How to Protect Your Home and Pets During Flea Season
Every pet parent knows that flea season is dangerous for their furbaby. It’s also important to keep in mind that fleas like to migrate… right into your home! You probably also know that fleas thrive in warm environments. So, if you live in Southern California like we do, you know that SoCal doesn’t have wintery months that get cold enough to kill them off in great numbers.
The consensus is in: fleas are here- and they’re here to stay. The worst is, fleas carry with them a myriad of diseases that can infect people. One of the most infamous is flea-borne typhus, the plague (not again!!), cat scratch fever, and fleaborne parasites like tapeworm and ringworm. These are pretty awful illnesses, and we certainly want to avoid catching and spreading them!
So, that begs the question: how do we keep them out of our homes and off of our pets?
Pet Flea Prevention Tips
Investing in flea prevention for your pet isn’t just about protecting your pet, but your home and human loved ones, too. When you eliminate your pet as a vehicle for fleas to enter your home, you reduce the chance of flea infestations, and by extension, flea-borne illnesses- and that is always a good thing.
Pet Flea Prevention Medicine
Since flea season in SoCal is year-round, you’ll have to ensure that you subscribe to a topical flea and tick medication like Frontline. Prior to that, check with your vet to select the best flea-prevention medication for your pet as well as the proper dosage information for your pet’s age and size.
Snag a Flea Comb for Silky Flea-free Locks!
If you have a bevy of brushes for your pet, don’t forget the flea comb! This densely bristled metal comb can remove all traces of fleas from your pet’s skin including adults, larvae, pupae, and eggs. But where to find them? Fleas can live anywhere on your pet’s skin, so do a thorough inspection. Specifically, fleas like to congregate in places that are warm and well-protected. On dogs, they prefer the armpits and groin- on cats, the stomach, tail base, and neck. Paying special attention to those areas will help you keep your furry baby flea-free!
Pet Bedding, Wash Warm
Wash your pet’s bedding in warm water every week and dry it on the hottest setting. Just try not to scorch it! The dry heat will kill the fleas and detach them from the fabric. If the infestation is particularly bad, we recommend throwing out the affected bedding and replacing it.
Avoid: Flea Collars
According to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), flea collars are highly toxic. They contain powerful pesticides that will linger on a pet’s fur and skin for weeks after the collar is put on them. Some of these chemicals are so strong that they can cause cancer and neurological issues in your pets. Proximity to these chemicals can put children at risk, as well. We definitely recommend avoiding flea collars.
Keeping Fleas Out of Your Home During Flea Season
De-contaminating your house frequently will prevent flea infestations and flea-borne illnesses. You can do this by:
- Steam cleaning your carpets monthly.
- Washing human and pet bedding once a week.
- Vacuuming upholstery, mattresses, and carpets with a high-powered vacuum at least weekly.
- Using a fogger (bug bomb for fleas) or chemical treatment aerosol sprays to get into the hard-to-reach areas. Ensure that both options contain flea-killing solutions like adulticide and permethrin, as well as chemicals that kill larvae, pupae, and eggs like methoprene and pyriproxyfen.
As we discussed before, these pesticides can be dangerous for humans and pets alike. When using chemical treatment aerosol sprays and foggers, ensure that you wear gloves and keep any family members and pets away from the treated areas until they are fully dry. Foggers typically require an 8 hour waiting period before you can inhabit the area again. You may need to air out your home and wipe down all surfaces when the treatment has been completed as the chemicals contained therein can irritate the skin and cause health issues.
Keeping Your Yard Flea-Free
You can keep fleas out of your home by eradicating them from your yard. As they tend to like warm, humid, and shady places, you should focus on treating those rather than areas with direct sunlight. Those areas are too hot for them to survive and multiply. They also like to hang around in spots that your pet frequents when they play and sunbathe in your yard. Focusing on these areas will get you one step closer to protecting your family and pets.
Mow the Lawn, but not too Short
If mowing the lawn is a bi-weekly effort, then you’re on the right track! The recommended practice is to mow your lawn high- that is- between 2-3 inches. If your grass is too high, this will give fleas places to hide, but if you mow your lawn too low, you’ll discourage spiders and ants- both of which have a diet that includes fleas. Two to three inches is the sweet spot to aim for!
Treat Your Lawn
Once you’re done cutting the grass, you’ll want to treat your lawn with pesticides that will kill the fleas that are already living in your grass. You’ll also want to spray indoor and perimeter pesticides around the foundation of your house to stop fleas in their tracks.
Remove Debris and Thatch
Our strategy is to remove everything in your yard that would make it appealing to fleas, so this would include getting rid of debris like leaves, palm fronds, hay, branches, piles of lumber, brick, or cinderblocks. Essentially, you’ll remove anything fleas can use as cover to lay their eggs and will allow them to have that warm, humid, shady environment that they love.
Don’t Drown Your Lawn
We know you want the best lawn on the block, but you probably don’t want fleas! Cut down on the moisture and only water your yard with an inch of water every week. If you have a yard that is mainly comprised of desert flora, you can expect to water it even less. Because fleas love humidity, a drier, healthy yard should keep them at bay.
Some Cedar Mulch a Day Keeps the Fleas Away!
Bulk up your yard’s flea immune system with cedar mulch! Put it in those shady, humid spots in your yard, your pet’s favorite lounging spots (especially if they’re shady), around the perimeter of your house and pay areas. It’ll create a warding barrier to keep the fleas away from your pets, your kids, and your house.
Less Shade, More Sun
Pruning your trees regularly to keep them from throwing off too much shade will bring more sunlight into your yard. Since we’ve established that fleas hate sunlight, this is a great way to keep them away from your home.
Wildlife-proof Your Backyard
When you live in the hills, it’s not uncommon to come across dangerous creatures like coyotes, wild cats, and mountain lions. Not only is it essential for you to protect your family and your pets from an encounter, but also to discourage a flea infestation. Much like your own domesticated pet, these critters can carry fleas, too.
Because they haven’t had proper vaccinations, however, there’s no telling what pathogens they could be carrying. As a result, the question of these fleas spreading the dangerous pathogens these wild animals carry becomes not if, but when.
You can keep out wildlife by installing a tall, solid privacy wall buried deep into the ground. As these creatures easily jump over, scale, or dig under normal fences, taking the proper precautions to prevent them is paramount. If you find that this type of physical barrier offers too much shade to your yard, we recommend ensuring that you don’t leave pet food out. There are also animal repellants you can buy that should discourage them. For smaller animals like rabbits and squirrels, letting your dog run freely outside, putting out pinwheels, and setting up automatic sprinklers are effective methods of keeping out wild animals- especially during flea season.