How to treat your doggo’s fleas, according to the experts (2022)

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Whether you’re new to dog ownership or have a longstanding pup companion, keeping your four-legged friend flea-free is paramount.

It’s easy for your dog to come into contact with fleas, either through other animals or while on a walk in the woods. Nick Sutton, science communications adviser at The Kennel Club, says that owing to their strong back legs, fleas can “jump easily from host to host, or from the environment to host”, meaning that they can very quickly spread.

(Video) How to treat fleas in dogs and your home - Expert Dog Health Advice | S5 Ep3 | Pooches at Play

It’s important to catch them early because, aside from causing discomfort, “fleas can cause serious diseases in cats and dogs, including flea allergy dermatitis and even anaemia”, notes Sutton. “They can also carry tapeworm larvae, which can infect your pet if they accidentally eat fleas while grooming themselves.”

The tell-tale signs include your dog itching a lot more than usual, or biting themselves, says Dr Luke Gamble, CEO of Worldwide Veterinary Service. And when a serious infestation occurs, “patches of hair loss may even develop”, he adds.

If you suspect your dog has fleas, Dr Gamble recommends looking closely at their skin. “You may see some tiny, dark insects moving around,” he says, or the skin itself may look “red and bumpy” and there may be evidence of tiny black specks which is flea “dirt” (excrement).

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But, Kathleen Pohl, veterinary surgeon at My Family Vets told The Independent that “some pets tolerate large numbers of fleas before showing signs of irritation”, meaning there can be a big infestation before you are aware of the problem. This is why “prevention can be easier and more effective than treating an outbreak”, she says.

“Keeping your dog safe from fleas is easy and flea treatments come in different forms – usually collars, spot-on solutions or tablets,” says Pohl. The problem is that most people don’t realise many products you apply to your pet only kill the adult fleas, which are only of a small number compared to huge amount of larvae and eggs. “These immature life stages often require a household treatment to effectively prevent them from reinfesting your pet,” she adds.

Pohl recommends that “if you are struggling to control a flea outbreak, think carefully about your environment and where fleas may be lurking, and remember to treat your car or relative’s house if your dog is a frequent visitor there”.

(Video) Flea & Tick Products that ACTUALLY WORK!! 🙌 Safest options for my pets

When looking for a preventative treatment, PDSA veterinary nurse Nina Downing recommends purchasing from a “reputable pet store or online retailer” and keeping an eye out for the “products that are categorised as ‘NFA-VPS’”, which means “they can only be sold by a vet, pharmacist or suitably qualified person”.

Although these leading veterinarians can’t recommend specific products, we’ve asked them for the lowdown on each treatment type, so you can work out which one is best for your pet. From topical medications to home treatments, these are the ways to keep your four-legged friends free from fleas.

Topical flea medication or spot-on treatments

One of the most common flea treatments are spot-on or topical medications, which “are applied to the dog’s skin with a pipette”, says Pohl. They work because the active ingredients are “absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, skin glands or fat layer under the skin and kill living fleas on the dog and prevent future infestation”, says Downing.

A popular go-to brand for this type of treatment is Frontline (from £39, Petsathome.com), which is categorised as “NFA-VPS” and can be purchased based on your dog’s weight: small (2-10g), medium (10-20kg) or large (20-40kg).

With these types of treatments, “you might notice a greasy patch on the back of your dog’s neck for a day or two, but do not worry, this is normal”, advises Pohl. And the “fleas usually start to die within 12 to 24 hours of application”.

An alternative to Frontline is Virbac Effipro duo spot-on treatment (from £25, Supplementsolutions.co.uk), which is also NFA-VPS categorised and can be purchased based on your dog’s weight – small (2kg-10kg), medium (10-20kg), large (20-40kg) or extra large (40-60kg). It should be applied between your dog’s shoulder blades.

“Always make sure you wash your hands after applying the treatment,” advises Pohl, and, after application, it’s “important not to allow your dog to swim in watercourses for up to four days after, as the product can cause damage to marine life. If your dog swims or is bathed frequently, this may also reduce the efficacy of the products.”

(Video) Fleas | What to do if your dog has fleas | Advice on flea medication | Dog videos

Flea collars

Another option is a flea collar – Pohl says these work by “having an active ingredient embedded within the collar itself”.“This is released when the collar comes into contact with your pet’s skin.The product then travels in the skin to cover your pet and protect them from fleas.” Ideally, “look for a productthat not only kills live fleas and ticks, but also repels them”, says Downing.

