Fleas are resilient. No matter how many of these pests you kill, you’ll find that more and more seem to be hopping all around your house. The issue is that fleas multiply rapidly. And this rapid expansion will leave fleas on pets, deep down in carpets, and you may even see them on your socks – yuck.
Commercial remedies can kill fleas, but there are home remedies for fleas that will act as a natural flea killer – much safer than the chemical-ridden products on store shelves.
But before you start laying your own traps and taking the natural approach, we want to explain how to kill fleas prior, during and after using home flea remedies.
Table of Contents
- How to Get Rid of Fleas On Dogs
- Home Remedies to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally
- How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your House Naturally
- Fast Ways to Get Rid of Flea Infestations in House
- How to Get Rid of Fleas in Carpet
- How to Get Rid of Fleas in the Yard
- Flea Control FAQs
- Why Do Dogs Get Fleas?
- How Flea Infestations Start (Yes, You Might Got Fleas Without Pets)
- How to Tell If a Dog Has Fleas
- What Do Dog Fleas Look Like?
- Can Fleas Kill a Dog?
- What Type of Environment Do Fleas Thrive In?
- What’s the Best Flea Medicine for Pets
How to Get Rid of Fleas On Dogs
Fleas spend a great deal of time away from their host, and they have a tendency to live in carpeting. If there’s a place to hide, that’s where they’ll be. If fleas are making nests and laying eggs in your carpets or furniture, treating your dog will only slow the population growth – not stop it completely.
We’re going to focus on the best ways to get rid of fleas on your dog using conventional and natural methods, but your flea-killing strategy should also include home treatments.
1. Flea Shampoo
Medicated shampoos are one of the quickest and most affordable ways to get rid of fleas. These products contain insecticides that kill adult fleas on contact, but they won’t kill flea eggs on dogs.
Because these products contain potentially toxic ingredients, it’s important to wear gloves when washing your dog and to avoid getting any of the product into sensitive areas, like the dog’s ears, nose or eyes.
What is the best flea shampoo for dogs? One that has effective ingredients, like pyrethrins or pyrethroids.
Now, shampoos should only be considered a temporary treatment. They will do a great job of getting rid of the fleas, but you’ll still need to use a preventative treatment to keep them from coming back.
How to Use Flea Shampoo
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Flea shampoo
- Bucket or cup for rinsing
- Place to bathe (outdoors on a blanket or indoors in a tub or sink)
How to give your pet a flea bath:
- Start out by wetting your dog’s coat. Use warm water (not too hot or cold).
- Work the shampoo through your dog’s coat. It should lather up just like the shampoo you use in the shower.
- Concentrate on getting the shampoo into key areas, like the belly, base of the tail and back of the ears.
- Continue massaging in the product for two to three minutes, giving it time to work.
- Rinse thoroughly. Take your time when rinsing out the shampoo. You don’t want any residue left behind.
- Dry off.
It’s important to note that the shampoo you buy may have specific instructions for use, so be sure to read these carefully before you start washing.
You should see a lot of dead fleas wash down the drain as your rinse off your dog. Any adult fleas that were on your dog should be dead at this point.
Earlier we talked about natural flea collars as a form of preventative care, but you can also use conventional flea collars to help treat infestations.
Flea collars work in two ways: they repel and they treat. We’re just going to focus on the treatment aspects right now.
If you’ve ever used a flea collar before, you know that they have a rather potent smell right out of the package. That smell helps to repel fleas, but it’s also part of the medication in the collar, which seeps into the fat layer of your dog’s skin. The collar may also have other active ingredients that spread the medication using your dog’s natural skin oils.
In the first case, where the medication seeps into the fat layer, the dog must be bit by a flea for the collar to do its work. In the second case, where active ingredients work with the pet’s oil to spread the medication, fleas are killed on contact before they even have a chance to bite.
The great thing about flea collars is that many of them continue treating and preventing for months – sometimes up to 8 months. Other flea medications treat for only one to three months. They’re also far more affordable than other flea product options.
3. Flea combs
It can be invaluable, too.
