Puppy Fleas

What You Need to Know About Puppy Fleas

Unfortunately puppy fleas are more common that most pet owners want to believe.  Puppies most often get fleas from their mother, other pets in the house, or from a flea infested home.  Breeders and pet owners with several animals are more likely to have puppies become flea infested.

Fleas will not only cause your puppy to itch and be miserable, but they can also kill a puppy by causing anemia.  If you suspect that your puppy has fleas, inspect your puppy’s gums.  If the gums are white or pale and not pink, take your puppy to the veterinarian to check for anemia.  Puppies do not have a large blood supply and anemia can cause your puppy to become very ill or even die.

Puppies under six weeks old cannot tolerate chemical flea treatments and those types of treatments on young puppies may cause permanent damage to the puppy’s nervous system.  This is why puppy fleas are so hard to get rid of.  Puppy fleas need to be eradicated in more healthful ways.

The safest treatment of puppy fleas is to give the puppy a bath.  The water needs to be luke-warm, just as a baby’s bath water is.  Use a mild dish detergent, such as Dawn, on your puppy.  Be sure to lather every part of your puppy’s body, being careful around the eyes and ears.  Fleas will move to higher and dryer ground, so be sure to wash the neck and head too.  Towel dry your puppy after rinsing the soap out, and don’t let your puppy get too cold. 

This bath will likely not kill all of the fleas, so further steps are needed.  Before your puppy is completely dry, use a flea comb to catch any remaining fleas.  When you comb up a flea, put it in warm soapy water to kill it.  Some people suggest having boiling water nearby to put the fleas in, but that may not be safe with a playful or scared puppy nearby.  Putting Vaseline on the flea comb will help the comb glide through longer fur and will also more effectively trap the fleas.

After your puppy is eight weeks old, it is generally safe to use chemical flea repellents, however check with your veterinarian first.  Most veterinarians will encourage use of products that are applied to the skin, such as Advantage, Front Line, or Revolution, rather than flea collars.  Flea collars tend to be less effective and can cause irritation to your animal’s skin.  Because flea collars contain insecticides, children playing with pets that wear flea collars may be exposed to dangerous and unnecessary chemicals.

Now that you are reasonably sure that your puppy is free of fleas, it’s time to treat the source.  Many times the source of puppy fleas is the mother.  If your puppy is still nursing, check with your veterinarian for an appropriate flea treatment for the mother.  Fleas may also be on other pets in your house and they will need treatment as well.

Fleas can also infest your house.  Fleas can live on pet bedding, in your carpet, and on your furniture.  Be sure to vacuum carpets, rugs, and furniture thoroughly.  You may even need to use an insecticide.  If this is the case, be sure to follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions.

Now that your puppy fleas are eradicated, and you’ve also treated the potential sources of the flea infestation, you need to remain vigilant.  Continue to comb your puppy daily.  Check your puppy’s bedding and all other pets in the house daily.  Be watchful for new itching or irritation and visually inspect your pet.  Fleas are only 1/16 inches long, but they can be seen by the human eye.