Fleas can be a pain in the neck for your dog. And a pain in their back. And their legs. And their tummy. Not only that, having fleas can lead to tapeworms, anemia and infections. To make matters worse, dog fleas can live on humans too. This can make for a very unhealthy and unhappy household.
Here are some tips on what to do when your dog gets fleas. You’ll learn how to spot them as well as some effective dog flea treatments.
1) Know How to Spot Dog Fleas
Fleas tend to jump on a dog most often during the summertime. They thrive in places with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the lower 80s and humidity levels ranging from 75-85%.
It pays to know the signs that fleas have taken up residence on your pet. For example, if you find black, pepper-like specks on your dog, they could be “flea dirt”—basically, little pieces of flea poop.
You can find flea dirt on your dog in two different ways. First, you can comb their fur (be sure to get all the way down to their skin). If some fleas come off, try not to let them jump away. You might keep some soapy water nearby to drown any little suckers that you comb off.
Second, you can place a white paper towel underneath your dog and give them a good rubdown. If some little flecks come off, put some water on them. If they start spreading out and turning red, that’s flea dirt (fleas feed on blood, of course, which is what they poop out).
Other possible dog flea symptoms are:
- Hair Loss
- Excessive Scratching
- Scabs and Bumps
- Skin Infections
- Pale Gums (a sign of anemia)
2) Make Some Dog Flea Shampoo
It’s easy to make a good home remedy for dog fleas. Just take a half cup of some good dog shampoo and add two cups of water and a half cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Pour this shampoo-lemon juice mixture into a bottle and save it. Give your dog a bath once a week and use the mixture to clean their coat.
Once you’re finished giving your dog their bath, be sure not to let them run around outside. Keep them away from lawns or other grassy areas in particular: If any fleas are lurking there, they could hop onto your pet and ruin all your hard work.
3) Comb Dog Fleas Off Your Pet
Another way to get fleas off your dog is to invest in a good flea comb. Metal combs are the best, since you don’t need to worry about any of the teeth breaking off. A good dog flea comb will get rid of fleas of all sizes as well as any eggs and larvae that might be on your pet.
When you comb your dog’s fur, be careful not to rip out any tangled hairs. As long as you do that, you’ll not only keep your dog healthy but make them happy too (dogs like getting groomed).
4) Keep Dog Fleas Away With Apple Cider Vinegar
Here’s another excellent dog flea remedy you can make at home. Mix a little bit of fermented apple cider vinegar (about a teaspoon) with about a quarter liter of water.
Have your dog drink this mixture at different points in the day. When they do, acid from the apple cider vinegar will seep into their coat. This will make fleas stay away (as an added bonus, this is good for repelling ticks too). It’s like a drinkable flea collar!
Don’t rub the apple cider vinegar onto your dog, though—it could irritate any flea bites or deep scratches. Also note: How much apple cider vinegar your pet can drink safely will vary depending on their weight. Your vet can give you an idea of the proper amount.
5) Sprinkle Some Borax Around
To ensure that dog fleas aren’t waiting in some moist, shady area for your pet, sprinkle some Borax (i.e. boric acid powder) in places that don’t get a lot of sun and/or have a humidity of 50% or higher. After couple of days, the borax will dry up any flea eggs and kill any larvae in that spot.
Be careful to keep your dog away from anywhere you’ve used Borax—if they lick any up, you may have an emergency visit to the vet on your hands. Also, be sure to vacuum up any powder and dog flea bits after two days or so have gone by.
6) Clean Your House, Your Yard and Your Dog’s Bed
Cleanliness is the key to keeping fleas off your pet and out of your home. Vacuum your house regularly and keep your yard neat and tidy. Be sure to wash your dog’s bedding and any blankets they use in hot water (provided that their instructions say that you can, anyway). If you have something that you can’t wash like a rug, hang it up outside in the sun.