How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs? | 5 Mistakes To Avoid

The statement, a dog is man’s best friend does not require rocket science to figure out its validity. Walk into most homes, and you are very likely to be met by a four-legged canine happily smiling at you. For you as a dog owner, fleas are always your worst enemy.

The sight of your best friend frantically scratching its head confirms to you the worst. You start to run up and down trying to figure out how to get rid of fleas on dogs. Flea bites can really be discomforting to a dog.

It scratches itself, runs to another corner, lies down, and the cycle continues. There are various ways that you can use to get rid of this nuisance without affecting those around, especially the little ones you have around.

To be successful in getting rid of the fleas, you need to know more about the fleas. Having enough information about the fleas will prove helpful in eliminating them. The following information discussed in details will therefore help you succeed in effectively eliminating fleas.

Understand The Fleas: Flea dirt and Flea Infestation Explained

The first rule of war is always to understand your enemy and how they operate. This is also true for fleas. The various ways used to deal with fleas work differently for their different life cycles. Understanding the biology of fleas is, therefore, the first step in eradicating the fleas menace.

Who can be infected by fleas?

Fleas mainly survive on its host for food, the host’s blood. These fleas mostly thrive on mammals be it cats, humans, cows, and dogs. Dogs are their favorite due to the thick fur on dogs that form the perfect breeding and hiding place.

When a flea bites a host, it secretes the flea saliva to soften the bite point for easy breeding. It is this saliva that causes the itching sensation that your dog tries hard to scratch off. These parasites hop from one host to another due to their inability to fly.

What are the optimum conditions for fleas’ survival?

Pet owners begin to worry when warm climates of summer begin to set in. This is when fleas begin to thrive. When you couple the warm climate with a slightly humid condition, you will have a perfect recipe for fleas to feel at home.

The Life Cycle of Fleas On Dogs

Dog Flea Life cyle

The life span of a flea is divided into four stages. However, there might be other minor stages which occur in the process. These main four stages include:


This is where every flea life begins. The adult flea lays these eggs on its host. The adult lays the eggs only after feeding on blood. These eggs are small and whitish.

Flea Larva

To maximize survival chances, the eggs do not stick and normally fall off as the host walks around. This distributes the eggs everywhere the dog scratches or cat shakes, sleeps or passes. The rate at which the eggs hatch to the next stage is dependent on environmental conditions

After hatching, small see-through creatures emerge in the dirt and dust found in cracks. They mainly feed on the wastes of the adult and edible leftovers in the dirt. Their rate of growth is dependent on available conditions and the type of nutrition they get.


When nearing the completion of the larval stage, the larva forms a housing cocoon around itself. It is at this stage that the flea generation is at its most resilient stage. They can stay in that cocoon for as long as it takes.

It is like they are in some hibernation mode, just waiting for the right moment (warm and moist conditions) to appear as an adult. Ever found fleas in a new home? Now you know why they are still there after such a long time.


This is the enemy number one of those who adores their pets. They hop from mammal to mammal, looking for the perfect breeding ground to continue the generation.
Complete life cycle of fleas

How Did Your Dog Get Fleas or Ticks?

Killing adult fleas and preventing fleas to reproduce

Fleas have a tendency to survive under a [wide range of conditions]. At the pupa life cycle, these fleas have the ability to stay dormant for a considerable number of months, probably even years.

They just wait for a suitable host and oops, when the right conditions are provided, they will be all over the place driving you. Your dogs and cats will go nuts. This is why even a pet that stays indoors can become infected with fleas if that house once had a pet infected with fleas.

1. Dog facilities

You can call this the gathering place for pets and can inhabit the highest density of fleas and ticks when appropriate control measures are not taken. Dog owners come to these facilities with all manner of parasitic infections that your dog might contract.

To prevent your healthy dog from picking up these parasites from these places, always insist on being explained to how the facility controls and [manages any presence of fleas and ticks]. When you are satisfied with the measures, go ahead and use it.

