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Fleas are a serious concern for people and pets in the United States, especially in states along the southern or west coast that are hot and/or humid. However, we’d all do to take preventative measures against fleas in our homes and on our pets because according to PetMd, flea migration north is increasing.
So how do you prevent fleas from attacking your dog and invading your home? It’s a combination of measures including medication, dog hygiene, and house cleaning. In this article, we’ll tell you how to control fleas on your pet, in your home, and in your yard.
Here are our picks for the best flea prevention treatments and practices you can use this year.
Oral treatments for flea prevention in dogs
The pill form of flea protection is the fastest choice as it goes right into your dog’s bloodstream. What’s even cooler is some formulations include de-wormers, heartworm, and tick prevention for a one-shot punch to many of dog’s least favorite critters. Consult with your veterinarian to see which option is best for your pet.
Over the Counter Oral Flea Treatments
Prescription Oral Flea Treatments
Topical treatments for flea prevention in dogs
Topical spot-on treatments involve squeezing a small vial of goo onto the nape of your dog’s neck. “If you’re using an over-the-counter product like Hartz, it will take several days,” Dr. Eckholm points out. The topical preventative medicines like Frontline and K9 Advantix will take 24 to 48 hours to kill fleas.
How to rid your home (and your dog) of fleas
Even with the most effective flea and tick treatment on the market, you may find your house to be under attack from a flea infestation. In the event of an infestation, you’ll need a strong arsenal of products to kill not only adult fleas, but eggs too, in your dog’s bed, carpets and furniture, and even in your lawn.
Flea control for your dog
- You’ll need a flea comb to regularly check your pet for fleas. Slowly run the comb against the hair pattern and keep an eye out for flea dirt and/or actual fleas. If you find the small black critters, a glass of water or rubbing alcohol to dip the comb in will drown them. You can also spring for a fancy electric flea-zapping comb.
- Keeping your pet and his bedding clean can keep the fleas away. Wash beds and blankets in hot water and dry on high heat to kill flea eggs and larvae. But keep in mind, frequent bathing of your pet will reduce the length of effectiveness of topical flea medications.
- Flea and tick shampoo can help rid your dog of pests in about four hours for up to four weeks of protection. Please note that shampoo isn’t as long-lasting as topical or oral medication.
- You can also try a well-reviewed flea collar for dogs.
Flea control for your house
- Adding a flea and tick control product like this natural flea and tick home spray to your arsenal is handy for the occasional flea or tick on you or your pet, or to spray down bedding or carpets. Sprays, both natural and medicated are great because they destroy fleas and ticks in all life stages. The active ingredients here are peppermint oil, clove oil, and soap, so you can use this near your pets.
- If you have carpets and fleas, you’re going to want to use a powdered flea preventative like fleabusters, a boric acid based product you sprinkle into carpets and furniture, leave overnight, then vacuum away.
- Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water.
- Keeping your floors clean, especially if they’re carpet, is key to preventing infestations. Use a high-power vacuum or get your carpet professionally cleaned periodically. Make sure you throw away the vacuum bag once you’re done.
- When all else fails, a flea fogger is your last best hope to end the cycle of a flea infestation in your home.
Flea control for your yard
- A natural product may be best for controlling fleas in the yard. This natural flea and tick yard spray helps control mosquitos without harming your plants, garden, or lawn.
- Mow your lawn—it keeps flea hiding spots to a minimum.
- Spray your yard with flea-killing nematodes which control garden pests and eat fleas.
- Flea-repelling plants like lemon balm, sage, rosemary, catnip, lemongrass, basil, and mint all repel fleas, according to Rita Hogan, a canine herbalist and co-founder of Farm Dog Naturals.
- Spread diatomaceous earth in areas of the yard where your dog plays or rests. This non-toxic powder composed of fossilized organisms breaks and dries flea eggs.
Natural flea prevention alternatives
Though the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency regulate and conduct safety reviews of flea products, many pet owners would prefer to use natural methods of flea prevention when possible.
- Natural flea shampoo: A full bath will force the fleas to flee your dog and hopefully drown in the bathwater.
- Natural flea spray: Sprays with organic ingredients can be applied directly to your dog, as well as to beds, carpets, and other areas your dog lingers.
- Try diluting apple cider vinegar with water and using it as a rinse for your dog. Be careful not to get it in their eyes, mouth, or ears.
- Juice from a freshly squeezed lemon or orange can be also rubbed into your dog’s fur to repel fleas.
- Supplement your dog’s diet with brewer’s yeast and vitamin B complex.
Flea treatment for puppies
Even a mild-to-moderate infestation can put a puppy’s health at risk. A flea bite has a much larger impact on puppies. Their immune systems haven’t completely developed and they have a greater chance of developing anemia.
Many prescription and over-the-counter flea treatments can be used on puppies older than 7-8 weeks, though it’s always good to double check with your vet on the dose. The treatment you give your full grown dog may be too much for a puppy, and some brands require your puppy to be closer to 6 months before treating. For a guide on what ages are recommended for flea treatment medication, see this handy table from the AKC.
For pregnant and nursing dogs, as well as puppies too young to be treated with topical medications, experts recommend using a flea comb and a gentle flea shampoo formulated for younger animals. You’ll also want to be conscious about what preventative environmental treatments you use, as pregnant dogs and newborn puppies are more sensitive to chemicals.
The Bottom Line
As pet owners, we should all be using preventive measures to protect our animals (and ourselves) from fleas. This may take some extra work up front, but it will save you lots of time, money, and headache in the long run. We hope this guide to flea treatments helps keep you and your pets safe from fleas this season.