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How to Help Get Rid of Fleas on Your Dog

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What to do when your dog has fleas.
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An Australian Kelpie scratching its neck sitting on a sidewalk.

You love your dog — and fleas do, too. Whether your dog is a puppy or a senior, new to the family or an established pack leader, the risk of fleas stays the same. Fleas feed off your dog’s blood, and once they have found this reliable food source, they move in and start rapidly reproducing. Fleas are the number-one skin parasite of dogs and cats, but if you’re prepared, you can be fleas’ number-one enemy.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas

Facing a flea infestation on your dog may make you feel like you’ve let them down. But fleas are stealthy: They can hitch a ride on your dog during neighborhood walks, puppy playdates, backyard business or even through human contact. And while fleas may start with a sneak attack, an infestation produces telltale signs:

  • Increased scratching, biting and licking
  • Loss of fur
  • Flea dirt in fur that resembles black pepper or fine, dark dirt
  • Brown parasites observed jumping or crawling in fur
  • Pale gums
  • Red bumps or scabs
  • Behavior changes, such as restlessness or nervousness

How to Help Get Rid of Fleas on Your Dog

Once you’ve determined your dog has fleas, it’s time to take action to stop the infestation in its tracks.

Treat the Fleas on Your Dog

You may want to do one or some of the following:

  • Treat your dog with a fast-acting oral flea treatment — dead fleas are easier to wash away.
  • Use a flea comb. Dip the comb in a mixture of dish soap and water after using it to kill any remaining fleas on the comb.
  • Bathe your puppy or dog with a specially-formulated flea shampoo.
  • Treat your dog with a flea spray.
  • Use a flea preventive year-round.
  • Continue to inspect and comb your dog weekly to monitor the flea infestation.

A critical component to help get rid of fleas on your dog — and even more importantly, discourage them from returning — is to use a flea preventive. Effective flea prevention can break the flea life cycle and last anywhere from 30 days to eight months.

Flea prevention treatments include:

  • Collars
  • Topical products
  • Oral products

Choose the prevention method that works best for you and your dog. Keep in mind that preventives work best when used regularly year-round; simply applying for one or two months can leave your dog unprotected during the rest of the year.

advantus® (imidacloprid) Soft Chew for Dogs
advantus® (imidacloprid) Soft Chew for Dogs

Treat the Fleas on All of Your Pets

Do you own more dogs? Or have a family cat? If one pet has fleas, they may all have fleas. Apply preventives to every pet in your home — both indoor and outdoor pets — to help keep the infestation from spreading and reduce the risk of fleas coming back.

Treat Your Environment for Fleas

If you have a flea infestation on your dog, there’s a good chance you will also be fighting them in your home and yard. Fleas lay eggs on your dog that fall off when your pet sleeps on your sofa, lounges in your bedroom or roams your backyard. Adult fleas are only a small portion of a flea infestation, so a few extra steps to treat your home and yard can help give you peace of mind.

Make an Ongoing Plan to Treat and Prevent Fleas on Your Dog

Ongoing vigilance combined with flea protection and prevention is the key to success. It may take up to three months to adequately clear out the flea infestation. Be sure to set reminders to apply or administer treatment and prevention products, and always follow the products’ recommended application schedules. Check your dog for fleas weekly, and be on the lookout for new signs of itching and scratching.

Advantage® Treatment Shampoo for Dogs & Puppies
Advantage® Treatment Shampoo for Dogs & Puppies
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