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What to Do If Your Dog Has Fleas

family-footerDo you love taking your pup jogging or hiking in the mountains? After returning home, you may notice your pet incessantly scratching their skin. Excessive scratching is the first clue that your pet has inadvertently picked up a few unwanted hitchhikers!

If you notice your pet is scratching more than usual, they may have fleas, in which case there are a few ways to resolve the issue.

But how can you be sure it’s fleas? And what treatment gets rid of these parasites as quickly as possible? Here’s what you need to know.

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas

Scratching doesn’t guarantee your dog has fleas. Itchy ears could indicate mites or an ear infection. Scratching other parts of their body could point to a food allergy or skin condition.

To be sure it’s fleas, first inspect your pet’s fur, especially in the parasites’ favorite places around your dog’s ears and rump. A flea comb is an effective tool to use when searching for fleas in your dog’s fur.

Look for flat, brown, wingless insects about half the size of an apple seed. Also, keep an eye out for flea droppings on your dog’s skin, which resemble flecks of pepper or dirt.

Treating Your Dog for Fleas

There are several methods you can use to treat your dog. The key is to kill young fleas – the eggs and larvae – to break the life cycle and make your pet flea-free again. Look for medications with larvae-killing ingredients such as pyriproxyfen or methoprene. A combination of methods may prove the most effective.

Apply Spot-on Flea Treatment

This medication sinks into the subcutaneous fat layer of your dog’s skin, making conditions inhospitable for fleas, larvae, and eggs. Avoid bathing your dog for a few days before and after applying spot-on flea treatment.

If you bathe your dog before the application, there won’t be enough natural oils to carry the medication deep into their skin. If you bathe them shortly after application, you’ll wash the medicine away.

Brush Your Dog Often

Run a flea comb through your dog’s fur every day. Keep a small dish of soapy water nearby. If you scoop any fleas or eggs from your dog’s skin, drown them in the water as you go.

Give Your Dog a Flea Bath

About one week after applying spot-on flea treatment, bathe your dog with flea-killing shampoo. Remember to be gentle with your pup’s already-irritated skin. Don’t overuse the shampoo, and lather it gently. Distract your dog for five to 10 minutes while the shampoo does its job, and then rinse your pet thoroughly.

Treating Your Home for Fleas

As soon as you’ve applied spot-on flea treatment, you can begin treating your home.

Vacuum Thoroughly

Vacuum the carpet daily during the flea eradication process. Be thorough and vacuum furniture, curtains, and tabletops with the brush attachment. Dispose of the bag or dump the contents of your bagless vacuum immediately in an outdoor trash can.

Wash Bedding

Wash your pet’s bed and your own bedding in hot water and run it through the dryer. If your dog’s bed is heavily soiled, it may be easier to replace it.

Implement Flea Control

Whole-house flea control options include aerosol foggers, sodium borate, and insect growth regulators. Ask a vet or exterminator which path you should pursue.

Come to Germantown Vet for Flea Treatment & Prevention

If your dog has fleas, the experienced team at Germantown Vet can help select the proper prescription flea treatment. We can also prescribe monthly flea prevention medication to keep these pesky pests away. It’s true what they say – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Whether you need preventative flea medication or treatment for an existing infestation, contact Germantown Vet today! Our experienced vets are here to help.


Fleas can cause anemia, tapeworms, and severe allergies. They can even pass typhus onto their humans. If fleas are left untreated, they can multiply exponentially, causing extreme discomfort to both you and your pet. Get answers to common questions below.

What medical treatments can protect my dog from fleas?

Medicated treatments are your first line of defense against pests. There are many options to suit your needs, including:

  • Topical treatments such as Frontline Plus and Revolution are popular. You apply the product to your dog’s body once a month to drastically reduce the risk of pest infestation.
  • Oral tablets provide full-body protection with a once-a-month pill or chewable tablet. You’ll need a prescription from your veterinarian because oral flea and tick prevention products aren’t available over the counter.
  • Collars are a good choice for pets that refuse to take pills. This economical option lasts for about eight months before you need to buy a new one. One drawback is that some animals experience skin irritation from wearing the collar.
  • Shampoos, sprays, and dips are cost-effective ways to kill fleas and ticks on contact. These are appropriate options for pets that already have a parasite problem.

What At-Home grooming habits can reduce fleas?

A routine grooming schedule that includes a dip or seasonal flea shampoo will destroy pests instantly, but it won’t prevent them from repopulating again. Frequent brushing with a fine, anti-flea comb will help, particularly after a walk.

How do I deal with a home infestation?

If fleas have infiltrated your home, you’ll need a comprehensive solution that deals with eggs, cocoons, and larva. A powerful vacuum will remove all stages of their life cycle from your floors and mattresses. Pay special attention to cracks and tight spaces.

Next, you’ll need to target your linen. Remove all blankets and sheets, then use a steam cleaner to reduce flea populations in your carpets and upholstery. Hot, soapy water and a dryer cycle will effectively remove fleas from your linen.

It can take three months to fully get rid of an infestation. Targeting all stages of the life cycle is critical, so you’ll need to sustain a regular, thorough routine.

How can I prevent a flea infestation?

The best way to avoid a flea infestation is with preventative treatments with your trusted vet. Treatments like Bravecto and Spot On can’t prevent fleas from attaching to your dog. Instead, they only kill those that your pet brings home from their walk.

In addition to the at-home care mentioned above, establishing a routine flea and tick treatment with your veterinarian is essential.

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