How To Get Rid of Fleas on a Dog: Recommendations from Scientific Studies & Journal Research

How to get rid of fleas on a dog can be especially challenging in the home.

How to get rid of fleas on a dog is a pressing matter and a challenging one. Finding fleas in your dog’s coat can be relatively easy and preventing fleas from making your dog a host target can also be achieved in quick time. 

Removing fleas from your home is a longer and more demanding process.

Flea infestation itself can happen very quickly. A flea can lay 50 eggs in a day. They also are elusive and can jump over a foot. 

Table of Contents

Flea Allergies & Diseases

Warm Temperatures are Flea friendly

When are fleas/ticks most active in the US?

Finding Fleas

Removing Fleas Quickly

Removing Fleas From The Home

Fleas & Ticks in Your Yard

The Flea Cycle

When To Seek Veterinary Help

Flea Prevention


Flea Allergies & Diseases

Many dogs are allergic to flea bites. Flea saliva causes an allergic reaction. Most commonly, Flea Allergy Dermatitis (known as FAD) is the result. Fleas bite you too if an animal is not available to bite. Fleas  transmit disease and flea species can pass tapeworms to both animals and humans if the flea is swallowed. [1]

Warm Temperatures are Flea friendly

In every country, temperature is the governing factor for flea and tick activity. When the temperature is warm or mild, fleas and ticks are active. Around or below 33 degrees Fahrenheit fleas and ticks can remain dormant for up to 200 days.

When are fleas/ticks most active in the US?

In the US, according to an American Kennel Club survey, fleas and ticks are active all year round in the southern states, from North Carolina through to Texas and in the South Western and North Western states, from Arizona to Washington. In the remaining states they are more seasonal. 

How to get rid of fleas on a Dog: Finding Fleas

Watch for your dog scratching & biting around the collar, inner thighs and tail.

Watch out for excessive itching and scratching in a particular area. Look for small dark reddish brown insects. They will often be on the neck/collar area, around the shoulders,  inner thighs, base of the tail, and belly of a dog.

Another clear sign that fleas are present is flea droppings. The droppings will look like black dandruff or black pepper on your dog’s skin. To be sure they are flea droppings and fleas are present, immerse them in water. They will turn red.

How to get rid of fleas on a dog: Removing Fleas Quickly

Fleas can drink 50 times their body weight in blood.

Flea Comb

Start your flea removal with a comb. A fine toothed flea comb will remove the fleas and flea dirt from your dog. Dip the comb in warm soapy water to trap the fleas in the teeth on the comb. You can also remove the flea dirt and eggs this way. 

Be especially vigilant around the neck and tail areas of your dog. Remember to put the combed out debris into warm soapy water to kill them. Hartz Groomer’s Best Flea Comb is an example of a good flea comb.

Bathe Your Dog

Bathe your dog  in warm water with a mild soap. This should kill the remaining fleas.


Most products should only be used when a dog has reached 12 weeks old. Be careful your dog doesn’t suffer flea dermatitis as a reaction to the shampoo. Flea shampoo can take the oils out of your dog’s coat and cause dry skin patches. Talk to your veterinarian first before using flea shampoos. Some products contain chemicals that make irritation worse. 

Recommended product ‘Vet’s Best Advanced Flea and Tick Dog Shampoo.

Don’t use dog shampoo on cats and vice versa.

How to get rid of fleas on a dog: Removing Fleas From The Home

It might not take too long to remove from your dog but your home is a different matter.

You will need to wash and clean your home thoroughly. Fleas need their host to feed on, but they will inhabit bedding, carpets and upholstery. [2]


Wash your dog’s bedding and any soft fabric toys. Wash all rugs and your own bedding.

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Laundry detergent is hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin.


Vacuum extensively, carpets, flooring, and upholstered furniture. Dispose of the vacuum bag in an outside bin immediately. Bag-less vacuums should be emptied then the internal canister should be sprayed with a cleanser. 

Vacuum your car if your dog travels in it.

Use a flea-repellent spray throughout the house. Alternatively, you could call a local flea exterminator.

How to get rid of fleas on a dog: Fleas & Ticks in Your Yard

Don’t forget your yard! Keep the grass short if you can. Ticks inhabit long grass and like the humidity. Ticks don’t need to live on a host.

