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Your dog or cat is scratching a lot lately. Then 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, read the instructions again. It’s easy to miss a step. 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. Just be sure to treat all of your animals so pests don’t simply jump from one to the other.

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.

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