This Beaphar Canidhield collar (from £13, Supplementsolutions.co.uk) is NFA-VPS product and is available for both small and large dogs.

The brand recommends that for the best results, use it at least one week before your dog is likely to be exposed to ticks. It’s also said to be a great option if you’re travelling abroad where your dog will be at risk of leishmaniasis. It’s suitable for pups from seven weeks.

Oral treatments

“The final flea treatment option is an oral treatment”, says Pohl, “which comes in capsule and tablet form.” Want to know how they work? The active ingredient is “absorbed from the gut and taken into the bloodstream, which kills fleas when they bite your pet”, she explains.

“Different medications use different chemicals – some work very quickly but only last for a few days, while others can work for several months,” Pohl adds. With many of these types of treatments, you will have to get a prescription from the vet, which you will then need to upload to the retailer's site in order to make a purchase.

But Program tablets (from £28.90, Petdrugsonline.co.uk) are available to buy without a prescription – they should be given to your pooch, disguised in their food, once a month for at least six months during the flea season.

(Video) How does flea treatment work? With Rory the Vet | My Pet and I UK

Flea treatment for your house

With 95 per cent of fleas living in the home, it’s “always recommend that you treat your home with a flea spray when trying to tackle an infestation”, says Downing. Flea sprays will be effective in killing live fleas, larvae and eggs, and thus breaking the fleas’ life cycle.

One option is this Virbac indorex defence household flea spray (£7.57, Amazon.co.uk), which kills adult fleas and house dust mites for up to two months after application. The brand also says it prevents the development of flea eggs and larvae for up to 12 months.

When using, hold the can at arm’s length and direct the spray towards the area you want to treat. It’s advised that you use a sweeping motion to apply the product and keep the can approximately 90cm from the area you’re treating.

Downing recommends using a flea spray “following deep cleaning of your home and washing of pet bedding and soft furnishings at a high temperature”. It’s important to regularly clean your dog’s bedding and vacuum furniture and floors so as to destroy the fleas at each stage of their life cycle.

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(Video) How to Get Rid of Fleas Guaranteed (4 Easy Steps)

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FAQs

What is the best way to treat dogs for fleas? ›

Prescription treatments present one of the best ways to kill fleas fast. Bravecto (fluralaner) begins to kill fleas within two hours and lasts for three months, while products containing spinosad (Comfortis, Trifexis) begin to work within 30 minutes and last for one month.

What is the best way to control fleas on a dog that spends most of its time in the house? ›

A good vacuum is the best tool in the war on fleas. Vacuum your entire home thoroughly and deeply, concentrating on rooms and areas where your dog spends the most time. 2. Move furniture so you can vacuum underneath and close to furniture legs.

How do professionals treat for fleas? ›

Chemical treatment

These are typically applied with a spray or fogger, which disperses the product in a fine mist that settles over exposed surfaces in your house. This then forms a residue that sticks around for a few weeks; long enough to take out all adult fleas and the larvae that hatch from the remaining eggs.

What kills fleas instantly home remedy? ›

Create a flea spray by mixing 4 liters of vinegar, 2 liters of water, 500 ml of lemon juice and 250 ml of witch hazel in a large spray bottle. Before applying the product around your home, you should vacuum properly, emptying the contents into an outside bin, and wash any bedding/cushions that could be infested.

How do you make homemade flea killer for dogs? ›

Dilute six cups of apple cider vinegar with four cups of water, add a dash of sea salt, then spray directly onto your dog's coat. Make sure to avoid your dog's eyes.

What completely kills fleas? ›

Thoroughly bathe pets with soap and water, then comb them with a flea comb. Pay careful attention to face and neck regions, and the area in front of the tail. Soap will act as a gentle insecticide to kill adult fleas.

Can you ever fully get rid of fleas? ›

It's possible, but it will take a lot of work. It is difficult to rid a pet of fleas completely because fleas were designed by nature to be practically indestructible. But with diligence and patience, you can get rid of fleas from your dogs and cats – and home – forever.

Will vacuuming everyday get rid of fleas? ›

According to extensive studies conducted at Ohio State University, vacuuming is indeed an effective way of getting rid of fleas! Through these studies, scientists discovered that vacuuming killed 96% of adult fleas from carpets and 100% of the flea pupae and larvae.

