My Dog Has Fleas! What Do I Do?

Often pet parents ask me in a moment of exasperation: What can I do to stop the itching and get rid of these fleas for good?!

There are a whole host of options here. Most, in my experience, don’t work. All shampoos do nothing for the fleas that aren’t currently on your pet. Most natural solutions are easily overcome by pests. Fleas have developed a natural resistance to most over the counter medications. Pesticides can be harmful if not carefully dosed. Bug bombs do not kill the eggs. The best solutions are at your veterinarian’s office.

The reason why fleas are so difficult to control is that the fleas that are on your pet are only 5% of the flea biomass. The other 95% are either fleas not currently on your pet, flea larva, or flea eggs. Anything that just treats the fleas currently on your pet is going to leave them very uncomfortable in a few hours when they are right back where the fleas were. Anything that treats the adult fleas is only going give a short break to your pet. In addition, the entire life cycle of a flea lasts 3 months, so any control method you choose to use needs to go on for at least three months unless you just want to be right back to square one.

With all of these potential issues when treating fleas, there is a strategy. The strategy with flea treatment is to first treat the discomfort and possible allergies your pet is experiencing and then control the flea infestation. I recommend year round flea control because it doesn’t get cold enough in Texas to reduce flea populations drastically. I have found a lot of products over the years that worked for a short time period and then we would have to move on to the next flea treatment because fleas would gain resistance to whatever we were using. Treatments have come a long way since I started practicing though. We have reached the point where we can give your dog a pill and they is protected for three months. We can give a cat a small amount of product on their back and control flea problems. We have great solutions available to us now. Reach out to your veterinarian for the best available treatments. But some flea products are dangerous. Always ask your veterinarian before providing a flea product to your pet, even if the product claims it is safe.