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How to Get Rid of Dog Fleas: 4 Vet-Approved Steps

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog scratching fleas

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You’re brushing your dog one day and your stomach drops…you notice evidence of fleas or “flea dust” in your dog’s hair! Immediately you think of how disgusting and infiltrating fleas are, and for good reason. When fleas get on your dog, they inevitably get into your furniture, carpet, and on other pets, if you have them around.

Though fleas are a pain in the neck, we’ve got you covered with all the information you need to get rid of those fleas ASAP.

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The 4 Quick Steps to Get Rid of Dog Fleas:

1. Treat the dog with fleas

First, you need to tackle this flea problem where it started: on your dog. Check with your vet first to see what method or methods are best for your dog, as you may be able to try multiple treatments at one time. As an added bonus, many of these methods also prevent ticks.

Liquid Treatment

This method of flea treatment is very easy to apply and works for 30 days. Simply open the liquid capsule and apply directly to your dog’s skin between his shoulder blades. The treatment will start working within 24 hours. You will need to reapply after the 30 days if you still notice fleas. Be sure to purchase a treatment that’s right for your dog’s weight.

Flea Collar

A flea collar protects a dog from fleas for up to 8 months. Once you put the collar on your dog, he will be protected from fleas within 24 hours. It contains two ingredients to tackle the larvae and the adult fleas.

a dog with collar
Image Credit: Mathew Janzen, Unsplash


Flea treatment also comes in a pill form. Your dog ingests the pill and the chemicals get in your dog’s bloodstream. The fleas who come to eat your dog’s blood die. One pill lasts one month. If your dog has a history of seizures, you should avoid this kind of flea treatment.

Use a flea comb

The use of a flea comb physically removes adult fleas and flea eggs from your dog’s skin. This Hartz brand comb has tiny teeth to finely comb through your dog’s hair and an ergonomic handle to keep your hands and wrists from getting tired.

Comb very diligently around your pet’s neck and tail, as this is where fleas tend to gather. If you find eggs or adult fleas on the comb, put the comb in a dish of hot, soapy water to kill the fleas. Squishing them probably won’t work as they are fast little buggers.

2. Treat all other pet friends

If you have other pets in your home, or other pet visitors, it’s worth also treating them for fleas. Otherwise, your flea problem could take much longer to take care of. Fleas are not picky with who they land on, as long as it has blood and is furry. Humans do not typically get fleas, thankfully! Please be aware that some chemicals used to treat flea infestation in dogs are toxic to cats. Do not use dog flea products on a cat without consulting a veterinarian.

A cute tabby cat and a Dalmatian dog
Image Credit: Katho Menden, Shutterstock

3. Treat your home


When you notice fleas on your pet, get out the vacuum right away. Up to 95% of of the total fleas in all their stages can be found in your home once you realize they are on your dog. Vacuum all floors, furniture, and every corner that’s hard to reach. Especially focus on where your dog likes to sleep or relax.

Make sure to change out your vacuum bags (or wash out the dust container well) every time you do a deep vacuuming for fleas.

Wash your dog’s bedding and washable toys

Take everything that’s washable and throw it in the washing machine. This includes anything your dog lays on and all stuffed toys. You will need to wash it at 140 degrees F, or the hottest setting on your washing machine.

Let your treated dog into the house

As long as you keep properly treating your dog, it’s good to keep him around the house if there’s still a flea problem. This is because an adult flea that lands on your dog will now die because of his treatment.

Spray flea spray in your home

Grab a flea (or “environmental”) spray that contains IGR or methoprene and spray down your home. Especially concentrate on the carpet, under furniture, and hard to reach cracks.

Call the Exterminator

When nothing else works, and you know your dog is being properly treated, an exterminator will have the know-how and equipment needed to get the fleas out of your home and potentially around the outside of your home. They will most likely spray your home very thoroughly with a similar spray that we mentioned before.

4. Talk to a Vet

Your dog’s veterinarian is going to know what specific flea-prevention treatments are right for your dog, as well as know the latest information and treatments. It’s always a good idea to speak with your dog’s vet before starting treatments, and especially if things aren’t going well.

