Fleas can be a frustrating problem for pet owners because of their ability to reproduce so quickly. Sometimes it seems like you might never be able to completely eradicate them from your home. However, once you understand the life cycle of the flea it becomes much easier to see how their populations can be reduced.

Many dog owners make the mistake of only concentrating on killing adult fleas. This is understandable, because adult fleas are visible to the naked eye. This is also the only stage of the flea's life cycle that lives on the host pet. However, adult fleas only compromise 5% of the total flea population living in your home. The other 95% consist of eggs, larvae, and pupae which are microscopic and live off the host animal. You have to take into account that eventually all these "baby" fleas will turn into adult fleas and jump onto your pet to start feeding and reproducing. If you want to learn how to get rid of fleas for good the answer lies in a complete understanding of the flea's life cycle. That's probably a boring answer, but it's the truth!

Sometimes it can seem convenient and cost effective to purchase over-the-counter products such as flea collars, flea shampoos, and sprays. However, in the long-run these products aren't going to do much good because they only target adult fleas. Plus, they only do a mediocre job at best and can be toxic to pets, especially cats who are very sensitive to them.

Don't even waste your money on any flea product sold in pet shops or grocery stores. If you insist on giving your pet a bath to get rid of fleas, simply use Dawn dish soap which is safer and works just as well, if not better, than any shampoo or dip formulated to kill fleas. I really don't know what it is about Dawn dish soap that makes it better than other brands but it really seems to do the job! They used it to clean up wildlife after the oil spill in Prince William Sound so there must be something special about it! However, don't expect a simple soap bath to get rid of your fleas for good. Tomorrow, the next day, and the week after that, there's going to be a bunch of pupae that emerge from their cocoons as adult fleas that will jump on your pet, and now you're starting again at square one.

As stated previously, the key to getting rid of your flea problem for good is to break the life cycle. This doesn't happen overnight, and depending on the environmental conditions in your home can take anywhere between 60 and 90 days. You also don't need to spend money to have a company come out and spray your home, nor do you need to "bomb" your house with potentially harmful chemicals. The solution to getting rid of fleas forever is knowing which products to use and how to use them effectively. Here are the steps you need to follow:

1. You will need to purchase a product that kills adult fleas both safely and effectively. My favorite product to use is a chewable, oral tablet called Capstar. Capstar begins to work within 30 minutes and kills more than 90% of adult fleas on your dog or cat within 30 minutes. Make sure EVERY PET IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD receives a Capstar tablet once every 3-4 days until adult fleas are no longer seen. Even pets that currently are not infested with fleas should be on the medication. This is because as the product begins to work, many of the fleas will attempt to jump ship onto your other pets that haven't been treated. In addition, there will be many baby fleas in the environment that will be hatching into adults soon and looking for a new host to feed on. They will feed on whatever animal they find first.

2. In addition to Capstar, you'll also need a medication that prevents adult fleas from reproducing and prevents baby fleas from developing into adult fleas. My favorite medication for this is called lufenuron which is found in two products: Program and Sentinel. In most cases Program is given to cats and Sentinel is given to dogs, but both products are safe to give to either cats or dogs. However, Sentinel flea medication will be more expensive because it also contains a heartworm preventative called milbemycin oxime.

Again, you will need to give EVERY PET IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD a lufenuron tablet once every 30 days for 3 consecutive months. Treating all the pets in your household consistently for three consecutive months is the only way to break the flea's life cycle which, on average, lasts for 21 days. However, if conditions are right the life cycle can last much longer. Pupae can survive up to 174 days if conditions are favorable.

3. Even though these two medications are very effective at eradicating flea populations, as an extra precaution you should also vacuum areas in the home where your pets spend a lot of time. A recent study done at Ohio State University demonstrated that vacuuming fleas from carpeting kills 96% of adult fleas and 100% of pupae and larvae. Of course, the majority of adult fleas in your home will probably be living on your pets because once they find a host that's where they stay. Also, it can be difficult to vacuum 100% of pupae and larvae due to the fact that they like to live in tight cracks and corners.

Even so, this study shows that you don't need to use expensive chemicals or any other means to attempt to kill adult fleas and baby fleas living in your home. All you need is a vacuum! Researchers state that the force of the vacuum's brushes as well as the fans and strong air currents are enough to wear away at the cuticle of a flea, causing death. If you're dealing with a severe flea infestation researchers recommend vacuuming your carpets and other flooring every other day.

As long as you follow these steps and treat every pet in the household your flea nightmare should eventually come to an end. The key is to use effective products consistently and to stop wasting your time, energy, and money on cheap and ineffective solutions.