Fleas are horrible, right? It’s impossible not to feel itchy as soon as you notice your dog has them, and the thought of them being in the house is just…. bleurgh! We’re going to tell you how to get rid of dog fleas, and the best way to prevent a flea infestation.
Where do fleas come from and how does my dog get them?
Adult fleas jump onto your dog when he’s out and about — perhaps sticking his head down a rabbit hole or walking over a grassy area that a cat was sleeping in only moments ago. They can also jump onto your clothes and hitch a ride home to your dog. They then breed, and the female lays her eggs where it’s dark and warm — such as in the carpet, or between the floorboards.
These eggs hatch and become larvae- they live in the carpet, feeding on dust and flea poop. Once they’re ready, they form a cocoon and transform into an adult flea. Importantly, these adults don’t have to hatch from the cocoon right away- they can wait up to 12 weeks to hatch.
Once they hatch, they find an animal and jump on to feed — and the cycle starts again.
Signs my dog may have fleas
Fleas are extremely common, and once you have one, you have thousands. So, it’s important to be vigilant to help you stop an infestation before it has a chance to get going. Your dog might have fleas if he:
- Is scratching, or licking or chewing himself excessively,
- Has a bald patch on his lower back/tail base area,
- Has ‘flea dirt’- which looks like dark-brown dirt in the fur.
Of course, if you see a live flea then that certainly indicates your dog has fleas! You should also assume your dog has fleas if he’s been in contact with another animal with fleas.
Steps on how to get rid of dog fleas
To get rid of dog fleas, there are three key things you need to do:
1. Kill the adult fleas
Do not bathe your pet — this will only kill the fleas currently on your dog, not the ones that jump on as soon as you’ve finished. The best thing to do is to buy a prescription flea treatment from your vet, who will ensure you’ve got the correct product for your needs. Whilst you might be wondering how to get rid of dog fleas naturally, unfortunately there are no proven natural methods, and many can be harmful to your pet.
2. Kill the immature fleas
You also need to find out how to get rid of dog fleas in the carpet. Eggs and larvae can be killed with a house flea spray or bomb, but ensure that you follow all instructions on the label.
Washing bedding on a high heat and vacuuming the house may help to remove as many eggs and larvae as possible.
3. Carry on for 12 weeks
It takes a long time to get rid of dog fleas! If you stop treating your dog before 12 weeks are up, that cocoon can hatch and start the infestation again. The sprays in step 2 won’t kill them, so you have to wait them out.
Tips for flea prevention
Depending on your area, you may need to use flea treatment on your pet preventatively, either year-round or just in the warmer months. Some flea spot treatments do work, but it depends on their active ingredient. The flea treatments available from your vet are usually best, but if they are too expensive you can ask your vet for a recommendation based on what’s available in your area.
Fleas are a common problem and can make your dog, and any other pets in the house, miserable. If you spot your dog has fleas, treat them with a good product and remember how long it takes to get rid of dog fleas- at least 12 weeks! You may decide to invest in a good preventative, but your vet will be able to give you the best advise as to what to use and when.