How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs

by Donna_Cosmato

Knowing how to kill fleas on dogs is just one piece of the puzzle of flea prevention and eradication. Learn more about how to keep your pet pest free and healthy.

Use this simple tutorial on how to get rid of fleas on dogs to eliminate recurring infestations and keep your dog relatively flea free year round. You'll learn how to use a three-pronged approach of killing fleas on the dog as well as in the house and yard and breaking the flea life cycle to end the problem for good.

Getting Rid of Fleas on Dogs

Before we talk about some of the most common ways of killing fleas on your dog, remember your veterinarian is the best source of advice for deciding which products to use. He or she is familiar with your pet's medical health history and can make sure flea treatments do not interfere with other medications your pet is taking.

If your pet does have an adverse reaction to a flea product, see your vet immediately for treatment for the flea medication side effects.

For informational purposes, here is an overview of some options your vet may suggest for eradicating fleas:

Topical treatments: Most of the popular spot-on flea treatments kill fleas in all stages of the life cycle. Brand names such as Bio Spot ® DEFENSE SPOT ON ®, Frontline ® & Frontline ® Plus, and K9 Advantix ® II are just a few of the better known trade names that may be used.

Look for products that are waterproof especially if your pet spends time inside and outdoors, and buy the treatments based on the dog's age and weight. Follow all package directions carefully to avoid adverse side effects from the flea medication.

Flea collars: Flea and tick collars are impregnated with a medication to repel and kill these pests and provide your pet with protection for a specified number of months. Check the package label for the product of your choice as this may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and make your selection according to the weight and age of your pet.

Oral treatments: These come in chewable tablets or liquid formulas and usually contain an insect growth regulator (IGR). Some common trade names are Program Flea Control or Comfortis; these medications may or may not require a prescription.   

Shampoos and dips: Depending on the brand you purchase, these may contain chemicals or natural active ingredients to kill adult fleas and interrupt or inhibit the life cycle of the other stages.

Flea bombs: According to the information on the Orkin website, while flea bombs may be an effective way to kill most of the fleas in your house, they will not completely eliminate them from your house or yard. These need to be used in conjunction with other flea preventative methods, and for the safety of your family and your pets, all packaging instructions must be followed.  

Sprays: Flea sprays contain an active ingredient to kill adult fleas and ticks but may or may not be effective against the eggs. If you opt for a spray treatment, you may need to combine it with another method of flea prevention such as a topical treatment or an oral supplement to prevent reinfestation.

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs

Breaking the Flea Life Cycle

The average life cycle of a flea ranges from an incredibly short 14 days to as long as eight or more months. Fleas progress from eggs to pupae to larvae to adults and repeat the cycle ad naseaum until it is interrupted.

If you want to get rid of fleas completely, not just rid your pet of them, you will have to work through a treatment regime that includes treating all the pets in the household, the interior of the house, and the yard for at least two months to be sure you have killed the fleas in every stage of the life cycle.

Eradicating Fleas from Your House

When it comes to getting rid of fleas in the house, it's important not to settle for half-way measures. At a minimum, do this:

  1. All the bedding, furniture and carpeting must be cleaned and sanitized.
  2. All the interior surfaces and floors have to be scrubbed as well.
  3. Vacuum thoroughly - repeat, repeat, repeat.
  4. If you are using flea bombs as part of your flea eradication program, use them first and then follow up with a thorough house cleaning before bringing humans or pets back into the house.
  5. Fleas have long lives and can survive without food for quite a while, so this intense cleaning needs to be repeated about every two weeks for at least 60 days to make sure to kill the maximum number of fleas.

My Dog Has Fleas!

Domestic Dog Resting in the Sun Chews at It's Annoying Fleas
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Killing Fleas in the Yard

Choosing the best flea treatments for yards will hinge on your feelings about the use of chemicals and pesticides. For instance, if you are opposed to using potentially hazardous chemicals on your yard or in your house, your best choices will be flea sprays and treatments that are based on organic or herbal ingredients rather than pesticides. Some natural pesticides are clove, cinnamon or peppermint oils or citrus based essential oils. While it is important to be cautious about using pesticides, if you read and follow all the labeling instructions, they can be effective flea deterrents.

Putting Your Flea Prevention Regime to Work

Just to recap, when you spot a flea on your dog's coat, you already have a problem because where there are live fleas, there are eggs hiding somewhere just waiting to hatch and produce more of these parasites.

Immediate treatment for your pet not only relieves his discomfort; it gives you a head start on breaking the flea life cycle. In addition to using whatever flea treatment medication your vet may prescribe, be sure to treat the house and the yard to get rid of eggs, pupae, larvae and adults.

It's important to know how to get rid of fleas on dogs because fleas can cause more serious problems like flea allergy dermatitis, tapeworms, or skin infections. Talk to your vet about the best ways to keep fleas at bay.

Note: Never use flea treatments formulated for canines on cats - cats could have a toxic or even fatal reaction to the medication.

Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for 45- to 88-Pound Dogs and Puppies, 6 Month

Flea & Tick Spot On

Only $75.99
Bayer K9 Advantix II Blue 6-Month Flea & Tick Drops for Extra Large Dogs, 55+ lbs.

Kills adult fleas, eggs and larvae. Biting fleas are more than just a nuisance for your dog. Left unchecked, they can cause serious disorders such as flea allergy dermatitis, se...

$59.98  $59.0
Bayer K9 Advantix II Blue 4-Month Flea & Tick Drops for Extra Large Dogs, 55+ lbs.

Kills adult fleas, eggs and larvae. Biting fleas are more than just a nuisance for your dog. Left unchecked, they can cause serious disorders such as flea allergy dermatitis, se...

Only $45.0
Updated: 05/10/2012, Donna_Cosmato
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Donna_Cosmato on 05/16/2012

Thanks for becoming a fan, singing coach, I really appreciate it. There is nothing worse than a flea infestation, is there? I don't know about where you live, but because our winter was so mild, the pesky critters are already alive and biting in our neck of the woods!

Donna_Cosmato on 05/16/2012

I guess flea bombs does sound rather science fiction-y, doesn't it? With so many options to choose from, it can make choosing the best one challenging. Thanks for reading and commenting on this, Tolovaj.

Tolovaj on 05/16/2012

Wow, I have had no idea there are so many methods available. Flea bomb! It sounds like science fiction to me:)

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