How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs: Myths About Treating Fleas
If your dog is itching more than usual, you may have a flea problem.
Flea infestations can be troublesome for pet owners. To keep your pet healthy and avoid infection from flea bites, you need to know how to properly treat fleas.
Learn how to get rid of fleas for good, plus the common myths of natural flea treatments.
What to do if your dog has fleas
If you’re wondering what to do when your dog has fleas, follow these recommendations for ridding fleas inside and out.
How to get rid of dog fleas at home
Fleas can survive on your pets and in your home. So, to keep your pet from being re-infested with fleas, you need to treat the inside of your home. Here are a few tips.
- Vacuum carpets and floors. Clean up anywhere your dog likes to sleep and immediately discard the contents of the bag or canister. Fleas can jump up to 200x their own body length and may escape back into your home.
- Set a light trap. Light attracts fleas. You can easily make a "light trap" by setting a small bowl of soapy water near a nightlight. This will cause fleas to jump to the light and fall into the trap.
- Use pet-friendly flea control. Spray your home throughout the year to keep fleas away. Do your research to ensure the chemicals used are safe around pets and the environment.
How to get rid of dog fleas in your yard
Flea larvae thrive in shady, damp soil and can stay for up to a year before emerging. This makes fleas an even bigger threat, no matter the season. Here are a few ways to rid of fleas in your yard.
- Keep your yard tidy. Trim back plants and cut the grass short. Remove extra dirt, rocks, or leaves around shrubs and trees where fleas may hide. This provides more sunshine to your yard which can deter fleas from inhabiting the area.
- Remove standing water. Ridding the yard of standing water creates more dry spots which will discourage fleas from making a home.
- Plant a garden. Some plants like mint, rosemary, and thyme may help ward off fleas. Regardless of what you plant, make sure any plants are safe for pets.
How to get rid of fleas on dogs
Knowing how to treat fleas on dogs isn’t necessarily common sense. But, with the right tools and tips you can confidently tackle your flea problem. Here’s how to remove fleas from dogs in 5 simple steps.
1. Gather the right tools.
- A flea comb
- A bowl of soap and water
- A clean, white paper towel (to see flea dirt)
2. Find a good location.
It’s a good idea to remove fleas from your pet outdoors or in the shower or tub. This makes it easy to access water and clean up afterward.
3. Remove all visible adult fleas, flea eggs, or flea dirt.
Use the flea comb to part your dog’s hair and remove fleas. The flea comb’s fine teeth easily glide through your dog's coat picking up fleas and flea dirt along the way. Once removed, quickly put the comb in the soapy water to kill the fleas instantly.
4. Consult with your veterinarian.
If you begin to notice any signs or symptoms of an infection from a flea bite, contact your vet right away. The sooner you treat your pet and the infection the better.
5. Choose the right treatment for your pet.
Always check with your veterinarian about using specific products on your pets. Some natural remedies may be helpful in getting rid of fleas, but others may be harmful.
How to prevent fleas on dogs
When it comes to treating fleas on dogs, the best way to avoid fleas is to prevent them. But how do you do that? Here are a few tips on long-term flea prevention:
- Change your dog's bedding regularly. Wash any cushion covers, blankets, and bedding that your dog sleeps or lays on in hot water. Even better — dry clean if you can.
- Meet with your veterinarian for guidance. Have your vet regularly check your pets for any parasites, worms, and infections. Even if you haven’t found an active flea infestation, your dog might have an infection from a flea bite.
- Groom your dog often. Brush the coat of your pet regularly. This will remove dead skin cells and help you stay on top of future flea infestations.
- Build an ongoing prevention plan, and stick to it. Follow a regular schedule when treating your pet and avoid fleas before they become a problem. Whether you use a topical, oral, or natural solution, prevention is your pet’s best protection against fleas.
7 myths about flea treatments
When considering how to get rid of fleas, remember that all types of flea treatments have their own pros and cons. When choosing the right flea remedy for your pet, consider these myths.
1. Myth: Natural remedies are 100% effective.
There are some natural, topical alternatives to treat fleas, like Brewer’s yeast. While these solutions are usually safe for pets, there isn’t enough evidence to show that they effectively treat fleas.
Not every method is going to be 100% effective right away. With any treatment, regular and consistent use is the best way to fight fleas.
2. Myth: Natural remedies are better than over-the-counter (OTC) treatments.
When it comes to flea treatment, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. One common natural treatment is essential oils. Yet, in their most concentrated forms these treatments can:
- Irritate their skin
- Effect their respiratory system
- Distress their keen sense of smell
Consult with your veterinarian about the best options for your dog. Then, do your research. There are lots of OTC solutions that are safe and effective on pets.
3. Myth: Natural remedies are safe for all pets.
Every pet is unique, with their own set of characteristics, personality traits, and health conditions. While some natural remedies may work on your pet, others, like garlic, can be toxic to your pet.
If given orally in large quantities, garlic can damage your pet’s red blood cells. This can cause severe anemia in both dogs and cats. Make sure you follow dosing instructions carefully and know exactly what your pet can and can’t have.
4. Myth: You only need to kill adult fleas.
Flea baths and DIY sprays are commonly used to battle flea infestations. All-natural flea shampoos and alternatives, like Dawn, work well in killing adult fleas. But, you'll need to repeat baths weekly until they're gone. And apple cider vinegar concoctions help deter fleas, but won’t kill them.
These solutions can also irritate your dog’s skin and cause dryness or flaking. To completely rid of fleas you need to combat them at every life cycle stage — from flea egg to adult flea.
5. Myth: Dehydrating fleas is better than poisoning them.
Some natural remedies suggest that instead of “poisoning” fleas with chemicals you can dehydrate them with environmental treatments. Generally safe to use around pets, these methods include:
- Baking soda and salt
- Diatomaceous earth
Unfortunately, each of these methods require time, and the absence of pets. But, in large amounts they can be dangerous to your pet's lungs and airways.
6. Myth: Flea and tick treatments are toxic.
Fleas are stressful, and choosing the right treatment for your pet can be nerve-wracking. But most flea and tick preventatives have gone through extensive testing and approval stages to become available to you.
Your dog may still experience allergies or sensitivity to different treatments. So, make sure you find a product that accounts for your pet’s weight, species, and medical conditions.
7. Myth: A monthly flea treatment will kill fleas instantly.
Despite what you might’ve read, no flea treatments are immediately effective. Ridding your dog of fleas requires time and work to break its life cycle stages (eggs, larvae, adults).
A monthly flea treatment is the best way to ensure your dog stays protected all year. But, you may need to administer treatment more often when dealing with a flea infestation.
The truth about flea treatments
With the advent of safe and effective flea medication, natural flea treatments are not as vital as they once were. Yet, because a treatment is natural does not mean it is safe. And just because a treatment is a chemical does not mean it is unsafe.
Any tool you use to gain total flea control should be safe and effective for the unique makeup of your pets. Plus, be simple and convenient enough for humans to remember.
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