You wouldn’t feed your dog chocolate, so why would you use toxic flea bombs and powders? They’re bad for you and your furry friends! But to keep the itchy pests out of your home, it’s helpful to understand how fleas like to live.

Female fleas lay their eggs in your pet’s bed, carpet, upholstered furniture, and cracks around the house. In a few days to a few weeks, the eggs hatch into small, worm-like larvae. The larvae can take anywhere from 9 to 200 days to spin a cocoon and move into the pupae stage, where they can remain for up to a year before emerging when conditions are favorable. This ability to hunker down and wait is what makes fleas so difficult to beat, and why a combination of methods to hit every stage of the life cycle is the best way to control them.

Keep your pet cat indoors.

No matter how diligent you are with flea care in your house, if your pet goes outdoors, it will continue bringing fleas into the home. While your puppy needs its exercise, be aware that reintroduction will make total, permanent flea eradication effectively impossible.

Vacuum regularly.

Vacuuming once a week will help remove eggs, larvae, and pupae as well as adult fleas. Make sure to hit upholstered furniture, crevices, and any area your pet frequents, and empty the bag into an outdoor garbage can right away.

Clean your pet’s sleeping area.

All stages of fleas tend to accumulate where your pet sleeps. Establish one sleeping area that can be easily cleaned, or place cloths around the house where your pet likes to sleep; wash these frequently.

Bathe or use a flea comb on your pet.

Grooming your pet, especially with a flea comb, removes adult fleas and can help you gauge the severity of the infestation so you can decide if other methods are necessary.

Use flea traps.

Sticky traps that catch fleas on a piece of paper are available, or you can try diatomaceous earth traps, which kill fleas by drying them out.

Make sure chemical controls are least-toxic.

If you feel chemical controls are needed, make sure your choice is the safest for humans and pets.

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