Managing Fleas and Your Dog's Health

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs (Remedies and Treatment)

How to get rid of fleas on dogs is always a dilemma for every pet owner. Fleas severely impact a dog’s quality of life, and pet owners must know how to get rid of fleas on dogs quickly and efficiently. Fleas on dogs damage the skin, cause flea allergic reactions, trigger stress and anemia, and transmit infectious diseases. 

Dogs contract fleas through contact with flea-infested animals, environmental exposure, and lack of preventative measures at home. 

The best way to get rid of fleas on dogs is to use a multimodal approach, including checking the pet regularly, eliminating the fleas, bathing the pet, using apple cider vinegar, brushing the pet, and allowing the pet to self-groom. 

Fleas live in human environments, too, and even the best way to get rid of fleas on dogs is ineffective if there are fleas in the house. Treat all household pets and eliminate fleas in the environment to prevent re-infestations. 

Consult the vet regarding the best anti-flea product. Natural remedies like CBD oil help with the flea effects, but removing flea infestations requires a commercial, mainstream product such as a flea collar, oral treatment, or spot-on liquid. 

1. Check your pet regularly.

Checking your pet regularly resolves the lPet owners asking “How to get rid of fleas on dogs” must begin with regular checks. Flea inspections are easy to perform. 

Part the dog’s coat with the fingers to expose the skin and examine for fleas, flea dirt, or skin changes (bumpy, red, and irritated skin). Focus on inspecting the fleas’ favorite areas, such as the dog’s armpits, groin, hindquarters, and tail. 

Discovering flea dirt confirms the presence of fleas even if the inspection did not locate an actual flea. Flea dirt is feces that resemble black specks or ground black pepper. 

Place the dirt on a white paper towel and sprinkle water on it to test whether it is regular or flea dirt. Flea dirt contains meal leftovers (blood) and turns reddish-brown when exposed to water. 

2. Eliminate the fleas.

Eliminating the fleas is a versatile step that includes various approaches and products, from natural shampoos and sprays to prescription treatments. 

Consult a veterinarian to see which option works best based on the dog’s infestation severity and lifestyle. 

Natural anti-flea solutions are popular, especially among pet owners seeking alternative and chemical-free treatments, but their efficacy is limited. Using commercial products is the most effective approach, and when done correctly, is completely safe. 

Modern pet marketplaces offer spot-on liquids, collars, and chewable treats containing active ingredients that kill fleas at their various life stages while preventing future infestations. 

3. Bath your pet.

Bathing your pet is one of the simplest ways to get rid of fleas on dogs. Bathing with lukewarm water combined with dish soap is the most effective solution because it drowns adult fleas. 

The fleas that survive the bathing process are easier to remove because the water-dish soap mixture reduces their ability to cling to the pet’s coat. 

There are specially formulated flea shampoos containing active ingredients that kill the fleas; however, it is best to consult the vet before applying such products. 

Anti-flea shampoos are harsh on the skin, and the chemicals worsen the condition of dogs with flea allergy dermatitis and open sores due to excess scratching. 

4. Apply an apple cider vinegar mixture to your pet.

Applying an apple cider vinegar mixture to your pet helps repel fleas. An apple cider vinegar mixture is a combination of apple cider vinegar (APV) and water. Used on dogs, the mixture helps repel fleas, although there is no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar alone is enough to prevent flea infestations.

Make an APV shampoo by mixing one cup of apple cider vinegar, one quart of warm water, and one ounce of Castille soap. 

Apply the mixture to the dog, use your fingers to help it reach the skin, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. 

Prepare a leave-on ACV spray by diluting six cups of apple cider vinegar and four cups of water (6:4 ratio). 

Spray the dog during grooming or use a brush to apply the mixture if the dog is fearful of spraying noises. 

Do not use ACV mixtures on open skin sores, and do not rely solely on apple cider vinegar as a flea control measure. ACV is a useful aid, but anti-flea products are the gold standard when it comes to “How to get rid of fleas on dogs.”

5. Brush your pet's hair with a small-tooth comb.

Brushing the pet’s hair with a fine-toothed flea comb helps remove fleas, flea eggs, and flea dirt. The flea comb is a special grooming tool with very finely spaced teeth. The comb is handheld, simple to use, and affordable. 

Brush the dog with a brush suitable for its fur type and proceed to flea-combing. Start at the dog’s head and slowly progress towards the tail while combing in the direction of the fur growth. 

Drip the comb in a mixture of water and detergent after several brushstrokes to remove the trapped flea material. After completing the brushing process, wipe the comb on a wet and white paper towel to identify possible brown stains, which are a typical sign of flea dirt, confirming the presence of fleas.