2. Outdoors

We all love taking our dogs out for an afternoon stroll in the park. Well, which kind of dog owners would we be if we didn’t? These could be the places where your dog got those ticks and fleas from. As was said earlier, fleas thrive in cool places, like under shades.

When your dog hangs out in such places, the fleas’ infection would be imminent. The places do not necessarily have to be parked. Even your pet parents own backyard can be a perfect breeding ground.

3. Other animals

Your dog can get ticks and fleas in a number of ways. Dogs which are social animals get infected as they interact with people, other dogs and as they walk about. When a neighbor brings along a dog that has fleas, be sure yours will have them too as the two dogs hang about.

Indoor cats too will form a [source of fleas]. The mice and rats that form any homeowners’ headache are flea and tick carriers. As they whiz around the house, they spread the parasites to all corners from where your dog will attract flea comb for them at a later time.

How to Kill Fleas On Dogs? (3 Best Ways)

By now, you have a rough idea of what you are dealing with. You understand the parasites and how their life cycle is. You also have figured out where your pet could have attracted the fleas and ticks that are causing it the discomfort. Now what remains is getting rid of the damn flea dirt and parasites for good.

There are several methods of killing fleas on dogs. However, not all of these will work for you and your dog. You have to choose the best of the available options and not just use any method and wait for whatever may.

Best homemade flea killer that kills adult fleas as pet parents

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Before you begin, Dr. [Foster and Smith] have got some advice for you about How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs:

Adult fleas spend most of their time on an animal, but flea eggs, larvae, and pupae are most often found in the pet’s environment – especially in carpeting, bedding and under furniture edges. For every flea that you see on your pet, there are likely to be hundreds of eggs and larvae in your home and yard. Therefore, a truly comprehensive flea control program always includes treating the environment as well as the pet.
Dr. Foster and Smith.

1. Use Medicated Treatments

This method is mainly used for fleas that are already on the dog. You can use:

Flea sprays

These sprays are available in the form of pump bottles and aerosol cans. These are sprayed directly onto the dog’s body when the presence of fleas is clearly Sprays offer a short-term solution, can be 2-3 days before wearing off.

When using these products, strictly follow the directions from the manufacturer and spray the dogs in a properly ventilated room. Also, look for sprays which have IGR (Insect Growth Regulators) and an adulticide as the primary ingredients.

IGRs are effective in killing the flea eggs and larvae before they develop into a pupa. When administering the spray, be extra careful so that the spray does not get into your pooch’s eyes and other sensitive parts. Do some improvising when spraying the heads.

Flea dip

This method is most effective for the [adult fleas]. Its effects also last longer on the dog, about 2 This may make some of you start thinking of rinsing the dip solution off the dog. This should not be attempted. After all, you want the fleas to go away, don’t you? So, bear the smell as long as it takes.

And just as the name suggests, you are meant to immerse the whole pet in the solution and not just pour it on some parts of the body.

Cover the dog’s ears and ensure his eyes will not be affected by the dip solution. Follow the instructions on the label to the latter. As a reminder, ensure the dip solution has pyrethrin or permethrins as the active ingredients.

Pet shampoo

This is another method you can use to kill fleas on the pet’s body. For this method, you really have to rub it into the fur (if your dog has any). You then let it do its thing to the fleas before washing it off.

When rubbing spot fleas in the shampoo, first make sure you apply a ring of the shampoo on the dog’s neck. This creates a medical barrier that prevents the movement of fleas to the dog’s head as the medicine starts to kick in.

Make sure you use lukewarm water to soak the dog in first and also for rinsing after the application of the shampoo. You also have to repeat this process from time to time as the effects of the pyrethrin in the shampoo wears off after some time.

Flea powder

This method is somehow not very effective when it comes to flea killing unless your dog does not have fur. After applying a flea powder on a dog, the moment it gives itself a shake, most of the applied powder will fall off.

For an improvement in the performance of powders, sprinkle it on the bedding the dog uses or on the resting place it frequents. Do not in any way allow the powder to get into the dog’s nose, eyes and mouth as it could be hazardous.

Flea Collars

When done the right way, this can be an effective method of getting rid of the fleas on your dog. The collars should fit properly on the dog’s neck, not loose and not too tight. After fitting the collar, remove any excess length of the collar.

