How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs and Cats

how to get rid of fleas on dogs and cats

For most pet owners, the best answer to how to get rid of fleas on dogs and cats is with one of the topical or oral treatments. These can usually be applied or given to your pet once a month, and provide protection from dog fleas and cat fleas for the whole month, which eliminates the need to constantly reapply.

Below are some of the most popular and effective topical and oral treatments to use on your pets. Although it’s tough to know for sure, some evidence suggests that fleas can develop a resistance to certain remedies. So, if you find that one is ineffective, it might be worth trying another to see if you get better results.

frontline plus for dogsFrontline Plus is probably the most popular of the topical flea treatments, as well as one of the most effective. Frontline Plus is sold in small vials containing a single dose. You drop the treatment on the skin between the shoulder blades, and it spreads out from there to cover the entire body. These treatments are very convenient because they can be applied once and will protect your pet for an entire month.

Regular applications of Frontline Plus should protect your pet well through the flea season, assuming you treat your home for fleas as well. Topical treatments such as Frontline Plus are much less messy and toxic than traditional sprays, as they’re localized to the pet, and don’t create a big, toxic cloud like a spray might.

k9 advantixK9 Advantix II is another topical flea treatment which is similar to Frontline, comes in small vials, and is applied once a month between the shoulder blades. The manufacturer claims it actually repels more parasites than Frontline Plus. Advantix II kills all four flea life cycle stages with the use of the IGR pyriproxyfen, and will also repel biting flies and mosquitoes.

 

program flea controlProgram is an oral flea treatment that uses the hormone lufrenon to prevent flea eggs from hatching, and should protect your pets against fleas for up to a month. Program is available in both a “flavor tablet” for dogs, as well as a liquid for cats.

Program controls fleas by preventing the eggs from hatching, so it is not effective against adult fleas. Consequently, it would need to be used in conjunction with an effective program of home flea control, and most likely would serve best as a preventative measure before you pets are infested.

novartis capstar product imageNovartis Capstar is another oral treatment that is effective in eliminating adult fleas on your pet. Capstar will start killing fleas within 30 minutes, and a single does lasts for 24 hours. It is safe to give every day if need be.

Capstar is most effective for quickly eliminating the adult fleas on your pet with one simple oral treatment. As such, it’s best used when your pet might be exposed to fleas, such as at parks, shows or while boarding or grooming.

An important thing to keep in mind when dealing with fleas is the role of the flea life cycle. Fleas pass through four stages during their lives; egg, larva, pupa and adult. Obviously, the adult fleas are the ones we are most aware of, because they’re the ones that bite.

But, if you want to do this right and get rid of fleas for good, you need to consider all four stages. Insecticides that kill adult fleas don’t necessarily do anything to kill eggs or larva, and vice versa. In order to deal with the other stages, you need an insect growth regulator (IGR) as well.

Both Frontline Plus and Advantix II are effective against early stages of the flea life cycle, which is what makes them so effective long-term. As we’ll see on the next page, there are also specific products you can use in your home that contain an IRG as well, and are much more effective against eggs and larva in your carpets or pet bedding.

Step 2: Get rid of the fleas in your home.

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44 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs and Cats

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  1. Danna

    God i’m reading all these and its soooooo nice to know that im nto the only one sick n tired of fleas..My sitter brings them over so i spend the whole bloody summer n fall treating and fighting with the damm lil things!1 AGHHH, i also use K9 Advantix, Works great on the dog but then we get the fleas on us…I have found that Ortho Home Defense MAX Works GREAT to kill eggs and is safe to spray on furniture n bedding. I soak EVERYTHING with it and then wash all teh bedding….ITs a pain int eh ass but seems to work…I spray CARPET, Furniture, Beds, wood floors, itsounds liek alot of work but, we HAVE to win against these pesky lil Things, that make us miserable…And YES Vaccume ALOT!!!!

