How to get rid of fleas on puppies

2 December 2023 - 2 min read

The information in this article has been reviewed by Kirsten Ronngren DVM MRCVS on 1 December 2023 . Although it may provide helpful guidance, it should not be substituted for professional veterinary advice.

Dogs ear being examined

Just like kittens, puppies are susceptible to fleas.

At best, these pesky parasites can cause discomfort and health issues; at worst, they can cause serious health issues.

Here are some practical steps to safely rid your puppy of fleas and prevent future infestations.

How do puppies get fleas?

Fleas can come from other animals or from the outside environment.

They tend to hide in shadier areas: long grass, animal nests, and dog houses—anywhere where the conditions are suitable and where other animals may have been.

A person high fiving a dog

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A person high fiving a dog

Are fleas on puppies a big deal?

Fleas are tiny, but their impact on a puppy's health can be significant.

To start, they can cause itching and irritation and potentially lead to infections or allergic reactions. In severe infestation cases, they can even cause anaemia, especially in small or young puppies.

And if your puppy noshes on a flea, they can be infected with a tapeworm. Not ideal.

How to spot fleas on your puppy

When it comes to fleas, early detection is key. This is why regular grooming is so important.

Look for tiny, dark insects in your puppy's fur, especially around the neck, ears, and base of the tail.

Flea dirt, which looks like small black specks, is another telltale sign.

How to treat your puppy's fleas

So, as a puppy parent dealing with the itch and irritation of fleas, what should you do?

  1. Consult a vet. This is always the best initial step. Your vet can provide puppy-safe treatment options.

  2. Comb daily: Using a fine-toothed flea comb can help you physically remove fleas from your puppy's fur.

  3. Puppy-friendly bath: A gentle bath can aid in flea removal. Make sure to ask your vet for recommendations on puppy-safe flea shampoos.

  4. Treat your home: Fleas can infest bedding, carpets, and furniture. To effectively break the flea life cycle, you must address your home environment as well. Vacuum all surfaces, wash pet bedding in hot water, and apply safe insect control products to carpets and upholstery. This process will need to be repeated over a three-month period to ensure all stages of fleas are eradicated.

And make sure if you have other pets in the home that they're also protected with preventative flea treatments. Otherwise, the cycle will virtually never end.

Here's a helpful video from Dr. Kirsten at ManyPets:

Preventing future infestations

OK, so you've had the nightmare of fleas, and you never want to go through it again.

While we can't guarantee the latter, we can go over tips to ensure your risk is minimised:

  • First, groom your pet regularly. Regular baths and combing can help spot fleas early.

  • Keep a clean home: Regularly clean bedding, carpets, and areas where the puppy spends time.

  • Use preventative flea and tick medication. Discuss ongoing preventive treatments with your vet. That way, if your pet does contract fleas, their risk of developing a serious illness is minimised, and the flea lifecycle gets stopped in its tracks.

Are flea medications safe for puppies?

We'd strongly recommend speaking to your vet.

They'll be able to point you in the right direction, as the strength of flea treatment varies based on your puppy's weight, age, and other factors.

Most monthly preventative products are marketed for pets over 8 weeks of age, but this can vary slightly by product which is why checking the label and with your vet are a must.

It's extremely important that you do not simply pick a treatment off the shelf, particularly if you have other pets. For example, Frontline Plus contains (S)-methoprene and fipronil, which are safe for dogs. However, permethrin, found in some dog treatments, is highly toxic to cats.

Oh, and only use dog-specific treatments on your puppy. Never use a flea treatment designed for cats.

Fleas on puppies are a common issue, but with the right approach, they can be safely and effectively managed.

Regular checks, safe treatments, and a clean environment are your best tools in this ongoing battle.

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