The dog might try to chew on the protruding end. When choosing a suitable collar, the ones that do not irritate the dog, last longer and control fleas throughout the body should be selected. And above all, the manufacturer’s instructions have to be followed to the latter.

Oral medications

These pills stop the life cycle change from eggs to larva. When these medications get into the dog’s bloodstream, the fleas feed on this blood and in turn lay eggs that cannot hatch.

The lifecycle is interrupted, hence controlling the flea’s population. You should, however, know that the medications do not affect the adult fleas and should, therefore, be used together with [other control methods].’

Flea comb

A fine-tooth flea comb can be used to remove fleas from your dog’s skin. To kill adult fleas, you will need topical flea treatments or oral flea medications prescribed by a veterinarian. These treatments are designed to eliminate fleas at various stages of their life cycle, providing long-lasting protection for your dog against future infestations.

Flea combs can also be used as a preventive measure to regularly check for fleas and remove any that may be present before they have a chance to reproduce. Flea allergy dermatitis is known to be a common condition in dogs that are allergic to flea saliva. This can cause severe itching, redness, and discomfort for your dog.

2. Using Preventive Flea Remedies

The best way to manage the problem is to have it not occur in the first place. If you had the problem in the first place and you used the above methods to get rid of the fleas, then you better find ways of ensuring that the active flea problem never occurs again. Preventive remedies are your answer.

Regular grooming: This method can be used to detect the presence of fleas early enough so that the best remedy can be applied. Use a finely toothed comb to groom your dog and check for the presence of fleas deep into his skin.

As you check for fleas, have an alcoholic bath nearby to dip the fleas you find into. This kills them in the process.

Flea tablets: The tablets method that was used to prevent flea eggs can also be used as a preventive remedy. By preventing the development of larvae, you control the eventual growth into fleas.

The flea population then reduces gradually until a time when they will be completely eradicated from your house and pet.

Spot treatments: These treatments are available in numerous varieties; care has to be taken when choosing one for your dog. You can consult your vet for some guidance on what product to use.

You should then apply the treatment on your dog, preferably “between the shoulder blades”. Some of these products serve a dual purpose too of inhibiting the larvae growth.

Topical (once a month): If you are looking for an easy to use the preventive method, then you could choose to use a topical. All you have to do is apply it on a dog’s back. There are those that eliminate both ticks and fleas, while some are just for fleas.

Choose the best combination that suits all your dog care’s needs, although the former sounds like the better option.

3. Trying Natural Flea Treatments – 7 Best way

Most of the medicated methods of killing fleas have their sets of side effects to you the pet owner. Some are poisonous if accidentally swallowed and require extra care when being handled, more so when you have kids around.

The friendliest flea control methods are the use of [natural products]. They are both effective and friendly to the dog and its owner. Add ease of use and availability, and you have the perfect blend of flea control methods. Here are some methods that will do wonders in controlling fleas.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Let us get something clear first; the smell from ACV will not be pleasant to you at all. But then again, that is the point of using it in the first place. Fleas will not like it either.

The smell is unbearable to fleas, and they will try to escape it, relieving your dog of the entire nuisance. The severity of the smell is reduced by diluting the ACV solution to moderate levels.

What you need

  • ACV Solution
  • Spraying bottle
  • Water


  • Add some water to the spraying bottle, filling it halfway.
  • Fill the remaining part with the ACV.
  • Tightly close the bottle and then thoroughly shake it.
  • Apply the mixture solution to the dog’s coat. In case your dog has a thick fur, force the solution through the fur. For the furless dogs, rigorously massage his body with the ACV solution. This process can be repeated during the week to repeal the fleas entirely.

Apart from just spraying the solution onto the dog, there is another option of adding a little ACV in the water that the pet drinks. But be warned, the dog may not like the taste very much due to the distinctive taste of the ACV. Easing him into drinking the water is critical then.

