How to Get Rid of Fleas

Learning about the flea life cycle is the key to getting rid of them.

A simple flea bath or collar isn't going to eradicate fleas on your pet and in your home. Learn the flea life cycle to fine-tune your efforts.

Related: More Veterinary Parasites

  • 01 of 11
    Anatomy of the flea
    By Al2 (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    Fleas can make pets' lives miserable, and humans begin to itch just at the thought of them. Part I of this article is to give some insight into the biology of the flea. Why go back to biology? Because the flea life cycle is fairly complex, and understanding the various stages will make it easier to get rid of them.

  • 02 of 11
    Dog scratching fleas
    "Scratching" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by ☺ Lee J Haywood

    Part I of this article discussed the biology of the flea. Understanding the various stages of the flea life cycle will make the various flea treatment regimes easier to understand and apply. The purpose of part II of this article is to demonstrate why multiple approaches are needed to control/eradicate fleas.

  • 03 of 11
    Head of cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. 10X objective, transmitted brightfield illumination.
    Head of cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. Getty - E+/Nancy Nehring

    It is easy to feel defeated when fighting fleas. A multi-pronged approach is necessary to rid your home and pets of these pests. Here are 5 tips to get started.

  • 04 of 11
    Diatomaceous earth
    Diatomaceous earth as viewed under bright field illumination on a light microscope. By Zephyris - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

    Diatom cell walls are made of silica, a component of glass. DE has been used for years as an insecticide to control mites, fleas, and other insects; find out how it works here.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11
    A dog
    "Scratch" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by _A_K_M_

    This Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) is from Margaret. "My question is: my dog has these little black things in her fur that like little spots of black pepper..." Find out the answer to this commonly asked question and how you can do a quick little test at home to verify what this "black pepper" stuff is.

  • 06 of 11
    A man petting a dog
    "a regal, dignified taro shiba will accep" (CC BY 2.0) by _tar0_

    Fleas have a complex, 4-stage life cycle. Control of fleas on your pet and in your home must address all stages of this life cycle to stop the problem of flea infestation. This article will cover several different methods that are effective at controlling fleas when used properly.

  • 07 of 11
    Cocker spaniel close up
    "Cocker Spaniel Close-Up" (CC BY 2.0) by blogdnd

    Viewer question from the Veterinary Medicine forum: ANGELAESQUILIN asks: "My five-month-old Cocker Spaniel has been on Frontline® for three months now. Every Saturday I give her a bath also using a flea and tick shampoo recommended by my vet. Yesterday I saw her scratching herself and decided to check her with a flea and tick comb. To my amazement, I removed two fleas from her coat. I am not sure what I have done wrong for her to get fleas.

  • 08 of 11
    Painting of a monkey physician examining a cat patient for fleas.
    By http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/a7/88/af07df56ebc3b22185ce2d9341cf.jpgGallery: http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0011066.html, CC BY 4.0, Link

    Fleas. They make pets' lives miserable, and humans begin to itch just at the thought of them. Vets are often asked what pill, drop, dip, collar, or shampoo works the best to get rid of these persistent parasites. The answer is that there is no single method or insecticide that will completely eradicate (or at least control) a flea problem. The flea life cycle is fairly complex, and understanding the various stages will make it easier to get rid of them.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11
    A cat having a flea bath
    "111/365 - May 30, 2009 - Savannah loves" (CC BY 2.0) by TexasDarkHorse

    How to get the most out of a flea bath, the start of a good flea control program. Not every itchy dog (or cat) has fleas, though. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian if your pet is itching or has inflamed skin before initiating treatment or special shampoos.

  • 10 of 11
    a cat scratching himself
    "Caturday" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by alf.melin

    Yes, fleas can make pets and people itchy and uncomfortable, but don't always assume that your pet's itchiness is the result of fleas. Learn about flea allergy and some other possible causes for your pet's itchiness.

  • 11 of 11
    Asia the dog © Lianne McLeod DVM, Guide to Exotic Pets
    Asia the dog. © Lianne McLeod DVM, Guide to Exotic Pets

    This article is not specifically about fleas, but a good case history and workup of two itchy dogs. Lianne McLeod, Guide to Exotic Pets at About.com, has written an extensive "dermatology diary" account of her two dogs who suffer from itchy skin and hair loss. Learn what is involved in a veterinary referral work up; how skin diseases are examined and ruled out, the topical medications, oral medications and special diets that veterinary dermatologists use to diagnose and return their...MORE patients to good health.