    Reply
  2. Danna

    Oh and i spray all the bedding b4 i wash it so im not transfering them to the basement. I wash everything in HOT water then dry…THe home defense smells but after it dries there is no smell..and a gallon GOES a long way!!!

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  3. crystal

    Hi I just found a dog and brought it home and 3 days later I found fleas on her. I was told that if I wash my dog every 2 days with Hertz shampoo for fleas and ticks and pick the fleas of the animal when its wet. It’s supposed to be easier to find them when the fur is wet.Squish the flea until you hear it pop. Do this with you 2 thumbs if possible. Vacuum morning and evening and throw the vacuum cleaner bag into a plastic bag so they can’t jump back out. Do this outside! Wash what ever the animal touches. If it lies on your bed wash bedding in hot water. If the animal has a bed wash it ever day in hot water. Spray furniture and carpets after you have vacuumed. In about 2 weeks you should be flea free. I’m going to try this because my sisters cats get outside and she gets fleas sometimes. She follows these rules and gets rid of her fleas every time? I will write back and tell you if it works!!!

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  4. samantha

    help!! i have four two week old kittens and they infested with fleas. what can i do for them. someone told me to bath them in water and daw dush detergent but how do i do that, and i’m afraid that the mom is going to reget her kittens. help what do I do?

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  5. beyondfleas

    Hi Samantha, For kittens that young, about all you can do is bathe them with gentle soap, and comb them with a flea comb. Flea combs have very fine teeth, and will remove fleas, as well as eggs and larvae. Unfortunately, if the kittens have fleas, most likely so does the mother cat. Try treating the mother with Frontline, or ask you vet about other products that might be safe for young kittens. Also, you’re going to need to get rid of the fleas on the cat’s bedding, wherever she’s been laying with the kittens. Either thoroughly wash the bedding, or get rid of it entirely. Good luck!

    Reply
  6. Carrie

    My puppy brought fleas home after a camping trip and after a few day I notices them on our cat and our kids had many bites on them. After much reasearch I found the most effective remedie for the pets and the house. The powder called seven usually used outdoors on plants is and insectiside you can find at wal-mart and most any garden section of stores. Its is non-toxic to animals and children (not recommended to use if you are pregnant or nursing though) After dousing the pets and leaving it on them overnight and brushing them in the morning, they carried the dust to the areas the lay around wich in turn killed the fleas in those areas. Also I sprinkled it on our carpet, around all the baseboards and under the furniture, left it there for about 24 hours and vaccumed it righ up and haven’t had a problem with any fleas since!!

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  7. Writerathome

    Just tried this and it worked on my new born puppies. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo!! Apply is on the face(watch eyes) and ears. Then rub it in all over the pup or dog. Leave it on for 5-10 mins. Then rinse. The fleas will be dead. Use often and they will all eventually hatch and die before the life cycle is complete. Is not poisonous to dog or baby. Use a lot. works best if no water at first.

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  8. Patience

    Several years ago, my dog’s vet suggested the “watch, rub and squish” method of catching and killing fleas, if the infestation isn’t too bad yet. It takes a lot of patience, but here is what you do: 1) Lay out WHITE cotton terry-cloth towels where you and/or your pets or kids are sitting or sleeping. Make sure that the rough side of the towel, NOT the velvet side, is facing upwards. 2) Sit still and try not to move too much. It also helps to wear white clothing. Before too long, black spots appear on the towel (or you), seemingly out of nowhere. ALL of these black spots are either fleas or their droppings. 3) Quickly put your thumb over a black spot on the towel. You have to do this with a lot of speed, or else your victim will jump before you pin it down. (Sometimes, you can try to grab a black spot between your thumb and index finger and disable it by rubbing your fingers together, but you have to do it very quickly). 4) After rubbing your thumb back and forth over the black spot about 10 times, all the while applying a lot of pressure, lift up your thumb and you will find that either the flea is unable to jump to get away, or you have masterfully entombed it in the pile of the towel. 5) Pick up the bare flea or encased tidbit, and squish it between the nails of both thumbs until you feel a crunch, or it is thoroughly flat. You now have one dead flea. If it seems to crumble after rubbing and crunching, you just killed what is really a flea dropping. 6) After you’ve caught quite a few, wash the towel in a strong solution of detergent and bleach using very hot water. 7) Repeat as necessary. I have also been using the shop-vac instead of my regular vacuum cleaner and flea spray on everything. Initially, I didn’t believe the vet that all of the spots were fleas, since there were so many. But when the vet asked “Well then what else could it be?”, I had no answer. Later, when I separated the pile of the towel and used a magnifying glass to get a closer look at a tiny one, it jumped. I also found that when caught and squished, the magnifying glass showed the shape of the flea. This might sound very barbaric, but I get a lot of satisfaction from crunching those blood-sucking little vampires.