Lemon Juice and Dish Soap Flea Spray Natural Flea Repellent

Lemons do have an ability to repel fleas from your pooch when you need an eco-friendly natural product.  You can use these near children and around other pets too. Better still, you can make it to the concentration you want. Lemon is one potent natural flea repellant and killer

The soap has two mechanisms for dealing with fleas. First, it breaks the surface tension of the water, making it impossible for fleas to float on. They sink and drown in the process. Secondly, the cuticle on fleas that repel water is broken down, making fleas water absorbent.

What you need

  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Dish soap (liquid)


  • Mix equal proportions of your choice of water, lemon juice and dish soap in the spray bottle.
  • Close the bottle tightly and shake it thoroughly to mix the contents
  • Spray this solution evenly on your pooch’s body, ensuring that it penetrates the fur to the skin. And as usual, at no point should the solution gets into the dog’s eyes and nose.
  • Provide a duration of thirty minutes for the solution to settle and then wash the dog to clean the dish soap.
  • Natural products require a frequent application for maximum effect. For this method, use it weekly.

Essential Oils

This is another way you can use to get rid of troublesome bugs, not only fleas. The odor is its weapon against bugs. For maximum effect, use a [combination of essential] oils with properties of insecticides.

Lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, and clove are examples of the essential oils you can use to get rid of fleas. Owing to the fact that dogs have a strong sense of smell, you can try to use various combinations of oils to figure out the one it likes most.

The oils can be used in the collar or can be sprayed directly onto the body. First, you must dilute these oils before any use.

What you need

  • Water
  • Bottle
  • Lavender oil, 3 drops
  • Lemongrass oil, 3 drops


  • Mix the essential oils with water in a bottle.
  • Close the bottle and then vigorously shake it to produce an even
  • Apply the solution as a spray or massage it on the dog. It depends on how much fur there is on your dog.


Garlic? Not my dog. These might have been your first sentiments when you saw this method. It has been documented numerously that garlic is bad for your dog’s health. That is kind of true, although it depends on the quantity you subject your dog to.

Small quantities, when used cautiously, will not do your dog any harm and helps her get rid of those nagging fleas. Importantly, puppies, pregnant dogs and those under medication should not be given garlic. Be mindful of these, and you will soon be able to rid your dog of fleas.

What you need

  • Fresh, raw, organic garlic (from trusted natural sources)
  • Dog food


  • Mince the garlic after peeling them
  • Using your dog’s size as a control, measure a portion of the minced garlic.
  • Allow a 10 minutes exposure of the garlic for allicin to form. This ingredient is the one responsible for fleas repelling.
  • Add the measured garlic to your dog’s favorite


The dosage given to the dog should be dependent on its weight i.e. for a dog weighing pounds, 1 teaspoon should be enough. You can then vary this amount in accordance with the weight of your dog.


This is a sedimentary rock that is soft and comprises of marine algae that have been fossilized. This powdered rock can be used to wage war against fleas without breaking the bank to do so. The secret to its perfect performance lies in its [microscopic structure].

The structure has a jugged structure like broken glass. The sharp ends pierce the body of fleas, they get dehydrated and eventually die. The same goes for the eggs. As the fleas try to frantically clean their antennas from the Diatomaceous Earth, they end up ingesting it. The ingested DE chokes them to death.

However, not all DE is supposed to be used. Use only the food grade ones. The rest contains additives which are harmful to the dog. To the skeptics, this product harms neither you nor your dog.

Usage tips

  • Dust the powder onto the dog’s coat, ensuring that it penetrates the fur.
  • Wear hand gloves when applying the DE to prevent it from dehydrating your skin.
  • Major on the hidden parts of the dog where fleas normally The armpits, tail, and belly should be given more attention.
  • Do not inhale the dust from the powder. The same for the dog. Keep the nose covered as you apply the powder.
  • Sprinkle the powder in your dog’s sleeping spot, vacuuming it thereafter to eliminate dead fleas.
  • Do this regularly to break up the growth cycle of the fleas.


If your pet is not severely infected by fleas, you can use [rosemary] to control these flea problems. Rosemary can be used in a wide range of ways; it can be in powder form or dipped in oil and applied to your dog.

