How to Get Rid of Fleas

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You have a number of options on how to get rid of fleas.

Fleas are tiny wingless insects, brownish red in color, and have sharp mouths they use to obtain blood from their canine hosts. Flea bites usually cause your dog to scratch affected areas. Some dogs are more sensitive than others and can have allergic reactions to flea bites.

In general, fleas do not transmit diseases from dogs to humans, but the potential does exist. Fleas and flea larvae live year-round in warm climates and until the ground freezes in cooler climates (though fleas can live on in your home well past this time).

If you suspect that your dog has fleas, take him to your veterinarian. A veterinary staff member will first use a flea comb on your dog. Flea combs are wide-tooth combs used to look for “flea dirt” or dried blood flea excrement. If this is found, your veterinarian will recommend how to get rid of fleas. Most veterinarians recommend preventive treatment as it is much easier to prevent fleas than to treat them.

If you want to know how to get rid of fleas without commercial products, here are a few recommendations. One way is to comb your dog with a flea comb regularly. You can put some petroleum jelly on the comb to help fleas stick to the comb or use rubbing alcohol to slow down the fleas so they are easier to catch.

A natural approach to treating fleas is to add Garlic and Brewers Yeast supplements to your dog’s food.

Over-the-counter flea treatments are available at your local pet store. However, many of these treatments contain pyrethrins, which are natural insecticides derived from the chrysanthemum plant. In the past, this kind of flea treatment was the only one available to veterinarians.

If you use a product containing pyrethrins, be aware of the potential side effects. Pyrethrins can be toxic, not only to your dog, but also to other animals in the house and to humans. Make sure you follow the label usage directions, and if you have any questions about using these products, consult your veterinarian.

Today, much safer products are available.

One of the most popular treatments for fleas is Frontline Plus by Merial. It is topically applied to the skin on the back of the dog’s neck. According toMerial, Frontline Plus kills 98-100% of adult fleas within 24 hours and will also kill eggs and larvae to prevent fleas from recurring. Frontline Plus is waterproof for up to 30 days and is safe to use on puppies as young as 8 weeks of age.

Other flea control products available are Program and CAPSTAR. Program is a flavored tablet that is given monthly, and while it does not kill adult fleas, it does interrupt the flea life cycle by preventing the development of flea eggs. Program is safe to use with dogs and puppies four weeks of age and older.

CAPSTAR is a pill that is given to kill adult fleas. It can be given as often as once per day. According to Novartis, Capstar will begin killing adult fleas within 30 minutes, and one pill should kill all adult fleas. Capstar is safe for dogs and puppies four weeks of age and older.

Remember that it is much easier to prevent fleas than to get rid of them. As with all medications, follow the advice of your veterinarian.


Updated: November 10, 2012 — 1:29 am

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