How long does it take to break the flea life cycle? ›

Fleas cannot fly, but they move by jumping from object to object. It can take up to 3 months to break a total flea life cycle by using monthly flea treatments. For indoor flea control, vacuuming all floors, carpets, baseboards, pet bedding and furniture will help remove adult fleas and eggs.

How many times do you have to vacuum to get rid of fleas? ›

NOTE: Let them know that they are treating an area that is lived in by animals and/or children. If their product isn't safe for your pets, use someone else! Check online reviews. Vacuuming - Vacuum every floor surface and surface that your pets get on 3 - 4 times weekly for 3 - 6 weeks.

What is the fastest way to get rid of fleas cheap and easy? ›

Take a look at some of the effective ways you can get rid of them in your home:
  1. Use baking soda. ...
  2. Sprinkle salt. ...
  3. Lemon spray. ...
  4. Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water. ...
  5. Use rosemary. ...
  6. Hire a steam cleaner. ...
  7. Use a powerful vacuum. ...
  8. Use a pet-safe flea spray.
Jul 20, 2022

How do you tell if fleas are dying? ›

If you do see fleas and they are moving slow enough to catch – success – they are busy dying!

What chemical kills fleas and their eggs? ›

The most effective ones contain ingredients such as permethrin, imidacloprid, or dinotefuran that are lethal to the biting adult stage, and an “insect growth regulator” (e.g., methoprene, pyriproxyfen) that halts development of flea eggs and larvae.

How do you get rid of fleas in 24 hours? ›

Home Pest Control : How to Kill Fleas in 24 Hours - YouTube

What kills flea eggs naturally? ›

Natural Remedy: Citrus

But extracts from citrus peels, like linalool or D-limonene, can work indoors to treat both fleas and their eggs.

What kills fleas instantly in carpet? ›

Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth

Once the diatomaceous earth attaches to the flea's body, it absorbs all moisture causing the flea to dry up and die. Sprinkling diatomaceous earth on your carpet is a highly effective way of killing fleas, and it's safe to use around humans and pets.

Can I spray vinegar on my dog for fleas? ›

In short: using vinegar solution or white vinegar on your pet's fur or in their drinking water will not kill fleas. There is a chance ACV could repel fleas because they don't like the taste, but it is only a mild detergent and is not the best flea remedy. ACV should not be your first choice for natural flea treatment.

What shampoo kills fleas? ›

Some of the best include:
  • Pupper Shampoo for Dogs.
  • Vet's Best Flea and Tick Advanced Strength Dog Shampoo. ...
  • Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo. ...
  • Veterinary Formula Flea and Tick Shampoo. ...
  • Richard's Organics Flea and Tick Shampoo. ...
  • SENTRY Flea and Tick Shampoo. ...
  • kin+kind Flea and Tick Shampoo. ...
  • SENTRY Oatmeal Flea and Tick Shampoo.
Jul 11, 2022

What's the best natural flea killer? ›

Citronella, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus, and neem are all great essential oils for getting rid of fleas. Add 10 to 20 drops to a spray bottle filled with water and spray on your pet's coat, taking care to avoid their eyes.

What does baking soda do to fleas? ›

Baking soda does not kill adult fleas and will do nothing to protect your pets. It is excellent at absorbing smells and has been suggested by some online pet sites for use as a flea killer because it “may” dry out flea eggs and larvae. But there is no evidence that using baking soda to kill fleas is effective at all.

Why does my dog keep getting fleas even after treatment? ›

If your dog is constantly being reinfested with fleas after treatment, it is most likely there is an environmental infestation in or around your house. The adult fleas we see on pets represent only 5% of the total population. The other 95% are immature stages in the environment.

Where do fleas lay eggs? ›

After finding an animal or human host and taking a blood meal, adult fleas will mate and begin laying eggs in the fur and surroundings of the host. Eggs will hatch in one to ten days depending on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Can fleas survive a washing machine? ›

Hot, soapy water in a washing machine: As previously explained, washing flea-infested items in a clothes washing machine is an effective way to kill fleas, thanks to the laundry detergent, along with the heat of the water and the turbulence of the wash cycle.

Can fleas live in people's hair? ›

First, is it possible for fleas to live in human hair? The short answer is no. There are more than 2000 types of fleas around the globe. However, there is no evidence that these insects can live on the human body or scalp.

Can fleas come back after treatment? ›

As eggs hatch and develop, you might find fleas reappearing 10-14 days after treatment - this is quite normal and provided the insecticide remains in place it will kill them. This is why it is important not to carry out cleaning which might remove insecticide.

