6 Best Ways to Get Fleas Off Your Dog
by Jane Meggitt - 8/21/19
Fleas make dogs uncomfortable. When a dog suffers from a flea allergy, those tiny, biting creatures can drive him crazy. How to get fleas off your dog? While monthly or quarterly medications are available for flea elimination, many pet owners don’t like the idea of putting chemicals into their dogs’ systems. Natural ways of keeping fleas off your dog take more effort, but should not cause possible side effects.
Know the Signs of Fleas
First, it’s essential that you know the signs of fleas on your dog. Dogs with fleas may scratch a lot, but some dogs may scratch less frequently and still suffer an infestation. While you should check your dog’s skin, especially around the tail and behind his ears, for signs of fleas, you may not see the insects. What you are likely to see in dogs with fleas is flea dirt, a polite name for flea feces. These small black specks look like tiny pieces of dirt. Keep in mind that if one pet has fleas, it’s likely all your canine and feline friends are infested and will need treatment.
1. Flea Combing
One of the best ways to get fleas off your dog is with frequent flea combing. For best results, give your dog a good flea combing every time he comes in from the outdoors. Mix some dishwashing liquid and water together in a cup and dip the flea comb into it as you comb out your dog. The soap kills fleas as you comb them off, but empty the flea bodies into another cup of soapy water.
Regular bathing with a natural flea shampoo will kill any fleas on the dog and repel them for a short while. Because too frequent bathing can dry a dog’s skin and flea shampoos are particularly drying, follow your dog’s flea bath with a specially formulated canine flea skin conditioner. In peak flea season, bathe your dog weekly and give him a thorough flea comb-out after his bath.
3. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth, or DE, is actually the fossilized remains of ancient algae. When fleas or other insects come into contact with tiny DE shards, the resulting holes in their exoskeleton cause them to dry out and die. Use only food grade DE — not the kind sold for use in swimming pools — around dogs. Sprinkle DE around your dog’s sleeping areas and other places you suspect fleas are present, or rub a very small amount of DE into his hair. If you opt to put DE on your dog, give him a bath the following day. Not only is DE non-toxic, but fleas will never develop a resistance to it. Apply the DE to your home weekly, vacuuming this white powder up after three days.
4. Feed Supplements
Certain supplements may repel fleas and keep them from snacking on your pet’s blood. Adding brewer’s yeast or garlic tablets to your dog’s food daily may help keep fleas at bay. Confirm with your veterinarian that it is safe to give your dogs these supplements.
5. Daily Vacuuming
Keeping fleas off your dog means treating his environment. If possible, vacuum your home daily to suck up fleas and eggs lingering in your carpets. Try to vacuum at least every other day. Throw out the vacuum bag or empty the canister as soon as you are finished. Otherwise the fleas may escape and crawl back into your carpeting.
6. Pharmaceutical Options
Natural methods of flea control require more work than pharmaceutical options, and many people do not have the time. Monthly, topical flea control products may produce side effects in some dogs, but they will kill fleas. Because your dog will also require heartworm protection, your vet can prescribe topical heartworm preventive treatment that also combats fleas and ticks. For long-term flea protection, your vet may prescribe tablets, such as Bravecto, that keep your pet flea-free for up to three months.
Jane Meggitt’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including USA Today, The Alternative Daily, nj.com, The Houston Chronicle and The Nest. She is a graduate of New York University.