4. Natural flea spray
You can make one simply by:
- Filling an empty spray bottle with one quart of water
- Adding 2 drops of lavender oil into the water
- Add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
Now, once all of the ingredients are in the bottle, shake up the bottle so that the mixture is well combined. From this moment, you’ll want to use the spray on your pet to keep the fleas away. Note: You must avoid sensitive areas:
You can dampen a towel or cloth to apply the mixture to these areas of the body. This spray can also be used around the house as a natural flea repellent.
5. Flea Dips
Typically performed by a groomer, flea dips are similar to shampoos, but they have residual effects (they continue killing fleas for a short time after the treatment). Flea dips need to be performed in a well-ventilated area.
We talked about these at length in the Oral Medication section. These chews kill fleas within 30 minutes, and all fleas are dead in four hours. But this treatment only works for 24 hours, so it’s ideal for treatment – not prevention.
Conventional flea treatments are highly effective, but many pet owners prefer to go the natural, alternative route.
7. Vacuum Often
Just remember to vacuum after the carpeting has dried to rid the floor of any dead fleas that may remain.
But you don’t want to stop there.
You’ll also need to clean:
- Animal bedding
- Blankets that stay on the floor
Any item that touches the floor should be washed. Fleas can also make their way onto your bedding, so clean often and diligently to try and curb the flea population.
If you don’t follow this step before trying other home remedies for fleas, your efforts will be wasted. You must ensure that you take a multi-prong approach in an effort to kill fleas.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally
Natural flea control is one of the best remedies to get rid of fleas. Flea bombs and traps are an option, and they can work very well, but the utmost in caution needs to be used when following these methods.
Chemicals can cause irritation and sickness in pets, and they’re a pain to administer safely.
But we’re going to show you how to get rid of fleas naturally with six proven methods that work every time.
1. The Go-To Flea Trap (Best Trap that Works Every Time)
If you ask anyone, there is a good chance that 1 out of 3 people will tell you about a simple flea trap that they used or their parents used to kill fleas.
When trying to make this trap, you’ll need the following materials:
- Warm water
- Large bowl
- Candle or light source
- Dish washing liquid
You’ll fill the bowl ½ to ¾ the way with water and put in a generous amount of soap. Then, the rest is simple:
- Before bed, place the bowls in any area where fleas are common
- Shut the above light off
- Place a light over the bowl to attract the attention of the fleas
This sounds so simple, and it is. You can keep placing these bowls around the house night after night. What happens is that the light and heat will attract the fleas to the bowl of water, and they’ll jump into the water as a result.
Dispose of any dead fleas in the morning and do it again each night.
You’ll catch dozens or hundreds of fleas over the span of one night, depending on the level of infestation you have.
2. Salt Your Carpet
This is an odd trick, but it is one that works great for killing pests like fleas. All you need is sea salt that is ground very finely. This salt will be sprinkled on the carpets in your home. This will cause the fleas to become dehydrated where they’ll eventually die as a result.
You want to ensure that:
- The salt is very fine
- You sprinkle the salt evenly around the area
- The salt is left for 24 – 48 hours
- You vacuum the floor after 24 – 48 hours
This salt trick will cause the fleas to dehydrate and die as a result.
3. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is an amazing remedy for a variety of pests aside from just fleas. This substance comes in a fine powder, and this is actually algae and diatoms that have become fossilized.
Purchased in stores or online, this natural substance can be spread into your carpeting to kill fleas.
The sharp edges of the substances aren’t a risk to humans, but it will cut through the shell of the flea and cause it to dry up and die. Even the larvae of the flea will die because of diatomaceous earth.
You can start using this substance by:
- Cleaning carpets and vacuuming
- Spreading the diatomaceous earth on the carpet evenly
- Leave the substance on the carpeting
It is safe to sprinkle this substance on pet bedding, too. The longer you leave this substance on the carpet, the higher the chance of killing fleas will be. Most people will vacuum up the substance and all of the dead fleas within 24 – 48 hours.
Make sure to empty the vacuum bag or canister after each vacuuming.
Reapply as needed.
Fleas will begin to die within 4 – 6 hours of coming in contact with the substance. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth in your yard where fleas are naturally. You’ll need a good amount to kill the fleas and cover your yard, but it’s worth the effort.
4. Repel Fleas with Essential Oils
A lot of people burn citronella candles as a way to get rid of mosquitos, but this same substance can be used to repel fleas. Instead of burning a candle, you can use citronella oils on your carpet to combat ticks, mosquitos and ticks.
