Fleas: Treatment Ideas, Part 1

dog and fleas iStock_000019001636SmallYour dog has fleas. What now? Well, if you are a first-time dog owner, or if you are thinking about switching your pet to a different treatment plan, all the options out there can get pretty overwhelming. Here are a few tips, guidelines, and things to consider as you find the best flea treatment for your pet.

Talk to your Veterinarian

Of all the advice out there, the best guidance you can get is personal advice specific to you, your pet, and your home environment. Besides you, your veterinarian is probably the next person who knows the most about your pet’s needs. Perhaps your dog is extra sensitive to flea bites or simply has sensitive skin, or maybe you have a variety of dogs at home and you need to find a good treatment plan for all of them. Along with these variables, your veterinarian can also take into account your dog’s age and history of dealing with previous flea problems. If you read up on the rest of the treatments in this article, you’ll be better prepared to discuss the best options with your veterinarian.

Flea Collars

Flea collars come in basically two varieties. One collar treats fleas by releasing a toxic gas. This kills fleas on your dog and acts as a repellent to new fleas. The drawback to this type of collar is the gas is localized around the head and is not as effective at repelling fleas on the rest of the dog. The other type of flea collar releases chemicals that are absorbed into the fat layer under your dog’s skin. These chemicals will poison any fleas that bite your dog. The treatment absorbs throughout the fat layer, creating full-body protection, however, the fleas must still bite your dog in order for the chemicals to take effect on them. Some collars, usually the more expensive ones, provide additional treatments for interrupting the flea development cycle, such as preventing an adult flea from laying eggs, or preventing eggs from hatching. Read the product labels carefully to find out exactly what type of treatment you are purchasing.


  • Flea collars can range in price anywhere from a very affordable 10 dollars up to 50 dollars and, depending on the type, can last from 1 to 8 months.
  • Some pet owners use flea collars as an extra protection for short-term excursions, especially if their dog will be playing in a new environment (tall grass at the park, a campground, etc.).
  • You can add a gas-emitting collar to your vacuum bag to kill captured fleas and prevent them from escaping back into your home.


  • Some pets may react negatively to the chemicals in flea collars. This reaction usually shows up as a rash and loss of hair around the collar area.
  • Some pet owners are uncomfortable with flea collars, especially if they have multiple dogs that like to roughhouse, or if they have children who like to pet and play with the dog. If there is a danger of another dog chewing, biting, or even swallowing the flea collar, this might not be your preferred treatment.
  • There is a variety of opinions on how effective flea collars actually are. Many would suggest that, on its own, a flea collar is not a sufficient treatment.

Flea Shampoos

What can a flea shampoo do for you and your dog? The best way to find out is to read the product label carefully. Some mild shampoos or homemade remedies may only trap the fleas in soap suds, leaving them for you to remove and kill. Other products may work as pesticides, killing adult fleas on contact. Finally, other products may have ingredients for attacking fleas in all their life stages, from egg on up. Know what treatment you are buying so you can be ready to treat the whole problem. The standard frequency for flea shampoo baths is two weeks, but of course this should be adjusted according to factors such as the severity of the flea infestation and the sensitivity of your dog’s skin.


  • Flea shampoos are intended to be applied and then rinsed off your dog so there is no long-term chemical contact with your pet’s skin.
  • Many flea shampoos also come with soothing ingredients to give your dog relief from existing flea bites.
  • The average bottle of flea shampoo costs around 10 dollars.


  • Baths with flea shampoo are not a stand-alone treatment. Since no residual chemicals remain on your dog, there is nothing to prevent more fleas from jumping right on.
  • A deep clean and shampoo can be a time-intensive process, especially if you have a large dog or multiple dogs that all require treatment.

Important Note:

There is a difference between baths with flea shampoo and flea dips. A flea dip involves a higher concentration of chemicals, which are not rinsed off your dog’s skin. Consult your veterinarian about whether a flea dip is right for your dog. They are typically used in cases of very bad flea infestations.

For information about more flea treatment ideas, read the next post, “Fleas: Treatment Ideas, Part 2.”



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