How to Prevent Flea Bites

Five Parts:Preventing Flea Bites on HumansPreventing Flea Bites on PetsChecking for a Current Flea InfestationTreating Your Pets for FleasCleaning and Treating Your House

Fleas are the bane of pet owners everywhere. These pesky pests cause itchy, bothersome bites on humans and their pets. Some pets can even be allergic to their bites and fleas can carry diseases. Preventing flea bites takes some proper planning, but it can be done. It all starts with evaluating your home, yard, and pets for fleas. If you find fleas, you will next need to take action. This includes treating pets and your house to get rid of fleas as well as their eggs, since the eggs hatch into fleas up to 6 months after being laid by the adult female flea.

Part 1
Preventing Flea Bites on Humans

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    Use a lemon citrus spray. Fleas don’t like the scent of lemon and will avoid things with this smell. By applying a lemon spray around your house and on your pets, you can drive the fleas away, at least temporarily.
    • Make a lemon citrus spray by cutting 6 lemons in half and boiling them in water. Steep the lemons in the water overnight. Pour the lemon water into a clean spray bottle. Place in a spray bottle and apply to fabrics and furniture around your house. You can also spritz your animals with lemon spray.[1]
    • Test inconspicuous areas first to make sure it doesn’t bleach or damage the item being sprayed.
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    Use a diffuser and essential oils that repel fleas. Set up several diffusers throughout your house. Choose oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, cedar wood, lemon, or peppermint.[2]
    • You can also look for lotions that contain these essential oils. Apply the lotion to your skin, which will repel the fleas.
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    Apply an insecticide in your house. Most general bug sprays prevent against fleas, so apply the spray if you notice fleas in your house. One with an insect growth inhibitor will be longer lasting killing any fleas which hatch for up to 7 months.[3]
    • Consider the health hazards of insecticides. Always read labels carefully to avoid accidental poisoning.[4]
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    Consider applying insecticide to your yard. If it's flea season, spraying insecticide in your yard will kill off fleas and eggs. Look for a product that's been approved by the EPA and is safe to use on your plants.[5]
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    Get nematodes for your yard. Nematodes are small worms that feed on fleas. Ladybugs are also good additions to your yard, as they feed on fleas as well. Visit your local garden center to get some of these flea predators.[6]

Part 2
Preventing Flea Bites on Pets

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    Check your pets every month with a flea comb. Catch fleas in the early stages of infestation. Comb through your pets’ fur on a monthly basis with a fine-toothed comb, known as a flea comb. Look for black and white dots, which will indicate possible flea infestation.
    • Make a point of checking your pet's fur, ears, and paws for fleas. If you keep an eye for the initial appearance of fleas, you'll be able to catch and remove them faster.
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    Give monthly flea prevention medications. Ask your veterinarian about the best monthly flea prevention treatments for your pet. You may have to make appointments for injections or prescription oral medication.
    • You can also purchase over-the-counter flea prevention drops or pills. Just take care to read the label instructions for proper dosage.
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    Make a homemade flea collar with essential oils. Give your pet some added protection from biting fleas by making your own flea collar. Mix two to three drops of cedar or lavender essential oil with one to two tablespoons of water. Drip some of this mixture onto a bandanna. Rub the sides of the bandanna fabric together to rub in the scent. Then tie the bandanna around your pet’s neck. [7]
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    Add apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water. Add one teaspoon of all-natural apple cider vinegar to one quart of drinking water for your dog. This will deter fleas as the vinegar works its way through the dog’s bloodstream and is emitted through his skin.[8]
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    Try brewer’s yeast in your pet’s meal. Brewer’s yeast has been known to repel fleas, especially in hot muggy climates. For a cat or small dog, add half a teaspoon of brewer’s yeast to the pet’s meal by sprinkling it over the food. Use one teaspoon if your dog is over 30 pounds, and add a teaspoon for every 30 pounds beyond that.
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    Keep your pet inside when fleas are rampant. Fleas are usually at their worst from March to October, depending on where you live.[9] They like warm, humid weather, preferring temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 75% humidity.[10]

Part 3
Checking for a Current Flea Infestation

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    Use a flea comb on your pet. A flea comb is a very fine-toothed comb easily found in pet supply stores, the pet aisle in discount stores, or at a veterinary office. Work the comb down to the pet’s skin and slowly comb through the fur. If there are fleas, you'll see small black flakes or even fleas as you pull the comb through the fur. [11]
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    Wear white socks around your house. When you're at home, spend some time wearing white socks. This will make it easier to spot fleas. If you notice a bunch of tiny black spots on your socks, this may be a sign of a flea infestation. These might show up as actual fleas that may jump on your ankles and feet, or these specks may also be flea dirt.[12]
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    Watch your pet for behavioral changes. You may notice your pet scratching or furiously nibbling at itself if it's being bothered by fleas.
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    Check your skin for flea bites. If you have flea bites, you might have small pink and red bumps or spots which may be itchy.[13]
    • You might find flea bites at the fold of a joint, such as at your elbow, knee or ankle.
    • These bumps will turn white when you press on them.

