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Your dog or cat has been scratching lately. Something small and black jumps from the sofa onto your arm. Don’t freak out. Take charge of the situation.

Call the Vet

Is your pet on a flea control program? If he is, it must not be working. Ask your vet what she recommends.  You want a product that treats fleas at every stage -- from egg to adult bug -- and one that works well in your climate. Most flea treatments only take one regular monthly dose to keep fleas from making you and your pets itch.

If your pet is already on a flea treatment product and it’s not working, ask your vet about trying something different. And make sure you treat every cat and dog in the house.

Crank Up the Vacuum Cleaner

If you’re one of those people who rarely vacuums, the fleas should inspire a change of heart.

Regular vacuuming lowers the number of fleas and flea eggs from carpeting, 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 the vacuum cleaner bin 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 may not kill all the eggs. They may hatch later, and you may have to have the 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 cat or dog’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.

Buy a Flea Comb

It may seem old school, but a flea comb with tiny teeth can do a good job removing fleas from your pet. Do it outside, and concentrate on the neck area and the base of the tail. Keep a cup of soapy water beside you. Use it to dip the comb so you can drown the fleas.

Using a flea comb regularly on your pet will also let you know how your flea control program is working.

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 a cat or dog.

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, and rue oils. 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.

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