Start your dog on a monthly flea-prevention protocol (if possible, before the fleas attack), using a product such as Program or Sentinel, Advantage, Advantix, or Frontline Plus. Prevention is the key to success.
If fleas have already become established, it is essential to kill them on the dog and prevent them from coming back. One way to do this is to shampoo or dip the dog to immediately eliminate the fleas. Thoroughly vacuum the environment and wash all dog bedding. Twenty-four to 48 hours later, apply Frontline or Advantage to kill new fleas hatching from eggs on the premises. Some veterinarians combine Frontline or Advantage with Program or Sentinel for more rapid results, and to minimize development of resistance. Because all of these products prevent fleas from reproducing, they eventually rid the environment of fleas.
For this approach to be successful, it is essential to treat all the dogs and cats in the family, as well as any ferrets or house rabbits. Note that many products that are safe for dogs are not safe for these other pets. Any product that contains permethrin, even if it is labeled as safe for cats, is potentially toxic.
The following protocol for eliminating fleas can be used only if your dog is not on a monthly flea-control program.
- All dogs,cats,ferrets,and rabbits must be treated.
- Dip all pets every other week using a solution containing chlorpyrifos or permethrin. It is important to be sure the product is labeled as safe for the pet in question. (If you are unable to treat every animal in the home, substitute sprays and foams at the maximum frequency allowed by the manufacturer.)
- Alternatively, use sprays or foams containing pyrethrins and/or permethrin every other week. Apply to the pet’s skin surface, not just the hair.
- For unaffected pets, a dip or a spray application (not both) twice a month is sufficient.
- Physically removing fleas using a flea comb (32 teeth per inch or per 2.5 cm) is effective on shorthaired pets. The pet must be combed at least every other day. Comb the face as well as the body. Kill fleas on the comb by immersing it in alcohol or liquid detergent.
- Flea collars should not be used as the sole source of flea control.