How to Bathe a Dog with Fleas

Medium
45 - 90 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

So, Fido's got fleas. These nasty little jumping bugs bite your dog and jump between him, other pets, and even you! While fleas do not live on people, they can certainly jump on you and bite, which is not very pleasant. Any animals in your home can easily share fleas, which will live and crawl around on their fur and bite your pet to obtain the blood meals they require. These bites and the incessant crawling of the fleas are itchy, and bites cause sores that dogs lick and scratch and can become infected. Besides that, your dog's constant scratching can be annoying!

If your dog has fleas you will want to do something about this as soon as possible to prevent getting fleas all over your home, your other pets, and you!  Part of the strategy to eradicate fleas involves bathing the infected dog.  There are a few options for bathing your dog, including both commercial and homemade dog shampoo for fleas. There are other necessary precautions you should take as you work through this situation to solve your pup's flea problem and cause as little stress to your furry buddy as possible.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog has fleas he will be itchy. He will bite, lick, scratch, roll, and do whatever he can to relieve the itchiness. Sometimes his efforts will make the skin condition worse, by introducing bacterial infections, and fleas can also aggravate yeast and allergy conditions. Your dog will be one uncomfortable puppy!  Relief in the form of a bath to remove fleas and soothe irritated skin is one of an arsenal of tools at your disposal to resolve your dog's suffering. 

Consider a homemade oatmeal shampoo for dogs to give Fido relief from the incessant itch. In regards to oatmeal, the most common homemade dog shampoo recipe is simple, yet effective. Take one cup of oatmeal and grind it in your food processor. After transferring the oatmeal to a bowl, add a half cup of baking soda and mix into a quart of warm water. Apply the concoction to your wet dog and let him relax as it soaks in. Rinse well and then gently towel dry. This will soothe the itch. Then you can move on to step two, using commercial vet-recommended shampoo, or try a homemade one.

The Commercial Flea Shampoo Method

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Step
1
Prepare to bathe
Purchase a flea shampoo from your veterinarian. Read all instructions on the label to make cetain you understand the use and precautions. The vet will prescribe the correct dosage for your dog's size. Before putting your dog in the tub, wet your dog's neck and apply shampoo and lather around the neck. This prevents fleas from migrating up to the face when you put your dog in the water of the tub.
Step
2
Apply shampoo
Put your dog in the tub and wet his body by dumping water over him or by using a hand-held shower. Apply flea shampoo as directed all over the body, and massage down to the skin, working in well. Carefully check your dog's face for fleas, and apply shampoo with a facecloth or remove fleas manually with a flea comb.
Step
3
Immerse and rinse
If instructed to do so on the product information section, fill the bath up so the dog is completely immersed in water, drain and rinse your dog thoroughly to remove flea shampoo residue. Water should be warm, but not hot. Dogs do not tolerate water as warm as humans do.
Step
4
Dry
Towel and air dry, or blow dry your dog on a low setting. Use a flea comb to locate any live or dead fleas or eggs left in your dog's coat. Some pet owners like to finish the grooming session with the application of an essential oil dog spray. Do not use a spray on your dog without talking to your vet. There are some essential oils that are highly toxic to dogs and even with the use of safe essential oils, the correct dosage is critical to safety.
Step
5
Further decontaminate the environment
Vacuum your home, wash bedding, and apply topical flea medication or a flea collar to prevent re-infestation and remove fleas from the environment. Repeating the bath in several days is often necessary to get unhatched fleas or new fleas that your dog has become recontaminated with. If you are not sure of the efficacy of the procedure, consult the vet clinic.
Recommend grooming method?

The Homemade Flea Shampoo Method

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Step
1
Mix shampoo
Make a homemade flea shampoo with 1-quart water, 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup baby shampoo or Dawn dish soap. For a small dog, use ½ cup water, ¼ cup vinegar, and ¼ cup baby shampoo or Dawn dish soap. Mix in a spray bottle. If you have discussed with the vet the use of essential oils on your dog, you can mix 10 ounces of water, 1 tablespoon of Castile soap, 2 drops of lavender essential oil, and 2 ounces of aloe vera gel. This is the recipe for an effective homemade dog shampoo with essential oils.
Step
2
Apply
Spray your dog, starting at the neck and working backward. Be very careful to not spray your dog's face. Vinegar, aloe vera gel, lavender oil, and Castile soap are all eye irritants. If your pet shows eye discomfort, rinse his eyes well before continuing.
Step
3
Work in
Massage and work the mixture you have chosen through your dog's coat thoroughly including under limbs, belly, and near the tail Wipe the mixture on the face, being careful to avoid the eyes, nose, and mouth. If your pet has a bad experience with the flea remedy bath the first time, he may not cooperate so well next session.
Step
4
Bathe and rinse
Leave on for 5 minutes. Immerse your dog in a bath of warm water, then rinse thoroughly to remove all residue, and wipe off the face with the wet cloth thoroughly. Do not leave any residue behind to irritate or dry the skin.
Step
5
Dry and decontaminate
Towel dry and air dry or blow dry your dog, then brush and comb to remove dead fleas and locate and remove eggs. Vacuum your home, wash bedding, and apply vet-prescribed topical flea medication or a flea collar to prevent re-infestation. Repeating the bath in several days is often necessary to treat unhatched eggs or additional fleas that your dog has become recontaminated with.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Be careful with flea shampoos to avoid eyes and mouth of your dog when shampooing.

  • Rinse carefully and thoroughly to remove residue.

  • Bathing may need to be repeated in several days.

  • Be sure to read instructions on commercial products as the dosage varies depending on the dog, and the process may vary from product to product.

  • Flea shampoos can cause allergic reactions, watch your dog carefully after shampooing.

  • Some dogs will experience a toxic reaction to essential oils; never apply the oils at full strength and discuss their use with the vet before trying them.

  • Take precautions to remove fleas from the environment to prevent recontamination.

  • Treatment with flea collars or medication is also usually recommended to ensure all fleas are eradicated.

Conclusion

Fleas are not fun for anyone, including your dog!  Removing them with veterinarian prescribed medication, thorough cleaning of your dog's bedding and environment, and a good flea bath will make your dog's life--and yours--flea-free. Commercial flea shampoos and homemade shampoos can be applied to help in your battle against fleas. However, too frequent shampooing can cause your pet's skin to become dry. Ask your vet about a gentle DIY dry dog shampoo recipe containing baking soda or cornstarch to use as an option in the event your curious pup gets dirty or smelly and needs a quick refresh.

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