How to Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young to Take Medicine

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How to Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young to Take Medicine
How to Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young to Take Medicine

Newborn chicks provide the perfect environment for fleas to feed and lay their eggs. Canine fleas (scientifically known as Ctenocephalides canis) are very undesirable as they cause itchy and irritated skin in puppies. In more severe cases, the dog can become anemic due to blood loss caused by the parasites. Unfortunately, getting rid of fleas can be a little tricky when it comes to puppies, as their bodies are not equipped to handle the strong insecticides contained in most flea products. Therefore, eliminating fleas will consist of keeping the dog clean, while simultaneously treating the mother and any exposed beds or upholstery. Start by reading Step 1 below for more detailed information.


Part 1 of 3: Treating the Puppy

Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 1

Step 1. Understand why normal flea products cannot be used on puppies

Newborn dogs are the perfect host for fleas - they are warm, produce moisture and provide blood to feed the fleas. Unfortunately, there are no flea products that are safe to use on newborn puppies. This is because puppies' internal organs are more delicate than those of older dogs and therefore more prone to adverse effects caused by flea medications.

  • Depending on the medication, side effects can include excessive salivation, vomiting, breathing problems, and either over-sensitivity to stimulation or deep depression.
  • Some flea products will be clearly labeled as unsuitable for dogs. Other products have never been tested on puppies, so manufacturers advise against using them.
  • In particular, stay away from pet store products that contain permethrins, as they are not safe for use in puppies. The metabolism of puppies is still developing and cannot break down permethrins, which can build up in their bodies and cause neurological damage, resulting in excessive agitation, excessive salivation, paralysis or even seizures.
  • Products that don't contain permethrin are probably not effective and are a waste of money.
Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 2

Step 2. Bathe the dog in warm water

As there are no commercial products suitable for use on puppies, the only solution is to keep the dog clean and try to remove all fleas manually. To bathe the dog:

  • Put a few inches of warm water in a sink or basin. The water should be about the same temperature as you would use to bathe a baby.
  • Place the puppy in the water, using your hand to support its head and keep it above the water.
  • Use your hand to scoop water and place it over the puppy's coat until it is completely wet.
  • Take the dog out of the water and place him in a clean, warm towel. Gently rub the puppy with the towel to remove excess water.
Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 3

Step 3. Use a flea comb to comb the dog's fur and remove the fleas

Place the puppy in a dry towel on a flat surface. Use a comb to comb the dog's damp fur and remove any fleas.

  • Flea combs have teeth that are very close together and work by pulling fleas off the skin.
  • Start with the dog's neck and part of the skin, combing one part at a time until you've gone all over its body and removed all the fleas.
Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 4

Step 4. Kill the fleas by crushing them or placing them in boiling water

It is important to kill any fleas you remove from the puppy, otherwise they could find their way back and reinfect the puppy. You can kill fleas by squeezing them between your nails or dropping them into a cup of boiling water.

If using boiling water, place the cup where the dog cannot reach, otherwise he could knock you over and burn yourself

Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 5

Step 5. Keep the dog away from bedding and infected animals

Once you have removed the fleas, the puppy should be free of any fleas. However, there is no insecticide in his body to stop new fleas from jumping on him. Therefore, it is important to keep the puppy away from his mother and any infected bedding until he can be treated. This will help prevent the dog from being infected again.

Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 6

Step 6. Know when it is safe to start using flea products

As the puppy gets older, his body will begin to handle the ingredients used in flea products better and it will be safe to use them. Always follow the instructions on the label to know when it is safe to start using a specific product. Of licensed flea medications:

  • Revolution (active ingredient selamectin) can be used in puppies as young as seven weeks of age.
  • Frontline (active ingredient fipronil) can be used from 8 weeks of age onwards.
  • Oral medications such as Comfortis (spinosad active ingredient) are only safe from 14 weeks of age.
  • Never use these products on puppies under the recommended age.

Part 2 of 3: Treating Mom

Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 7

Step 1. Understand why it is necessary to treat the mother

If the puppies in a litter have fleas, then it is almost certain that the mother does too. As a result, it will be necessary to treat the mother in order to avoid reinfection of the puppies.