You’ll need to gather the following ingredients:
- Citronella oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Tea tree oil
All of these ingredients can be added to a spray bottle that can be used to clean flooring and countertops.
Simple add the following into a bottle or a mopping bucket:
- 15 – 20 drops of citronella
- 10 drops of lemongrass and tea tree oil
And mix up the mixture as best as possible. Now, spray and clean all of the surfaces in the home. This will keep fleas and a variety of other bugs out of your home.
If you have a steam cleaner, you can add this mixture into the steam cleaner, ensuring that the mixture is forced deep into the carpet. When this happens, the fleas will not want to stay in your carpet for long.
This is a preventative measure to ward off fleas.
You can also use this method when you have a flea infestation as an attempt to hasten the other methods mentioned above.
The key to success with home remedies for fleas is to remain consistent and use as many methods as possible to get rid of them. With the right methods, you’ll attack your flea problem from multiple angles.
How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your House Naturally
Insecticide is not a flea control you want to cover your home with if it’s not a necessity. Pets, adults and children will be susceptible to most toxins used to kill fleas, and in some cases, this is the only option if the infestation grows out of control.
The best way to get rid of fleas is to start inside the home (not just your carpet).
You can repel fleas and clean using certain cleaners to be able to repel fleas and cause them to leave the home. And while you do want to focus on carpets (more on that next), you need to start cleaning other areas of the home, too.
A few ways to get rid of fleas in the home are:
- Washing: Fleas like warm places. If you have a dog or rugs in the bathroom, you’ll want to wash them (and any bedding you have) often. Remember, all it takes is one flea to produce thousands more fleas. Washing all of your blankets, bedding, garments and animal bedding will help you to get rid of these pests.
- Keep the House Cool: Fleas love warmth. You might not want to lower the heat in the home while it’s the middle of winter, but when you leave, you’ll want to keep your home as cool as possible. An electronic thermostat will be able to adjust the temperature when you’re not home or when you go to bed. When temperatures dip to 37 degrees, it’s cold enough to kill flea larvae, pupae and eggs.
Note: A cold home can repel fleas if it’s cold enough, but if temperatures dip too low, there is a possibility that the pipes can freeze, which can lead to costly repairs.
Something else that homeowners need to consider is that flea removal needs to start with your pets. If you have dogs or cats, there is a good chance that they’re – at least in part – the reason for any flea infestation you may be dealing with right now.
Animals are great hosts for fleas, and the thick fur that they have is the ideal hiding place for fleas. Even if the fleas came into your home another way, your pets will be one of their go-to targets. You can use your pets as bait (it sounds mean, but they’ll be bait anyway) to get rid of fleas once and for all.
The proper steps to take to help relieve some of the irritation your pet is feeling is to:
- Flea Bath: Fido may hate flea baths, but this doesn’t mean that they’re not good for them. You’ll want to get a flea treatment meant for your type of pet and follow the directions on the package.
- Flea Powder: Powders can be purchased that will kill fleas. These flea killers need to be specifically formulated for your pet, and they can be very helpful. After the bath, rubbing flea powder into the coat of your animal will help.
- Flea Collar: A flea collar will repel fleas and cause them to die or move to the tail and fall off. These collars can last months, and they’re very affordable.
- Flea Control: There are flea control tablets that will work to kill fleas over the short-term, and there are flea treatments that contain a flea poison that will absorb into the animal’s blood stream to kill ticks and fleas. Keep in mind that these are poisons, and while they won’t harm your pet in the majority of cases, this is something to consider.
Just remember to clean all of your dog’s bedding and blankets as necessary. Pets are almost always a target of fleas, so if you can prepare your pet as a flea killer, you’ll notice a major decline in the number of fleas in the home.
Cleaning counters and floors with citrus-based cleaners is recommended, too, as they’re a potent flea repellent.
Fast Ways to Get Rid of Flea Infestations in House
If you’ve tried everything to no avail, you have a flea infestation on your hands. This is when you’ll find fleas in the bed and jumping on your socks when you walk through a room. The methods above haven’t really helped you to solve the problem.
We’re not firm believers in going with dangerous poisons immediately to kill these pests.
