Fleas are a significant source of irritation for your dog, and they can be a real pain for you too. Fleas are not picky either; it doesn’t matter if you have an active labrador or a sleepy bloodhound, fleas will gladly climb on board and make your pooch itchy and uncomfortable. Plus, little pests can cause a host of problems like anemia and skin issues if they are left untreated. If your dog is on flea prevention, then you probably won’t have to wrestle with any major flea infestations, but your pup can still end up with some unwanted company riding around on his body.
How Easy Is It for Your Dog To Get Fleas?
Your dog can pick up fleas whether he’s running free at the dog park or you’re walking him on a leash. Fleas are fantastic jumpers, and they will hop on board your pooch no matter how fast or slow he is moving. Your dog can get fleas while he’s engaging in activities with other pups or investigating an interesting bush or tree; basically, your dog can get fleas anywhere.
Can Your Dog Get Fleas If He Is on Flea Prevention?
Depending on what kind of flea prevention your pup is on, he can still get pretty bothered by the little buggers. For example, certain flea medicines kill fleas on contact, while others simply make it impossible for the fleas to breed -- breaking the flea life cycle.
If your pup’s meds don’t actually kill adult fleas, you still need a way to help your dog when he ends up with a few uninvited guests. If the flea prevention knocks out the flea eggs and keeps an infestation from brewing, all you need to do is take care of the actual few fleas that are literally bugging your dog.
Here are three effective dog flea treatments that can tackle your pup’s annoying passengers:
- Give your pup a bath using a medicated flea shampoo. Flea shampoos get rid of fleas while cleaning your dog’s coat. Depending on the brand, some shampoos will also prevent fleas and infestations and some also protect against ticks and other pests.
When choosing the right shampoo for your pup, consider if he is already on flea prevention, if he has sensitive skin and his age. Some flea shampoos are specifically designed for puppies under 6-months old, and there are also some options enriched with oatmeal to soothe sensitive skin -- this is great for dogs with skin allergies.
- Use a flea comb and remove the fleas by hand. Put some dish soap in a bowl of warm water; this is your sudsy, flea-flighting mix! Dip a flea comb into the suds and then use the comb to sift through your dog’s fur slowly.
As you spot a flea, use your fingernails to grab hold and give the flea a good squeeze. The sudsy water from the comb will help slow the fleas down and make them easier to catch. Once you have the flea, drop it into the bowl to ensure it doesn’t hop away (just in case your squeeze didn’t do the trick).
If you’re having trouble getting your pup to stay still for your flea hunt, give your dog an engaging toy, like the Rolly Cannoli, to help keep him occupied.
- Give your dog an over-the-counter flea treatment to kill adult fleas. There are OTC flea medications for pups that target adult fleas and act quickly to kill the critters. If you know you will be in an area that is prone to fleas, like a dog park, you can even give your pooch one beforehand to protect him during his visit. These types of medications are not the same as flea prevention medications. Before using an OTC drug on your pup, check with your vet to discuss which option is the best fit for your pooch.
What If It’s a Flea Infestation?
If your dog is not on flea prevention medication and gets fleas, you need to act super fast, or you’re likely to have a massive problem on your hands. Fleas and their eggs can quickly make their way throughout your home and yard, leaving you with a huge mess to clean up.
If this is your situation, then the flea treatments mentioned above are good options to rid your pup of fleas, but you also have to make sure the fleas don’t come back! Therefore, your attack plan needs to be a bit more aggressive. (Plus, you need to get your pup on some sort of flea prevention right away to avoid the problem from reoccurring. As an added benefit, many flea prevention medications also protect your pooch from other pesky, disease-carrying pests like ticks).
When it comes to flea infestation, it isn’t enough to get the fleas off of your dog; you have to treat your home and yard. This process is time-consuming and inconvenient, but it is necessary. Use a flea spray to treat your yard and an appropriate spray or bug bomb (known as a fogger) to battle the fleas inside your home. Make sure to read all directions on the packaging carefully and take the proper precautions; you will most likely have to vacate your house during treatment.
If you are unsure about exterminating the fleas yourself, call in a pro. Once you’ve treated your home and yard, you will need to wash any linens or fabrics that have had contact with fleas or could potentially have flea eggs, like dog bedding or your sheets if your pup sleeps with you. Vacuum your carpets thoroughly and toss your vacuum bag in case there are fleas or flea eggs inside of it.
Are You Sure Your Dog Has Fleas?
If your pup is scratching up a storm, you might assume he has fleas. Before you reach for a bunch of dog flea treatments, make sure that fleas are indeed to blame. You don’t want to treat your dog for the wrong thing and have him getting no relief. For example, if he’s itchy and scratching a lot, it could be due to allergies or another skin issue not related to fleas.
Here are several signs that can signal your dog has fleas. If you notice any of them, investigate your pooch carefully to see if you spot the critters running through his coat:
- Your dog is continuously scratching. Although it could be allergies, you need to investigate to find the source of the itch. Fleas can cause several skin problems, like dermatitis, that make your dog miserable.
- You find flea dirt in your pup’s coat.
- Your dog seems extra-agitated or overly anxious.
- Your dog is missing pieces of fur, or you notice red patches on his skin.
- Your dog’s gums are pale -- this could be a sign of anemia, which can result from a flea infestation.