How To Get Rid Of Fleas On Dogs? – The Best Practices For Tackling Flea Infestation

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A devoted pet parent, pet store manager and animal shelter volunteer. Read more about me here.

Allowing your dog to go out and play in the park with other dogs is a dream come true for most pets. But for pet owners, it's not always ideal - especially if your dog gets into a fight or gets fleas from its new friends.

If you've never come across a flea infestation before, you may be puzzled about how to get rid of fleas on dogs. Thankfully, I know all the best practices, tips, and tricks - and all you need to do is continue scrolling!

What Are Fleas?

what are fleas

Fleas are essentially small parasites that live in the dog's coat and feed on the blood of the animal. They'll make their home in the animal's fur - and yes, they're pretty uncomfortable and dangerous for dogs to have, especially long-term.

For the longest time, fleas were thought to be practically innocent - but adult fleas can infect your dog with tapeworms or even typhus, as well as various skin infections. To top it all off, dogs with fleas can lose a lot of blood because of the constant bloodsucking.

The flea will make a hole in the dog's skin that eventually forms into a cyst - which you'll be able to spot as a red bump. When the adult fleas start to feed on the blood in the hole, their saliva comes into contact with the dog's skin, resulting in an intense itch.

Fleas are very small, but they can still be visible to the naked eye - even the flea eggs.

A long time ago, it was thought that, in most cases, the fleas transmitted the bubonic plague. However, don't worry about your dog getting bubonic plague; it's truly not likely to happen.

Keep in mind that the flea life cycle is about 90 days - and they can lay eggs every day. That's why it's best if you catch the flea infestation as soon as possible. It will be easier to kill fleas if there aren't too many of them yet.

And even if that's not the case, a persistent flea treatment will do the job!

How To Catch Fleas On Dogs?

how to catch fleas on dogs

Before you start gathering the tools to kill adult fleas, you should make sure your dog has indeed come down with a flea infestation. If your dog spends plenty of time outside, it can get infected with various parasites, not just fleas - and it's up to you, pet parents, to figure out what's up.

Luckily, we've established that adult fleas are visible to the naked eye, unlike the scabies mites - so you should start the search in your pet's hair. You should look for deep orange-red colored bugs, usually as small as the pinhead.

Similar Reading: How To Get Rid Of Mites in Dogs

Keep in mind that fleas don't like the light, so they'll mainly make their home on the tummy and the inside of the dog's thighs. If you can't spot any, that's not a sign that your dog doesn't have fleas - it could be just that the flea population is still very low.

You should also look for "flea dirt," also known as flea feces. Flea dirt resembles ground pepper, and it could easily be mistaken for ordinary dirt. To make sure you have found flea dirt, take a flea comb and run it through the pet's hair.

Now, take the comb and wipe it on a moist tissue. If the color is reddish-brown, it's flea dirt - and you have a flea-ridden dog.

If you aren't too sure whether those are fleas on dogs or something else, take your pet to the vet. Your dog could be itchy due to ticks or tiny worms - but don't worry, worms and tick treatments work fast and are highly effective.

How To Get Rid Of Fleas - The Complete Guide

how to get rid of fleas - the guide

In case you were wondering can dogs get rid of fleas by themselves, the answer is - no, you will have to help them. So, once you determine your dog has fleas, you'll probably start to wonder how to get rid of fleas on dog immediately.

Unfortunately, though, getting rid of fleas is not instant - it's a process.

First of all, you'll need to give your dog a nice, thorough bath. To do that, you shouldn't use regular dog shampoo. Instead, use a flea shampoo that kills adult fleas and flea larvae. The best flea shampoo will even have a soothing agent to soothe the itching, which will persist a bit longer, even after the fleas are gone.

When you lather your pooch with soapy water, it's time to get the flea comb out. Trust me; you don't want to be picking fleas off dog one by one.

The best flea combs feature dense, metal teeth that don't allow the adult female flea to remain in the fur and make this one of the worst flea infestations you and your pup have experienced.

You could even use a cloth dipped in lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to eliminate the fleas.

Online, you'll find advice claiming that dish soap is very effective for killing fleas. I advise against it, as it could be very drying for your dog's coat and skin - and flea shampoos typically cost only a few bucks, at most.

When combing through, pay special attention to the ear and tail area; these are the favorite places for fleas to hide when you start to soap up your pooch - and you can even find plenty of fleas on dog paws.

Most importantly, make sure you leave the shampoo on for about 5 to 10 minutes to kill the fleas!

