Fleas are a nuisance. These tiny, blood-sucking parasites irritate your dog and infest your home—often before you realize that fleas have moved in. If you and your dog are scratching your heads, and you're wondering how to get rid of fleas on dogs, relax. We’ve got you covered. Here are the four steps you need to take to eliminate these unwelcome freeloaders.
1. Understand the Flea Life Cycle
The first step is understanding the enemy. Fleas go through four life cycle stages:
The adults live on animals like your dog, where they lay their eggs. These eggs spread throughout your home and yard every time your dog scratches, shakes, or lies down. They then hatch into larvae—preferably for the fleas in the comfort of your carpet, sofa, or bed. The larvae form cocoons during the pupa stage, where they hatch and become adults that infest their animal hosts.
You need to know this because different flea products treat different parts of this life cycle, so make sure you read the label and follow the directions before use.
2. Prevention and Treatment
The best way to deal with fleas is prevention. Flea and tick preventatives kill fleas that come in contact with your dog, preventing your pup from bringing them home in the first place. There are several options out there, from flea collars to liquid applicants and pills. Talk to your vet about the flea preventative that is right for your dog.
If your dog already has fleas, these preventatives will still kill them, but you may need to take more aggressive action, like a prescription preventative. You can also use a flea shampoo or a fast-acting chemical treatment, such as a pill that kills the fleas on your dog within hours.
3. Get Fleas Out of Your Home
Killing the fleas on your dog is just one part of the problem. You also need to get the fleas out of your home. This requires patience. In most cases, it takes 3-4 months to get rid of an infestation, as it takes this long for all of the fleas in your home to go through their life stages. Here are the 5 steps you need to take to eradicate fleas in your home:
- Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water
- Vacuum all carpets, hardwood floors, linoleum and tiled floors, and throw away the vacuum bag
- Choose and apply an environmental flea control like methoprene, or call a local exterminator
- Choose and apply a spray, pellet, or non-toxic treatment for your yard
- Continue to treat your dog and any other pets with a monthly preventative
4. Talk to Your Veterinarian
When in doubt, call in the experts. Ask your veterinarian about how to get rid of fleas on dogs, as vets are up-to-date on the latest flea treatments and preventatives and can help you find the best and safest treatment option for you and your dog.