Fleas 101: How to Get Rid of Dog Fleas

As pet owners, we know fleas are an annoyance we inevitably have to deal with from time to time. They might only be tiny little bugs, but these pesky parasites can sure cause big problems for our dogs and even us. Getting on top of flea prevention and control isn’t just helpful – it’s imperative if we want to keep our fur babies healthy.

The trick to kicking these stubborn pests for good is learning their habits. Understanding details of the flea life cycle gives us power over them. Armed with insider info, we can disrupt their breeding and stop infestations in their tracks. This article will provide plenty of great intel and tips so you can declare victory in the battle versus fleas!

Flea Shampoo or Pill

Both shampoos and oral treatments can effectively kill fleas and offer protection. Shampoos provide immediate but shorter-term relief while oral pills, like Nextstar, offer longer-lasting prevention.

Shampoos containing insect growth regulators, like Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor, kill adult fleas and prevent eggs and larvae from developing. Lather shampoos thoroughly from head to tail and let sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. Shampoos wash away easily so reapply every 5-7 days.

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Oral Flea Medications

Oral flea and tick pills like Nextstar are godsends for dogs that hate baths or messy monthly topical treatments. Pill formulas mean no smelly shampoos or liquids dripping between your pup’s shoulders. Just give your buddy a tasty chewable once a month and let the medication spread through his system to start annihilating fleas and ticks from the inside out.

Nextstar, my personal favorite, starts killing fleas within hours and ticks within a day.  I love seeing those nasty bugs start dropping off my dog almost immediately. But all oral flea products require prescriptions, so discuss options with your vet to pick what’s right for your doggo. 

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Flea Collars and Topical Prevention

Both medicated collars and topical ointments can effectively curb fleas and ticks too. Collars are super easy to use, just put on and go. Topical liquids tend to protect a little longer but need reapplying each month.

Seresto makes reliable flea and tick collars that slowly release repellant for a continuous 8 months of protection. Love not having to think about it! But be sure to check for skin irritation underneath during the first few days after putting one on your pup.

If you don’t mind being diligent, I do think the liquid prevention like Frontline Gold works better than collars. You simply squeeze the liquid between your dog’s shoulder blades where it absorbs best. It spreads over your dog’s body to start killing bugs within 24 hours and keeps working for a full 30 days before needing reapplied. Just set phone reminders, especially if you’re scatterbrained like me! I learned the hard way what happens when you forget…major flea explosion. Not fun to deal with!

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Flea Infestation and Health Risks

Both pets and humans face health risks associated with flea infestations. Fleas transmit other parasites, like tapeworms transmitted through ingesting infected fleas during grooming. Pets with dense flea populations become anemic from blood loss. Constant biting and scratching opens the door to bacterial skin infections. People can contract flea-borne illnesses such as typhus or plague. Children are more vulnerable to flea-induced anemia or allergies. Stay vigilant in your prevention to avoid flea-related sickness for family members and pets.

Flea Eggs and Larvae

The tiny white eggs and almost invisible larvae make spotting earliest life stages difficult. Yet this is when fleas are easiest to kill before multiplying into hard-to-manage infestations. Look closely at your dog’s coat, bedding, carpet, and yard for signs. Regular vacuuming, washing dog bedding weekly in hot soapy water, and using flea prevention helps disrupt their life cycle. Be thorough and persistent. If adult fleas do show up, immediately treat your dog and environment assuming hidden eggs and larvae are likely developing. Stop the cycle early.

Eliminating Fleas

Wiping out fleas requires a full court press on both your pup and the house. Attacking eggs, larvae, pupae and adults at the same time is key – otherwise they’ll just keep breeding.

Start by washing all bedding with some flea-killing laundry detergent. This annihilates eggs and larvae that fall off your dog onto his bed and your sheets. Give your pup a nice bath too. Next, grab the vacuum and go over every inch of carpet several times. This extracts eggs and larvae taking cover there.

Use sprays, powders and growth regulators in cracks and crevices, under furniture, along baseboards, in your garage and yard anywhere fleas could hide. These chemicals halt flea maturation. Then roll out the big guns and rent an industrial-strength steam cleaner. Go over every inch of carpet and area rugs, really getting down into the fibers. Steam loosens and lifts out all traces of flea eggs, larvae, and debris they feed on. Don’t forget to do upholstered furniture too. The high heat penetrates cushions killing bugs taking shelter inside.

Remember to quickly take vacuum bags straight to the outdoor garbage right after you finish. We don’t want any survivors hatching and making their way back inside your nice clean house! Staying persistent by repeating washes, vacuums and hot steam treatments is vital to kick these suckers (pun intended) for good when working to fully eradicate a flea herd. Consistent diligence keeps the bitty critters from coming back once eliminated too.

Conclusion

You know, battling recurring flea issues can really try a dog owner’s patience. After dealing with this year after year, I’m convinced the only way to finally get the upper hand on these pests is committing to consistent prevention and treatment plans.

Half-hearted attempts like sporadic shampoos or monthly squeezes of topical meds aren’t enough for dogs plagued by fleas. We have to go all in with diligent washing, vacuuming, cleaning and medicating that covers all bases. Does that take a tiring amount of effort and time? You bet. But helping my furry best friend find lasting relief makes all the work worthwhile.

I’ve learned the hard way that fleas are survivors who bounce back with a vengeance if you get lazy. Staying on top of their life cycle is key – getting every last egg, larva and next generation adult to send these bugs packing for good. It may sound dramatic, but you have to treat it like a full-on flea war to get to a peace treaty!

My advice to fellow dog lovers: be ready to work hard and stick to a strict anti-flea regimen, even when you feel the job is done. Stopping too soon lets the enemy rebuild and recapture territory (aka your house and yard)! But for the health and comfort of our pups, winning the war against fleas is worth every ounce of effort.

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