I just realized my puppy had fleas, what should I do?

I just realized my puppy had fleas, what should I do?

It is springtime for the Northern Hemisphere and that means that fleas and other biting insects are becoming a problem yet again.  There are many options out there for flea control but not all are safe for puppies.  For very small puppies, under 2 pounds and less than 7 weeks of age, there are not many options for safe flea control. If your puppy is this small or this young, it is best to have him or her examined by your veterinarian. The vet can make sure that the pup has not become anemic from the flea infestation. In very young puppies, fleas can cause weakness, poor appetite, dehydration and even death in severe cases. Your vet will instruct you on how to bathe and comb the fleas from your pup’s coat, as well as provide any other care needed. 

For puppies older than 7 weeks or larger than 2 pounds, there are a few options available for flea control. Ask your local veterinarian about which product works best in your area.  A popular choice is Advantage topical flea product, formulated specifically for puppies. This can be purchased through your veterinarian or pet supplier. Be sure to follow the directions as indicated on the label. Most of these products that are applied to the skin are used once a month for flea control.

Don’t use products from the grocery store such as Hartz flea collars, skin drops or ‘flea shampoos’ on your puppy, as these products contain harsh chemicals that can severely irritate the skin or cause deadly seizures.

Don’t be surprised if your puppy continues to scratch once the fleas are all dead. It is common for the skin to be a little irritated for a day or so from the bites that have already happened. If your pup seems especially uncomfortable, contact your veterinarian.

Brushing your puppy frequently and bathing once a week will help to get rid of the “flea dirt” or flea feces (yuck!) that may be stuck to the hair and skin and will soothe them.  The best type of shampoo is a non-fragranced, moisturizing and oatmeal based. Bathing will leave your pup feeling refreshed.