But when you have no other choice, you may want to choose our first method to kill fleas:
The best flea “medicine” is to kill all of the fleas. And while other methods can kill the fleas, a flea bomb almost guarantees the entire eradication of their population. This is a method that will use poison to kill the fleas.
And anything else in the home will die, too.
It’s imperative that all living things are out of the home when you set off a flea bomb. People will also want to remove any plants from the home, and furniture that is delicate will also need to be removed.
Pet beds and all bedding can be removed or washed after the event.
You’ll also need to wash clothes and wrap up certain electronics as well as clothes. The goal is to ensure that you don’t get any of the poison on your skin through clothing or bedding. While the toxins may not be bad enough to keep you from entering the home at this point, they’re still able to cause sickness if they’re on clothes, bedding and so forth.
It’s also important to set aside a lot of time to be out of the home.
Most foggers or flea bombs will require a person to be out of their home for 4 – 10 hours in some cases. You don’t want to reenter the home for any purpose at this time, so make sure you have something preplanned.
Once you’ve made all the preparations, you’ll want to:
- Place newspapers on the flooring where flea bombs are placed
- Set off foggers from the furthest room first, moving toward the front or back door out of the home
It’s important to have all of the newspaper in place and to have the foggers placed in the room (do not set off the fogger until you set off the furthest can and work your way out of the home).
If you don’t have anything underneath the fogger, there is a chance that you’ll cause the carpet to become stained, which no one wants.
2. Flea Traps
Flea traps work well, and these traps are primarily electronic. What these traps do is they produce a warm light over the trap, and the goal is to lure the fleas into the trap. Fleas love the warmth and light, so this isn’t a hard feat to achieve.
And this method is the go-to option when you’re first starting to see fleas in the home.
Unlike flea bombs, this method doesn’t use any poisons. Your cat or dog will not have to worry about these traps because they won’t become violently ill or die because of the trap’s presence.
How do electric flea traps work?
The light lures the flea into jumping into the trap. Inside of the trap is a sticky surface that is much like glue. And what happens in this case is that the flea actually gets trapped on the surface of the glue and dies.
Depending on the trap, they may last for 3 months or up to 10,000 fleas.
You’ll need to place these traps in numerous rooms in the home for them to work well.
Making Your Own Fleas Trap
An electronic flea trap can be costly, but what many people don’t know is that they’re modeled after an age-old trap that many grandparents used to use. This homemade trap is just as effective in some cases, but it’s not as easy to setup mainly due to the light.
The goal is to have a safe heat source to attract the fleas.
And some people use candles, but it’s much safer to use a small lamp.
Getting started requires the following materials:
- Dish soap
All you need to do is mix the water and soap in the bowl and place it near the light source. When you go to bed, shut all lights in the respective room except the light you’re using to lure the fleas into your death mixture.
We suggest putting these traps in multiple rooms in the home for best results.
Fleas will be especially attracted to the trap because it’s now the only light source in the room. Most people will set this trap before they go to bed at night, and when they wake up, they’ll find dozens of dead fleas in the water.
Dump the water daily and refill for best results.
This is a process that can be done among all of the other methods mentioned to really get control of the flea population.
Sometimes, the infestation is so bad that no matter what you do, the flea population doesn’t seem to lessen. You’re still be getting bitten by fleas, and your socks have black flea specks all over them. If you’ve tried everything and nothing is working, it may be time to call a professional exterminator to kill the fleas
How to Get Rid of Fleas in Carpet
A flea or insect that loves warm places will flock to one area in the home that you walk on the most: the carpet. Fleas will make your carpet their home, and if you don’t take the proper precautions to kill the fleas in your carpet, you’ll never rid your home of these pests.
The first step is to vacuum.
- Regular Vacuuming: The floor needs to be vacuumed as often as every day of the week. You’ll vacuum up many fleas and eggs, which will then be dumped into the garbage and discarded. It’s also important to vacuum often to remove any dead fleas that may be in the carpet. If you want to know how to get rid of flea dirt, simply vacuum it up.
- Steam Clean: Not everyone has a steam cleaner, but if you do, feel free to steam clean the carpet. The fleas will die in the process thanks to the cleaner and water. Just remember to do a regular vacuuming afterward to clean up any dead fleas you may have.
