Just thinking of fleas is enough to make you itch. What starts as a nuisance quickly turns into a full-on household invasion. The problem isn’t the fleas you can see; the problem is the eggs. They can be buried in your dog’s bedding, towels, furniture, sheets, and rug.
I’m going to show you how to get rid of dog fleas easily by recognizing the problem and treating it.
Specks of Dirt Around Your Dog’s Face Could Actually Be Dog Flea Feces.
Does your dog have tiny flecks on the fur around his/her face? They look like black dots, but its actually flea feces. You won’t see that with one or two fleas, but once the family starts to multiply, so does the poop.
Is your dog itching a lot, especially around the neck and face? Fleas love to travel up the dog’s body from the tail, congregating around the fleshy neck where they’re likely to find fresh blood to feed on.
Look at your dog’s skin for any signs of allergic reaction. You’ll notice patches of bare skin where the fur has fallen out, redness, and scabbing.
With any luck, you’re not seeing any signs of the above. That probably means you’ll be able to stop the flea cycle before it morphs into your living space and threatens the health of your beloved pooch.
This dog was rescued covered in tens of thousands of fleas. He looks like a different dog now. pic.twitter.com/v2eiA3blzk
— Humankind (@Humankindvideos) August 11, 2017
1.Get a Good Quality Dog Flea Comb
Flea combs can be purchased online (Amazon) or at the local pet supply store. Your veterinarian may offer suggestions on the best one to buy, but any flea comb is better than no flea comb.
A flea comb should consist of a handle and wiry bristles lined up in a row. They should not bend or fall out.
How to use the flea comb.
Depending on the size of your dog, you’ll either want to hold him/her securely in your lap, or find a comfortable place on the floor. Hold the comb on an angle so that the bristles slide through the fur and across the skin. This will lift the fleas out of their hiding places, allowing you to pick them off and kill them.
Note that flea combs work best on short-haired dogs, although you can purchase different sized combs.
Be prepared ahead of time with a bowl of sudsy water to drown the fleas. When I was young, my mother used to pick fleas from the dog and snap them in half. The chance of having the flea jump from your hand back onto the dog is too great, in my opinion.
UNUSUAL BUT EFFECTIVE TIP for killing fleas is to roll out a large, extra sticky piece of tape (like packing tape) and stick the fleas on the tape as you catch them. They can’t move and when you’re done, all you have to do is roll it up and throw it in the garbage.
2. Buy a Dog Flea Collar
This type of collar is generally marketed to deter both fleas and ticks. Truthfully, they tend to work better on ticks, which is where they head for the best feeding opportunity.
Flea collars have been around for ages and contrary to what you might think, work by emitting a flea-fighting drug into the sebaceous glands and hair follicles of your pet’s neck and upper back. This moves the fleas down the dog’s body to the tail where they – theoretically – die and fall off.
A flea collar might be all you need if you live in an urban area generally closed off from wildlife.
3. Consider over-the-counter topical treatments
When buying over-the-counter flea removal medication for your dog, look for products that contain pyrethrin (pronounced PIE-REE-THREN).
Pyrethrin, an organic compound derived from the Chrysanthemum, works by targeting the nervous system of insects.
When applied topically (usually to the back of the dog’s neck), the compound is absorbed into the dog’s blood stream where it remains for about a month. When the flea bites, it ingests the chemical and dies immediately.
In order to kill the entire cycle of fleas, it’s important to continue administering a dose of the medication every month or as indicated by the veterinarian. If you don’t, the eggs laid by the fleas will mature and repeat the cycle until they are all killed.
These types of flea removal medications can be found at the pet store, or at retail stores in the pet section.
Safety: Pyrethrins have been clinically tested and shown to be safe for dogs, provided the correct dosage is used. Be sure to use gloves when applying or be sure to wash hands thoroughly after.
Some medications for parasite control are available over-the-counter and include the following:
Program Oral Suspension®
Note: Always carefully follow instructions, particularly dosing related to the size and age of the dog.
4. Dog Flea Wash/Shampoo
Over-the-counter dog shampoos that contain pyrethrin are effective in treating adult fleas and ticks, including deer ticks. Look for brand names with that particular ingredient. Pyrethrins act by targeting the flea’s nervous system. You need to take the time to really lather your dog with this type of flea wash so that the chemical has time to reach all the fleas. Once rinsed, the shampoo will leave a little residue, but not enough to regulate the flea cycle.
Your veterinarian might suggest one of the following flea control medications:
Generally, any medication that includes pyrethrin as an ingredient work in the same way: the chemical saturates the dog’s circulatory system, remaining close to the skin surface. Fleas and ticks bite and are immediately poisoned by the compound.
— Amy Law Photography (@AmyLPhotographs) February 14, 2018
In terms of flea control, it is probably one of the best, most-effective ways to rid animals of fleas.
