Help! My dog has fleas, what can I do? This isn’t a question you want to be asking, but unfortunately it often happens for many dog owners. Fleas are extremely common as they breed happily and live off of others; it’s said that a female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, meaning over 2,000 eggs in their lifetime! As a result, adult fleas and flea eggs on dogs can be easily passed around, so to stop them from spreading you need to take action quickly and take good care for a healthy skin and coat.
What are fleas?
These pests are a type of parasite, which means they attach themselves to a host and survive by consuming minuscule amounts of their blood. Fleas on dogs are the most common, but other animals like cats and rabbits can also have fleas and even humans! These pesky parasites look like very small, wingless insects that close up are red-brown but often appear as tiny black specks from far away. Despite not having wings, they get around by jumping which is why they can easily pass from animal to animal. It’s even been said that a flea can jump vertically up to 7 inches (18cm) and horizontally up to 13 inches (33cm)!
How do dogs get fleas?
The most common ways for dogs to get fleas is either from picking them up from their environment or from other animals that have them. Fleas thrive in moist and shady areas, so if your dog comes into contact with these sort of places, they have a higher risk of catching them. Fleas on dogs are most commonly found on those that spend a lot of time around shrubs and trees compared to those that spend more time in open spaces. Your dog will also have a very high chance of getting fleas if they spend time around stray animals or if they’re in close contact with another pet with fleas. They can also still get them again if there are any lingering dog fleas in the house that have not been killed.
How do I know if my dog has fleas?
So now you know what they look like and where they come from, how do you know if your dog has fleas? The best way to notice the signs of fleas on dogs is by looking. Fleas are usually a visual issue, so you should be able to see them either on their skin or jumping around their fur. Flea bites on dogs are another big sign, which appears as small, red, raised dots. If your dog has an allergic reaction though, they can appear bigger and inflamed and result in flea allergy dermatitis. Other dog flea symptoms include itching, biting and licking at the skin as well as droppings or ‘flea dirt’, hot spots and even hair loss in the area.
How to get fleas off my dog?
Once you’ve identified your pooch is suffering from the parasites, the next step is to look into how to get rid of fleas on dogs and act fast. The longer you wait to deal with it, the more time they have to multiply and the harder it will be to get rid of them. Finding out the best way to get rid of fleas on dogs can be a bit of a complicated process with all the options out there, so make sure you know what you have to choose from before you decide.
How to treat fleas on dogs
There are a number of different flea treatments for dogs you can choose from, so here are the most popular:
These have very finely spaced teeth that when brushed through their hair, it traps the fleas making it easy for you to remove and dispose of them. To use, carefully brush through all of their fur, making sure not to miss anything, and always get rid of any fleas that are left on the brush.
Flea shampoo for dogs
Unlike regular dog shampoos, flea shampoos for dogs are carefully formulated to help you get rid of fleas. To use them, all you need to do is simply wash your dog in the same way you would normally, but perhaps with some extra care to make sure no area of their skin or fur is missed.
As the name suggests, you can spray these straight onto your dog’s fur and they kill fleas on contact. These come in handy spray bottles that are easy to use and safe for cats but deadly to pesky fleas. You can also find preventative flea sprays to stop them returning.
Flea tablets for dogs
These contain ingredients that either kill or repel fleas and work by being absorbed into your dog’s blood. They work as an effective flea killer for dogs and can be a mess-free and faster alternative to other methods such as the flea comb.
Spot-on flea treatments
These are a liquid that you apply to the back of your cat in spots, hence the name. They’re usually applied to the neck, between the shoulder blades and down the back, where the liquid then harmlessly seeps into their skin and kills off a potential flea infestation on dogs.
Home remedies for fleas on dogs
If you want to get rid of dog fleas at home, you can also try a home remedy. A popular choice is to make an apple cider vinegar spray. Fleas hate the smell of vinegar, so this can be one of the best flea treatments for dogs you can do at home as it repels the fleas without irritating or disrupting your dog's natural pH level. You can also make a soapy water flea trap by putting a shallow dish of soapy water under a lamp. As the fleas go towards the light they land in the water and get trapped.
Preventing fleas on dogs
If you’re worried that your dog may get fleas, or you’re fed up of asking ‘why does my dog keep getting fleas’, it may be time to take a preventative measure. If your dog has already had fleas before, make sure they are cleaned thoroughly to remove any that could be lingering as well as make sure none could be left around the house. Wash their bedding and any other areas they like to be in and give your carpet a good vacuum. It can also be beneficial to wash any other pets that can be in the house to be sure. You can also use a flea prevention spray or product if you want extra protection or think they could be a risk of catching them. These work by repelling the fleas in a way that is still safe to the dog and can be very effective if used correctly.
So what is the best way to get rid of fleas on dogs?
It all depends on you and your pooch! Some techniques work better than others for different dogs, so it’s all about finding the one for you. Usually, it is best to combine a number of methods in order to fully get rid of fleas on dogs, such as using a shampoo, a comb, a treatment and then following with a repellant spray and some home flea traps to stop them returning. To stop your dog from getting fleas in the first place, make sure to avoid any flea-prone areas and other animals you know that have fleas. Making sure they are also kept clean is also vital, and regular grooming is key to stopping fleas as well as helping to stop any issues before they get worse.