6. Allow your pet to groom itself.

Allowing your pet to groom itself is normal behavior for dogs to engage in and helps deal with flea infestations. Licking physically removes fleas from the skin, and excessive self-grooming indicates something irritating the dog’s skin. 

Pay attention to the dog’s grooming habits; if a dog that rarely licks itself is suddenly preoccupied with grooming, chances are there is an underlying condition. 

Allow the dog to groom itself, but do not let it overindulge in the habit, as overlicking harms the dog’s skin even more. Instead, be proactive and call the veterinarian. 

What are the causes of Fleas on Dogs?

The causes of fleas on dogs are contact with infested animals, environmental exposure, and lack of preventative measures. 

Dogs commonly contract fleas from other infested dogs during dog park visits and playdates. Fleas are highly agile and easily leap from one dog to another and within the environment to the dog’s skin. 

Fleas “hitchhike” their way onto dogs by attaching themselves to human clothing and infiltrating the home. Indoor dogs are particularly vulnerable to flea infestations. 

Pet owners wondering “How to get rid of fleas on dogs” must know that the same products used for eliminating fleas work just as well for preventing infestations for specific periods. 

How do Fleas affect the health of Dogs?

Fleas affect the health of dogs on several levels, including itchiness, flea allergy dermatitis, secondary skin infections, triggering stress, transmitting worms and dangerous bacteria, and causing anemia.  

The presence of fleas on the skin makes dogs itchy, and in sensitive dogs, flea saliva triggers allergic reactions. Constant scratching to alleviate the itch damages the dog’s skin barrier and increases the risk of secondary skin infections. This state of continual itchiness is stressful and makes dogs anxious. 

Fleas are responsible for transmitting parasites, such as tapeworms, and bacteria like Bartonella species.  

Heavy flea infestations trigger flea bite anemia. Fleas feed on blood, reducing the number of red blood cells in the body. Flea bite anemia is rarely dangerous for adult dogs but potentially fatal for young puppies. 

Pet owners must know how to get rid of fleas on dogs quickly and efficiently because fleas can negatively impact the health of dogs in a short time.  

Do Fleas affect the behavior of Dogs?

Yes, fleas affect the behavior of dogs. Fleas are a nuisance and irritate a dog’s skin, which, in the long term, causes stress and behavioral issues. 

The peer-reviewed journal Animals published an observational 2019 study titled “Behavioural Differences in Dogs with Atopic Dermatitis Suggest Stress Could Be a Significant Problem Associated with Chronic Pruritus,” linking itchiness with problematic dog behaviors. 

The study found that itchy dogs are more prone to problematic behaviors, such as “mounting, chewing, hyperactivity, coprophagia (eating feces), begging for and stealing food, attention-seeking, excitability, excessive grooming, and reduced trainability.”

Solving the “How to get rid of fleas on dogs” problem eliminates the irritating, itchy feeling. Get rid of fleas on the dog to manage any subsequent behavioral issues. 

Is Fleas Allergy a common Dog Allergy?

Yes, flea allergy is a common dog allergy. PetMD claims flea allergy dermatitis is “the most common dermatologic disease in domestic dogs in the United States.

Dog allergies to fleas have increased by 12.5% over the last decade, according to Banfield Pet Hospital's 2018 State of Pet Health Report.

Fortunately for pet owners, flea allergy dermatitis is relatively easy to treat once owners learn how to get rid of fleas on dogs and prevent future infestations. 

How can using CBD Oils for Dogs affect the Fleas?

Using CBD oils for dogs does not directly affect fleas or dog flea removal. Using CBD oils does help reduce inflammation and itchiness in the dog's skin. 

An Australian pet CBD company, CannPal, found that its CBD product reduced inflammation, itchiness, and skin lesions by 51% following two months of consistent use. The American pet CBD brand ElleVet concluded that CBD use reduces owners’ reports of dog scratching. 

Skin inflammation and itchiness are the main symptoms of fleas, and CBD oil provides allergy relief for dogs

CBD product use encourages calmness and relaxation in the dog. Fleas make dogs feel itchy, causing them distress. CBD reduces the itch-related stress until owners identify “how to get rid of fleas on dogs.”

Are CBD Products effective for Dogs Fleas?

No, CBD products are not effective for dog fleas. CBD products for dogs help with treating the effects of fleas. For example, topical application of CBD oil or CBD-infused balms soothes skin irritation caused by fleas and relieves flea allergy dermatitis symptoms.  

How to Know if your Dog has Flea Allergy?

