Your beloved dog is miserable and itchy so like a good human, you’re on a quest to find the best flea treatment for dogs. Kudos to you!
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to kill fleas on dogs. The bad news? Even after you kill the fleas currently living on your dog, they can come right back unless you take other measures. Which is why getting rid of fleas on dogs requires a multi-pronged approach.
So it’s a lucky thing that when it comes to flea control for dogs, there are a lot of options. There’s sprays, collars, powders, shampoos and so on and so on.
But what’s the best flea treatment for dogs on the market?
What is the Best Flea Treatment for Dogs?
Well, there is no one answer. Each dog flea treatment has its own pros and cons which is why many of them work better together. For example, some flea treatments only kill adult fleas so you’ll want to combine it with another treatment to kill flea eggs and larvae as well.
To help you decide the best flea treatment methods for your dog, here’s a handy list of your best options, what you can expect from them and how they stack up!
FLEA SHAMPOO FOR DOGS
A quick lather and rinse may not be your idea of an effective flea treatment, but the truth is that flea shampoos are a simple, effective way to quickly get rid of fleas on your dog. You can think of it as the first line of defense to reach for since it’ll kill off a good chunk of the flea infestation and give your dog some immediate relief.
- Works fast and provides immediate relief
- Very affordable, usually
- Easy to use
- Can kill fleas in all life stages
- Doesn’t kill 100% of flea infestation
You want to choose wisely since you don’t want to irritate your dog’s already bitten, itchy and irritated skin – look for a flea shampoo that has a combination of insecticides that’ll kill flea eggs as well as adult fleas and soothing ingredients like oatmeal and aloe vera. What’s the best flea shampoo for dogs?
The only thing is – most flea shampoos won’t completely kill all the fleas living on your dog. At most, expect even the best flea shampoo to wipe out around 90% of the flea population on your dog the first time around. To quickly get rid of a flea infestation, it’s best to combine it with other treatments.
Tip: When you flea shampoo your dog, the fleas will try to flee up to your dog’s face. To prevent this, first wet and lather all the way around your dog’s neck to create a sort of flea roadblock and then lather up the rest of your dog’s body.
FLEA COMBS FOR DOGS
Using a flea comb to remove fleas from dogs has the perk of being all natural but it comes with the downside of being time consuming – the process itself can take awhile and you’ll want to do it everyday until the infestation is gone.
- 100% natural and non-toxic
- Very affordable
- Time consuming and labor intensive, requires consistency
- Removes – not kills – fleas and flea eggs
- Usually not enough by itself, best used alongside other flea treatments
If you go this route, you’ll most likely want to do it outside (or in the bath) as it can dislodge dead fleas, flea eggs and other nasties you don’t want in your home. To prepare, you’ll want to fill a bucket with hot and soapy water – make sure that it’s deep enough so a flea cannot jump out of it.
Thoroughly comb your dog’s fur and remove any fleas into the hot, soapy water. When you’re finished, dump the flea-infested water down the drain or if you combed outside, hose down the area you dumped the water to make sure no fleas escape alive.
Go through with a flea comb and remove any fleas or flea feces you come across. Kill any flea that you find immediately.
ORAL FLEA MEDS FOR DOGS
Oral flea medication is one of the fastest ways to get rid of fleas on dogs. The thought of feeding your dog a form of insecticide may freak you out, but the truth is that it’s the fastest way to wipe out a flea infestation that’s driving your dog crazy.
As long as your dog is over 4 weeks old and weighs more than 2 pounds – you can feed him a tablet for quick relief.
- Easy to use, works fast (around 4 hours) and provides immediate relief
- Can’t be licked off by your dog like topical applications
- Lets you effectively kill off fleas that combs and shampoos can miss
- Only kills adult fleas, not flea eggs or larvae
- It is a one-time treatment that does not prevent new fleas
Capstar’s flea control tablets start working almost instantly and will kill almost all adult fleas living on your dog within 4 hours, letting you accomplish in 24 hours something that normally takes a week or two to achieve.
So what’s the catch? For starters, Capstar only kills adult fleas, which means flea eggs and larvae are still left to hatch and wreak havoc in the future. On top of that, Capstar only kills the fleas for a day. To repeat: it’s a fast flea kill pill that will get rid of fleas on dogs fast but it will not prevent fleas from coming back.
