Your German shepherd's handsomely rugged double-coat also hides fleas well. Killing these painful little pests necessitates a comprehensive plan of action, not just a flea collar or powder. The solution requires treatment and prevention that penetrates not only your German shepherd's coarse outer coat, but also the softer undercoat that sits against his skin.
Bathe your German shepherd using a dog shampoo that contains pyrethrum. Unlike traditional insecticides, which can cause vomiting and dizziness, pyrethrum has few side effects and is safe for dog's older than 6 months of age. When bathing your pooch, always lather his neck before wetting any other part of his body. Fleas will head for "high-ground" at the first sign of moisture by running up your dog's neck. Keeping his neck wet and lathered will trap the fleas so they can't cluster on his head.
Scrub the rest of your shepherd's body, including his snout and chest, vigorously using an old loofa. Cover his eyes with a dry washcloth while washing his face so the chemicals in the shampoo won't sting his eyes. Scrubbing with a loofa will ensure the shampoo and water penetrate through your pooch's thick double-coat to reach the fleas on his skin.
Continue scrubbing for three to five minutes and allow the shampoo to sit in a lather for another five minutes. Don't forget to scrub tail, genital area, belly and behind his ears. These often-ignored areas are where fleas tend to cluster. Discard the loofa when you're finished.
Rinse your German shepherd thoroughly using a spray brush or hose. Tousle his coat with your fingers as you rinse so the water penetrates his double-coat. If your dog is cooperative, and you have a deep bathtub, you can fill the tub up to his back with clean water. You'll still need to rinse his face and back, but filling the tub helps the water reach the less accessible areas, such as his belly and genitals.
Remove your dog from the bath and dry him off with a clean towel. Use a hairdryer if the weather is cold. Only walk him in areas you know are flea-free for two days after his bath. The shampoo kills adult fleas, but doesn't prevent new fleas from hopping on your dog's back.
Apply a topical preventative, such as Frontline Plus or K-9 Advantix, to the back of your dog's neck two days following his bath. Topical preventatives won't work on wet or damp skin, so it's important to wait until then to apply the treatment. Spread his fur when applying the product so the medicine goes directly on his skin. Always read the product directions before applying the treatment. Continue reapplying the topical treatment every three to four weeks to repel fleas and kill their offspring.
- Speak with your veterinarian about alternative flea-killing solutions if your German shepherd gets fleas regularly, despite preventative treatments.
- Keep on top of your dog's preventative treatment. It's less expensive and time-consuming than killing the fleas when they appear.
- Always read the preventative product description and warning before using a flea treatment on your German shepherd. Some products are poisonous to cats and other small animals, while others aren't safe for dog's under a certain age.
Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.