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How often should I flea my dog?

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Contrary to popular pet owner belief, fleas aren’t seasonal – actually, they’re a year-round risk. Treating your dog or cat for fleas should be a regular entry on the kitchen calendar. A common question vets get asked is ‘how often should I flea my dog?’ – this very much depends on the product you choose to use.

There are all sorts of flea treatments out there, so it can be hard to know which is most suitable for your perfect pooch. Flea collars, spot-ons, sprays or tablets? They all work differently and for varying periods.

How frequently you apply effective flea treatment will depend on the product you choose to use. Here’s a handy overview to help you easily pick the most convenient flea treatment for you and your dog’s lifestyle.

The garden is one of the most common flea hotspots
Flea shampoos and sprays

If you’ve spotted a flea on your dog, a bath with an effective flea shampoo is often the first step you may take to kill fleas that are feeding on your best friend. Scrubbing those fleas out of your dog’s fur is a great way to take immediate action and ease your pet’s discomfort from itchy bites and any flea allergies they may be suffering with.

Flea shampoos can be labour-intensive and it’s important to note that you can’t rely on flea shampoo alone to rid your pet of fleas because these products often don’t provide residual activity. This means that the shampoo only works to kill fleas while it is being shampooed into your dog’s fur – it won’t provide any lasting protection. Once your dog has dried off, any fleas in the environment may simply hop on board.

Treating your pet with a longer-term product in addition to shampooing, will interrupt the flea life cycle, offering greater protection. 

Flea sprays can be used directly on your dog but only if they’re designed for animals. Never use a household flea spray on your pet. Pet flea sprays can kill fleas, but may need to be re-applied from as often as every few days, up to every few weeks.

Dog being treated with flea shampoo
Flea tablets

Flea tablets work in your dog’s bloodstream, which means fleas have to bite before they are exposed to the active ingredient to kill them. The frequency with which you need to give them to your pet will depend on the product.

If you find it difficult to give tablets to your dog, it may be easier to try a different method of protection.

Although tablets are effective at killing fleas, your pet may still be at risk of catching a disease from an infected flea because they can transfer infection when they bite. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva, so flea bites trigger an itchy skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis, which can lead to hair loss and make your pet miserable. 

Fleas also carry the tapeworm parasite which can be passed onto dogs and cats when they’re ingested, such as through grooming. Tapeworms are debilitating and can lead to nutritional deficiency and weight loss. That’s why it’s so important for pet owners to regularly use both flea and worming treatments.

dog being treated with flea tablet
Flea spot-on treatments

Topical spot-on flea treatments are simply applied to the back of your pet’s neck, preventing your pet from picking up fleas for up to a month at a time.

Spot-ons work by transporting the active ingredient across your dog’s body on the skin and hair, and some spot-on products kill fleas through contact. This means your pet doesn’t need to be bitten for the treatment to work, helping to reduce potential risks of disease infection.

Dog being treated with flea spot-on treatment
Flea collars

You can find all sorts of flea collars on the market, which vary in terms of the level of cover they provide.

Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar works for up to eight months, offering the longest protection from fleas and ticks available for dogs and cats.

The collar starts working straight away. Just like a monthly spot-on treatment, it releases low doses of the active ingredients throughout your pet’s skin and hair so fleas and ticks are killed through contact and you don’t have to replace the collar for eight months at a time.

Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar is easy to use, water-resistant and doesn’t leave any greasy residue on your pet, so you can be confident that they’re protected from creepy crawlies whatever adventures they get up to.

Dog wearing a flea collar – a convenient solution to de-flea dogs less often, protecting them for up to 8 months.
Preventing fleas in your house

When you use an effective flea treatment on all your household pets, you’re protecting both your beloved bundles of fluff and your home from an infestation.

There are some key things you can do to avoid suffering from a flea infestation at home:

  • De-flea all household pets regularly – fleas will jump onto all animals in the home, so treat all pets (cats, dogs and rabbits) for fleas regularly to ensure they’re covered at all times.
  • Regularly wash pet bedding – thoroughly clean pet bedding on a hot wash (60 degrees Celsius ) to kill fleas and any eggs.
  • Treat your home with a household spray – even when you’ve treated your animals, fleas are adept at hitchhiking into the home in search of the next blood meal. Spray your home with a household spray regularly to kill any fleas that may have made their way into your carpets and on your curtains.

If you do spot a flea on your dog or any other household pets that haven’t been treated, you’ll need to act quickly to defend your home. Female fleas can lay 40 eggs every day, so the number of fleas in your home and on your pet can multiply rapidly.

a dog owner’s home being treated for fleas by using a flea spray
How often should I treat my puppy for fleas?

Before the age of eight weeks, puppies often stay inside and their exposure to fleas is minimal. At this time, it’s important to ensure that all other pets which come into contact with your puppy are treated against fleas.

When your puppy starts venturing outside, they need to be given a flea preventative. All flea products state a minimum age of use and your vet can assist if you are unsure of which treatment to use. 

Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar is suitable for puppies to wear from the age of seven weeks.

Find out more on how to deal with fleas on your puppy.

Do I also need to flea my dog during winter months?

It’s a common pet owner misconception that fleas are only a summer problem. Although adult fleas prefer warmer environments, they still exist during the winter months, so you should treat your dog for fleas year-round – not just in the warmer months. 

In fact, flea eggs, larvae and pupae can be found in the home anytime and in the pupal stage can lay dormant for several months, so you may not realise you have any fleas in your home until you turn on your central heating and they begin to hatch. If they are then able to feed on your dog because they’re not protected, you may suddenly find you have an infestation in your home.

dog resting on the couch during winter and at risk of picking up fleas
When should I treat my dog before they stay at a kennel?

All good kennels will require you to treat your dog for fleas before they board.

Your flea treatment schedule will depend on which product you are using. For example, if you’re using a monthly spot-on, you will need to ensure this is given at the correct time each month and inform the kennel when it needs to be re-applied while you are away.

In the case of Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar, your dog is protected for up to eight months. Make a note of when you need to replace the collar so you can check you have enough protection left to cover your holiday period, or if it’s coming to the end of its eight-month protection period, replace it with a fresh collar before you leave for your trip and you can fully relax. 

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