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How to Know If Your Dog Has Fleas:

Luckily, if you found out about a few fleas by brushing your dog’s fur, you’ve hopefully caught the problem early enough to control it. Usually, you don’t have a clue that you have a flea problem until much later. Brushing your dog regularly is a great way to catch a flea problem early on. Keep your eyes open for adult fleas as well as flea eggs.

Not only are fleas annoying to have in and around your home, they are annoying for your dog too. Dogs with fleas will scratch their skin a lot more.

While it’s normal for your dog to itch and groom himself if he has fleas, do take note if your dog is scratching to the point of drawing blood or creating baldness, as this could mean he is allergic to fleas or be vulnerable to infection in the wound.

“Flea dust” is also an indication that your dog has fleas. This is actually flea poop that fleas produce and leave on your dog’s skin after eating your dog’s blood. To tell the difference between regular dirt and flea dust, put a wet paper towel on the “dust.” If it turns red, it’s flea dust.

Image Credit: rachanon-cumnonchai, Shutterstock

Do dog fleas go away on their own?

No, dog fleas do not go away on their own. You have to proactively work to get the fleas off of your dog and out of your house. Fleas can live in average climate temperatures (they can even hibernate in cold weather) and will definitely get cozy in your house if you do not do anything to get them out.

Attack the fleas head-on with flea treatments recommended by your dog’s veterinarian and with thorough house cleaning. Make sure the treatments you carry out kill the fleas in all of their life stages.

The Flea Life Cycle

Fleas go through 4 stages of life. They start from an egg that adults lay on your dog. The fleas will only stay on your dog long enough to eat. When your dog walks around the house or lays down, the eggs fall off. Then the eggs turn into larvae, then a pupa, then an adult. When they are adults, they come back for your dog again.

This is why it’s important to keep your dog in the flea treatment regimen for the recommended amount of time, maybe even longer, just to be sure. Even if there are no fleas visible on your dog, the immature fleas might still be lying in wait to jump on to your dog in the coming weeks. This is also why it’s necessary to stay on top of the cleaning tips we will outline below.

Dog Flea Combs
Image Credit: thka, Shutterstock

How long does it take to get rid of fleas?

The smallest amount of time it takes is about 30 days to be completely done with fleas. This is because dog fleas without a viable host can only live for about a month. However, it could take up to 4 months depending on the severity of the problem and how tough you are tackling it.

If you still notice fleas after 30 days of treatment, immediately retreat your dog to stay on top of the infestation.

Now, to your battle stations! Let’s get rid of those fleas.

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Dog Fleas FAQ

Why are Fleas Constantly Bothering My Dog?

Fleas are easily picked up from an infested area, like from another animal or a certain environment. When your dog is exposed to fleas, the fleas very easily jump to your dog to sustain their lives. That’s why it’s important to treat not only your dog, but other pets and your dog’s environment, too.

What Kills Fleas on Dogs Instantly?

If your dog is uncomfortable and you want the fleas off him right away, look into washing him down with a flea shampoo. The chemicals found inside the shampoo will instantly kill fleas and eggs. Only do this if your dog’s skin can handle it, as some shampoos might be irritating to sensitive skin.

Definitely comb your dog’s hair with a flea comb, too. If you discover the comb has fleas or eggs on it, submerge it into hot, soapy water to instantly kill the fleas and eggs.

Does Vinegar Kill Fleas on Dogs?

In short, no, white vinegar and apple cider vinegar does not kill fleas on dogs. Putting it on topically or having your dog drink it will only slightly deter fleas at most, but will not kill them. It should not be your first choice when dealing with dog fleas.

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It could be pretty overwhelming to discover that your dog has fleas. Be prepared to spend a lot of time cleaning your dog and your house. Once you put in a lot of work at the beginning, though, it’s more likely that your flea infestation will disappear quickly. Good luck!

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Featured Image Credit: Peggy_Marco, Pixabay

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