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    1. Melinda

      It would be ALOT easier for you to get a simple bowl or soapy water [dish soap] thats what i have right next to me and i walk around with my socks over my pants every time i see them right into the bowl and theyre dead. i dont have any other products to use right now and rubbing them between ur fingers is a pain in the ass. i either put them in the soapy water or put my lighter to them and theyre dead right away. Good luck. I know I need it.

      Reply
  9. Patience

    Since this chemical-free method works to catch fruit-flies, then why not with fleas? Does anyone know what can be used to attract them? I fill a glass about 1/3-full with apple or peach juice. I cover the glass with plastic wrap and seal it closed with a strong elastic band. I poke about 5 or 6 small holes in the plastic wrap and place it where the flies like to congregate. They are attracted by the juice and fly into the glass. They are unable to find their way out and eventually drown. What can I use instead of juice?

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    1. Melinda

      It is hard to trap fleas because they are only looking for a host. not fruit…
      I dunno though. Only thing they seem to come to is the light I have over my soapy dish because it is warm like a host i guess and they hate the cold…I wish I had A giant THING OF TAPE to put on the floor, omg I bet that would catch alot of the damn litte jumpers, or better yet, a bunch of cut out sticky peices so they can get through the carpet and jump onto it…or maybe i need more lights with soapy bowls under them lol dont have anymore lights so im outta luck lol im just picking off and killing. really need to get a flea comb asap tho.

      Reply
    2. Karen

      A freind of mine used a small bowl soapy water and a night light. Put the bowl on the floor in front of the light, they are attracted to the light when they jump for the light they fall in the bowl. good luck

      Reply
  10. Patience

    When I went back to my towel on the sofa after posting as only Patience last night, I finally lost it! I realized I was fighting a losing battle. They were all over the white towel. The towel method worked when I had my beloved companion Yorkie, who passed away a month ago (I’ve been sobbing like a baby since). In prior years, I had used the formula that I got from the vet that is placed between her shoulder blades once a month. With that and the white towel, they all disappeared and I never needed to extensively spray or vacuum. Now, being pet-less, the fleas I didn’t know I had, until after she died, have been attacking me in increasing numbers. Last night, I sprinkled quite a heavy layer of Borax on the carpets and a light sprinkling over the sofa and between the cushions. I also put a thin layer on the white towel, and rubbed it in to get it deep into the nap or pile. I fell asleep there, with my “hoody” covering my head. (Maybe that’s why “hoodies” are so popular?) This morning, I awoke to find the usual number of fleas/black spots on the towel, however THEY WERE ALL DEAD. I tried to pick one up and it almost fell apart in my fingers. Sensing my commotion, a large flea came slowly crawling onto the towel towards me. I quickly stuck the bottom of my thumb on it, and it didn’t even try to jump. When I looked at it after I rubbed on it only a little bit, it was completely DEAD and was totally flattened. That happened only one more time. Then nothing….no new fleas! Looking through a magnifying glass, it appeared that all of these dead fleas seemed to lack their hind legs. They were all also very brittle, as if all of their innards had dried up on them. The white layer of Borax on the carpet had quite a few dead fleas on it also. Close inspection revealed the same thing. Do they eat this stuff, or only absorb it throught their shells? So far, BORAX WORKS! I plan on leaving it there and watching, with me as bait, for a few days, and will then shop-vac it all up. Hopefully, the problem will be resolved.