If you want to go a step further, you can add the following into your steam cleaner:
- 10 – 20 drops of citronella oil
- 10 drops of tea tree oil
- 10 drops of lemongrass oil
Citronella is one of the most potent bug repellents in existence. If you use this oil, it will be sure to repel fleas, flies and ticks for an added bonus.
Salt The Floor
This will sound a little odd, but you can sprinkle fine salt evenly across the carpet. The salt will cause fleas that jump on it to dehydrate. This needs to be a very fine salt powder to see results. Keep in mind that the salt needs to sit for 24 – 48 hours before vacuuming the area.
You want to vacuum before reapplying new salt.
How to Get Rid of Fleas in the Yard
When you have fleas bombarding your home, it’s often good to hit them at their root – the yard. Fleas like to live in sandy areas, and if you have a yard, they’ll surely be fleas there. This is where they may jump on your socks or into your dog’s fur to enter the home.
There are a lot of ways to kill these pests in your yard.
We’re going to discuss how a flea exterminator, or even you, can start killing fleas in the yard.
1. Spray Insecticides
Flea spray can be sprayed in your yard to kill the fleas. This should be an environmentally-friendly spray for best results as you don’t want to damage plants and foliage along the way. If you have a nice yard and put a lot of time into upkeeping your lawn, make sure you do your research so that you find a spray that doesn’t damage your grass.
Note: Make sure not to spray near bodies of water as you can pollute the water and can contaminate it, making it unsafe to drink or for fish.
Spray the entire yard, and if you do have animals, you’ll need to keep them indoors during the spraying, as these sprays can be poisonous.
2. Flood the Yard
It sounds silly, but flooding the yard can help to kill fleas. You can kill the eggs and larvae by flooding the entire yard periodically. This is a sound method to kill the offspring of adult fleas and will work to ensure that future generations of these tiny pests are stopped dead in their tracks.
If you know specific areas where fleas are common, flood the area and see the results for yourself. But don’t be overzealous here – you don’t want to turn your yard into a lake.
3. Diatomaceous Earth
DE, or diatomaceous earth, is a prominent method to kill fleas and a slew of other pests. What we really like about this method is that DE will not cause sickness or injury to animals or humans – just small bugs.
You see, these tiny grains are actually small crystallized pieces with sharp edges.
Think of this as a piece of sand – it won’t hurt you. But you do know that fleas are super small, and as a result, they can be harmed with these small grains of DE. What happens is that the DE will rip through the exoskeleton of the flea.
What this does is cause the flea to dry out and die as a result.
People use this substance inside of their home, and you can use it outside, too. Place thin coatings of the substance all around the yard. Don’t worry, no one else will get sick from this natural flea killer.
If it rains, feel free to reapply the DE to the yard.
It only takes a few hours to a day for DE to kill the fleas.
Flea Control FAQs
Why Do Dogs Get Fleas?
Fleas truly are blood-sucking creatures. They live and thrive on the blood of warm-blooded animals, and they use their tiny hose-like mouth to feed on your four-legged friend.
But why do these pests flock to dogs? Sure, they bite humans, but they tend to stick to our furry friends.
That’s because they have one thing we don’t:
- A thick coat of fur
Your dog’s fur provides fleas with the perfect environment.
- It’s warm
- It’s moist
- It’s dark
In a nutshell, your dog is a flea’s dream house. They can set up shop in your dog’s fur, going virtually undetected until the population has gotten out of control.
On top of this, dogs are closer to the ground, which makes it easier to latch on and hang out.
How Flea Infestations Start (Yes, You Might Got Fleas Without Pets)
You know why dogs get fleas, but how did your Fido get infested? Even the most diligent of pet owners will find that their dogs get fleas from time to time. And at times, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Dogs commonly get fleas the following ways:
From Other Dogs
Fido may love his weekly visits to the dog park, but his play dates may be the reason he has fleas. Other pet owners may not be as diligent as you are with ensuring their pets are protected against fleas.
If an infested dog plays at the park, you may unknowingly bring these pests back home with you – even if that dog wasn’t there when Fido was.
From Other Animals
Dogs can get fleas from other dogs, but they can also get them from other animals, too, including squirrels, raccoons, feral cats and other rodents.
Kennels or Doggy Daycares
If dogs can get fleas from other dogs and animals, then they can certainly get them from kennels and doggy daycares. If Fido has been to either of these places recently, he may have gotten fleas from other animals there.
