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.

  • 01 of 10

    Learn About the Life Cycle of Fleas

    Anatomy of the flea

    Al2/GFDL or CC BY 3.0/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 10

    5 Facts to Know for Fighting Fleas

    Head of cat flea
    Ctenocephalides felis. 10X objective, transmitted brightfield illumination. 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.

  • 03 of 10

    How Diatomaceous Earth Works to Kill Fleas

    Diatomaceous earth as viewed under bright field illumination on a light microscope

    Zephyris/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.

  • 04 of 10

    What Are the Little "Black Pepper" Spots on My Pet?

    A dog

     CC BY-ND 2.0/_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.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    What Are the Best Methods to Control Fleas on My Pet and in My House?

    A man petting a dog

    CC BY 2.0/​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.

  • 06 of 10

    Why Does My Pet Have Fleas When Flea Control Products Are Regularly Applied?

    Cocker spaniel close up

    CC BY 2.0/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.

  • 07 of 10

    Why Is Flea Control so Difficult?

    Painting of a monkey physician examining a cat patient for fleas.

    CC BY 4.0

    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.

  • 08 of 10

    How to Give Your Pet A Flea Bath

    Cat having a flea bath


    by CaoWei/Getty Images 

    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.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Itching, Scratching, and Hair Loss

    A cat scratching himself

     CC BY-SA 2.0/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.

  • 10 of 10

    Dermatology Diary Photo Gallery

    This article is not specifically about fleas, but a good case history and workup of two itchy dogs. Lianne McLeod, an exotic pets expert, 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 patients to good health.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.