When dogs get fleas, it can be a nightmare for both dog and owner. There are so many different types of flea prevention and flea treatments for dogs. It can be hard to know where to start.

Flea dog collars have been around a long time, and pipetting flea and tick drops onto your dog has become standard practice. Understanding which is best and when to use could save a lot of pain and irritation for you and your dog. 

How to spot fleas on your dog?

There are lots of different signs of fleas, seeing a flea is lucky as even in their adult stage they are minuscule (think the tip of a pen). If you do see specs and movement within your dog’s hair, then it’s likely you are seeing fleas. Other signs include:

  • lots of scratching
  • signs of irritation (may be red patches)
  • bites on humans in the house with no explanation
  • bald patches on your dog’s fur
  • lots of darks specs (mud like) when your dog is brushed

If you see any of the signs above, then grooming your dog is a good way of checking. When using a comb, you may see lots of black specs coming off your dog’s coat. These are not necessarily fleas but likely to be flea droppings. Add water to the specs and if it turns brown then its probably mud. However if it turns a reddish colour then it is very likely to be fleas, you should look to treat.

If you are unsure either way, then you should speak to your vet.

What are the different flea treatments?

There are lots of different flea treatments for dogs that can make the decision overwhelming. We have summarised the main categories of treatment below:

Dog flea collar

Dog flea collars are very simple to use, simply attach and possibly trim to size and you are done. Good dog flea collars are effective and can last for quite a few months. If you are against using chemical drops or anything topical then they are a good option. Remember they are not normal dog collars and so don’t attach a lead to them.

Spot on treatments

These are very easy to use and usually applied monthly. A few drops around the neck and towards the tail and you are done. Very easy to use and can give good coverage against fleas and ticks. We have personal experience of this kind of treatment using on a monthly basis.

During Oscar and Hooch’s long and very full lives (15 years) they were lucky to never suffer with fleas. The only con with spot on treatments is your dog cannot get wet 24-48hrs after application depending what you use.

Shampoos

Flea shampoos are effective when your dog has fleas and will help reduce the irritation by killing the adult fleas. To prevent further fleas, you are going to need to use something else such as a dog flea collar or spot on treatment. Bear in mind your dog’s bedding will also need washing!

Tablets

Oral dog flea treatments ,like spot on treatments, can help prevent fleas and some will kill existing fleas. If your dog likes to take tablets then this could be a good route.

Flea spray

A good dog flea spray will act like a good flea shampoo and kill the adult fleas. It should be used in conjunction with one of the other dog flea treatment types. This will ensure further prevention and reduction in flea larvae.

Considerations of dog flea treatments?

By this point in the article you have probably decided which treatment is best for you and your dog. Your decision should consider the following factors

  • Route of administration and likely success with your dog. If they don’t like collars then spot on will make more sense.
  • Cost- all dog flea treatments vary substantially in price particularly if using monthly
  • Efficacy – if it doesn’t work then you will end up spending more
  • Whether your dog has fleas or not. If like us you manage to avoid fleas then a shampoo a spray would never be considered
  • Your own routine. If you are unlikely to remember a monthly spot on treatment then a dog flea collar may be a better choice

Safety of dog flea treatments

Most dog flea treatments use chemicals so you need to be careful. You should know your dog’s weight as most treatments vary by weight of dog. Dog flea treatments can be poisonous and even fatal for cats so never use on cats.

Check age restrictions on your dog flea treatment as you will need the right one for a puppy. Lastly don’t get too carried away, follow the package instructions or your vet’s advice. Giving extra treatment doesn’t mean you will get rid of the fleas any quicker and does pose the risk of overdosing in your dog.

Summary

Before you even consider dog flea treatments, you should get yourself into a good grooming routine with your dog. A regular groom (whether by you or a professional) will help identify fleas early on and may prevent a major infestation.

Use our considerations checklist to see whether you and your dog is better suited to a dog flea collar or the alternatives. Discuss with your vet the latest treatments and whether prevention is better than cure. Once you have a treatment that works for you and a routine that works for you dog,  stick with it as any slippage in routine can lead to fleas……

 

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