How to Control Fleas


Fleas are parasites that feed off your dog’s blood. Flea eggs can be found almost everywhere –in your couch, carpet, etc. so the likelihood of infection is very high. To know if your dog has fleas, look for flea excrement –small, dark, curly dots that are also known as “flea dirt.”

To do this, brush your pet’s coat with a white cloth or sheet and look for these black specks, which contains digested blood that looks reddish brown when wet. If your dog has a darker coat, eggs that resemble dandruff is visible when a magnifying glass is used.

Dangers of Fleas

Besides really annoying your dog, fleas can also cause an allergic reaction called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) which leads to hair loss, skin inflammation and irritation. For severe cases, your pet can experience anemia due to blood loss. This can be fatal if your pet is young or debilitated. Also, fleas are carriers of common tapeworms, which can cause cramping and gas.

Preventing Infection

Putting flea powder on your vacuum cleaner will exterminate all the fleas inside the bag. Monthly topicals is an easy and inexpensive approach to protect your house from fleas. Bio Spot or Frontline Plus are recommended topical brands available. You might also want to build a doghouse or spot for your dog that is elevated since fleas can’t jump higher than a foot. Water is a flea’s top enemy, so wash the areas that a dog might run around –like your backyard. Minimal contact with grasses and woods will lessen the possibility of infection.

If you have a garden, trim leaves and clear brushes, as well as grassy and kennel areas.

If you have a home grooming kit for your dog, it is best to include a flea comb. Use it regularly on your pet. Its soft, fine bristles, it will catch the flea. Start combing around the hindquarters and the pet’s head, where flea dirt can also be seen. When you trap a flea, immediately put it in soap-water solution. Fleas thrive in warm conditions, that’s why in warmer climates, it is best to give your dog flea products the whole year. Although pupa stages can become dormant in cold climates, increasing the length of its lifespan composed of egg, larva, pupa and adult.


A flea bath is the first step to a parasite-free pet. Be careful in using a flea shampoo because most products are too harsh on puppies. Consult your veterinarian on what to use if your puppy has fleas. It can also relieve irritation and itching. Don’t stop at shampooing because it doesn’t really protect your dog after getting a bath.

One alternative is using flea dips that keep fleas at bay for some time after dipping, but it is not recommended by most veterinarians. The downside is that your dog might eat or swallow these parasites after licking, since a flea dip stays on the dog’s hair coat. Another option is a flea collar. It will only kill all the fleas in the dog’s neck and face –not the whole body. Some also dogs develop a rash when using flea collars. While flea medallions can contaminate the dog’s drinking water, since it hangs loose from the collar.

A good choice is the use of flea sprays and powders –both for your dog and your house, so be careful in reading the instructions to know which is which. Products intended for your home is too strong to use on your pet. Using two or three different flea products at the same time can be toxic for your dog.

If there are numerous fleas that infested your dog, it is recommended that you treat your home too. Methoprene and fenoxycarb, two active ingredients contained in flea sprays are efficient and safe. It stops the growth of eggs into adult fleas. As mentioned, sprays are too strong for dogs, so take them outside for a walk when you treat your home.

Some products are designed to destroy adult fleas – one product is Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) can help kill flea eggs and larvae. Before applying such products, vacuum your carpet or furniture first to rouse eggs and larvae from their cocoons.

Veterinarians recommend these products to for flea control:

Pyriproxyfen (Nylor, Archer), Imidacloprid (Advantage), Lufenuron (Program), Fipronil (Frontline Top Spot), Cythioate (Proban), and Fenthion (Pro-Spot). 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.