Fleas: Advice And Treatment For Dogs

Regular flea prevention is an essential part of any dog’s care routine. Find out how to protect your dog and keep your home flea-free.

Fleas on dogs

Fleas are small parasites that live on your dog’s body and feed on their blood. Unfortunately, most dogs will get fleas at some point in their lifetime and, despite its name, the most common flea found on dogs is the cat flea.

Fleas have an incredible jumping ability; – they can leap up to eight inches high and 13 inches across. This means they’re able to jump from other animals and the natural environment, spreading to your dog, other pets and family members.

Flea eggs can also survive for long periods of time in soft furnishings and carpets, making it difficult to fully eradicate them from the household. That’s why preventing flea infestation in the first place is far better than trying to cure it.

Symptoms of fleas on dogs

Fleas can cause:

  • Anaemia
  • Tapeworm infestation
  • Allergic reactions
  • Redness
  • Irritation

Fleas can also feed off humans, causing itchy, red bites around feet and ankles.

What’s the best flea treatment for dogs?

The best flea treatment for dogs is always prevention. Regular flea control is an essential part of any dog owner’s care routine to keep their pet flea free.

From topical spot-on treatments to oral tablets and liquids, there are many options to prevent fleas on your dog. Speak to your vet for advice on the best choice to suit your dog’s needs and lifestyle. Also bear in mind some products are unsafe for puppies.

The Medivet Healthcare Plan is a good way to ensure your dog gets flea protection all-year round.

Keeping your home and environment clean is a simple way to help prevent fleas. Regularly washing your dog’s bedding, blankets and soft toys on a hot wash will help kill off eggs that may be lurking.

Signs that your dog has fleas

Although fleas are tiny (between one and three millimetres), they are visible, so if you look carefully you should be able to see them. The best opportunity to check your dog for fleas is while you groom them. Run a special flea comb through their fur, paying particular attention to areas like the armpits and groin where fleas like to hide.

Other signs that your dog may have fleas:

  • Red inflamed skin with scabbing
  • Regular scratching or chewing of an area
  • Biting of the skin, which can lead to hair loss
  • Flea dirt - tiny bits of dark dust in your pet’s fur
  • Flea bites – itchy bites for you and your family

To tell the difference between fleas and regular dirt, place it onto a white paper towel and sprinkle a few drops of water onto it. If the speck turns a dark reddish-brown colour, it’s most likely a flea or flea dirt.

What to do if your dog gets fleas

If you spot them on your dog, or if you notice any of the above symptoms, speak to your vet for the best treatment. It’s important to remember that it’s not a one-off treatment, you should be treating your dog for fleas all-year round. It’s a common misconception that fleas are a summer annoyance only, they’re really not.

To tackle fleas at every stage of their life cycle, follow these steps:

  • Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water
  • Vacuum all carpets, hardwood floors, linoleum and tiled floors. Throw away the vacuum bag afterwards
  • Apply an environmental flea control - your vet can advise on the best product for you
  • Stick to a regular flea prevention routine for your dog and any other pets in your home

How to treat dog flea bites

Flea bites can be incredibly itchy and irritating for your dog, causing them to scratch and bite themselves constantly. This can cause its own problems, including bleeding and even hair loss.

There are ways you can help soothe the irritation for your dog, including calming shampoos and topical treatments. Speak to your vet on the best way to soothe flea bites.

Benefits of prescription only medication

Pharmaceutical companies are continuously developing new and more effective flea treatments which, amongst other things, enable the simultaneous treatment of additional parasites. Due to the nature of these products they can only be prescribed by a vet who will recommend the most suitable one for your pet after considering their age, breed, history, weight and lifestyle. The practice team are also able to help with queries on how to give flea and worm medication and may assist with administering medication.


For more information about preventing fleas in your dog, speak to your local Medivet practice.

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