How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs? If you’ve ever experienced a flea infestation, you know the danger is real! Despite being small and innocent in appearance, fleas can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time. These blood-sucking parasites fearlessly feast on their prey and often cause irritation and severe itching.
Because fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day,1 it doesn’t take much for one to two fleas to develop into an explosion of flea activity. (That’s a lot of eggs!)
So, is it possible to quickly get rid of fleas on dogs? Before we learn how to kill these unwanted pests, it’s important to know what you’re looking for—especially if you’ve never encountered fleas before.
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How to Spot Fleas on Dogs
Fleas, those tiny, wingless creatures that feed on the blood of both our beloved pets and us, can cause a lot of discomfort, itching and health problems in your canine companion. To understand the presence of fleas on your dog, keep an eye out for these surefire indicators:
Excessive Scratching and Gnawing: Fleas often induce an unbearable itch, particularly in areas such as the neck, ears, tail, and belly. Watch for your dog’s increased scratching and nibbling as it attempts to alleviate the relentless irritation.
Tiny Red Bumps on the Skin: Flea bites manifest as minuscule, raised red dots on your dog’s skin. These seemingly harmless spots can lead to inflammation and infections if your dog succumbs to the urge to scratch them excessively.
Flea Excrement and Eggs in the Fur: Flea dirt, resembling grains of black pepper or coffee grounds, is essentially the fecal residue of fleas. Meanwhile, flea eggs are oval-shaped and white, typically laid in your dog’s fur or bedding. Employ a fine-toothed flea comb to inspect your dog’s coat for any traces of flea dirt or eggs, and submerge the comb in a container of soapy water to eliminate them.
Live Fleas on the Body: Adult fleas, about the size of a sesame seed, sport a brownish-black hue. They exhibit remarkable speed and agility, capable of leaping up to 13 inches. To identify live fleas, gently part your dog’s fur, paying close attention to areas around the base of the tail, abdomen, and behind the ears. Another method involves having your dog stand on a pristine white towel while brushing its coat, allowing you to spot any dislodged fleas.
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How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs
If you see fleas on your pet or in your home, you should address the problem immediately. They grow quickly, and some can turn into serious infections, causing problems for you and your pet.
Here are the best ways to get rid of fleas on dogs.
1. Flea Comb
- A flea comb is a valuable tool for physically removing fleas and their eggs from your dog’s fur.
- Comb your dog thoroughly, paying close attention to areas like the neck, ears, tail, and belly where fleas often hide.
- After each stroke, dip the comb into a bowl of soapy water or alcohol to instantly kill the fleas.
2. Topical Flea Treatment
- Topical flea treatments come in the form of liquid or gel that you apply to your dog’s neck or back once a month.
- These treatments can effectively kill adult fleas and prevent them from laying eggs.
- Some topical treatments may also provide protection against other parasites such as ticks, lice, or mites.
- Consult your veterinarian before choosing a specific topical treatment, as they can recommend the best option based on your dog’s needs and any potential interactions with other medications.
3. Oral Flea Medication
- Oral flea medications are available in pill or chewable tablet form and are administered to your dog once a month or as advised by your vet.
- These medications not only eliminate adult fleas but also disrupt their ability to reproduce.
- Some oral flea medications offer protection against additional parasites like heartworms, roundworms, or hookworms.
- Always consult your veterinarian before administering oral flea medication, as they can provide guidance on the safest and most effective choice for your dog.
4. Flea Shampoo
- Flea shampoo is specially formulated with ingredients designed to kill or repel fleas.
- Wet your dog’s fur thoroughly and lather the shampoo, making sure to avoid contact with their eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Leave the shampoo on for about 10 minutes to ensure its effectiveness and then rinse it off with warm water.
- Repeat this process weekly until the flea infestation is eliminated.
5. Home and Yard Treatment
- Fleas don’t just reside on your dog; they can also infest your home and yard.
- Regularly vacuum your home, paying particular attention to carpets, furniture, and bedding where fleas can hide.
- Wash your dog’s bedding and toys in hot water to kill any fleas or eggs.
- Consider using a flea killer that contains insect growth regulators (IGRs) to treat your home and yard. IGRs prevent flea eggs and larvae from developing into adults.
Natural remedies for fleas on dogs
1. Coconut Oil
As a natural remedy’s, coconut oil emerges as a notable contender. This versatile substance harbors lauric acid, a potent fatty compound known to suffocate fleas. Application methods include directly administering coconut oil to your dog’s fur and skin or incorporating it into their dietary intake.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, renowned for its multifaceted benefits, can also play a role in repelling fleas. It operates by altering the pH level of your dog’s skin, rendering it less inviting to these pesky parasites. The application is flexible, with options ranging from spritzing apple cider vinegar onto your dog’s coat to adding it to their water bowl.
3. Citrus Bath
Harnessing the power of citrus fruits like lemon, orange, or grapefruit, you can employ their acidic and aromatic properties to deter fleas. A simple yet effective method involves boiling citrus peels in water and allowing the citrus-infused water to cool. This concoction can then be used for bathing your dog or applied as a spray to their fur.
4. Diatomaceous Earth
In the arsenal of natural remedies, diatomaceous earth stands as a fine powder composed of fossilized algae. Its mechanism of action involves dehydrating and ultimately eliminating fleas by absorbing the oils found in their exoskeletons. Application areas encompass your dog’s fur, bedding, and furniture. However, it is crucial to opt for food-grade diatomaceous earth while being cautious not to inhale it or allow skin contact.
The aromatic herb rosemary takes its place in the lineup of flea-fighting solutions. Its robust scent serves as both a deterrent and an eliminator of fleas. To utilize rosemary’s potential, you can craft a rosemary flea powder by grinding together rosemary, peppermint, fennel, rue, and wormwood. This concoction can be sprinkled on your dog and throughout your living spaces. Alternatively, consider a rosemary flea bath, which involves boiling rosemary leaves in water and using the resulting infusion to rinse your dog after shampooing.