Flea Bites on Dogs: How to Prevent Them and How to Treat Them

a happy white french bulldog with a black muzzle

Every pet parent dreads it-- it starts with the constant scratching, then leads to the biting, which leads to the skin irritation-- it can only be flea bites. These tell-tales signs of fleas mean your dog is extremely uncomfortable, not to mention itchy.

No one wants to see their beloved pet deal with the itch of flea bites-- and as we’ll talk about in this article--  the best way to deal with them is through some common sense preventative measures. If your dog does get fleas, make sure you have some Fauna Care Silver Spray on hand to help soothe the irritated skin and coat-- and get them happy and healthy in no time!

We’re going to cover:

  • Common ways dogs get fleas
  • How to prevent flea bites
  • Best flea bite treatments
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A happy black and white dog looking directly at the camera
Help keep your dog safe and know where they’re most likely to encounter fleas. A little bit of prevention goes a long way!

How do dogs get fleas?

Fleas are tiny, flightless insects that travel from host to host seeking a way to nestle into fur-- or hair-- and feed on their blood. They reproduce rapidly, which is why once your pet has fleas, they can be extremely difficult to remove. It only takes brief contact with a material-- or other infected host-- to spread fleas. They are very small and hard to notice-- which is why a small flea problem can quickly turn into a large one in a matter of days.

Other animals

The most common way dogs will encounter fleas is from another animal. Dogs love to be around other dogs, but sometimes this is the easiest way to spread fleas. If there’s a strange dog you encounter on a walk that seems friendly enough, he/she could be carrying fleas that their own doesn’t even know about yet.

Contact with other dogs at a dog park is also another place that your dog could pick up fleas. Everyone likes to see their dogs run around and have a great time, but no one stops to think-- what if there are some untreated dogs playing with my dog? It’s the easiest way to bring them into your home.

Sometimes dogs encounter other outdoor animals-- such as squirrels, racoons, or rabbits-- especially if they stay outside for a large part of the day. These animals can also be carriers for  fleas. If you have a cat that goes in and out of the house, that can be another potential flea carrier. Fleas from a cat will definitely have no problem settling into the fur of your dog.

Boarding or doggy day care

When traveling out of town, sometimes you have to leave your dog at a kennel. While this can be a great place for your dog to spend time while you’re away-- they can also come home with fleas. Introducing your dog to a new environment-- and new dogs-- is a common way fleas find their way onto your dog.

Most boarding or doggy care facilities do require proof that a dog is flea-free before admitting them, but sometimes things can be overlooked. More often than not, dogs will share toys at these facilities which could lead to a spread of fleas. If there’s an unknown flea problem at the kennel or doggy day care, this could mean your dog could come home with fleas.

Warmer areas

Warmer weather can also increase the chance that your dog may get fleas. Fleas multiply more quickly when it’s warmer and can spend more time away from a host. This means that with a higher flea population, comes increased risk of exposure. This is also true if you’re planning to visit a warmer area. Be aware that the flea population could be a great deal higher wherever you plan to visit than it is at home.

Cute puppy
Keep your pup itch-free with a plan for prevention. If you eliminate any chance for fleas to find your dog, you won’t have to worry about painful itches!

How to prevent fleas

The best way to prevent fleas is to make sure you have a plan in place to keep them away from your pet. Once you know the most common ways they’re brought into your home, you can better prepare your dog. This way, you’re not dealing with the consequences of a flea infestation.

Start by making sure you keep up with washing your dog and any bedding that they use. Because dogs come into contact with lots of other dogs-- and sometimes other animals-- it’s easy to forget what they could bring home on their fur. Keeping your pet’s area clean is a good first step to preventing fleas in the first place.

Review the areas of your yard that your dog likes to visit. Since fleas like to reside in moist, warm areas, try to keep from accumulating debris like leaves and grass clippings-- that tend to hold moisture-- in your yard. Also, make sure not to encourage wild animals that carry fleas into your yard. This means, don’t feed them. All kinds of woodland animals can carry fleas, and it’s very easy for your dog to come in contact with them-- especially if they’re outside often.

Another great way to prevent fleas on your dog is with a preventative. There are a couple of ways that you can do this:

  1. Topicals

These are creams or lotions that you apply directly to your dog once a month. Extremely popular because of their convenience they are readily available and work consistently. These come in over the counter as well as prescriptions.

  1. Sprays

Another way to apply a flea preventative is with a spray. The entire coat of your dog will have to be soaked, however, and then allowed to dry.

  1. Oral

Tablets that can be consumed once per month are another effective way to keep fleas at bay. There are over the counter as well as prescription strength oral preventatives. It would be best to discuss with your vet which is appropriate-- depending on your dog’s needs.

  1. Collars

These are a good way to make sure your dog is protected each day. It does require a proper fit, and be aware that water exposure can make this less effective. These will also need to be changed monthly.

bottle of pills
If your dog does come in contact with fleas, make sure to eliminate it with medication. Also be sure to treat your house, both inside and out.

Flea treatment

If you dog has unfortunately already gotten fleas, not to worry, there are ways to get rid of them. Start with the fleas that are already on your dog-- give them a bath with a dog flea shampoo.

There are all kinds of these, and they are easily accessible from your local pet supply store. This will kill the adult fleas that were already on your pup. It’s best to follow this treatment up with a dose of either oral or topical flea medicine-- this will start to kill the flea larvae that are still in your dog’s fur. There are over the counter oral and topical medications, as well as ones that you can only get with a prescription from your vet. WIth a variety of products on the market that target adults, larvae, or eggs--  it is best to discuss the options with your vet.

Once you’ve treated your dog, it’s time to treat the environment he/she lives in-- there are most certainly still fleas hiding around your home. Wash all bedding and toys in hot soapy water. Be sure to vacuum all areas of your house, and wash other items-- such as pillows-- that your dog may have come in contact with. It might be helpful to give the carpeted areas of your house a shampoo as well. Make sure the shampoo contains a chemical that will kill all remaining fleas.

If your flea infestation was especially bad, it may be necessary to fog the house for any fleas-- both adults and larvae-- that could possibly still be alive. This is going above and beyond but is probably a good option if you want to be sure your dog won’t get reinfected.

Now make sure the areas around the outside of your house-- which your dog will continue to frequent-- are also cleared of fleas. There are sprays and insecticides that will wipe out any areas that happen to have a population of fleas. This is necessary if your pet spends a lot of time outdoors in the yard. Make sure to keep the areas of the yard that they frequent clear of anything that fleas like to hide in, such as wet leaves, grass, or other debris.

Going forward, make sure that you have a monthly flea prevention plan for your dog. Prevention is the best way to keep fleas off your dog and out of the house. In the meantime, if your pup has a bad case of dermatitis brought on from flea bites, be sure to apply Fauna Care Silver Spray and take away some of the itch.

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