How to Get Rid of Fleas, Fast

Jennifer Coates, DVM
Mar 30, 2020
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Nobody wants fleas crawling around on their pets or in their home. But if you do see fleas, there’s no need to panic. You can get rid of fleas quickly using several different methods.

It’s important to remember that not every method is safe for every type of pet, so be sure to read labels carefully, and if you have any questions, ask your veterinarian.

Try an Oral Flea Treatment

Oral flea treatments can be very effective options for cats and dogs, and since they’re designed to taste good, they’re simple to administer. As an added bonus, this type of treatment typically acts very quickly.

There are several different brands of oral flea treatment.

Capstar

Capstar is available without a prescription, and it starts killing fleas within just a few hours. It’s generally a safe option for cats and dogs at the appropriate dosage.

However, it doesn’t have any residual activity, which means you’ll need to use something else (or keep redosing Capstar frequently) to prevent more fleas from hopping onto your pet.

Capstar is good for treating infestations on your pet quickly, or for instance, if you rescue a stray and need coverage before you can get long-lasting prescription flea and tick medication.

Prescription Flea and Tick Treatments

Prescription medications are better options for long-term use; many last for a month or more. Comfortis is commonly prescribed for cats but is also available in canine formulations.

There are numerous options for dogs, including Trifexis, Sentinel, NexGard, and Simparica, just to name a few. Many of these products kill other types of parasites than just fleas.

Your veterinarian can help you choose the one that’s best for your pet.

Use a Spot-on (Topical) Treatment

Spot-on treatments are generally applied on the back of your pet’s neck to prevent them from ingesting the medication while it’s wet. Once the medication has dried, it isn’t much of a danger.

Certain topical treatments for dogs and cats, like Frontline Plus, are available over the counter.

Prescription options like Revolution, Revolution Plus, Advantage Multi, and Bravecto will be more effective in these cases.

If your pet’s skin is very irritated from fleas, this method might not be ideal, as it can cause further skin irritation. You also don’t want to apply spot-on treatments to broken skin.

They also may not be ideal in homes with small children or curious pets who are hard to keep apart, as you don’t want anyone to inadvertently get these products in their mouths while the treated pet’s fur is still wet.

Use a Flea Collar

Old-school flea collars have fallen out of use due to the wide availability of safer and more effective medications, but today, there is one over-the-counter version that is worth a look.

Seresto collars are available for dogs and cats of various sizes. Bonus: These collars help prevent ticks and can last for up to eight months.

Give Your Pet a Bath

Giving your pet a bath won’t get rid of fleas, but it’s a step you might want to consider alongside other flea treatments. A bath can help wash off dead fleas, flea ‘dirt’ (feces), and eggs that might remain in your pet’s fur.

Use a gentle, species-appropriate shampoo and warm water. It’s not necessary to use a flea shampoo. Newer medications work much better than flea shampoos—just be sure to check the label to determine the effect of bathing on the flea medication you use.

Treat Your Home as Well as Your Pet

While a really good flea treatment for your pet will eventually eliminate the fleas in your home, you’ll have to do some extra work if you want to get rid of them quickly.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Vacuum: This is one of the most effective ways to get rid of fleas in your home, and it doesn’t only apply to carpet. Wood floors, tile, and furniture could also benefit from a good vacuuming.

  2. Wash linens: Wash and dry your pet’s bedding and other machine-washable materials they come into contact with, ideally using hot water and a hot setting on the dryer when possible.

  3. Use home and yard treatments: If you’re really struggling with an infestation, foggers and sprays intended to kill fleas might be your best bet. Just make sure you deploy them safely per the package directions, and check for safety precautions.

Kick Fleas to the Curb Year-Round

Fleas are a pain, both literally (when it comes to your furry friends) and figuratively, but there are lots of safe and simple options for getting rid of them and keeping them from coming back.

When choosing prevention, it’s best to use an effective product year-round since fleas can survive the winter months inside your home.

By Jennifer Coates, DVM

Featured Image: iStock.com/vvvita

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