Killing fleas on household pets requires a vigilant, multifaceted approach. Pet owners must work on eliminating fleas both on the animal and in the household using a variety of products, including topical treatments, oral medications and insecticides.
Fleas have a life cycle that runs from egg and larva to pupa and adult, and it can last anywhere from a couple weeks to several months. Once a pet owner detects fleas, the best ways to eliminate them include topical treatments (flea shampoos, sprays and spot-on treatments, such as Frontline and Advantage), flea collars and combs, and over-the-counter oral medications, including Program and Sentinel.
Flea shampoos, sprays and spot-on treatments offer a good first line of attack on adult fleas, but they cannot eliminate eggs or larvae on the animal. Accordingly, oral medications, which keep larvae from developing, are essential to breaking the flea life cycle. Flea combs can also help remove adult fleas, eggs and larvae as well as any dirt and debris from pets.
Pet owners must also take care of their households, where 90 percent of the flea population that affects actually live. Eggs, larvae and pupae reside in carpet and bedding, so all of these items and areas should be laundered, steam-cleaned or treated with insecticides.