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  11. mr smith

    I bought Hartz ULTRAGUARD Flea + tick drops to use on a 3 year old male cat that I adopted 2 months ago. I wanted to get Program or Advantage drops but none of the large chain retail stores stock it, (no surprise there!) After using the Hartz drops on Harry for 2 months, I found it to be completely ineffective. I became MUCH more dissatisfied when I did a google search on this product and found numerous web sites devoted exclusively for people to relate their horrible experiences with using Hartz drops on their pets

    Reply
  12. Chelsea

    I have been using HERTZ ultra guard on my cat the last two months .. And though it has not cleared the fleas 100% it has done a pretty good job with no harmful effects to my animal either…! Partly its my fault because I hadn’t been keeping up on the vacuuming .. However I did just purchase a flea comb for my cat and have gone over him several times .. And it has worked WONDERS! It traps the fleas into the little teeth on the comb and then I pick the hair out of the comb and swish it around in a bowl of soapy water .. I’ve enjoyed being the one to kill those blood-sucking insects, eww! I have also sprinkled salt onto my carpeting and am going to leave it there for 48 hours .. Dries up all eggs and larva and will actually kill fleas as well AND its chemical free! I have also set up a lamp with a pie tin of soapy water mixed with oil underneath it .. Light attracts fleas and once they jump to the light they’ll in return fall to their death in the water/oil/soap mixture because it traps them in. I’m going to get this infestation under control. I know there is an end to this tunnel! =) hope I helped!

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  13. Kelly

    I just got back from the vets office, I had to leave my 1yr old Boston Terrier there. She had a bad reaction to the Hertz ultra guard shampoo. Her hair started falling out, she could not walk and she was shaking uncontrollably. They are having to give her muscle relaxers and IV fluid to flush the toxins out of her system. This is not the first time we bathed her with this. They should have a warning or something on the bottle, all it says is to not use on puppies under 12 weeks old.

    Reply
    1. Melinda

      Anything thats OTC and I actually got it for 2 dollars at walgreens, than looked it up before I used [which I do with everything and suggest everyone does before they use it] and threw it away. SCREW HARTZ, theyre like a scam that kills animals and THEY KNOW IT. I tried to tell my neighbor he’s like blah blah its no big deal, but IT IS. So many cats have died from their shitty medicine that doesn’t even WORK. I’m glad I read about it before I used it, I cannot afford a vet visit. I think any bottle that says “There can be reactions from any presticides ” or something to that effect, make me not wanna use them. cause that to me basically sounds like they know this COULD harm the animal but theyre selling it anyway cause…only happens sometimes! freakin money greedy companys. And its a shame that THATS the only brand thats in ALL stores. They should all get the GOOD brands that people like me WANT to buy but cannot easily because u cant find it anywhere but on-line or AT the vet. Its stupid. Why do they make everything so hard to keep your pet safe…I think they are put out there so that when ur pet gets sick the ppl are gonna run to the vet ofcourse and than they make money, its a big money circle. like everything today is…its a real shame…i’ve heard so many horror storys.

      Reply
      1. Karen

        I have been able to find AdvantageII at my pet store. My vet told me that Frontline does not work on fleas any more. He said that you have to stay on top of it start treating before they start scraching. Depending on where you live and weather on when you start treating them.

        Reply
  14. lilyannes

    I have a horrible flea problem after taking my dog to the river for a run with me. I need to know do i need to put her and my two cats in the bathroom or car while Im spraying the Ortho Home Defense Max? She lays on both of my couches, too…drench them in the spray? Please help, I was thinking there was sand in my bed from my dog…come to find out its flea eggs. I cannot sleep one more night with fleas bitting me and my dog!!!