The dip can be used on dogs, but should never be attempted for cats. Also, the oil can be used as a compliment to the collar.

To make a rosemary dip:

  • Put two cups of rosemary in a container of boiling water. Leave it in for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Sieve the liquid, throw away the remaining rosemary and add one gallon of lukewarm The amount of water added depends on the size of your dog.
  • Use the concoction to wash your dog, letting the dog to naturally dry.

The rosemary leaves can also be ground into a fine powder and used to line the carpets. These form a perfect flea repellant. Do not expect it to kill the fleas though.

Salt Natural Remedy

We know that look. The blatant look when someone throws a really crazy idea at you. Yes, the common salt can be used as a medium of getting rid of stubborn fleas. How does it work then? Salt is always a good dehydrating agent. It uses this unique characteristic to dry the fleas. This kills them after a while.

You see, when you use natural remedies, you do not have to use lots of money just to get rid of fleas. For the best outcomes, here is what you need to do

What you need

  • Table salt of the quantity that matches the size of the area you intend on sprinkling it onto.
  • A salt sprinkler
  • Salt Grinder.


  • Finely grind the salt into a powder.
  • Fill the salt sprinkler, leaving some room for the salt to move about in.
  • Evenly sprinkle the salt over carpets, the dog’s bedding, under closets and in places that fleas could hide in.
  • Let the salt stay for about two days.
  • Thoroughly vacuum the carpets and the places the salt was sprinkled on.

How to Kill Fleas in Your Home?

A lot of research done on fleas [population] in a house shows that most of the fleas are actually not on your pet’s hair, but on the carpet, living area and the dog’s bedding. It would be counterproductive to kill or drown adult fleas on your dog and ignore the bigger population hiding somewhere in your house.

So what can you do? There are so many things you can do to eliminate the flea population from the house. Some of these are?

a) Vacuuming

It is said that cleanliness is next to Fearlessness. Thoroughly vacuuming the house on a daily basis goes a long way in eradicating flea population in the house. Eggs, larvae, pupa, and adults are picked up in the process of vacuuming the house.

You can even add a flea collar on to the vacuum bag to eliminate the fleas further. Properly dispose of the vacuum bag so that it doesn’t re-infect other areas of the house.

b) Fogging

Fleas can be sneaky sometimes and hide in very hard to reach places. To sniff them out, use the [fogging method]. When the infestation reaches calamitous levels, this method can come in handy.

It causes a lot of inconveniences but gives satisfactory results. You have to ensure everything in the house that can be contaminated is properly covered and smoke alarms turned off as the house will be filled with medicated fog. Remember to take your dog/pets with you as you leave.

All the doors, as well as windows, have to be closed for a couple of hours, then reopened for another couple of hours before gaining entry. Prepare for cleanup too afterward as lots of other bugs will be smoked out too. Those attempting to escape should be cleaned up also.

c) Flea Traps

You can set traps around the house to catch fleas. All you need is dish soap, water, and some night light. This mixture is toxic to fleas and kills them when they hop into it. The night light acts as an attraction during the night.

When setting up the trap, use a low-lying bowl (the one with a shallow edge). This makes it easy for the fleas to jump right in as they hop about in towards the light. The trap should be placed on the ground.

d) Washing

You should wash all the dogs bedding regularly with washing detergent. The soap drowns the fleas, thereby killing them. You should sweep and mop the floor. The dark places where they thrive in should be given more detail. Wash the bedding with hot water.

How to Kill Fleas in Your Yard?

When the temperature becomes warm, the perfect breeding conditions are therefore provided for fleas. After you have driven them from the dog and the house, the remaining hiding place is now the yard.

Kill the fleas in the yard, and you should not worry again about fleas in a long time. Do the following:

  • Mow the yard constantly to keep the grass down. Tallgrass forms a breeding ground for fleas.
  • Make a lot of Garlic Spray from the minced one you had earlier on prepared. Spray this lightly on the yard. Do not soak the yard in garlic as it kills even some of the essential bugs in the yard.
  • There are some plants which repel the presence of fleas in the places where they are grown. You can look for some of these and plant them evenly in the compound. Some of these are lemons, rosemary, lemongrass, etc.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Treating Dogs for Fleas

Try as much as possible to avoid these mistakes as you treat your dogs against fleas.

