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Is your dog infested with fleas? How best to get rid of them

Puppy beagle scratching advice
© Shutterstock

Our dogs can often suffer from a flea infestation. They can become infected after contact with another animal who has fleas, or just by being in contact with fleas present in the dog’s surroundings. The flea pest has strong back legs that allow it to jump easily onto the body of the host dog.

By Dawn Parrish

What is the life cycle of fleas on our dogs?

In order to halt any infestation of fleas, it is imperative to stop their life cycle before completion, when an infestation will initiate. The lifecycle of a flea can take as little as 12 to 14 days, or even extend up to 180 days. However, under everyday conditions, the complete life cycle of a flea normally takes between 3 to 6 weeks. 

  • An adult flea is capable of laying hundreds of eggs in just a few days        
  • The eggs laid by the fleas can fall off your dog to the ground, onto the furniture and  the carpet        
  • After the larvae hatches, it will eat organic debris and the faeces of adult fleas, before creating a cocoon and then pupating    
  • The pupa will wait for the right conditions, remaining in the cocoon for up to 12 months, before a flea emerges.        
  • To rid your dog of these pests, it is important to break this life cycle.

How to get rid of fleas on dogs

In the first place, prevention is better than a cure. It is necessary to implement a well-designed programme to sustain an environment for our pets that is flea free. There are many products available that will eliminate fleas, but not all of these are suitable for overall use. Some products that will get rid of fleas on dogs, may not be suitable for young puppies. Consult with the Pet Store or your vet for advice on the best products to use to get these terrible pests off your dog. Don’t just rely on internet research, myths and old wives’ tales or your pet could be infested for a long time.

Fleas on dogs
Fleas on dogs bedding  ©Ruby.schmank. Unsplash

Treatment options to get rid of fleas

There are many different treatments available to eradicate fleas on dogs. They vary in the way they are given to your dog, the period of time they will last, and the strength of solution or product. Take the weight of your dog into consideration when searching for treatments. Certainly, a small terrier will require less medication than a large German shepherd dog.

Spot-on medication – Apply this effective treatment once a month. Some spot on treatments also include a heartworm or worming treatment too.

Shampoo – This treatment will kill any fleas present on your dog at the time of bathing, but once rinsed off, there is no continuing effect.

Sprays and Rinses – Usually applied weekly but varying in their effect. May require more frequent administering if a severe flea infestation appears. A rinse must be applied at the correct concentration, to a dry, clean dog’s coat for it to be most effective.

Powders – May get rid of the fleas on your dogs, but probably not the most successful of the treatments available.

Collars – Will usually only kill any fleas on your dog in close proximity to the collar.

Natural remedies to get rid of dog fleas

If you are one of the many dog owners who prefer not to use medication that contains potentially dangerous insecticides, maybe try a natural parasite deterrent. Good repellents to try are Neem or Lavender oils. Garlic and Brewer’s Yeast can also be given to repel the pests, however, moderate the amount of garlic you feed to your dog as it is known to accumulate in their bodies. You may wish to consult with a Holistic Specialist, for further information.

How to deal with fleas in your home environment

It’s not only the dog that will harbour fleas. Everything that the dog touches, such as his bed, soft furnishings, grass and carpets could conceal these pesky bugs. It is relatively easy to get the fleas off your dog, but more difficult to eradicate the hundreds of eggs that will drop from your dog’s coat.

  • Wash the dog’s bedding on a high heat wash
  • Thoroughly vacuum everywhere, especially places close to his bed, corners of the room and underneath furniture
  •  Put flea power into the vacuum cleaner bag, and dispose of this bag after every use
  • Continue with this thorough deep cleaning of your home for several months until all traces of fleas have been eliminated

How to keep fleas off my dog

Whether you decide to go the prevention route, or cure option, after your dog actually suffers from fleas, there are many choices available to you. There are numerous natural, chemical and commercial products you can try. First, make sure that your dog is in the ultimate good health. Give him appropriate exercise, healthy living and a good diet. Of course, you won’t guarantee that he never gets another flea, but with your vigilance and care, your dog won’t suffer too much.