Yes, you may be the reason your dog has fleas. Anyone can track fleas into the home, and once they do, they’ll quickly find refuge in your dog’s fur.
You’re at even greater risk of bringing home fleas if you’re an outdoor enthusiast – hiking, biking or even a simple walk in the park can lead to you coming home with fleas.
These tiny pests have claw-like feet that attach to skin – or pants, socks, or any other type of clothing. And they’re easy to miss until you see them jump off or notice itchy bites later on.
The bottom line – it’s easy for humans to bring fleas into the home, and once you do, they will find your dog and make him their host.
How to Tell If a Dog Has Fleas
Does your dog have fleas, or is he scratching because of something else, like allergies or skin irritation?
Severe flea infestations on dogs are easy to spot. You’ll see them hop off of the fur, and you’ll see them hop onto you, too.
But if the infestation is still in its early stages, the symptoms may not be as obvious. Some common early signs of fleas include:
- Excessive scratching, chewing or licking on certain areas of the body
- Scratching at the ears
- Shaking of the head
These are just behavioral signals that may give you a hint that something is up. You can’t go off of these clues alone – you’ll need to investigate to make sure you have fleas and not something else.
How do you do this? Check your dog’s coat and skin.
The two areas you want to check first are the groin and armpits. These are two areas that are well-hidden, warm and protected. Just have your dog roll on his belly, and give him a good once-over to check for fleas. In most dogs, the lower belly has less hair, which makes it easier to see these pests if they’re using him as a host.
If he has them, you’ll see them scurry around or hop off. If you have light-colored flooring, you’ll likely see the flea if it jumps off your dog.
Do keep a close eye – you might miss the flea otherwise. They can jump incredibly fast and high, so it’s easy to miss them.
You’ll also want to check:
- Behind the ears for signs of scratching, dried blood and flea dirt
- The skin. If your dog is getting bit, his belly may appear red and bumpy.
- For hair loss. Sometimes, flea bites can cause hair loss if the dog is scratching excessively.
Another way to check for fleas is to use a flea comb. These combs have teeth that are designed to catch fleas and pull them out of the fur. You’ll find fleas or flea dirt on the comb if you have an infestation. Comb the back and legs for best results, and try to get the comb down near the skin.
Make sure that you have a bowl of soapy water to dip the comb in after each stroke. The soapy water will kill the fleas you picked up, so they don’t hop somewhere else and lay eggs.
What Do Dog Fleas Look Like?
Did you know that there are different types of fleas? Most people don’t because they’re so tiny, it’s hard to differentiate physical characteristics.
Two of the most common types are dog fleas and cat fleas.
Cat Fleas Vs Dog Fleas
Another primary difference between these two species is that the dog flea can spread the flea tapeworm. These parasites can not only infect dogs, but cats and even humans. Children in particular are at risk for becoming infected with the flea tapeworm.
Can Fleas Kill a Dog?
We all know that fleas can be a nuisance, but can be they dangerous? Is it possible for fleas to kill your dog?
Generally speaking, fleas and their bites won’t kill your dog, but there is a risk of death in certain situations. Veterinarians warn that severely infested puppies can develop anemia, which is a life-threatening condition that needs to be treated immediately.
Of course, this is an extreme scenario that’s incredibly rare under normal circumstances, but a severe infestation can lead to this. Fleas drain blood from your dog. In the case of a very severe infestation, where there are hundreds of fleas, a puppy may lose a lot of blood quickly and develop anemia.
But even if death is a miniscule risk at best, that doesn’t mean fleas are harmless. They can still cause your pets pain, and let’s not forget that they can also spread the flea tapeworm. Tapeworms rob your pet nutrients, which can lead to malnourishment among other health issues.
And if your dog happens to be allergic to flea bites, he can develop flea bite dermatitis, which can cause severe itching and hair loss.
What Type of Environment Do Fleas Thrive In?
Try as you may to prevent fleas from invading your home, you may wind up with them anyway – no matter how clean your home is or how diligent you are with prevention.
Your dog – and any other warm-blooded creature in your home – is the biggest attractant.
Fleas love warm climates. Their ideal temperature is between 70 and 85 degrees, so in some regions, fleas can be an issue all year long.