#1. Do not over/under do it: When some of us detect the presence of fleas on our dogs, we make very irrational decisions and end up overdoing the medication, just to get rid of the fleas quickly.

This is very wrong.  Some of you also decide to stop the treatment without finishing the dose when they detect that the fleas are no more. This is dangerous to the pet’s health, and should be avoided.

#2. Eyes, ears, and nose: There some of us who have the tendency of even applying medication into the sensitive parts of our dogs just for thoroughness. This is not right. Some medications should not enter these sensitive parts of a dog.

#3. Same treatment for cats and dogs: it is not right to assume that you can use the same medication for your cat and dog to treat fleas. Cats are allergic to some ingredients of flea medications normally used for dogs. Read the manufacturer’s instructions first.

#4. Not consulting your vet: Most of us do this. You simply buy a product from the store and assume it would be good for your dog. Do not make any assumptions, first check with your vet for a go-ahead to use that particular product.

#5. Not watching for reactions: When using a given flea treatment product, it is irrational to think it will not affect the dog in any way. Some dogs may be sensitive to the product, and if you do not watch for reactions and assume it to be normal, the dog situation may worsen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Can fleas be transferred from dogs to humans?

Yes! It is very possible. Fleas can hop from any place of hiding onto a human. The warm blood is always an attraction. They then stick to clothing and bedding.

Question 2: Where do fleas come from?

Most of the fleas in our homes come from outdoors. They are brought in by other pets we own and other animals with access to our homes e.g. rats and mice

Question 3: Why do fleas keep coming back year after year?

Fleas come back when we do not completely finish the dosage, apply the treatment only on the pet and ignore other places or when we use the wrong treatment

Question 4: Do I need to treat my pet for fleas year-round?

No! Flea infestation is most common when the temperatures are warm. When it becomes very cold, it is hard for them to breed and become less of a problem. Also, when you provide a proper treatment the first time, you will not have to do it frequently.

Question 5: When Does Flea Season Start?

It starts when it gets warmer. This is mainly during summer. Warm moist weather triggers the flea season.

Question 6: Do I Need to Protect My Pet After Flea Season?

Yes! The protection never stops. Some of the fleas may remain hidden in the house as the conditions there still favor their survival.

Question 7: How do I get rid of my dog's fleas permanently?

For a comprehensive treatment, use the flea topical monthly for a long-lasting solution. You can also use the flea shampoo more regularly.

Question 8: Can I kill fleas by spraying peroxide on my bed?

Yes! Although you have to really take extra care when using it. It irritates the dog’s skin such that instead of helping your pet, you would be making the situation worse. More friendly alternatives are always advised.

Question 9: Does saltwater kill fleas on dogs?

Yes! The salt in the water is a dehydrating agent and kills the fleas. The salt water also makes the flea skin absorbent to water and drowns the fleas.

Question 10: Will garlic juice kill fleas on dogs?

Yes! Garlic kills fleas. It should be administered in just the right quantity. Any excess will cause health complications to the dog.

Question 11: How do I know when the dog fleas are gone and how long will it take?

You know the fleas are gone when the dog does not scratch itself too often. You can also know by checking for their presence on the dog as you comb its fur.

Question 12: What are the best home remedies for fleas on dogs?

There is no particular remedy that is better than the rest. It all depends on the dog’s reaction to it. Look for a remedy that does not worsen the situation


Fleas can be really irritating to pets, dogs, and cats mostly. The constant scratching, moving about and being very restless proves this. The fleas can even be transferred to us if appropriate corrective action is not taken at the correct time. An understanding of these annoying creatures is therefore necessary.

Getting rid of fleas requires taking quick and incisive decisions. Various methods are available for controlling and killing the fleas. When choosing a method to use, first monitor the dog if he may be reactive to it. If true, then change the medication.

Last Updated on 19/12/2023 by Karen Snow