But remember…. topical treatments must be administered regularly (monthly). The eggs are not affected by the treatment until they hatch and mature. Stopping treatment too soon simply leaves space for the next generation of fleas to take up residence
Prescription Oral Dog Flea Medications
Technically, there’s little difference in applying a drug on the dog’s skin to be absorbed into the bloodstream, or feeding your dog a “treat” containing the same chemical compound.
Some oral medications for the treatment and prevention of fleas in dogs only have to be given once every three months, a convenient alternative to monthly dosing.
The medication is designed in the form of a “treat” which the dog swallows. If your dog is anything like mine, he/she will eat anything that comes out of your hand. However, in the off-chance your dog doesn’t like the taste, it’s easy enough to mash or mix into the dog’s regular food.
Oral medications include:
Bravecto® Chews (once every three months)
NexGard® Chewables (requires monthly treatment)
Trifexia® (monthly) (also treats worms)
As noted earlier, these drugs work by entering the dog’s bloodstream. When a flea bites, the chemical enters the body and paralyzes them. They die instantly. Additionally, the compound halts the production and growth of eggs inside the female flea.
PROS OF ADMINISTERING ORAL FLEA MEDICATION IN DOGS
- Quick acting
- Easy to use
- Administered less frequently (depending on the drug)
- Owners can be reassured that their dogs will have no fleas or ticks.
CONS OF ADMINISTERING ORAL FLEA MEDICATION IN DOGS
- Possible human exposure by direct contact with the dog and/or the drug.
- Can create a greasy look on dogs with longer fur for days after treatment. As a result, the medication might not be evenly distributed.
- The dog cannot enter water or get wet too soon after application.
- Some products are toxic and deadly to cats. Not indicated if you have other animals in the house.
- As with any medication, side-effects can occur. In some cases, serious or even fatal reactions can occur.
- Some medications are designed to also treat worm infestations. You want to make sure that you’re not already administering a separate worm medication to avoid overdose.
Important! Never give your dog topical or oral flea medications that have been given or sold to you without a prescription. The dog’s veterinarian will know the safest and most effective medication to prescribe.
Before writing a prescription, the veterinarian will determine the dog’s size, overall health, and age. Medication obtained directly from a professional will have a drug code on the package, come with detailed instructions and contraindications, and will not have expired.
Natural or Holistic Flea Treatments for Dogs
Choosing to try holistic or natural flea removal treatments is a decision you’ll have to make. In a perfect world, avoiding the use of chemicals in any situation is the smart choice.
Unfortunately, fleas in particular are so pervasive that it’s often hard to stop the lifecycle using holistic methods. At best, these methods should be used early on in the game and act more as a preventative treatment.
If you’re finding fleas on your furniture or your clothing, you might want to talk about your options with the veterinarian. Meanwhile, the following treatments are thought to work as effective deterrents:
- Orange juice. Rubbing a little orange juice through your pet’s fur is thought to be effective at repelling fleas. NOTE: Oils derived from citrus rind is toxic to dogs and cats.
- Fleas aren’t good swimmers and the water will flush them away from the dog. Use a little pet shampoo and give your dog a good scrub-down.
- Rose Geranium Oil can be applied to the dog’s regular fabric collar and is an effective flea deterrent. Use 3 – 5 drops and keep away from cats.
- Lavendar Oil can be applied in the same dosage and the same manner as rose geranium oil.
- Cedar Oil can be applied in the same dosage and the same manner as lavender and rose geranium oil.
- Mow the lawn! Fleas prefer long grass where they can hide in the moisture between the blades. By keeping your grass short, fleas are less likely to invade the lawn.
Treating Your Home for Flea Infestation
Now that the dog is free of fleas, it’s time to tackle the house. If fleas were on your dog, they are in your house whether you can see them or not.
Step 1: Wash the dog’s bedding in hot water or use the “sanitize” option available on some washers.
Step 2: Wash and/or sterilize any bedding where the dog has been permitted to sleep or rest.
Step 3: If you allow the dog on the couch (and who wouldn’t do that?), you’re going to have to treat the cushions. First thing to do is thoroughly vacuum the cushions.
Step 4: Purchase a spray containing pyrethrin from the veterinarian (or ask the local pet supply store what they recommend).
Remove any children or pets and spray in a downward, circular motion, covering all areas of the furniture. You won’t be able to feel the residue left behind, but it will continue to work for weeks to come, effectively halting the entire flea cycle.
Allergic Reactions to Flea Bites
People and dogs can have allergic reactions to flea bites. Don’t ignore signs of scratching and discomfort. Fleas are common and can quickly get out of control if you don’t act fast.
Fleas are nasty. You don’t want them as roommates. Flea bites can cause allergic reactions in children as well as pets. Should your dog accidentally ingest a flea, tapeworms will be the next thing you have to deal with.
Are you itching your skin yet? If you’re like me, the mere mention of fleas or ticks makes my skin crawl.