how to get rid of fleas on dogs

If you have a dog, you have probably, at some time, had a flea problem. Of course, some people are lucky and take all the necessary precautions, but that is not to say your dog (or your home) will never be invaded by these pesky little bloodsuckers!

Fortunately, fleas need not have a lasting effect on your dog, and your, quality of life. Nor do you need be embarrassed about the situation. It does, and can, happen in any household! There are also a number of things you can do to remedy the situation.

There are many products available to get rid of fleas on dogs and rid your home of flea infestations. Similarly, if you are wary of using commercially bought products to get rid of them, there are natural methods that get the job done.

So you have noticed your pet scratching away, and thought perhaps it is just an itch. But the scratching continues, and pretty soon you start scratching as well. Yup, the chances are good your pet has fleas and, what is more, is spreading it around your home!

Don’t panic just yet!

Before you take out the antiseptic and clean any surface in your home, take into consideration it might not be your fault! That it is not your dog’s fault! It might just be the time of year where fleas are rampant and he picked them up somewhere.

Fleas breed outdoors and when the temperature and humidity is just right, hatch from their eggs and jump onto the first animal that passes. If this is your dog, he brings them into your home, which is an ideal breeding spot. Carpets, especially, are a favorite breeding ground. And thus the cycle begins. You get rid of the fleas on your pet and surroundings, and a few weeks later, a new infestation occurs that is worse than the previous one.

Do not despair, though, as there are a few solutions to the problem. For very bad infestations, however, the solution might be a long-term one.

dog bath

Tackle the flea problem!

There are two ways to tackle the problem: the chemical approach, or the natural approach.

  1. The chemical approach

As the name states, fleas are easily killed by means of man-made chemicals. The most popular methods include dipping your dog, giving him pills that deter fleas, flea collars, flea powders, flea sprays, flea oils that are dropped onto your dog’s coat at various difficult-to-reach places, and bathing him with flea shampoo.

There are numerous such products available at either your veterinarian, doggy parlor, or over the counter at any drugstore.

Do read the instructions carefully before use in order to avoid an overdose. Too many chemicals are harmful to your dog and possibly cause skin irritations.

  1. The natural approach

The natural approach uses naturally occurring substances to either kill or deter fleas. The possibility of harming your pet in any way is negligible if the proper care is taken. A number of natural recipes are included with instructions on how to use them.

For the fashion conscious pooch

How about a fashionable, flea repelling bandana? If your pet is not fashion driven, his usual, everyday collar works fine!

What you need:

  • 1 bandana (or collar)
  • Water: about three tablespoons
  • Cedar oil or lavender oil: three to five drops (the more drops added, the more effective and fragrant the bandanna (collar).

What to do:

Mix the water and oil of choice. Wet the bandanna, allow to dry if you wish, and stylishly knot it around your dog’s neck. If using a collar, wet it with the mixture, allowing it to soak in as much as possible before putting it back around his neck.

Fleas do not like cedar or lavender and will stay away. Repeat this process on a weekly basis.

The cider option

This is apple cider vinegar if anyone was wondering, and not the alcoholic beverage!

Add a tablespoon or two to his drinking water. Fleas just don’t like sucking up blood when a pet drinks this water.

Alternatively, make a fifty/fifty solution of apple cider vinegar and water. Spray it on your pet’s coat once or twice a day.

Flea-away dog treats

A great way to get rid of fleas, especially with hungry dogs, is to make these dog treats that fleas hate!

What you need:

  • Melted organic coconut oil for dogs: 1 1/8 cup
  • Brewer’s yeast: ½ cup
  • Small molds of your choice.

What to do:

  • Blend the ingredients before putting it into the small molds. Put in the fridge or freezer until set. It will keep for up to six months (in the freezer). Take out of molds and feed your dog one a day (for small dogs) and two per day for medium to large dogs.

dog shampoo

Tackle the flea problem inside the home

The first order of business is determining whether you have a flea problem. The second order of business is determining how bad it is and what to do about it.

The most common sign that there are fleas in your home, and of course your pets, is scratching. An infestation might have you scratching as well, and you soon end up with flea bites all over your ankles and possibly body as well. Other signs to look out for are flea droppings in your pet’s bed or on his coat. It looks like coarsely ground black pepper.

