You should only bathe your dog with flea shampoo once every week or two. Overuse of flea shampoo will cause skin issues and is not intended to be used as a prolonged treatment. Flea shampoo will kill the fleas but will not guard your dog against getting them again.
Fleas are annoying and downright distressing if an infestation gets out of hand. It might be tempting to bathe your dog in flea shampoo every chance you get to get rid of the little buggers, but that might not be the best idea.
Overuse of flea shampoo can cause severe skin issues for your dog. There are much better ways to prevent fleas in the future.
How Often to Use Flea Shampoo
Always follow the directions on the shampoo’s label and check with your vet, but the general rule is that you can bathe your dog with flea shampoo every week or two as needed.
Some shampoos may be gentle enough to use more frequently, but the ingredients are prone to causing skin sensitivity and dryness, so think about other treatment options before using flea shampoo.
Most flea shampoos kill existing fleas already on the dog, but do not prevent more from jumping back on once bath time is over. For this reason, it’s a good idea to use a flea shampoo as one aspect of a comprehensive flea treatment plan, rather than as a solution by itself.
What to Use in Addition to Flea Shampoo
It’s always a good idea to check with your vet before starting your dog on any new treatment. Your vet may have suggestions or offer stronger options than you can get over the counter.
There are several oral flea medications on the market, both over-the-counter and prescription.
Some contain insecticide, which gets into the dog’s blood and kills any flea that bites your dog. Others contain hormone growth regulators that prevent the fleas from reproducing, slowing down an infestation.
Your veterinarian can advise you on which pill type is most suitable for your dog, depending on the dog’s age, medical history, digestive issues, etc.
Like many flea treatment options, oral medications are usually only useful on adult fleas, nymphs, or eggs – not all three.
Topical flea creams work similarly to oral medications, but may be a better option for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
They are applied to an area of the dog it’s not able to lick, such as the scruff of the neck. The medication is absorbed into the bloodstream and kills fleas when they feed.
There are also sprays and wipes, which kill fleas on contact, just like a medicated flea shampoo. These might be a good option instead of bathing the dog with flea shampoo more than recommended.
Flea collars work in much the same way as topical treatments, but the medication is in/on a collar rather than in a cream.
The medication is absorbed into the bloodstream to kill fleas while repelling them at the same time.
Flea collars may not be appropriate for dogs with sensitive skin, so check regularly for skin irritation.
Flea combs are metal combs in which the teeth are so close together, they pick up even the tiniest of fleas and their eggs.
Using a flea comb is a great preventative measure because the closely spaced teeth can alert you to an early infestation by trapping the fleas or eggs in the dog’s fur.
If the infestation is already active, manual removal of the fleas is a possible solution for dogs who can’t tolerate the medications listed above.
Treat the Dog’s Environment
Unfortunately, getting rid of a flea infestation isn’t as easy as treating the dog alone. You’re going to have to use a multi-pronged approach, which includes being diligent about treating the home and yard as well.
To get rid of any fleas in your yard and prevent new ones from taking up residence, keep your grass mowed and make sure not to over water it—fleas like moist, dark areas. The more sun and the less clutter your yard has, the better.
Use non-toxic flea repellents around areas your dog frequents, as well as around the perimeter of the house.
During an infestation, the vacuum cleaner will be your best friend. Vacuum carpets and furniture, paying close attention to areas like cushion cracks and in between floorboards where fleas like to hide and lay eggs.
Flea hot spots are also going to be anywhere that your dog spends a lot of time. Vacuum daily and empty the canister immediately. When emptying the canister, do it outside and away from your home so the fleas don’t come right back in.
Steam cleaning and washing your floors with hot water will also kill fleas and their eggs. Just make sure you use non-toxic chemicals for your dog.
Wash bedding, throw rugs, curtains, and anything else you can get your hands on.
There are several pet-safe flea killers in spray or powder form that kill on contact or over some time.
Foggers can also be useful, but they require you and your pet to leave home for a few hours.
For severe infestations or infestations that have been going on for a while, it might be necessary to call an exterminator. Extermination may also require you and your dog to leave home, but the inconvenience is well worth the result.
The most important thing you can do if you want a flea-free home is to prevent the infestation in the first place.
Check Your Dog
Make a point of regularly checking your dog for fleas by using a flea comb, and respond right away if you find any critters. The amount of time between fleas finding your dog and you finding the fleas is what will determine how bad of an infestation you will have. Getting rid of them quickly means giving them less time to reproduce and multiply.
If you suspect your dog has been exposed to fleas, take precautionary measures, even if you don’t find any on the dog’s coat.
Bathe the dog with flea shampoo and give your house a good cleaning just to be on the safe side.
Know Flea Season
Flea season varies from place to place, but is usually during warmer times of the year. Make sure you know the time of year when fleas are the most active near you, so you can plan accordingly.
This may mean making sure your yard is extra inhospitable to them or that you alter the places you let your dog roam.
Be sure to ramp up the flea comb inspections (detailed in the previous section) during this time.
Keep a Clean Yard and Home
Cleaning regularly won’t stop a flea infestation on its own, but will prevent it from getting out of hand by reducing their numbers, even before you’ve spotted them.
Additionally, if you clean regularly, you’re more likely to notice fleas sooner rather than later.
Flea Shampoo is One of Many Tools
Fleas are more than annoying; they can cause a variety of ailments such as anemia and skin infections if not treated in a reasonable amount of time.
They can also transmit tapeworms, another nasty pest. The quickest way to get rid of a flea infestation is to hit it from multiple angles: shampoo your dog with a medicated flea shampoo, clean your home regularly, use non-toxic pesticides, and hire a professional if needed.
Recommended For You