Dogs spend lots of time outside in the warm summer months. For all the fun they are having outdoors, they run the risk of bringing some “hitchhikers” along with them. Namely: fleas. What are the best ways to get rid of dog fleas?

Well, the answer to that question is four-fold:

  1. Treat the infestation.
  2. Bathe your dog.
  3. Comb your dog.
  4. Prevent another infestation.

Once you’ve mastered those four steps, you’ll know how to get rid of dog fleas.

Symptoms Your Dog Has Fleas

If you’re unfamiliar with fleas, it might not be clear that your dog has them. Dogs old and young alike to susceptible to getting fleas. Fleas love to feed off your dog’s blood. When they find a good source of blood, they burrow in and make babies. They are the most common type of parasite for both dogs AND cats.

Here’s how you can recognize flea infestation in your dog:

  • Lots of extra biting, stretching and licking.
  • Fur loss.
  • Flea dirt that looks like black pepper or dirt.
  • Pale looking gums.
  • Red scabs or bumps.
  • Dog more restless or nervous.

If you suspect your dog has fleas, it’s time to treat them and relieve their discomfort.

Treat the Infestation

Fleas are stubborn as can be. In addition to that, your dog will be emotional due to their discomfort. That’s challenging enough. The first thing to do is to get rid of the fleas that are there.

You can do that by using a fast-acting oral medication. Killing the fleas will make it easier to clean your dog off later. There are some medications that can kill fleas within an hour of ingestion. These are often prescribed medications, so talk to your vet if you need these.

Note: Do NOT take your dog to the vet unless your vet asks you to. Call first. Most of the time, they can prescribe your dog flea control medication over the phone. You won’t put other dogs and cats at risk of contracting your dog’s fleas.

Bathe Your Dog

Head over to your local pet shop and buy a flea shampoo (and comb). This should kill any remaining fleas and allow you to simply rinse them off with warm water. Puppies may not take well to this treatment. So, make sure you talk to your vet since some medications may not be suitable for small dogs.

Some websites say a “natural” product is tea tree oil. However, this is TOXIC to dogs. So, please refrain from use. You should not use any product that isn’t approved by your vet.

Comb Your Dog

While still in the bath, comb your dog to remove fleas and flea dirt from their scalp. You can dip your flea comb in dish soap and water to kill any fleas on the comb. Then, rinse your dog again when you’re confident that your dog is flea-free. Optionally, after you brush, you can treat your dog with flea spray as an extra measure.

Note: If you have multiple dogs or cats in the home, they should be treated as well with all the above steps. It’s very likely they have fleas too.

Take Preventative Measures

Talk to your vet about taking long-term medications for flea prevention. If you go to your routine vet visits, they should provide you with treatment.

The odds are that your home and yard will need treatment as well. Fleas don’t just lay eggs on your dog but on your sofa, carpet, or bed. To prevent fleas from infesting your home, first, vacuum your house well. Every surface needs to be dirt and dust-free. Continue to vacuum every couple of days to get rid of possible flea larvae. When you finish vacuuming, empty the canister or toss the bag. Believe it or not, the fleas can crawl back out.

Then, machine wash anything that can be washed: dog beds, pillows, blankets, towels, pillows, etc. Anything your dog likes to lay on.

If you have carpets, you can sprinkle a little diatomaceous earth, leave for two days, and vacuum it up. You can also use salt or baking soda. This dries out the flea eggs and kills them.

Cleaning Up Your Yard

Likely, your dogs caught fleas in your backyard. The best way to keep fleas and other critters at bay is to do basic lawn maintenance. This includes mowing your lawn, removing dead leaves and debris, disperse some nematodes, or plant some vegetation that fleas hate such as lemongrass and peppermint.

Fleas stink, and it can really disrupt your household while you get everything, and every pet cleaned up. Going forward, be sure to treat your dogs during the warm months. If you live in a warm climate, flea prevention should be done year-round.

Stay safe out there!