So use it to quickly wipe out the fleas that are currently torturing your dog but make sure to combine it with other flea treatments that may not be as instantaneous but last longer.
Note: Fleas go berserk when they’re dying off, getting more vicious in their final moments so you’ll want to make sure your dog is confined in a safe space before administering treatment where they can’t harm themselves in their moment of agony.
SPOT-ON FLEA TREATMENT FOR DOGS
Spot-on flea treatment are liquid flea meds that you apply directly onto your dog, usually between your dog’s shoulders. They aren’t as fast-acting as oral meds like Capstar but they are effective and work pretty quickly, killing nearly all fleas within 18 hours of applications.
- Kills 100% of fleas
- Kills fleas in all life stages
- Is preventative and each application keeps fleas off for 30 days
- Doesn’t work immediately
- Is pricey
- Topical treatment that can get on your skin
More good news? Spot-on treatments like Frontline Plus doesn’t just kill adult fleas, but it also wipes out flea eggs and larvae, offering a more complete solution. It’s also waterproof and lasts for 30 days so it’s an effective monthly treatment to keep your dog free of fleas for good.
FLEA COLLARS FOR DOGS
Spot-on flea drops for dogs are long-lasting and highly effective but they can add up pretty quickly, especially since you’re re-applying every 30 days. Flea collars, on the other hand offer an easy, affordable solution that can provide up to 8 months of flea-killing protection.
- Provide long-lasting protection – one flea collar can last up to 8 months
- Extremely convenient to use
- Effective and affordable
- Doesn’t kill pre-adult fleas
- Can cause irritation and adverse reactions
- Doesn’t work immediately
The most effective flea collars for dogs contain insecticide but instead of floating around your dog’s neck area (like the older, gas-release models), the pesticide gets gradually absorbed into your dog’s skin, making them essentially flea-proof.
The biggest perks are effectiveness and convenience: You simply strap it on man’s best friend and you’re ready to roam anywhere and everywhere, from the paved neighborhood streets to the wilderness.
The downsides? Flea collars don’t kill pre-adult fleas, only the adults and as with anything with pesticides, can cause irritation and adverse reactions.
FLEA POWDER FOR DOGS (WITH PESTICIDES)
Do you like the long-lasting, flea-killing effects of spot-on treatments but don’t want to fork over $10 to $50 per monthly dose? Flea powder for dogs might be perfect for you.
Flea powders for dogs are on the cheaper side of flea control since a bottle usually costs just a few bucks and will last you awhile.
- Effective for killing fleas
- Cheaper than spot-on options
- Can use on pets and around the house, i.e. on carpets
- Dogs can get sick if they lick the powder off their fur
- Only kills adult fleas, not flea eggs or larvae
- Powder can irritate pets with allergies
Application is also easy and since these powders contain insecticides, they are effective at killing fleas. The downsides? Most flea powders only kill adult fleas and lack the Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) that targets pre-adult fleas as well.
Also, since it’s in powder form, it can irritate pets with breathing allergies as well as dry out your dog’s skin. The biggest concern, though, is the fact that it is topical and can be licked off and ingested by your dog.
NATURAL FLEA POWDERS & SPRAYS FOR DOGS
If you’re feeling put off by all the chemical options and want a natural flea remedy for dogs, natural flea powders and sprays can be a good option…as long as you’re patient and don’t mind putting in a little consistent work.
SKIN PARASITE DUST
HERBAL FLEA POWDER
These natural flea powders usually combine natural flea killers like diatomaceous earth, which dehydrates fleas to death, with essential oils like peppermint and clove to kill and repel fleas.
- Totally natural and non-toxic for you and your dog
- Can use on pets and in the home
- Not very effective against killing flea infestations
- Does not kill fleas in all life stages
- Requires consistent reapplication
- Takes awhile to work
The obvious perk of natural flea powders and sprays is that they’re totally natural so you don’t have to worry about potentially harming your dog. The downside? Powders fall off more easily so constant reapplication is needed. Sprays also lose potency over time so consistent application is necessary.
Plus, diatomaceous earth is very effective for killing fleas but they do have to make direct contact with the substance and even then, it takes awhile for death by dehydration to happen. As for essential oils, they may be effective for repelling fleas but they won’t necessarily wipe out a flea infestation.