You know your dog has flea allergy if itching and hair loss occur. FAD-related hair loss develops in the “flea triangle,” which includes the region between the middle of the back and the tail of the base and the rear legs. 

These symptoms and the determination that the dog has fleas support the suspicion. The lack of symptoms after pet owners remove fleas from dogs is another visible indicator of flea allergy dermatitis. 

“How to know if your dog has flea allergy” is a common dilemma among pet owners. Understand the symptoms of FAD in dogs, but always have the veterinarian confirm the suspicion and assist with the treatment. 

Do Fleas cause harm to a dog's skin if left untreated?

Yes, fleas cause harm to a dog’s skin if left untreated. Flea bites irritate the skin and cause painful sores, bacterial skin infections, or hot spots with red, raw, and inflamed skin. 

Dogs respond to the itchiness by scratching themselves. The scratching provides momentary relief but results in self-inflicted skin wounds and further skin damage. 

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is another harmful effect of flea bites in dogs. Fleas inject a minuscule amount of saliva into the dog’s skin when feeding. Flea saliva contains antigens (proteins with an allergenic potential), which trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive dogs.   

How long do Fleas on Dogs last?

Fleas on dogs last until adequately treated. Fleas live for seven to 14 days; in that time, they reproduce (a single flea lays up to 40 eggs in a day) and constantly re-infest the dog with new fleas. 

“How to get rid of fleas on dogs” is a common question among pet owners. The answer is to use modern anti-flea medications and treatments that kill adult fleas in under 24 hours. 

Eliminating a flea infestation and the different life cycles of fleas in the environment is an arduous process that takes up to three to four months in some cases. 

How can Dog Fleas affect our home?

Dog fleas affect our homes by causing active infestations or laying eggs that remain dormant and develop into adult fleas when the conditions are favorable. 

Fleas cannot survive without a host for more than two weeks. Flea eggs, however, go dormant and survive without a host for up to 18 months. The eggs continue developing into adulthood once a suitable host is available. 

Fleas on dogs have several negative effects on your home, such as infesting carpets, floor cracks, upholstery, bedding, curtains, etc. Fleas reproduce rapidly, and it is important to find a quick solution to the “How to get rid of fleas on dogs” dilemma. 

Fleas bite humans and pets in the house, transmit diseases and worms, and trigger allergies in sensitive dogs. 

What are the different ways to Manage Dog Fleas inside our home?

The different ways to manage dog fleas inside our home are listed below. 

  • Regular Cleaning: Regular cleaning is paramount for eliminating fleas and involves vacuuming with a powerful vacuum cleaner. Vacuum all house floors, upholstery, and mattresses, and pay special attention to tight spaces and cracks where fleas, larvae, and eggs typically hide.  
  • Wash Bedding and Linens: Wash all beddings and linens (including the dog’s belongings) in hot water with soap or detergent and dry at the highest heat setting possible. Consider discarding beddings and linens in the case of heavy flea infestations.
  • Make Flea Traps: Fill a shallow dish with water and stir one tablespoon of dish soap. Place the dish in a spot where fleas frequent and leave it there overnight. Empty the dish and dead fleas in the morning and refill the trap with soapy water.  
  • Anti-Flea Sprays and Products: Lemon juice, salt, and baking soda help manage fleas in the house when combined with other approaches. Store-bought insecticides are efficient, but most options are dangerous to pets and must be used carefully.   
  • Groom and Bathe Your Dog: Regular grooming and bathing are vital for managing fleas. Grooming and bathing allow for noticing flea infestation early on and help remove some fleas, reducing the infestation load.  
  • Treat All House Pets: Eliminating fleas from the house is impossible without answering “How to get rid of fleas on dogs.” Dogs are an ongoing source of fleas, and cleaning the house is unhelpful unless treated. Treat all pets in the home with a pet-safe and efficient anti-flea product to control the source of the infestation before focusing on cleaning.
  • Consult a Veterinarian: Always talk to a veterinarian when dealing with fleas on dogs and in the house. A licensed vet provides insight on managing the flea infestation while ensuring the dog’s safety.  

When to contact a Veterinarian about Fleas on Dogs?

Contact a veterinarian about fleas on dogs if owners suspect an infestation or discover actual fleas on the dog. 

Fleas are difficult to locate on a dog, especially in the case of low-level infestations. Admitting “My dog has fleas” with certainty is difficult for many pet owners, even if they suspect the problem. 

The veterinarian examines the dog to confirm the presence of fleas and then helps with the “How to get rid of fleas on dogs” question. Ask the vet which anti-flea product is best for the dog based on lifestyle and unique needs.  

Vets often recommend a dewormer based on the dog’s deworming protocol since fleas transmit tapeworms.