    Reply
    1. Melinda

      i would NEVER drench a cat in any spray, sprays never seem safe enough for that for a cat anyway i wouldnt do it to a dog either. Get a good product like frontline or advantage drops. Read up on anything you put on your pet if you love them. do as much research as you can before just trying any thing on your pets. I’d suggest just giving him a bath with DISH SOAP. It kills fleas right away , just lather them up, and wash off in like 5-10 minutes i guess, I have bowls of soapy water with Polmoliva dish soap in it and i’ve watched them and they usually die within less than a minute but dont wanna make the bath a waste! so…yeah. even used it on my kitten as a bath and she’s a baby. Safest alternative to any “flea bath” I’ve found and it was something I already had.

      Reply
  15. casey

    thanks for ur advice my pom/pekinese has soars all ovr her body specially her back our whole yard is dirt n sand i feel so bad for my dogs

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  16. Paul

    The fastest, cheapest and best way to rid your pet of fleas is to bath it every 3 days with dish washing liquid until the fleas are gone. Any brand will work. Start at the head and work back.

    Reply
  17. Gracie

    I’ve done everything I can to get rid of fleas… I have sprayed hot shot flea spray all over the cracks and crevices, and on soft carpetting and mattress. I’ve vacuumed every area every day. I’ve sprinkled borax over everything. I have set off Hot Spot flea foggers. I have scrubbed the floors. I have gotten lawn spray and sprayed the lawn. I cannot get rid of the fleas. They are all through the house. I lay in the bed and see them hopping ont he mattress. I get in my car and can see them hoping on my legs and arms. I’m getting all bit up. Idk what else to do!!!

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    1. Christelle

      I have the same exact problem and I’m pregnant so I have to be careful what I use. I used borax last night which seemed to kind of help but then I read borax can cause miscarriage so I freaked out :-/ idk what to do.

      Reply
      1. Hannah

        Food-grade diatomaceous earth. You can find it at feed stores or buy it off Amazon or something. Make sure it says ‘Food Grade’ otherwise you’re probably buying stuff for the swimming pool and it’s been treated w/ something and won’t work and is possibly dangerous.

        Diatomaceous earth is a very, very fine powder made up of extremely tiny ‘diatoms.’ It works on insects because the particles are sharp, like jagged glass (only, you know, really small so you can’t feel that. It feels like powder to people) and it burrows into an insect’s exoskeleton to dry it out. The insect ends up dessicated. There is no way they can become immune to it, since it isn’t a chemical, and it will work on any insect, but is especially useful for flea infestations because they’re so small and they frequently become immune to pesticides, making them a nightmare to deal with.

        Our house got infested with fleas a few years ago and since I’m sensitive to just about everything ‘chemical’, I decided to go the all natural route (plus I’ve seen what Hartz and other OTC chemicals can do to animals). Used diatomaceous earth and it took care of the problem. Dust it over everything, rub it in – I just stomp on my carpeted rooms – leave it for about two days, then vacuum/sweep & mop it all up and wash the pet beds or whatever fabric you put it on. When I put it on my couch I just vacuum it off.

        A few things to be aware of though: do not inhale the dust. Keep your pets and kids away from the areas you’re treating (since they’ve always got their mouths and noses in stuff), you don’t want it in your eyes either as it’s a desiccant. Farmers use this stuff in their feed bins to keep mites and insects from infecting their feed, gardeners use it to keep bugs off their plants, I treat my house and yard with it because we’re in the hot south and it never gets cold enough here to kill them off and those a-holes are forever hopping in on our pant legs and stuff. It’s our punishment for living in the woods, I guess.

        Anyway, good luck and don’t use Hartz!

        And also congrats on your baby!!! :)

        Reply
        1. Hannah

          Also forgot to mention to immediately throw away the vacuum bag because you don’t want those nasties hanging around just in case one of them somehow managed to escape the DE. It probably wouldn’t happen, but I hate fleas enough that it’s worth cleaning out the vacuum every time I use it.