Can I use Dawn to wash my dog for fleas? ›

Veterinarians also generally don't recommend using Dawn for fleas because of skin-related issues. “For example, if the pet already has irritation from having a number of fleas on the skin, and you're putting Dawn on skin that's already irritated, there is potential for it to worsen,” says Dr. Reeder.

Why does my dog keep getting fleas even after treatment? ›

If your dog is constantly being reinfested with fleas after treatment, it is most likely there is an environmental infestation in or around your house. The adult fleas we see on pets represent only 5% of the total population. The other 95% are immature stages in the environment.

What is the fastest way to get rid of fleas cheap and easy? ›

Take a look at some of the effective ways you can get rid of them in your home:
  1. Use baking soda. ...
  2. Sprinkle salt. ...
  3. Lemon spray. ...
  4. Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water. ...
  5. Use rosemary. ...
  6. Hire a steam cleaner. ...
  7. Use a powerful vacuum. ...
  8. Use a pet-safe flea spray.
Jul 20, 2022

How long does it take to get rid of fleas on a dog? ›

In most cases, it takes three to four months to completely get rid of a flea infestation since it takes fleas this long to go through their life stages, according to the American Kennel Club.

Can fleas live in human hair? ›

First, is it possible for fleas to live in human hair? The short answer is no. There are more than 2000 types of fleas around the globe. However, there is no evidence that these insects can live on the human body or scalp.

How do I know the fleas are gone? ›

Using the flea comb, brush against the pet's hair so that you can see your pet's skin. Start with the back and work your way down. Make sure you check your pet's toes, around the ears, armpits, tail and head as well. These are often popular places for the fleas to hide and hang out.

How do you get rid of fleas when you've tried everything? ›

This includes washing bedding, rugs, and pet bedding, and thoroughly vacuuming and sweeping floors and carpeted areas and along the edges of walls. Pet treatment. Every pet in the home must be treated. Thoroughly bathe pets with soap and water, then comb them with a flea comb.

How did they get rid of fleas in the old days? ›

In the past, alum was used, both in the powdered form sprinkled over carpets and rugs and by dipping papers in an alum solution and placing them under the rugs (Bishop 1921). Riley and Johannsen (1915) suggested the thorough sweeping of houses at frequent intervals, and keeping the floors as bare as possible.

How do you get rid of fleas in 24 hours? ›

Home Pest Control : How to Kill Fleas in 24 Hours - YouTube

Can I spray vinegar on my dog for fleas? ›

In short: using vinegar solution or white vinegar on your pet's fur or in their drinking water will not kill fleas. There is a chance ACV could repel fleas because they don't like the taste, but it is only a mild detergent and is not the best flea remedy. ACV should not be your first choice for natural flea treatment.

How do you get rid of fleas overnight? ›

Lemon juice

Here's a natural flea dip for dogs or cats: Slice up a lemon and add it to a pot of boiling water. After adding the lemons, remove the water from heat and cover the pot. Leave the water overnight, and the next day dip your pet's comb or brush in the water and run it through their coat.

Can my dog sleep with me if he has fleas? ›

But while dogs can be snuggly companions, they can also bring fleas and ticks into bed with them. That's dangerous as dogs with ticks or fleas can transmit the diseases they carry to their owners.

How effective is Dawn dish soap on fleas? ›

Although Dawn kills fleas, veterinarians say it doesn't repel them or prevent infestations. Think of it as more of a temporary fix than a permanent solution.

How often should I bathe my dog if he has fleas? ›

A dog with a flea infestation should be treated immediately with medication and a flea dip bath. However, flea shampoos are notoriously harsh on a pooch's skin. Therefore, be certain you don't try to give your dog with fleas a bath every day. Once a week should be enough.

Can fleas live in your pubic hair? ›

When fleas impact humans, they may flock to the eyelashes, the eyebrows, the head, and the pubic region. Hair loss may occur on the body where the fleas are located.

How does baking soda get rid of fleas in human hair? ›

A paste made of baking soda and water is an effective remedy to get rid of fleas in the hair. Spray your hair using this paste, ensuring that it remains in the hair for at least 10 minutes. Then rinse off as usual with warm water, no shampoo needed.

Will fleas go away on their own? ›

You might be asking yourself will fleas eventually go away? While some could last 2 – 3 weeks, they could also live for up to 12 months on the host it finds, so it is unlikely they will go away on their own. Fleas can also reproduce very quickly by laying eggs in carpet, bedding, or garden prolonging the infestation.

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