How Can I Get Rid of Fleas on My Dogs?

Skylar Dial
Written by
Last update:

Prevention is the best way to keep your dog from getting fleas. Regardless of how clean you keep your home, your dog is still a destination for fleas. You could have just moved in and you’re already having to deal with fleas. And especially if you’re living in the city where rodents roam, it’s pretty much a given that your dog will get fleas.

The most sure fire way for you to prevent your dog from getting fleas is to regularly dose them with flea preventatives. While it’s definitely not a good plan to depend on pill form flea control to keep your dog free from fleas, it is a pretty good option to take in conjunction with other methods of flea prevention discussed below.

How to Identify a Flea

Fleas are tiny, wingless insects that feed on the blood of animals. Fleas have a bristly body that has three segments. They are compact and spindle-shaped, which allows them to easily navigate the dense undercoat of animals that they feed on. They have strong chewing mouthparts that allow them to scrape the host’s flesh and feed on the host’s blood.

Fleas are generally placed into two different classes; the first class is “infesting fleas”, which are considered to be constant, nuisance pests that infest the animal and the surroundings (including the home or bedding and furniture). The second class is fleas considered to be “carriers”; they are not a constant nuisance pest, yet they do not reproduce on their host.

Fleas are best detected through environmental observation. Tiny black specks, which are flea feces, are visible on the animal, bedding, and floor near the animal. Fleas tend to resort to carpeting and the dark undercoats of their host for a home. This makes those areas their favorite place of residence. Additionally, adult fleas can easily be seen on an animal as adults, pupae, eggs, or larvae. An active flea infestation consists of adults, eggs, and larvae.

Flea Infestation Symptoms

In addition to severe itching, fleas can transmit disease like the plague and other bacteria.

Bacterial infection is rare, but it’s best to nip it in the bud if it happens!

Additionally, they can cause anemia in a very short time!

Duration of Flea Infestation

Spotting fleas in your home is not always indicative of a flea infestation. If you’re spotting a few fleas and they’re treated appropriately, you can avoid an infestation. The duration of a flea infestation is a function of the conditions where the dogs are. Take for example the city environment versus the rural area. Naturally, fleas are going to find the place with the most amount of hosts easier, which is usually the rural area. But in the city, you are going to find the flea population gets higher because there’s a lot of retention in the urban environment.

As a result, you’re going to struggle more with fleas in the city than you are in the rural areas. It’s the same with inland areas versus coastal areas. Fleas are naturally more coastal, and it stands to reason that you’re going to find them less inland.

How Can I Get Rid of Fleas on My Dog Naturally?

Fleas are the bane of dog owners. These tiny bugs can really annoy your dog and they can cause some serious skin and ear problems for your best friend. Luckily, you can take care of this pest by using a natural flea remedy.

You can't kill fleas with just one method … it takes a multi-pronged approach.

One of the tactics is to set up a flea trap. Do this by placing a bowl of soapy water under a light.

Warmth encourages fleas to congregate (they need warmth to breed). Once they fall into the bowl, they drown.

Use Frontline, a product made specifically to treat fleas on dogs, to kill the fleas. Be cautious about using it on dogs with a heavier coat, as it's not designed for this type of fur.

Chemical Warfare Against Fleas

There are three safe flea control products that I recommend you:

  • Flea Collars:
  • Flea collars are small plastic devices that are placed over your dog's neck, usually like a necklace, and work by releasing special flea-killing compounds to repel and kill adult fleas. Flea collars are effective, but they can be impractical for certain dogs and environments. If you have a big dog or one that swims a lot, you would need a big flea collar for it and many dogs do not like to wear them. Also, the active ingredients of the collar eventually leach out into the dog's coat and run off into the environment, so you would not want to use them in your backyard, for example. They are very effective for the first few months, though.
  • Homemade/Alternative:
  • If you DON'T want to use chemical treatments, I recommend that you use a natural remedy, like Diatomaceous Earth, and if you want something toxic-free, use Borax (we'll cover both in a bit).