As such, natural powders and sprays for dogs may be non-toxic but they are in no way a quick and easy solution.
FLEA DIP FOR DOGS
Flea dips are pretty controversial and not typically used anymore because of health concerns. Which makes sense since it’s a concentrated chemical that you dilute in water and then apply to your dog’s fur.
It’s not like a shampoo bath that you rinse off your dog – it’s a concentrated, potent chemical product that you apply on your dog and let sit.
- Fast acting, can knock out a flea infestation quickly
- Long-lasting, one treatment can last up to 30 days
- Concentrated form of potent pesticides, can be too strong for your pet and you
- Only kills adult fleas, not flea eggs or larvae
This comes with obvious downsides, such as coating your dog in flea dip makes it easy for him to lick it which can cause him to get sick and even lead to toxic reactions. Overall, flea dip is an affordable, effective way to kill fleas but there are now safer, better options. If you must go this route, we recommend only using it for severe infestations and very infrequently.
What’s the Best Flea Prevention for Dogs?
Picked the best flea treatment for your dog? Great – but just because your dog is finally free of fleas, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear just yet. The next step is preventing fleas from ever happening again.
You know that saying – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? It was probably spoken by someone who’d experienced the trauma and trouble of a flea infestation.
Because the truth is that dog fleas are so much easier to prevent than to eliminate once you have them so it is really wise to not stop once your dog seems to be free of fleas.
It’s simply not enough to kill the fleas currently living on your dog – you want to take preventative measures to ensure new fleas never venture near your beloved canine ever again.
Here are your best bets when it comes to the best flea prevention treatment for dogs.
Spot-on flea treatment for dogs
As mentioned above, spot-on treatments like Frontline Plus doesn’t just kill adult fleas, but it also wipes out flea eggs and larvae, offering a more complete solution.
It’s also waterproof and lasts for 30 days so it’s an effective monthly treatment to keep your dog free of fleas for good.
Natural flea powder for dogs
Flea powder for dogs has the perk of being all-natural but it comes with a few downsides. For starters, powders falls off easily so constant reapplication is necessary, which means you’ll have to be willing to consistently do this a few times a day.
Another downside is that these flea powders won’t necessarily prevent your dogs from picking up fleas. They typically use a combination of essential oils that act as natural flea repellents but may not be strong enough to ward off fleas and ticks altogether.
The repellent oils are combined with a natural flea killer like diatomaceous earth, which dehydrates fleas to death but takes awhile to do so.
So there is a chance of your dog getting fleas again and suffering the consequences until the powder kicks in to do its job. Which brings us to the last downside – the diatomaceous earth does not kill fleas in the egg or larvae stage so will only kill those fleas once they’ve hatched. This leaves more time for the infestation to spread in your home.
Flea repellent spray for dogs
Flea repellent sprays vary in effectiveness. For starters, most of them use an essential oils blend to naturally repel fleas and ticks, which may work great for one dog but not so well for another. There’s also very constant and very thorough application needed.
Most flea spray recommend you spray your dog every 2 to 3 days but you’ll also want to thoroughly cover him before you go on walks – and by thoroughly, we mean everywhere fleas can reach him.
Overall, the best natural flea repellent sprays can be quite effective for warding off some fleas and ticks your dog may be exposed to but it’s definitely not a foolproof solution and does require constant application and vigilance.
And of course, the best flea prevention for your dog doesn’t actually involve your dog at all. It requires getting rid of fleas in the places that your dog spends most of his time, thus avoiding re-infestation.
Get rid of fleas in the house
Once fleas are on your dog, they don’t just bite – they lay flea eggs, which roll off your dog onto your furniture, carpets, your bed, etc. So if your dog has fleas, there’s a good chance that your house does too. So getting rid of fleas on your dog is only the first step. As long as there are fleas roaming around your house, they’ll latch themselves right back on your dog…or you and your family.
Which is why it’s crucial that you not only get rid of fleas on your dog, but also get rid of fleas in the house. Here are the most helpful guides to help you do just that.
Get rid of fleas in the yard
Much like your house, if your dog spends time in the backyard, it’s only a matter of time before the flea infestation in your yard latches itself onto your dog and back into your house again.
This is why we’re constantly hammering on the point that when it comes to fleas – you absolutely need to take a holistic approach and get rid of fleas everywhere, including your yard.