Even a small flea infestation is enough to sicken a puppy. Fleas feed off your puppy’s blood, and can cause itching, hair loss and even anemia. Routine brushing and bathing will help prevent a flea infestation before your puppy has to suffer.
Take a flea-infested puppy that has come into your care to your veterinarian. He will examine her for signs of flea-related illness, treat her with a puppy-safe flea treatment, and recommend followup treatment and preventive measures. The type of treatment will vary depending on the age of your little buddy. Some products are safe for puppies as young as 4 weeks of age, while others must be avoided. Commonly used flea preventives and treatments include topical chemical applications, chewable tablets, and spray-on treatments that kill both larvae and adult fleas.
Comb your puppy regularly with a flea comb. Fill a small bowl with water, and add a couple of drops of a mild dish soap. Dip the comb into the water, then run it through the puppy’s fur. Comb slowly to remove as many fleas as possible. Rinse the comb in the soapy water between passes to remove and kill the fleas.
Fill your kitchen sink with warm water. Add a little biodegradable, pet-friendly dish detergent to the water, and swirl it around with your hands. Place the puppy in the soapy water, and use a small cup to wet the puppy’s entire body. Squirt a little of the dish soap on the puppy, and rub it deep into her hair. Keep the soap on the puppy for 15 minutes to give it plenty of time to work. Dish soap will kill fleas, but is gentle enough for even young puppies. Puppies get cold easily, so turn up the heat to ward off the chills while the soap works its magic.
Rinse the puppy with clean, warm water from the faucet. Test the water on your arm to be sure it isn’t too hot, then ladle the water in small amounts all over the puppy’s body until all traces of soap are removed. Some puppies' hair can be difficult to rinse completely, so rub the hair between your fingers to check that no traces of soap remain. Towel the puppy dry with clean towels. Keep her in a warm room until she is totally dry.
Fit your freshly bathed puppy with a flea collar. Many types of flea collars are not safe to use on puppies less than 12 weeks old, so consult your veterinarian and read the instructions carefully before putting the collar on your dog. Tighten the collar until you can fit two fingers between the collar and the puppy's neck.
Wash the puppy’s bedding in hot water. Put her bedding in the washing machine, and crank the heat up to the highest setting. Add a pet-friendly laundry soap, and allow the machine to run a full wash cycle. Toss the bedding in the dryer, and dry on high.
Vacuum your house daily until you can find no trace of adult fleas or eggs. Grooming your puppy is fine, but she will immediately pick up more fleas if you turn her loose in a flea-infested house. If fleas are on a dog, many more fleas are in various stages of their life cycle off the dog, in the home and the general environment.
Spray your yard with an outdoor spray labeled for killing fleas. These sprays are specifically designed to target fleas and interrupt their life cycles, preventing re-infestation. Follow the instruction on the label carefully. Keep your pets out of the yard until the spray is completely dry.
- The easiest way to treat fleas is to prevent them. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on a preventative flea control program. He will suggest the proper type of treatment based on the age and weight of your puppy, and will advise you on how often to apply it for maximum flea-busting power.
- Don’t apply topical flea treatments to your puppy without veterinary guidance. Many products are not designed for use on small puppies. They may make your puppy ill. If you have a severe flea infestation, consult your veterinarian about products that are safe to use on your puppy and in your home.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.