Puppy owners take special care to keep their new four-legged friends safe and healthy. They make sure their furry little friends have their first set of shots and dewormer from the veterinarian and that they feed them high-quality food made especially for young dogs.
They also ensure their puppies’ toys are safe and don’t include any parts that they could swallow or that could harm them. Puppies have different care needs than older dogs, and that’s why puppy owners need to make sure that their flea treatments are designed especially for them.
1. Age-Appropriate Flea Medication
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), most flea medications are safe for puppies once they reach seven or eight weeks of age. Some flea medications recommend a minimum weight for puppies, too, so carefully read the instructions and warnings on the medication labels before purchasing one for your puppy.
It’s worth noting that some flea medications are designed to treat fleas rather than prevent a flea infestation. If your puppy already has fleas, talk to your veterinarian about the best course of action to take. Capstar, for example, is a tablet that may be safe for puppies that are four weeks old and a minimum of two pounds. Your vet will confirm whether this treatment is safe for your puppy and prescribe the appropriate dosage.
It is in your best interest – and your puppy’s – to talk to your vet first before administering any flea medication, whether oral or topical. Vets know which treatments are best for puppies, and they will tell you how to apply topical treatments correctly.
2. Flea Collars
Flea collars are one option for preventing your puppy from getting fleas. Some veterinarians recommend flea collars because they are easier to put on squirmy puppies than topical treatments. Other vets prefer flea collars for puppies because they are gentler on a puppy’s skin than topical treatments.
Additionally, some puppy owners like flea collars because they don’t need to be worn by your puppy all day, every day. You can place the collar on your dog for outings or every time he goes into your yard, and then remove it when he comes back inside.
To get the most out of your flea collar, make sure that it is the type that releases medication into your puppy’s skin rather than the type that emits a gas that is toxic to fleas. Collars with medication absorbed by your puppy’s skin are much more effective because they poison fleas when they bite your pup.
In fact, Central Park Paws recommends the Seresto flea and tick collar for puppies because it provides continuous protection for eight months and begins killing fleas in as little as two hours after you put it on your puppy. The Soresto flea collar distributes its chemicals throughout your puppy’s hair and skin, so it provides complete protection. Another benefit of the Soresto collar is that it is waterproof, so your puppy will remain protected even after bathing or swimming.
Keep in mind that your puppy should not wear a flea collar if you have administered another type of flea medication, regardless of whether it is oral or topical. Too much flea medication can harm your puppy when the neurotoxins in it build up in his system.
3. Flea Combs
If your puppy is too young for flea medication, you can use a flea comb. Flea combs do not kill fleas like flea collars, topical treatments, and oral medications will, but they do provide relief for your puppy by removing fleas from their hair. Top-quality flea combs also remove flea eggs from your puppy, too.
When choosing a flea comb, ensure that you choose one with two sets of teeth. These combs pick up fleas more effectively. Some flea combs have teeth turned at an angle away from its handle to make the combing process as comfortable as possible for your pet. PetCareRx recommends the Safari Double Row Flea Comb or the JW Gripsoft Flea Comb for puppies.
The best location for using a flea comb on your puppy is outdoors. You have a better chance of removing fleas from your pet when you comb outside because you could knock fleas or their eggs onto your floor if you comb inside. You also should fill a deep container with hot, soapy water to kill the fleas you remove with the comb.
Begin by combing at your pet’s ears and move toward his tail. Be attentive to your puppy’s belly, neck, and hind end, as these are among fleas’ favorite spots. Do one area of your puppy at a time and pull fleas off and place them in the soapy water before moving on to the next area. After a thorough combing, wait a few minutes and comb again to ensure you did not miss any fleas the first time. Then, repeat your combing process.
4. Natural Flea Repellents
Dr. Katie Kangas, founder of the Pet Wellness Academy, uses traditional and holistic veterinary medicine. She stresses the importance of preventing fleas to keep your puppy comfortable and to prevent the health problems that arise in dogs that are allergic to fleas. Dr. Kangas also recognizes that some puppy owners don’t want to subject their puppies to chemicals, so she recommends using essential oil products first and then using a traditional treatment, like Comfortis, as needed. Please note, Comfortis is available only by prescription from a veterinarian and is approved for dogs at least 14 weeks old.
If you are concerned about the chemicals in conventional flea treatments, you can use an essential oil-based flea treatment instead. You can make a natural flea repellent by adding half a dozen drops of rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, and citronella essential oils to a cup of water. Shake the mixture well and spray it on to your puppy’s coat every other day.
You also can reduce your risk of fleas by bathing your puppy with a gentle shampoo containing calendula, oatmeal, or aloe once a week or every other week. Be sure to wash your pet’s bedding each time you bathe him. You also should vacuum your home frequently and place a flea collar inside the bag or put the vacuum bag inside a plastic bag in your freezer to kill any fleas or eggs you vacuum.
Whether you intend to use natural or chemical flea treatments for your puppy, discuss your plans with your veterinarian first to prevent harming your new furry friend. If you opt for flea medication, make sure that your oral or topical selection is appropriate for your dog’s age and size. You also can use a flea collar that is safe for young dogs. Alternatively, flea combs and essential oils are two natural flea treatments that generally are safe for puppies. No matter which flea treatment you choose, the key is to use something that will prevent a flea infestation and the potential health problems it can cause your puppy.
About the Author:
Jasmine Dyoco loves crossword puzzles and audio books, learning (anything!) and fencing. She works with Educatorlabs to curate scholastic information.