How to Bathe a Dog with Fleas

Medium
45 - 90 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

So Fido's got fleas. Nasty little jumping bugs that 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, and other precautions you should take in addition to solve your flea problem.

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.

The Commercial Flea Shampoo Method

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Shampoo
Comb
Dryer
Towel
Step
1
Prepare to bathe
Purchase a flea shampoo from your veterinarian or pet store. Read all instructions on the label to ensure you understand use and precautions. Ensure you prepare 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, wet his body by dumping water over your dog or using a hand held shower, apply flea shampoo as directed all over the body, and massage in 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 by product, 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 nits left in your dog's coat.
Step
5
Further decontaminate
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.
Recommend grooming method?

The Homemade Flea Shampoo Method

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Spray
Shampoo
Comb
Dryer
Towel
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.
Step
2
Apply
Spray your dog, starting at the neck and working backwards, do not spray your dog's face.
Step
3
Work in
Massage and work the mixture through your dog's coat thoroughly including under limbs, belly, etc. Wipe the mixture on the face carefully to avoid eyes, nose and mouth.
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, wipe off face with wet cloth thoroughly.
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 nits. Vacuum your home, wash bedding, and apply 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.
Recommend grooming method?

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.

  • 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 medications, through 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, and other precautions like cleaning bedding, and your home, manually removing nits, and using medications to kill fleas may be necessary to ensure success.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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