Fleas are a dog owner's biggest nemesis. We spend so much time and money trying to prevent an infestation, but these pests get on our dogs anyway. This is why pet owners must know how to kill fleas on dogs, and how to do it safely.
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Flea Infestations on Dogs
According to the Center for Disease Control, there are more than 2,000 species of fleas. They do best in warm, humid climates and feed off of the blood of a host animal (dog). During its life cycle, a flea changes from an egg, to larva, to pupae, and finally to an adult.
An adult female flea can live for more than three weeks and lay 20-30 eggs each day. Fleas can also survive for more than 100 days without a blood meal, which means they can easily survive on carpeting, bedding, furniture and other areas that your dog frequents.
If your dog has contracted fleas, there is a good chance that they have infested your house as well. To put it simply, learning how to kill fleas on dogs also requires that you get rid of the fleas in your home. If you don't, your dog will become infested with fleas again in no time.
Pet owners must check their dogs for fleas 2 times per week. If you detect the infestation early, you'll be able to get rid of the little pests that much quicker. If you use preventative measures, you'll never have to worry about getting rid of a flea infestation on a dog.
The best thing to do is consult your veterinarian about the right flea preventative for your pet. There are many options and your vet will be able to steer you in the right direction after evaluating your pet. The fleas in your home, your dog's age, his overall health condition and other variables will determine the flea preventative that is right for him.
How to Kill Fleas on Dogs
Home Remedies vs Commercial Products
When you're trying to kill fleas, even though I've used flea home remedies before (and they're effective in mild cases), it's been proven that commercial products are more effective than home remedies. I try to use natural treatments whenever possible for our dogs, but I have yet to find an effective natural treatment that kills fleas on dogs.
If you use natural remedies to prevent a flea infestation, you won't have to worry about using commercial products with harsh chemicals to kill the pests. Meaning, you can try cheap natural remedies first to see if they work before resorting to commercial products.
5 Types of Products to Kill Fleas on a Dog
Most flea preventative products will kill flea eggs, larvae and adult fleas. It can be overwhelming to choose from all of the options available, but your veterinarian will definitely be able to help.
The best way to kill fleas on dogs is with a traditional flea bath. There are lots of flea shampoos available that will kill fleas in nearly every stage of life. Some of these flea shampoos will also prevent further infestation for a few days or weeks after the bath.
Flea collars and topical flea treatments are the two most commonly used products to kill fleas on dogs. Topical treatments and flea collars were shown to be almost 100% guaranteed to kill fleas, flea eggs and larvae.
Other options are edible flea pills to kill fleas and keep them from infesting their pet in the future. Flea pills are more convenient than collars or topical flea treatments, and much easier to use. All you have to do is feed them to your pooch like a treat. The downside is the dog has to consume a chemical which, even though they're safe, can have side effects in rare cases.
You can also find flea sprays that can be used to kill fleas on your dog and around your home. Some owners opt for flea sprays as the first product because they can treat all areas in the house, and not just the dog, and prevent future infestations.
I know these anti-flea products aren't a natural option, but they are the most effective. Just be sure to consult a veterinarian or a groomer, do research on the product you choose and the manufacturer, and decide on the safest product for your dog.
Natural Remedies to Prevent Fleas on Dogs
As I said above, I've tried a number of home remedies but I don't know of any natural remedy that is as effective at killing fleas as commercial products. There are a number of home remedies that I use to prevent fleas, and I have found them to be effective. But once the infestation actually happens, it's probably too late for these natural remedies.
Apple cider vinegar and essential oils are the two most popular home remedies to prevent fleas. If you'd like to try them as a method of how to kill fleas on dogs, you can give them a shot without worrying since they're completely safe for dogs. The worst thing that can happen is they'll be ineffective. Read more about this here.
Adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog's water is said to help ward off fleas. Essential oils may also prevent fleas from jumping on your dog. Typically these oils are used in a homemade flea spray or homemade flea shampoo.
Do NOT put essential oils directly on your dog's skin or coat.
Some of the most common essential oils used to repel fleas include lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus. Again, there is no scientific evidence to show that these oils will kill flea eggs or fleas in any stage of life.
READ NEXT: The Vet's Guide On Flea Pills for Dogs