Fleas breed incessantly, and getting rid of an infestation in the home is often a nightmare. There are a few things that need doing if you are in such a situation.

Wash whatever is washable weekly. This includes your and your pet’s bedding.

Vacuum regularly – daily, if possible. It not only sucks up the fleas but their eggs as well. Remember to do so under those hard to reach places as well while not forgetting your upholstery. The back of a couch is a great breeding place.

There are many insecticides available to try out. Read the instructions carefully and follow them.

Of course, you could try a natural way as well. This needs combining with the washing and vacuuming, however.

Herbal spray

You will need to spray this in the home every few days after vacuuming and washing.

What you need:

  • Water: 1 liter
  • Vinegar: 2 liters
  • Lemon juice: 250 ml
  • Witch hazel: 125 ml

What to do:

  • Mix everything together and pour into a spray bottle. Spray all surfaces with the spray.

Natural flea powder

The four ingredients in this flea powder are all natural. Fleas hate them all!

What you need:

  • Diatomaceous earth (diatom flour): 1 cup
  • Neem powder: ½ cup
  • Yarrow powder: ½ cup
  • Eucalyptus essential oil: 20 drops

(If you have cats, don’t add the eucalyptus oil. Cats absorb essential oils through their skin and it makes them ill.)

What to do:

Mix everything together (well!). Put into a shaker, and sprinkle all over before vacuuming. It is also great when sprinkled on and worked into your dog’s fur.

dog grooming

Tackle the flea problem outside the home

If you have fleas inside, you probably have them outside as well! It makes sense to tackle the problem on your pet, inside your home, and outside your home at the same time.

The trick is identifying the areas in your garden where fleas hang out. Mostly, fleas like the warm, damp, shady spots. These are usually the spots where your dog lies snoozing when the midday sun is out.

One option is to spray the affected areas (or the whole yard) with an insecticide that does the job quickly and effectively. Just make sure no pets are around when you do so. Keep them inside. A pest control company is a little more costly but equally, if not more, effective.

Of course, you could choose to drown them (the fleas, not your pets) by flooding the whole area. This, of course, is not only costly but uses a heck of a lot of water. It is also not very practical.

You could, however, opt for a more environmentally friendly option. To start off with, create less shady spots. Trim those trees and let the sunshine in!

Get rid of all garden refuse, get rid of weeds, and keep the grass short. This lays the groundwork.

Spray the garden with beneficial nematodes. These are tiny worms that eat flea eggs. An added bonus is they eat the eggs of other pests, such as mosquitoes, as well! These nematodes are completely harmless to pets, birds, and humans.

Cedar wood chips are also great. It is not so easy spreading them all over, but in your beddings and on the perimeter of the property works well. No more fleas can enter, at least.

A spray using essential oils also works wonders. Peppermint oil not only repels fleas and other bugs, but destroys their larvae as well, while most pests hate rosemary, thyme, and clove oil.

Peppermint spray for fleas

What you need:

  • A spray bottle
  • Water
  • Peppermint oil: 10 drops
  • Rosemary oil: 10 drops
  • Thyme oil: 10 drops
  • Clove oil: 10 drops

What to do:

Put the oil into the spray bottle and fill up with water. Cap the bottle. Shake the bottle vigorously, and spray all infected areas on the property.

If your infestation is particularly bad, add 10 drops of neem oil to the mix. It kills most garden bugs by dissolving the waxy outer coat of their bodies while killing the larvae and eggs as well.

Prevention is better than cure

Flea prevention is easier than flea eradication. So what can you do to prevent you dog getting fleas or fleas infesting your home and yard? The answer is easy: prevention!

  • Make sure your home is clean. Vacuuming and hot water washing regularly are essential.
  • Clear up the yard. Do not allow things to get out of hand.
  • Regularly check your dog for any signs of fleas.
  • Prevent fleas by taking appropriate steps, i.e. using the different options mentioned on your dog as soon as the warmer weather starts.

In conclusion

Nobody likes fleas. Not you, your visitors, and most of all, your dog. Getting rid of them, however, is a long process. In order not to have the problem, take preventative measures that will save you a headache (and your poor pet a lot of scratching) and a lot of hard work before the problem gets a chance to surface.

Before you go exterminate all the fleas in the hood, have a look at this informative video: