Cat Fleas On Dogs? Get Rid Of Them Fast With These 3 Home Remedies

Understand cat fleas

Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are small, wingless, blood-sucking parasites that can be found on dogs, cats, and other animals. Though they are named “cat” fleas, they will readily infest dogs as well. Cat fleas are extremely adaptable parasites capable of completing their entire lifecycle on the host animal (

Cat fleas often jump from cats to dogs when both animals are in close contact. The fleas bite the dog’s skin to feed on its blood. This causes significant itchiness and discomfort. Excessive scratching can lead to skin wounds, infections, and hair loss ( Cat fleas can also transmit tapeworms and other internal parasites to dogs.

For these reasons, it is important to promptly treat and eliminate cat flea infestations on dogs. Left untreated, fleas can multiply rapidly, exacerbating the dog’s suffering and compromising its health.

Check your dog for fleas

The first step is to check your dog closely for any signs of a flea infestation. Fleas can be tricky to spot, so look for the following symptoms:

  • Excessive scratching, chewing and licking, especially around the tail, groin, or rear
  • Patchy hair loss from scratching
  • Scabs and hot spots on the skin
  • Red, irritated skin

You may also notice flea dirt, which looks like tiny black pepper-like specks. This is actually flea feces containing digested blood. To check for it, part your dog’s fur and brush it backwards. Flea dirt will stick to the fur rather than falling off. Place any specks you find on a wet paper towel. Flea dirt will turn reddish as the blood rehydrates.

Fleas are very small and can be hard to see, so the best way to check is by combing your dog thoroughly with a fine-toothed flea comb. Concentrate on the belly, groin, neck, and around the tail. A damp comb will collect more fleas. Drop any fleas you comb out into hot soapy water to kill them.

Checking your dog regularly can help you spot a new infestation right away before it gets out of control. Don’t forget to also check bedding, furniture, carpets, and your car for signs of fleas.

Treat your home and yard

Fleas thrive in carpets, bedding, and other areas inside the home, so thorough cleaning is essential. Start by vacuuming all floors, furniture, pet beds, and any other fabric surfaces. Use a vacuum with a hose attachment to reach into cracks and crevices and remove flea eggs and larvae. It’s best to vacuum daily until the infestation is under control. Wash all bedding, including your dog’s bed, in hot soapy water to kill flea eggs. Consider hiring a professional carpet cleaning service to steam clean all carpets, which will kill fleas at all stages of development.

You’ll also need to treat outdoor areas to prevent reinfestation. Use sprays or powders containing ingredients like permethrin, pyrethrins, or insect growth regulators (IGRs) in your yard. Focus on areas your dog frequents, like under porches and decks. Reapply yard treatments after heavy rains. For severe infestations, consider hiring a professional pest control company to treat your entire property.


Give your dog a flea bath

One of the quickest ways to kill live fleas on your dog is to give them a flea bath using a dog-safe flea shampoo. When bathing your dog to get rid of fleas, it’s important to use a flea shampoo made specifically for dogs and to work the shampoo thoroughly into their coat, skin, and fur to ensure it makes contact with all of the fleas [1].

To give your dog a flea bath:

  • Fill your bathtub or sink with lukewarm water.
  • Wet your dog’s coat thoroughly.
  • Lather dog-safe flea shampoo into your dog’s fur, massaging it down to the skin.
  • Let the shampoo sit for 5-10 minutes to kill fleas before rinsing.
  • Rinse all of the shampoo out of your dog’s coat.

When bathing your dog, be careful to avoid getting flea shampoo in their eyes, ears, or nose as it can be irritating. Use a washcloth to gently clean the face and rinse thoroughly after [2].

Apply a spot-on treatment

One of the most effective ways to get rid of fleas on dogs is to use a spot-on flea treatment. These products are applied directly to the dog’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades, and distribute insecticide across the body to kill fleas and prevent reinfestation.

Some popular spot-on flea treatments include:

  • Frontline Plus – Kills fleas and ticks for 30 days. Safe for dogs and puppies 8 weeks or older.
  • K9 Advantix II – Repels and kills ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes for a month. Not for dogs under 7 weeks old.
  • Advantage II – Kills fleas within 12 hours and protects for a month. Safe for dogs 7 weeks and older.

Always follow label instructions carefully when applying spot-on treatments. Part the dog’s fur at the base of the neck between the shoulder blades until you can see skin. Place the applicator tip on the bare skin and squeeze out the full dose. Do not get the product on your hands or allow dogs to lick the application site until it dries.

Use flea preventatives year-round if you live in a warm climate. In other areas, apply them at the start of flea season in early spring through late fall. Monitor your dog closely and reapply as directed on the product label, typically every 30 days.

