Fleas are one of the things that every dog owner dreads having to face but the chances are, they’ll need to at some point or other. Even with the most vigilant of care, fleas just seem an inevitable part of life as a dog or dog owner. Fleas can jump seven inches high and over a foot horizontally, and they love to jump from host to host, meaning that they can spread very quickly. This means that just one visit to your home from a dog with fleas, or a quick brush with a flea-infested dog in the park can quickly introduce these critters to your dog, and your home. It’s for this reason that at the first signs of scratching, dog owners start to wonder how to get rid of fleas on dogs.
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Locating The Source
Before you start to treat any area of your home or pet, you must locate the source of the fleas. If the fleas came from your dog, you need to take them to the vet immediately so that they can receive a flea bath that will immediately kill all of the fleas that your dog is carrying around. Even once the fleas have been killed, you’ll need to find a place for your pet to stay while you eradicate them from your home.
Otherwise, the fleas will just start living off your dog again and the cycle will continue.
If you suspect a new item in the home, such as rugs or clothing that were given to you by friends, was the source of the original infestation, you must get it cleaned as soon as possible, but also tell the person who gave it to you. This is an important step because it will help keep the problem from spreading, and will alert them that there’s an infestation in their home or business as well that needs to be addressed.
By the same token, if you have had anyone visiting your home since discovering the flea infestation, you need to let them know. Once inside your home the fleas could have jumped to them looking for a new host, and they may carry them into their home or other places that they go.
How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs
There are two different ways to get rid of fleas on dogs, and two different approaches you can take: natural, or chemical.
It’s important to understand that the one you choose will depend on your own personal preferences and priorities, and that there is no “right” way to get rid of fleas on your dog and in your home.
While you might choose the chemical route to get rid of the fleas as quickly as possible, you might instead choose not to expose the small children in your home to unnecessary chemicals. It’s for this reason that you must weigh your options carefully, and make the decision that’s right for you, your home, and the people within it.
- Sticky flea pads and electronic traps. This method includes sticky tape paper that attracts fleas and is attached to an electronic trap, which needs to be plugged in near the infestation. Fleas will make their way onto the sticky paper and become stuck there until they eventually die. While this method doesn’t involve any use of chemicals, it can take a long time before the fleas are finally eliminated completely from your home. Some users have also said that this seemed like an unsanitary option, as it left dead fleas lying around the home.
- Boric acid. Using products that have a boric acid base is one of the most effective ways to naturally eliminate fleas from your home because while it kills fleas, boric acid is not at all toxic to humans or pets. To treat your infestation using this method, simply shake some of the boric acid over carpets and other infested areas. The powder will work its way so deep into the carpet that it will no longer even be able to be picked up by a vacuum. When using boric acid this way though, it’s still important to vacuum the carpet regularly to remove any of the fleas that have ingested the acid and have died.
- Nylar is a unique product that works by mimicking the juvenile flea hormone which in turn stops flea eggs from hatching and can greatly reduce the amount of fleas in your home. Nylar is completely natural and just needs to be sprayed onto tile, wood or linoleum flooring that is a common living space for fleas. One of the added benefits of Nylar is that it only needs to be applied once a year, which means that you won’t have to deal with another infestation any time soon.
- Rosemary Leaves. Rosemary is a natural flea repellant and while it may only put a dent in a full blown infestation, it can help at the end stages, or to prevent future outbreaks. Simply bring two pints of water to a boil before adding two cups of fresh rosemary leaves and boiling for half an hour. Then, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Fish out the leaves and when warm but not hot, pour over a dog with fleas, or any fabric that attracts fleas.
- Lavender oil. Lavender is also a natural flea killer and although it may take several days to weeks to see results, it’s an easy remedy to apply. Simply place a few drops at the base of your dog’s neck, as well as the base of the tail, and this will keep fleas off of them. Lavender oil can also be applied to baseboards and other areas that cannot be easily washed to kill and eliminate fleas.
- Brewer’s yeast. This is an interesting, and natural way to repel fleas from your pet. Simply sprinkle a teaspoon into your dog’s food and this will make them taste awful to fleas and make them stay away. The amount of Brewer’s yeast that you’ll need will depend on the weight of your dog, so make sure that you speak to your veterinarian before beginning this treatment.
- Apple cider vinegar. This tart liquid works in much the same way that Brewer’s yeast does, in that it makes your dog taste terrible to any flea that tries to bite it. While you can use it to treat flea-infested areas around your home, it also has a strong odor and so is considered to be more appropriate for treating animals only. Just add a tablespoon to their water dish and they’ll be protected without ever even knowing it.
- Similar to the rosemary treatment, boil a whole lemon that’s been quartered in boiling water but this time, steep it overnight. The next day strain out the lemon pieces and spray the solution on your dog, or the places that are mostly prone to flea infestation around the home.
Remember that no matter what solution you choose to try and get rid of fleas on dogs, you’ll likely need more than one solution, especially if the infestation has already started. Getting rid of fleas on dogs and around the home is a long process that requires patience, and a bit of trial and error on the owner’s part.
Getting rid of flea infestations on your dog and in your home can be a real hassle once it’s already taken place, and it can take weeks, if not months, to fully rid you, your pet, and your home of fleas once they’ve taken hold.
It’s for this reason that you need to take great care that fleas do not return once you’ve finally gotten the infestation under control. This includes cleaning all bedding once a week in very hot water, vacuuming regularly, and continuing with the flea control medication of your choice. Also make sure that you’re regularly inspecting your dog and their skin to make sure that there are no signs of fleas. This will help you determine whether or not your current flea-prevention tactics are working.
Cleaning Up After an Infestation
Often the most annoying parts of flea treatment for dog owners is the fact that once an infestation is found, everything must be cleaned. Any fabric that is in your home, and that would make a good home for fleas, must be thoroughly cleaned and washed. This includes your dog’s bed, cage, linen, towels, sheets and blankets on any and all beds, rugs, any clothing that could be infested, and anything else that fleas could hide in.
Anything that cannot be removed and thrown into the washing machine should be vacuumed, including couches, chairs, furniture, and any and all nooks and crannies that would be perfect for fleas to live in. Once you’re done vacuuming, the vacuum needs to be taken outside so it can be emptied. To do this, remove the vacuum bag and tie it securely with an elastic or other tie. Leave it outside in a shed or garbage bin so that it’s impossible for any fleas to make their way back into your home.
Once all of the removable fabrics have been washed and everything else has been vacuumed, make sure that you clean all hard surfaces. Fleas can live in places you’d never think of, so it’s important to make sure everything is absolutely clean. Because an infestation can come back when even just a couple of fleas are present, it’s important to continue this process for several weeks after fleas have been removed from your home.
When dog owners start to see that their pet is scratching a lot more than usual, or they’ve noticed the small raised, itchy bumps on their own skin, they only want to know how to get rid of fleas on dogs as quickly as possible. It can be disheartening to learn that eliminating the fleas can be such a lengthy process. However, once the problem has been solved and the fleas have been eradicated, a few simple steps of prevention can help ensure that the problem is one you’ll never have to deal with again.
Kate Elliott has been a freelance content writer for the past 8 years, and has written creatively her entire life. In addition to her online work, she has written a fiction novel, as well as had poetry published in the “Songs of the Heart” collection. A lover of animals since she was young, she’s also always had a dog by her side. Currently her best friend is a 13-year-old German Shepherd named Chewy.