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Animal Kingdom

Flees and Ticks

Crank Up the Vacuum Cleaner

If you rarely vacuum, a flea invasion should inspire a change of heart.

Regular vacuuming lowers the number of fleas and flea eggs from carpet, cracks in wood floors, and on curtains and upholstered furniture. It also catches them under furniture. Don't forget to vacuum the areas where your pet sleeps and eats. Empty and wash the vacuum cleaner canister or throw away bags in an outside garbage can right away so fleas don't sneak back inside.

Vacuum every day in the parts of your home where you and your pets hang out the most -- like the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. Vacuum once a week everywhere else.

If you have a serious flea invasion, have your carpets steam-cleaned. The heat will kill the fleas, but it may not kill all the eggs. They may hatch later, and you may have to have your carpets cleaned again.

In really bad cases, you may want to consider treating your house with a flea "bomb" or calling in an exterminator. Just make sure you choose a product that is safe for you and your pets.

Wash Bedding in Hot, Soapy Water

Hot, soapy water kills fleas, too, so wash your pet's bed once a week. And if your pets sleep in your bed or with your kids, make sure to wash everyone's bedding, too.

Give Him a Bath

Once the house is vacuumed and the bedding is washed, give your dog a bath. Bathing your pet regularly will also help get rid of fleas in your home. Any soap will kill them, so you don't have to use a flea bath. But make sure that the soap you use is made for animals.

Some people like to end their pet's bath with a nice-smelling essential oil that may also help keep fleas away. Skip anything with citrus, cinnamon, clove, d-limonene, geranium, tea tree, lavender, linalool, bay, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, or rue. They can cause severe allergic reactions in cats and dogs. Those that have lemongrass, cedar wood, peppermint, rosemary, or thyme are less likely to cause problems if you use only a small amount.