Oral & Topical Treatments

Another thing to consider here is an oral medication to get rid of the fleas. You may not know this, but oral medications are extremely effective for fleas, and there are many different meds for it - some kill adult fleas and eggs, some only kill adults, and so on.

That said, be careful when picking out the medication - the best one should even prevent fleas from getting into your dog's coat again. If the med or topical treatment you found requires a prescription, talk to your vet about whether that's the right choice for your pet's health.

Prescription & Non-Prescription Medication

Treatment of dogs for fleas and ticks

First, let's talk about the prescription medication for dogs. They work amazingly for eradicating fleas, and they are highly effective. However, do note that you'll need to consult your vet about it first.

Some of the treatments can be used even after the fleas are gone for prevention - although most vets only prescribe these as a preventative treatment in warmer climates or during flea season.

Most prescription meds work within a few hours, and they have long-lasting effects - from one to three months.

It's important to remember that these prescription meds do not kill the fleas; they merely prevent the eggs from hatching. That breaks the life cycle, as new fleas can't come into the world - slowly reducing the population in your dog's coat.

As for the non-prescription meds, some pet owners may opt for them in an attempt to get rid of fleas on dogs naturally. The downside to them is that they aren't as effective, though.

The non-prescription meds can be shampoo, fine flea powder such as diatomaceous earth, and various spot products. However, many vets argue that the diatomaceous-earth-based fine powder won't be as effective as prescription meds; many dogs have persistent fleas following this treatment.

That isn't the case with all non-prescription treatments, though - some work just as well, like Capstar, for example. Capstar is an oral medication that kills fleas; it works pretty fast and kills most of the fleas within 3-4 hours.

Getting Rid Of Adult Fleas In Your Surroundings

Keep in mind that fleas tend to infest everything in your house or apartment - not just your dog's coat. In fact, many dogs get re-infested because there are still so many fleas around the house.

That's why you'll need to clean everything - from your pet's bedding to the rugs. You can even use flea products on carpet fibers to kill the fleas. Moreover, you will need to use the vacuum cleaner frequently in the next few weeks - and empty the vacuum bag every time - and clean all surfaces with hot water and mild soap.

Spreading some baking soda around the places your dog frequents could help eliminate fleas, too.

If you want to be sure fleas of all life stages are gone for good, consider using an insecticide. Check with an environmental protection agency first to make sure it's safe for dogs and other pets. Use an insect growth regulator on top of it to kill the larvae.

Most importantly, clean the areas with warm water after the recommended time has passed to keep your pooch safe.

Did you know that fleas on dogs could cause an allergic reaction - such as anaphylactic shock - as some dogs are allergic to flea saliva?

If your dog doesn't seem to be doing too well and appears lethargic, seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. The vet will prescribe some antihistamines to soothe the reaction - but you will still need to find some natural remedies to repel fleas in the future.

Checking for allergies doesn't have to include going to the vet - you can use the 5Strands dog allergy testing kit at home to check it out and keep your pooch safe from allergens!

How To Get Rid Of Fleas On You?

When you need to get rid of dog fleas, you may be worried you can get fleas, too. Unfortunately, fleas might decide to bite you - but the good news is, they won't stay on humans.

Fleas prefer dense fur humans simply don't have, making them undesirable hosts. So, you might get an itch here and there - but fleas won't stay!

How To Prevent Fleas In The Future?

preventing dog fleas in the future

Are you still wondering how to permanently get rid of fleas on dog? And even if you use the best way to get rid of dog fleas, how can you make sure it lasts forever?

Well, you'll need to be extra careful during the flea season, first of all. Next, essential oils could be your friend here. Adding a few drops of cedar oil or tea tree oil might just be the key to preventing flea bites in your dog's coat.

If you and your dog live in warm climates, your pooch might be more prone to getting fleas. That is due to the reason that fleas love the warm weather, and they thrive in it.

If your dog's been diagnosed with flea allergy dermatitis, you'll have to be extra careful when it comes to flea prevention. Ask your vet about your pet taking preventative prescription meds all year to keep it safe!

Of course, we've all heard of flea collars - those green gummy things dogs wear after a flea infestation. The thing is, your dog doesn't have to get fleas to wear it. Your pup can wear one for prevention; better safe than sorry, as they say.

How To Get Rid Of Fleas - Bottom Line

To conclude, getting rid of fleas is a time-consuming job. You have to clean your pooch, yourself - the entire house and your pup's surroundings - the whole 9 yards!

Luckily, I've found the best practices to treat fleas - including some tricks on how to prevent fleas from coming over again!

All the advice on how to remove fleas will help - but remember that prevention is the key!

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About the Author

A devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time assistant pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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