Use a flea collar

Flea collars can be an effective way to kill and repel fleas on dogs. The collar is worn around the neck and contains insecticides that are slowly released onto the fur to kill fleas and ticks. Some pros of using a flea collar include:

  • Convenience – collars provide continuous protection and only need to be applied once every few months
  • Cost – collars tend to be inexpensive compared to monthly spot treatments or pills
  • Preventative – collars can repel fleas before they bite and prevent reinfestation

However, there are some downsides to flea collars as well:

  • Slow to work – collars can take up to 3 weeks to reach full effectiveness, so they may not be the best option for treating an existing infestation (Source)
  • Toxic chemicals – some collars use pesticides that could be toxic if chewed or ingested
  • Variable effectiveness – some studies show lower effectiveness compared to monthly spot-on treatments (Source)

If using a flea collar, it’s important to carefully follow label instructions. Check the collar frequently and replace as directed. Avoid getting collar wet. Consult your vet on the safest, most effective flea control methods for your dog.

Give flea medication

Oral and injectable flea medications prescribed by your veterinarian are effective options for getting rid of and preventing cat fleas. Some common flea medications include:

  • Nexgard – Chewable beef-flavored tablet that kills fleas and ticks for 1 month. Safe for dogs and puppies over 8 weeks and 4+ pounds.
  • Bravecto – Chewable tablet that provides 3 months of flea and tick protection. For dogs over 6 months and 4.4+ pounds.
  • Simparica Trio – Chewable tablet that protects against fleas, ticks and heartworms for 1 month. For dogs 6+ weeks and 2.8+ pounds.
  • Revolution Plus – Topical medication applied monthly that kills fleas and ticks. Also prevents heartworm disease. Safe for dogs and puppies 6+ weeks and 2.8+ pounds.

While oral and injectable flea medications are effective, be aware they can cause side effects in some dogs including vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and skin reactions. Work closely with your vet to find the right flea medication for your dog.

It’s important to never give your dog flea medication meant for cats, as this can be toxic. Only give flea and tick medication prescribed specifically for dogs. Follow all label instructions carefully.

Try natural remedies

There are some natural options you can try to repel and kill fleas on your dog:

  • Make a lemon spray by boiling lemon peels and water together. The citric acid helps repel fleas. Spray onto your dog’s coat and let sit for a few minutes before rinsing off.

  • Mix apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water in a spray bottle. Spray onto your dog’s coat and let dry. The acetic acid kills fleas.

  • Dust diatomaceous earth onto your dog’s coat. The sharp edges cut fleas’ exoskeletons. Leave on for several hours before brushing off.

  • Use an essential oil like eucalyptus, peppermint, or tea tree. Mix a few drops into water in a spray bottle. Spray onto your dog’s coat. Essential oils repel fleas.

While natural options are generally safe, they may not be as effective as medicated flea treatments. Results will vary depending on the product and your dog’s infestation level. You may need to use natural remedies regularly or combine them with other treatments.

Prevent reinfestation

Once you have gotten rid of the fleas on your dog, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent reinfestation. Fleas can survive without a host for many months, so they may still be present in your home and yard even after treatment. To prevent fleas from returning, follow these tips:

Treat all pets in the home. Even if you only see fleas on one pet, it’s likely they are on your other pets as well. Use flea prevention products on all dogs and cats in the household at the same time.

Follow up with additional treatments. Most flea medications take effect within 24 hours, but repeat applications are needed to kill newly hatched fleas. Continue treating your pet and home according to the product labels.

Maintain vigilant grooming and vacuuming. Comb your dog regularly with a flea comb to remove any live fleas. Vacuum carpets, furniture, and pet bedding frequently to pick up flea eggs and larva that may be present.

Wash all pet bedding in hot water. Flea eggs can accumulate in bedding and reinfest your pet. Frequently wash all blankets, pillows, and sleeping areas in hot, soapy water.

Treat your yard. Use sprays or granules designed for outdoor flea treatment. Focus on areas where pets spend time, like under decks, patios, and trees.

Limit contact with other animals. Avoid dog parks, pet sitting, or visits with friends’ pets until the flea infestation has been fully resolved.

With diligence about re-treatment and thorough cleaning, you can prevent fleas from returning and reinfesting your dog and home.

When to see the vet

In most cases, flea infestations can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications, baths, and thorough cleaning. However, there are some scenarios when it’s important to see a veterinarian:

If your dog is showing signs of severe flea allergy dermatitis, including excessive scratching, hot spots, hair loss, scabs, and red, irritated skin, a vet visit is recommended. The vet can provide medication to relieve itching and treat any secondary infections caused by scratching and biting at the skin.

If over-the-counter flea treatments do not seem effective at eliminating the infestation, see your vet. They can prescribe stronger flea prevention medications that are much more effective than products available without a prescription.

Veterinarians have access to fast-acting, long-lasting prescription flea and tick control products containing powerful active ingredients like fipronil, selamectin, and sarolaner. These can help get an infestation under control when OTC options fail.

Make an appointment with your vet if fleas persist after treating your pet and home. They can recommend the most effective prescription treatments and doses for your dog’s situation.

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