Fleas may be there too. Use a yard spray to kill them there and stop them re-entering the house. Yard sprays also kill mosquitoes.

Read the instructions carefully and check with your veterinarian on the safety of yard sprays. Check out our article Plants Safe For Dogs and to be aware of plants that may be harmful to a dog in your yard.

The Flea Cycle


Females can lay up to 2000 eggs. Flea eggs take 1-10 days to hatch. The eggs fall off your pet and onto your home surroundings


The larva survives on the droppings of adult fleas. Larva  seeks out dark moist places. They are in carpets, floor cracks, and cracks in upholstery.


The pupae stage is the most difficult to destroy because the larva produces a cocoon that shields from insecticides.


Adults will only survive a few days without a host and the host’s blood supply. They jump on your pet or you to eat, then they go to the carpet and other areas.

Flea treatments address different stages of the flea cycle. Read the instructions carefully to find this out.

When To Seek Veterinary Help

Flea infestation on a dog can result in serious health conditions such as tapeworms and anaemia. Look for tapeworm segments in the dog’s stool. They look like grains of rice or seeds. The following points are other signs that tapeworms are present:

  • Your dog is lethargic.
  • Your dog drags its hind quarters across the carpet
  • Your dog loses weight
  • Your dog develops pale gums

How to get rid of fleas on a dog: Flea Prevention

Flea Collars

Flea collars are easy on the owner but limited in their effectiveness.

A Flea collar is an easy method where you can forget about it. Flea collars can be effective for up to 6 months. The downside is the flea collar is worn around the neck, so the hind legs and tail area are less protected. 

Seresto and Pet Armor are effective flea collar examples.

Topical Treatments

Apply a topical treatment directly onto your dog’s skin.

Read the instructions carefully on the topical treatment. Topical treatments should only be used on pups over 10 weeks old and a pups weight is also a key consideration. It is recommended a pup weigh at least 3-5 pounds.

When applying, hold the tube vertically and snip the tip with scissors. You will need to apply directly to the skin (not the fur) and between the shoulder blades or along the spine. Do not bathe or wash your dog for 48 hours. Re-apply every 30 days.

Wags Advance and Frontline Plus are topical treatment examples.

Topical Sprays

It is better to apply both topical treatments and sprays outside the home or it could get messy.

Topical sprays are applied directly to the dog’s skin between the dog’s shoulder blades. Topical sprays are effective for 30 days. Look for one that kills the adult fleas and repels all flea life cycles. It can be messy if your dog resists and tries to break free.

Flea Pills & Flea Chews

Quick acting flea pills should contain Nitenpyram which kills adult fleas and flea lava. These tablets should be given orally with your dog’s meal.

Capstar is a well known brand containing Nitenpyram. Fleas will start dying 30 minutes after the pill is ingested. The pill will be effective for 1 to 2 days. It is best to consult a veterinarian first as there can be side effects. 

Simparica Trio is an oral pill option recommended in scientific study. [3]

Nexgard beef soft chews (once a month ) are FDA (Food & Drug Administration) approved say the American Animal Hospitals Association. [4]

How to get rid of fleas on a dog: Be Vigilant!

Look for signs when grooming your dog – early detection stops a major infestation of your home.

Comb your pet with a flea comb weekly.

What Now?

If you’ve read this far, thank you. You might like to check out our posts on Dog Dental Care and What Foods Can Dogs Not Eat.


What kills fleas immediately on dogs?

To quickly eliminate fleas on your dog, use a flea control product like topical spot-on treatments or oral medications prescribed by your veterinarian. These can kill fleas within hours.

What home remedy kills fleas on dogs?

A natural home remedy is a mixture of equal parts water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz it on your dog’s coat, and comb through. This may help repel and kill fleas.

Will a hair dryer kill fleas?

No, a hair dryer won’t effectively kill fleas. While heat can help, it’s not a reliable method. Stick to flea control products or home remedies for better results.

How can you get rid of fleas on dogs without bathing?

You can use flea combs to remove fleas and their eggs from your dog’s fur without giving them a bath. Apply a flea control product or use natural remedies to complement this method.

How can you get rid of fleas in the house fast?

To eliminate fleas in your house quickly:
Vacuum thoroughly and dispose of the vacuum bag.
Use a quality flea spray or fogger.
Wash pet bedding and linens.
Apply flea control products to your pets.
Consider professional pest control for severe infestations.

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