Fleas are a serious concern for people and pets, especially during warmer months. 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 cleaning. In this article, we’ll tell you how to control fleas on your pet, in your home, and in your garden.
The RSPCA advises that you should “Only give your pet flea treatment that has been recommended for them. Products suitable for one species may not be suitable for another. Some dog flea treatments contain permethrin, an insecticide that is safe for dogs but highly toxic to cats.”
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 favourite critters. Consult your vet 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. Topical preventative medicines like Frontline and Advantix will take 24 to 48 hours to kill fleas.
- Itch: this handy, double action solution features both spot-on treatment to kill any fleas on your dog, and to kill any eggs and larva living in your home (yuck). What’s more – it’s a subscription service so you never have to worry about forgetting to pick some up when you go shopping.
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 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 splash out on 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 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 carpeted, is key to preventing infestations. Use a high-power vacuum or get your carpet professionally cleaned periodically. Make sure you throw away the hoover 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 garden
- A natural product may be best for controlling fleas in the garden. This natural flea and tick garden spray helps control mosquitos without harming your plants, garden, or lawn.
- Mow your lawn—it keeps flea hiding spots to a minimum.
- Spray your garden 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 garden where your dog plays or rests. This non-toxic powder composed of fossilised organisms breaks and dries flea eggs.
Natural Flea Prevention Alternatives
As many pet owners prefer to use natural methods of flea prevention when possible here are a few to choose from:
- 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.
Flea Treatment for Puppies, Pregnant & Nursing Dogs
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 anaemia.
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.
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.
According to Rover’s Cost of Pet Parenthood Survey, flea prevention costs pet parents between £40 to £150 per year. Buying flea prevention measures for your dog in bulk (6-12 month packs) may help lower costs in the long run. When it comes down to it, flea prevention is the smartest avenue for new or seasoned pet parents. We hope this guide to flea treatments helps keep you and your pets safe from fleas.