Disinfecting the premises

The goal here is to prevent reinfestation by ridding the environment of insects, eggs, larvae, and other intermediate stages of the parasite. This is accomplished by physically cleaning and then applying insecticides.

Indoor Control

To eliminate all sources of reinfestation, it is essential to treat all animals in the household. Destroy infected bedding or thoroughly clean it with insecticides. Blankets and rugs on which the dog regularly sleeps should be washed weekly at the hottest setting. Scrub all the places the dogs rests and sleeps with a strong household disinfectant. To be effective, these areas should receive at least two thorough cleanings, followed by the application of an insecticide, spaced three weeks apart.

A thorough housecleaning involves vacuuming carpets, curtains, and furniture. Vacuum cleaner bags must be discarded immediately after use in an outside trash can, as they provide an ideal environment for fleas to hatch. Floors should be mopped, giving special attention to cracks and crevices where eggs are likely to incubate.

Steam cleaning carpets is highly effective in killing eggs and larvae. Insecticides can be used in the water of the steam cleaner. Specific products are available where you rent the equipment. With a heavy infestation, consider enlisting the services of a professional exterminator.

Insecticides are applied in the form of carpet shampoos and premise sprays (see Eliminating Fleas on the Premises). Remove all pets and children before you begin, and read all instructions carefully.

Additional products that can help eliminate fleas in the house include boric acid compounds such as Fleabusters and Fleago, which dehydrate fleas. Diatomaceous earth works in the same way. This is available as Fleas Away.

Outdoor Control

For outdoor control, first remove all decaying vegetation. Mow, rake, and dis- card the debris in tightly sealed bags.

For disinfecting kennels, runs, and other areas, the liquid application of chlorpyrifos, permethrin, or diazinon is preferred. Follow the directions for mixing, preparation, and application. When applying sprays, give special attention to the dog’s favorite sleeping spots, such beneath the porch or in the garage. Be sure the ground is dry before allowing pets outside.

Repeat the application twice at three-week intervals, or as recommended by the manufacturer. The residual activity of outdoor insecticides depends on weather conditions. In dry weather, they may remain effective for a month; in wet weather, for only one to two weeks.

Some insecticide dips can be used as sprays on gardens, lawns, and kennels. Use according to the instructions on the label.

Diatomaceous earth, including the product Fleas Away, can be spread in areas of the yard where your dog likes to stay. You can also explore the use of beneficial nematodes that feast on flea larvae and help to keep your yard flea free.

Discourage rodents such as squirrels, chipmunks, and mice that may be reinfesting your yard with fleas. You may need to trap them, or at a minimum, remove any bird feeders in the hopes the rodents will move elsewhere. Don’t leave pet food outdoors, because it attracts strays and wildlife. And be sure to securely cover all garbage cans.