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How to Treat Fleas in Puppies


Fleas are ectoparasites (external body parasites) that typically cause skin irritation. Flea bites can cause flea-allergy dermatitis, and severe flea infestation causes blood-loss anemia. Fleas can carry infectious agents, including tapeworms and blood-borne organisms. Flea bites are itchy and uncomfortable, and some species can even bite and infest human beings.

Flea control in pregnant and lactating dogs and very young puppies can be challenging. However, good flea treatment and control is still possible with the current arsenal of available products. There are a large number of available topical medications, pills, and sprays that are licensed for use in dogs and puppies. Several (Frontline Plus®, Frontline Top Spot®, Revolution®, Program®, and Capstar®) are approved for use in pregnant and lactating dogs.

Most products are restricted to puppies eight weeks of age and older and are not helpful in very young animals. The exceptions are Capstar® (at least four weeks of age and two pounds body weight) and Program® (at least six weeks of age).

It is extremely important to consult a veterinarian to discuss specific options for each pet. It is absolutely imperative to assess each case of flea infestation individually. Some veterinarians will recommend the use of extremely mild soap to gently bathe a puppy, but please do not do this without the advice of your veterinarian.

A couple of other important points: NEVER use a dog flea and tick control product on a cat, EVER. This can be extremely toxic in some instances. Also, do not use a natural or homeopathic flea and tick control product on your dog without consulting your veterinarian. Many of these “natural” medications can be toxic to dogs. Lastly, do not use over-the-counter products in general without approval from your veterinarian.

Finally, make sure you thoroughly clean your house with environmental control products. Fleas, flea eggs, flea dirt, larvae, and pupae can all take up residence in your home. Unless the environment is treated, fleas can become a recurrent problem.

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