Keep in mind that if there are other animals in the house that have come into contact with the mother or the puppies, they need to be treated for fleas as well

Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 8

Step 2. Only use prescription products, avoiding over-the-counter or "natural" medications

Although flea products can be used on the mother, it is important to be careful with the products chosen.

  • If the mother is still nursing the puppies, certain chemicals can be transferred to the puppies through the milk, which could make them sick. Therefore, it is essential that you only use prescription products for use in nursing mothers.
  • Some over-the-counter products may be marked "natural" or "drug-free," but that doesn't mean they're safe for puppies. And even if they don't indicate any negative side effects, natural or herbal products aren't likely to be effective in treating fleas.
Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 9

Step 3. Use selamectin-based medications in pregnant and lactating bitches

Prescription drugs that contain an ingredient called selamectin (such as Revolution and Stronghold) are licensed as safe for use in pregnant and lactating bitches.

  • The drug should be applied to the adult dog's skin, according to the manufacturer's instructions, and allowed to dry for several hours before the puppies can come into contact with the mother.
  • Selamectin-based medicines should only be administered in the recommended doses, and only topically. When given orally, selamectin has been shown to cause fetal abnormalities in rats.
Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 10

Step 4. Avoid using medications containing fipronil and spinosad, as these substances are harmful to nursing mothers

There are several ingredients commonly used in flea medications that should not be given to pregnant or lactating dogs. Therefore, it is important to read the label carefully or contact your veterinarian to avoid using such products.

  • An ingredient called fipronil (found in an anti-flea product called Frontline) should never be used on pregnant or lactating bitches, as it has not been proven to be safe for puppies.
  • An ingredient called spinosad (used in an oral flea treatment called Comfortis) is known to be excreted in the mother's milk. Since it is not known whether spinosad causes negative side effects in puppies, it is best to avoid using this product to treat the mother.

Part 3 of 3: Treating the environment

Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 11

Step 1. Understand the flea lifecycle

The adult flea visits its guest just to feed, so for every flea you see on the animal, an estimated 20 others are living in its bed, carpet, and sofa.

  • It is also important to be aware that the female flea lays eggs in soft places such as carpet and upholstery. Eggs are very hardy and, in the absence of a suitable host, they can lie dormant for years.
  • Once the eggs hatch, flea larvae and their pupae will develop on the carpet or bedding, feeding on dirt to complete their life cycle and become adults.
  • As a result, it is necessary to kill any eggs, or larvae hidden in the dog's bed, or on the carpet and sofa, otherwise the dog and the puppies can easily be reinfected.
Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 12

Step 2. Wash the dog's bed to kill any fleas

As explained in the previous step, the environment in which the chicks live is likely full of flea eggs, larvae and pupae waiting to grow into the next generation of fleas. Therefore, the bed needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to eliminate fleas.

  • Flea eggs have an extremely tough shell, so putting the bedding in the washing machine may not be enough to eliminate them.
  • Use a flea spray or bomb that contains insecticide. The insecticide will be able to reach the farthest corners of the bed where flea eggs, larvae and pupae may be hiding. Use the insecticide according to the instructions on the package.
  • Once you've applied the insecticide and given time to act, you'll need to put the bedding on a very hot water wash cycle to remove any insecticide residue (which could harm the puppies) and wash the dead eggs, larvae and fleas.
Get Rid of Fleas on a Puppy Too Young for Normal Medication Step 13

Step 3. Use spray insecticides to kill fleas on carpet and other fabrics

Finally, you will need to kill any fleas living on the carpet or other soft surfaces. To do this, you should use a permethrin-based insecticide spray.

  • Manufacturers of these sprays recommend that you vacuum the surface before spraying. Doing so loosens the dust pile from the carpet and helps the spray penetrate deeper. In addition, the vibration of the vacuum can "wake up" the larvae who will then go after the light, hoping to find a host.
  • Spray the insecticide onto the rug, sofa, and other soft surfaces according to the directions on the label. The permethrins in the spray work by paralyzing the insects' nervous system, interfering with muscle function and eventually causing their death. Insects are unable to break down pyrethroids in the same way as mammals and are therefore much more sensitive to their effects.
  • Always remove puppies along with any other pets (including birds and fish) or children from the room before spraying with insecticide. After treatment, ventilate the room for several hours, opening the window, making sure the room is unoccupied.


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