No matter how clean he is, your puppy can pick up fleas. Untreated, they can cause anemia, tapeworms and flea allergies. You must remove them from the environment and the puppy, because while adult fleas feed on pets, their eggs, larvae and immature fleas live in carpets, bedding and yards.
Spot treatments are easy to use and are typically very successful in controlling fleas on dogs. You simply apply a dose between the pup’s shoulder blades, and it begins killing fleas on him within 12 hours. Read the label carefully before you buy any of these products, as some of them can’t be used on very young puppies. Some are labeled for puppies as young as 7 weeks old. Check with your vet if you aren’t sure what to get.
Various tablets, pills and natural supplements promise to keep fleas off your puppy. These may be stand-alone products or combined with other medication, such as heartworm preventative, to provide more complete parasite control. Your vet has to prescribe some of these. Adding some brewer’s yeast to your puppy’s diet can help to repel fleas, but won’t kill them. Some advocates of natural preventatives recommend garlic, but the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warns against adding concentrated amounts of garlic to a dog's diet.
Many flea treatments aren’t safe for young puppies, and you may be reluctant to use these poisons even if your pup is old enough. Flea combs have closely spaced teeth and will pull many of the varmints out of your dog’s coat, though it won’t get them all. The ASPCA recommends daily combing of your dog with a flea comb to remove as many of the pests as possible. Drop the fleas into a cup of soapy water to drown them as you find them.
Your puppy will keep getting fleas as long as he’s exposed to them, so you must get them out of your house and yard. Thorough vacuuming will remove many fleas, larvae and eggs from your home. Be sure to wash the puppy’s bedding at least weekly. Spraying your home with an insect growth regulator such as methoprene effectively disrupts the flea life cycle. If you prefer, shake food-grade diatomaceous earth into the carpet, leave it for a few hours, and then vacuum it up. The University of Florida says diatomaceous earth works only against flea larvae, however. It is also harmful to lungs, because it is physically and chemically the same as ground glass. Always wear a dust mask and goggles when applying diatomaceous earth. You can use these same controls in your yard to kill any fleas lurking in the grass, but diatomaceous earth won’t work in a humid climate or if the yard is wet.
Bathing helps to control fleas on a puppy of any age. Lather your puppy up well, and then let the shampoo sit on him for about 10 minutes. The fleas will suffocate under the soapsuds and come off when you rinse away the soap. The down side to relying on bathing as the main form of control is that frequent bathing is not good for your puppy’s skin, and any fleas in the environment will hop right back aboard.
- ASPCA: Fleas
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: Ridding Your Home of Fleas
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: Pet-Centered Flea Prevention and Control
- EarthEasy: Natural Flea Control
- Partnership for Animal Welfare: Dog Tip -- Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes - Prevention and Treatment
- Clark County Washington Environmental Services: Alternatives to Pesticides – Bugs/Pests – Fleas
- Maine Agriculture: Least-toxic Control of Fleas
- Maine Agriculture: Fleas
- ASPCA: Is Garlic Toxic to Pets?
- puppy image by DuÅ¡an Zidar from Fotolia.com