To defeat fleas, you need to understand their life cycle and learn how to take control. Your groomer can be a great ally in this battle.

I learned that for every adult flea seen on a dog or cat, there are about 95 other fleas in various life stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) around the pet’s environment. If you don’t kill the juvenile life stages, you’ll never win any battles against fleas.

Once an adult flea finds your pet, there is very little short of death that will remove that flea from your dog or cat. People want to believe that fleas jump from pet to pet, like you see in cartoons.

The fact is once a flea starts taking a blood meal from an animal, the flea will die within two hours if removed from the pet. Remember this: Pets acquire fleas by picking them up from the environment. So you’ve got to concentrate in taking care of the house and yard immediately after seeing the first flea on your pet.

Females fleas can lay 40 to 50 eggs per day over their lifetime, resulting in more than 2,000 eggs added to the environment. Thirty adult fleas can explode into more than 250,000 fleas in less than one month.

So when you are faced with a flea problem in your home, what can you do? First, talk with your veterinary staff about effective flea control medications and make sure you treat ALL the pets in the household at once.

A home area treatment spray can help, but be sure to use one that contains an insect growth regulator (IGR). IGRs prevent flea eggs from hatching and flea larva from molting. Talk to your pest control guy and ask to have your yard sprayed with a pet-safe pesticide on a regular basis.

Take your pet to the groomer to have a soothing oatmeal-based flea shampoo. Trim the coat and remove matted fur that could hide these vermin.

I usually give a Capstar to flea-infested pets. Capstar is a pill that kills all living adult fleas for about 24 hours. While your furry friend is at the groomers, that is your golden opportunity to treat the house and yard.

Don’t waste your money on over-the-counter flea collars. I’ve never seen one work. Flea dips can work at killing and repelling fleas for up to a week. They are messy to apply, but your groomer will be happy to do it for you.

Remember that it takes consistent treatments to win the battle against fleas and that your groomer can help you along.

Debbi Snyder writes for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and is owner of DogSense Obedience in Lakeland. She has been teaching obedience classes since the 1980s.