          In our swampy neighborhood, that means at least once a day. It sucks but I’m allergic to them and so is one of my cats, who used to scratch himself raw if he even got one bite.

          Reply
  18. Danielle

    I am having flea issues really bad. Not only that my dog as it but my cat as well. It is not a problem to give my dog a bath but my cat is another story. Last time I gave him a bath my hands were bloody from holding him he does not like water. I tried everything on him to get rid of fleas and nothing works I am not sure what else to do. I have them in my house, my room , bites on my legs its getting crazy. Not sure what to do and how to get rid of them :(

    Reply
    1. Sharp

      Ii put that on e to have problems with flea I treat all my pets with frontline. First I wash all my animals with Dawn Dish Soap. 100%safe and they die in seconds. Start at head and work you way to tail. Lather thick fill wash tub or bath tub up half way soak them and watch the wash right off its also good idea to brush off dog in water. For your cat I would put dawn dish soap on with no water then when your ready to was off rap the cat in a towel to help protect yourself and for around eyes Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo it will also help keep dos eyes and hair clean from dirty hair I put that on white dogs every 3 days to keep fir clean 10 times better than angel eyes and velocity recommended … good luck

      Reply
      1. Sharp

        Vet recommend ..and for people that are getting bit on ankles johnson and johnson baby powder the starch keeps bugs and fleas away even good on outdoor trips

        Reply
  19. Nancy Fixx

    I have three dogs, one 13.5 years old, 6 pounds. We have been advised to change to advantix but first to use Adams Shampoo, then have the house bombed, then treat the dogs again. I used the shampoo once, waiting for the house to be bombed on Thursday. Can I give my dogs the advantix right after bathing them in the Adams Shampoo? Thank you for your most needed help.

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  20. cathy

    i just put on a post but forgot to mention i just found these critters like 6 days ago, forgot to ask is this the beginning of something really bad to expect?..my dog is 17yrs old and shes never had fleas so i just dont know what to expect so wondering is this just the start of it or i just caught it on time? help i need to know what im in for and my poor dog…thanks for your time….cathy

    Reply
    1. Robyne

      Nancy Fixx you should wait a week or two after a bath before applying a flea preventative. The oils on the dogs skin are what holds the medicine for it to work which all get washed away with a bath. You can give a bath about 3 days after you apply the preventative. For the people try dawn, it works, the trick is to not use water and just lather the pet up with soap (NO WATER, the fleas breath from the water) and let it sit for about 10 min to suffocate the fleas. Then rinse. If anyone has any other questions I can most likely answer them.

      Reply
  21. Kristi

    We started to find the pesky little bugs on the dog. Having a dog that is highly allergic to advantage and advantix we tried other means (flea collars and shampoos) which well for a short time. I stopped by our local pet store and asked for help. The owner suggested Zodiac products. We sprayed the dog last night with the Zodiac Flea and Tick spray. I never thought the dog would have that many considering she just had a flea bath and dip earlier in the week. I am in love with the spray!! I also bought the foggers and plan on “bombing” the house today. I have done literally everything prior to this product to get rid of them. Spent so much money as well! When you use the spray the fleas just fall off..and it protects for 2 months. Don’t waste your money on any other product! Buy Zodiac :)

    Reply
  22. Kathy

    I have tried all of the topical treatments. I have bathed my dog with shampoos that supposedly kill fleas for up to 10 days. I have used sprays which are suppose to kill fleas and eggs. I had my dog dipped less than a week ago and, had to bathe him two days ago.

    Do you have anyother suggestions? He is constantly chewing himself. Because of the licking and chewing he stinks, and his hair is thinning.

    Thanks, Kathy

    Reply
    1. Robert Griffin Post author

      Hi Kathy,

      You’ve tried Frontline and K9 Advantix and the other topical or oral treatments? Are you sure it’s fleas causing your dog to itch at this point?

      Reply