How to Bathe a Dog After Flea Treatment

Easy
10 - 20 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

So, you discovered fleas on your dog, applied a topical treatment judiciously over your dog's body, and now he has just gone out in the yard, found the one area of mud in over a ¼ acre of perfectly good yard, and rolled in it. Now what? If you bathe your dog you risk diluting or washing off the flea treatment. What do you do? 

Well, here’s what not to do: do not bathe your dog and then reapply the medication, as this could result in your dog getting too much anti-parasitic medication which could make him very ill. You could wait it out, after all, if it’s just dirt and a little dirt never killed anyone yet did it? I guess that depends on whether you have all white upholstery, an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a weak heart! But what if it's not just dirt, what if it’s ….err… filth, then you may need to take action. 

You have a few options, read on for more information.

Dog's Perspective

Your dog does not know that just because you have given him flea treatment, he now can’t get dirty, and no amount of explaining it to him is going to change that! If you have a mud monster mutt, you may want to choose a product that allows for bathing soon afterward or contain your dog to keep him clean for the specified period of time required for the product to take effect. Remember there is no point getting angry at your dog for getting dirty, he didn't read the leaflet that came with the flea treatment!

The Wait Appropriate Time Method

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Wait 48 hours
For most topical flea treatments, including spot treatments, baths, powders, sprays and dips, wait at least 48 hours before regular bathing to allow the treatment to start working and absorb into skin.
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2
Wait to bathe, even with flea collars
Even though flea collars are waterproof, avoid bathing for a day or two after introducing a flea collar to allow body oils to distribute medication over your dog's body.
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3
Use products with shorter no-bathing periods
Several specific spot treatments or oral medications allow you to bathe your dog within a couple of hours of applying. Read manufacturer's instructions to determine if bathing sooner after flea treatment is recommended.
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4
Use non-stripping shampoo
When you do bathe your dog use dog appropriate, non-stripping shampoos, available at pet supply stores, to avoid removing flea treatment medication from your dog's skin.
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5
Dry gently
Pat dry with a towel and then allow your dog to air dry in a warm dry spot, or put your dog in front of a fan. Blow drying a dog that is infested with fleas can inflame already irritated skin with heat.
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The Emergency Spot Clean Method

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Spot clean with cloth
If your dog must be cleaned due to becoming soiled with something particularly nasty, such as feces or vomit, try to wet down only the area that has become soiled, and wipe off with a soapy cloth. This will avoid diluting or removing medication or body oils from a large area of your dog's body and impairing flea treatment effectiveness.
Step
2
Use pet wipes
Spot clean your dog with pet wipes. Do not use dry shampoos, which will absorb and remove flea medication much the same as water.
Step
3
Use coconut oil for sticky spots
Spot clean your dog with coconut oil on a cloth to remove sticky substances.
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4
Salt water bath
If bathing cannot be avoided, try using a salt water bath, which, although it will remove the flea treatment, may also impede fleas as well, without overdosing your dog on medication. Do not reapply medication without consulting a veterinarian to avoid overdosing your dog.
Step
5
Get advice on reapplying
If absolutely necessary, completely bath your dog, and then consult a veterinarian for advice on how soon another flea treatment can be reapplied. Do not reapply or switch to a different flea treatment method, as using multiple treatments can result in overdosing your dog on anti flea medications.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Avoid bathing and then reapplying flea treatments, as this could result in an excessive dosage of flea medications, which can cause toxicity in your dog.
  • Most flea treatments provide specific instructions on how soon you can bathe your dog afterward. If your dog is particularly mishap-prone, try to find a treatment that allows bathing shortly after treatment.
  • Do not let your dog lick off topical flea treatments after application. Ingesting the medication can make your dog ill.
  • If necessary, contain your dog in the house, a kennel, yard, or run to avoid your dog becoming soiled or dirty for a few days after treatment.
  • Do not let your dog swim after treatment for the same length of time bathing should be avoided.

Conclusion

If you apply flea treatment, be aware what the manufacturer's instructions are on how soon you can bathe your dog afterward and take precautions to avoid needing to bathe sooner. If the unthinkable happens, spot cleaning may be an option. Also, some products allow for bathing shortly after application. Follow product instructions carefully and if you have no choice but to bath your dirty doggy, consult a veterinarian regarding appropriate reapplication of flea treatments and when it can be safely conducted.

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