flea fossils date back to the Lower Cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago when Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs roamed the earth.
- Flea larvae are blind, hate being out in the light, and cannot eat blood like their parents.
- Fleas can bite 400 times a day (that's 4,000 bites a day) if your pet has 10 fleas.
- Fleas can live more than 100 days without feeding on blood.
Flea Life Cycle
To prevent fleas from settling on your pet, flea prevention, and elimination work throughout the entire flea lifecycle. A very difficult aspect of controlling fleas is their ability to reproduce. A female flea is a very prolific breeder and may lay more than 1,000 eggs in her lifetime. Fleas are resilient and hardy, with several stages in a life cycle for complete metamorphosis:
Stage 1: Adult flea infestation problems begin when adult fleas come into contact with a dog or cat and begin laying eggs.
Stage 2: Within 2-5 days flea eggs begin the process of developing into biting adult fleas.
Stage 3: Flea eggs hatch into larvae, a stage that can be eliminated by using a product with an ovicide.
Stage 4: Larvae spin a silky cocoon around themselves and form pupae for emergence as a full-grown biting adult flea. It jumps on your dog or cat, and the cycle begins again by laying more eggs.
Check Your Pet
For every flea you see on your pet, many more are at different stages of their life cycle (egg, larvae, pupae), in carpets, furniture, and in the cracks and crevices of your home.
If your pet is itching, determine if fleas are the cause by quickly turning your pet over and look for fleas on furry areas, belly, inner thighs, and on the back in front of the tail. Part the hair and look at the skin. Flea combs are used for combing your pet's coat. Drown fleas in hot soapy water, because fleas can jump out of plain water.
Look for flea dirt (flea feces) - dark specks of pepper scattered on the skin surface. Pick it off and place it on a wet paper towel. After a few minutes, the tiny specks will spread out like a small blood stain. Flea dirt may be your only evidence of a flea infestation or flea invasion.
Indoor Flea Control
If your dog or cat remains indoors and you do not have other pets that come in from the outside, environmental control is easy, but if your pet goes outdoors, indoor flea control becomes more of a challenge.
Launder pet bedding (and your bedding if your dog or cat sleeps on your bed) in hot, soapy water (this kills all flea stages) at least once a week. Dry on high heat.
Vacuuming is effective in picking up adult fleas. Before vacuuming, pick up everything you can from the floor for easy access with the vacuum. Place flea powder into the vacuum bag to kill fleas while you vacuum. Flea larvae don't like light and spend most of the time deep in the carpet at the base of fibers.
Carpeting, floors, rugs, upholstered furniture, baseboards, and under beds should be vacuumed 2-3 times a week to thoroughly remove flea eggs, larvae, and adult fleas. Steam cleaning, shampooing, and vacuuming the carpet can kill some of the larvae, but there will still be some live fleas so chemical treatment may be necessary.
After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum bag into a plastic garbage bag, secure the bag with a twist tie, and discard it in an outdoor covered trash container. The vacuum bag must be thrown away because flea eggs can survive and develop inside vacuum bags, and adults may be able to escape to the outside.
Food grade diatomaceous earth, a non-toxic flea treatment, used on carpeting works. The tiny bits get in the breathing pores of the bugs and suffocate them. Monthly applications are recommended in areas with heavy flea populations, especially during the height of flea season. Sprinkle it on the carpets, use a stiff bristle broom to work it into the carpet, then vacuum it up later. Do not purchase diatomaceous earth at a pool store, because it has a high crystalline silica content toxic to pets and humans. Crystalline silica content should be less than 3%.
Flea traps are a safe and simple permanent appliance that uses heat and light to draw fleas from up to 25 feet away. Fleas are attracted to the trap, fall right through the grid, and meet a sticky death on the replaceable capture pad. Adult fleas are killed on the replaceable capture pad without poisons, expensive pills, or visits to the veterinarian. Capture pads last for 3 months or until filled with up to 10,000 fleas.
Don't use a flea collar because it can be highly toxic and irritate your pet’s skin.
Outdoor Flea Control
Treat the outdoors a month before flea season starts. Although inside your house you want no fleas, the outside of your house is where you start. Trimming lawns and weeds help to create an undesirable environment for flea larvae because there's less shade to hide and grow. Sun-exposed areas can get too hot, and you won’t find many fleas there. Problem areas will be found by shady areas.
Larvae live under organic debris such as grass, branches, leaves, or soil. They live for 5-11 days before becoming pupae. Because larvae don't like light - rake up any leaves, sand, or gravel - and keep the grass cut. Fleas love tall grass and this area is where most dogs and cats pick them up, so mow your grass often - rake and bag the contents.
Remove dead leaves, twigs, and debris from flower beds and under bushes. Expose as much of the shady areas to sunlight as you can. Spread cedar chips where your pet likes to lie down, under the bushes, and on flower beds. Fleas hate the smell! Sulfur (powder or liquid) is also known to repel fleas and prevent hatching
Outdoor flea remedies are applied to grass by sprinkling the powder, or by using a hose sprayer for yards and gardens. Beneficial nematodes control fleas in the yard. They are tiny little bugs that eat adult fleas and larvae. They are applied with a hose sprayer on a yard, or a watering can in a garden. Garden centers, nurseries, and pet stores have nematodes available for purchase.
Watering will also drown the larvae. Most fleas and larvae will be about 50 feet from your dog or cat's resting spot, so focus flea control around those areas.