Part 4
Treating Your Pets for Fleas

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    Visit your vet to get long-lasting flea control products. Your veterinarian can give you stronger flea control medications that are administered orally or by injection. Some other treatments are topical solutions. Most of these products do require a trip to the vet, but they may help you clear up the flea problem more quickly. These products include:
    • Topical or spot-on medication. These medications absorb from the skin into the pet’s bloodstream. They are applied to a small area on the pet’s back directly on the skin. From there, they work to paralyze and kill fleas after they feed on the pet. Ingredients in these products vary and may include: fipronil, imidacloprid, metaflumizone, permethrin, pyriproxyfen, selamectin, and spinosad. NEVER use permethrins on cats.
    • Oral tablets: These are given once a month. Some of the tablets only stop the egg from developing into an adult, so another product will need to be used to kill adult fleas. There is also a quick-acting product will only kill fleas for 24 hours.
    • Injections: For cats, there is a product available which will control fleas for up to 6 months. A veterinarian will need to give the injection. There is the potential for side effects. These include reactions to the injection at the site of injection, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
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    Regularly give your pet a flea bath or a flea dip. If you don’t use topical solutions, collars, or other medication from your veterinarian, you’ll need to control the presence of fleas on your pet another way. Look for a pet shampoo or dip that will kill fleas, larvae, and eggs.
    • These are good for eliminate fleas living on your pet, but the repellent smell will quickly decrease reducing its effectiveness within a few days. Dips have a slightly longer residual effect to repel fleas.
    • Be sure to follow the directions for use and frequency and completely rinse the product off of your pet.[14]
    • DO NOT use dog shampoo or dips on cats.
    • Keep in mind that these types of product will cleanse the pet, but many of them do not have persistent action to stop the pet from becoming reinfected. You may need to use another product (such as a spot-on treatment or collar) to prevent reinfestation.
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    Try a flea collar. Some collars are highly effective, but others are not. Effective collars, such as Seresto brand collars, require a veterinary prescription. Be cautious about collars that do not need a script as they are less likely to be effective. Always follows the directions on the package. When used with flea and tick shampoos they can be a good option for flea control. DO NOT use dog flea collars on cats.
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    Try a spray or powder. Flea sprays and powders, available at pet stores, are applied to the pet’s fur. They may need to be worked in to reach the skin to kill the adult fleas.
    • Follow the instructions on the package for proper use.
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    Continue giving monthly flea baths. Once you've eliminated the pet’s flea problem, continue giving your pet flea baths at least once a month to prevent the fleas from returning. Take extra care to wash your pet’s head after you've washed his body. Fleas might try jumping onto the head to avoid being washed.
    • Remember to treat all the pets in the household.
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    Never use a dog product on a cat or vice versa. Flea control products are specially formulated for use on a certain type of pet. They are not interchangeable. Do not use a dog-formulated product on your cat, and vice versa.

Part 5
Cleaning and Treating Your House

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    Vacuum your house daily. While this may seem excessive, it's actually a vital part of removing fleas from your home. Since fleas lay eggs that may hatch after you've treated your pet, you need to remove the eggs and larvae that fall to the floor or on furniture. Vacuum every day for a few weeks to ensure that a new cycle of fleas won't trouble you.
    • Remember to throw the vacuum bag away in an outdoor dumpster or empty the bagless vacuum canister into the outdoor dumpster. If you leave the dirt in the vacuum bag or canister, the fleas can easily work their way back into your home.[15]
    • Eggs and fleas can also get trapped in fabric on couches, pet bedding and other upholstered furniture. Vacuum upholstery every day for a few weeks.
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    Use diatomaceous earth in your house. Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural and safe alternative for killing fleas in your house. DE is similar in consistency to talcum powder.[16] It can be sprinkled on carpets, baseboards, and other places in your house. Let it sit for a few days and then vacuum it up.
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    Use a flea insecticide with a growth inhibitor. This type of insecticide will restrict the growth of fleas and eggs. Check that the product will kill fleas/eggs for up to 7 months.
    • Strictly follow the instructions. Make sure to remove all pets from the area when you are applying this insecticide. Don't forget birds and other pets in cages. Be sure to also cover aquariums when using these products.
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    Wash bedding and upholstery in hot water. Strip as much of the fabric off your couches, chairs, and bed as you can. Then, wash it in the hottest water your fabric will allow. This should kill fleas and their eggs.[17]
    • Gather up any clothes that may be lying around, especially piles of laundry. Fleas will nest in fabrics. Washing and drying on the hottest setting possible will kill fleas and eggs.


  • Use 1% hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching if you have flea bites.[18] Do not use this on pets.


  • NEVER use shampoos or medications intended for dogs on a cat. It can make your cat ill or potentially kill him. Make sure to use products specifically designed for cats.
  • Read the warning labels and instructions for any products prior to use. Many include warnings about using the product around pets and children.
  • Be sure of your pet’s weight before using flea treatments at home. This will ensure that you use the proper dosage for your pet’s size.[19]

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Categories: Pet Hazards