While they prefer the 70-85-degree range, they can still live – and thrive – in warmer or cooler temperatures. But extreme temperatures on either end of the spectrum will kill fleas. Heat will also kill eggs and larvae.
Aside from temperature, fleas also prefer higher humidity – in the 70% range. Moisture is essential for a flea’s survival because it allows the egg to hatch and then progress through the remainder life cycles.
Temperature and humidity are two important things, but there’s one more piece of the puzzle: light – or lack of it.
Fleas love dark places, so they’ll hide in cracks and crevices in your home. Remember, fleas are incredibly tiny, so there are plenty of places to hide. More often than not, they can hide in your carpeting and you not even realize it until it’s too late.
In the outdoors, fleas tend to prefer hiding in brush, grass and sandy places.
As you can see, it’s difficult – virtually impossible – to change your environment to drive fleas out. Even if you sealed up every hole (even the tiniest ones) and turned on every light, fleas would still stick around because they want to feed on your dog.
If you can’t drive out fleas by changing your environment, what can you do to get rid of them? Treat your dog with the appropriate medicine.
What’s the Best Flea Medicine for Pets
If Fido is infested, you want the best flea treatment for dogs. If you don’t take an aggressive approach and use the right products, you’ll be dealing with fleas for months – or longer, depending on where you live.
So, what’s the best preventative flea medication for dogs?
Vets say it’s best to choose a product that will protect your dog against most parasites. Many of the top-rated products will not only prevent fleas, but ticks, worms and other parasites and pests. Most medications will have a label of “flea and tick for dog (or cat).”
There are several types of flea medications, and the right one for you will depend on your pet.
1. Topical flea medicines
It’s the most common, and what most pet owners are familiar with. Frontline and K9 Advantix are two of the most popular topical medications.
In most cases, these medications last for three months, and often come in packs of two or three treatments, which provides 6-9 months of protection.
Applying a topical treatment is relatively simple and straightforward, although you do have to be careful of how and where you apply the medication.
Topical treatments are typically:
- Applied at the top base of the neck, just above the center of the shoulder blades.
- Applied to skin, which requires you to part the dog’s fur.
The reason the medication is applied at the top base of the neck is because this is an area that’s difficult or impossible for Fido to reach.
If the treatment is applied to another area of Fido’s body, one that’s easy for him to scratch or lick, he may wind up ingesting the medication (which is, essentially, poison) and become very ill as a result.
Humans need to be cautious when applying as well. If any part of the liquid treatment gets onto your skin or into your eyes, you must wash that area or rinse your eyes for at least 20 minutes.
Please note: Flea medications will have their own set of instructions and precautions. Make sure that you follow them thoroughly to avoid injury or illness.
Don’t let these precautions scare you into avoiding topical flea medications – they are one of the most effective means of flea prevention and typically the solution veterinarians recommend. And these treatments are available over the counter – no need for a vet’s prescription.
2. Oral flea medicines
If you have a difficult time applying topical flea treatments or would rather not take any chances (maybe your dog is extra rambunctious), oral treatments may work perfectly for you.
Typically, oral flea medicines are only available with a vet’s prescription. If you’re on a tighter budget and cannot afford to see a vet for this specific purpose, you may consider one of the other options here (topical, powder or spray).
One advantage that oral treatments offer is that they provide protection for your pet’s entire body, whereas topical treatments sometimes miss certain areas. And many times, these medications start working within 30 minutes. In as little as four hours, all fleas on the dog are usually dead.
Oral treatments may be right for you if:
- You want immediate results
- You would rather not deal with messy topical treatments
- You want to ensure that you treat your dog’s entire body
There are two different types of oral flea medications:
- One for immediate infestation treatment. These only last 24 hours, but start working in 30 minutes and will kill all fleas in 4 hours. This type of treatment is ideal for dogs that already have fleas, or pet parents that want spot prevention (e.g. to take before trips to the dog park, etc.).
- One designed for preventative purposes. These tablets, which usually come in chewable form, provide protection for up to one month.
If you’re interested in going the oral route, your vet can prescribe flea pills for dogs once a month or for 24-hour use.
Oral and topical medications are the two most common preventative flea treatments available. But what if you want to go the natural route? Are there any natural flea prevention methods out there? Yes.