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Fleas are a serious concern for people and pets in the United States, especially those living in warm or humid environments—though many places are vulnerable at different times of the year. (Not sure whether that includes you? Check out this map to get an idea of flea and tick activity in your area.) It’s a good idea for all of us to take preventative measures against fleas in our homes and on our pets. Fortunately, there are a few options for flea treatments for dogs.
Flea prevention is the first and easiest remedy and saves you both money and headaches in the long run. Rather than trying to get rid of fleas when they show up, flea prevention involves a combination of measures, including medication, dog hygiene, and house cleaning. Follow our tips to start feeling comfortable in your own home, knowing you and your pets will be itch-free. We’ll tell you how to prevent fleas on your pet with our top flea medication picks and best treatment practices to diminish their presence in your home and in your yard.
Oral Flea Treatments for Prevention in Dogs
Flea treatment in pill form is the fastest choice—it goes right into your dog’s bloodstream. Bonus? Some formulations include de-wormers and defense against heartworm and ticks for a one-shot punch to many of your dog’s least favorite critters. Always consult with your veterinarian to see which option is best for your pet. Read more about the most effective dog flea treatment.
Over-the-Counter Oral Flea Treatments
- Capstar Flea Oral Treatment Tablets are a popular choice sold in dosages suitable for dogs 2 to 25 pounds and dogs over 25 pounds
- Advantus Flea Soft Chews are also available for dogs 4 to 22 pounds and dogs 23 to 110 pounds
Prescription Oral Flea Treatments
Your vet might also recommend a prescription flea treatment like one of the below options:
Topical Flea Treatments for 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,” veterinary dermatologist Dr. Nicole Eckholm points out. The topical preventative medicines like Frontline and K9 Advantix will take 24 to 48 hours to start working.
- Frontline Plus
- K9 Advantix II
- Advantage II
- PetArmor (Generic to Frontline)
How To Rid Your Home (and Dog) of Fleas
Once in a while, by the time you discover a flea problem, it can be too late for prevention—you may find your pet and your house are already under attack. In the event of an infestation, you’ll need a strong arsenal of products to kill not only adult fleas but eggs, which can hide in your dog’s bed, carpets, furniture, and even your lawn.
Flea Treatments for Your Dog
- Start with your dog: You’ll need a flea comb to regularly check your pup’s fur for fleas. Slowly run the comb against the hair pattern and keep an eye out for flea dirt and/or actual fleas. Find a small black critter? Dip the comb in a glass of water or rubbing alcohol to drown them.
- Keeping your pet and their bedding clean can help keep the fleas away. Wash beds and blankets in hot water and dry on high heat to kill flea eggs and larvae. Keep in mind, though, that frequent bathing of your pet will reduce the length of effectiveness of any topical flea medications you’ve already applied.
- Flea and tick shampoo can be an effective flea treatment, helping to rid your dog of pests in about four hours for up to four weeks of protection. Note that shampoo, while handy, isn’t as long-lasting as topical or oral medication.
- You can also try a well-reviewed flea collar for dogs.
Flea Treatments for Your House
- Adding a flea and tick control product like this natural flea and tick home spray to your arsenal is handy 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 extract, 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 and brush into carpets and furniture, leave 24 to 48 hours, 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-powered 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 Treatments for Your Yard
- A natural product may be best for controlling fleas in the yard. This natural flea and tick yard spray helps control fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes 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.
Harris Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
An affordable, tried-and-true treatment for your yard that acts as a preventative and is safe to use around pets.
Find on Amazon
Natural Flea Prevention Alternatives
Though the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency regulate and conduct safety reviews of flea products, some pet parents prefer to use natural methods of flea prevention and treatment when possible.
- Natural flea shampoo: A full flea-treatment bath can force the fleas to abandon ship.
- 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 flea treatment 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.