When summer time rolls around, temperatures and humidity levels rise. And this should put all pet owners on their guard!
As a dog owner, it’s a fact of life that, at some point or another, you’re going to need to treat your pup for fleas.
These pesky little critters can strike all year round but are particularly prevalent in the summer time– the optimal environment for fleas to thrive.
Thankfully, though, there are plenty of methods on hand for dog owners to treat their dogs and puppies for fleas and even prevent from getting them in the first place.
One of the best and most gentle ways to do this is by using specialist flea shampoo for dogs. Let’s find out more.
Quick Links to Our Choice of 5 Best Flea Shampoos for Dogs
4.5 out of 5
4 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
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4.5 out of 5
*Some of the above links lead to current prices and customer reviews on Chewy.
Carry on reading to discover why we made these choices, and lots of tips and buying advice to ensure you get the right product.
Table Of Contents
- 1 How To Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas
- 2 How Can You Kill Fleas On A Dog With Different Methods of Flea Treatment?
- 3 Do Flea Shampoos Really Work?
- 4 Benefits of Flea Shampoo over Spot Treatments and Medication
- 5 Pyrethroids vs Pyrethrins
- 6 Who Should Use Flea Shampoo?
- 7 What to Look for in a Good Flea Shampoo
- 8 What to Avoid in Flea Shampoo
- 9 The Best Flea Shampoo for Dogs Reviews
- 10 Conclusion
How To Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas
First things first, you’ll want to check that your dog really does have fleas. There are a few telltale signs that should alert you to a flea infestation, so make sure that you look out for the following.
- Visible fleas on their coat and/or in their bed
- Flea dirt on their skin – small, dark spots that look like flakes of pepper
- Any signs of a flea bite
- Itching and skin irritation – flea bites usually leave a trace of the flea’s saliva in the bite which is very itchy and irritating on your dog’s skin. If your dog is allergic to flea saliva, they will become very itchy from just one single bite
- With regular grooming, you can keep an eye out for signs of fleas
- Signs of flea eggs
If you spot your pup scratching themselves but can’t see any other signs of fleas, it might be worth checking with your vet that they’re not suffering from allergies instead. They’ll be able to perform the necessary blood tests and a thorough body check to determine the cause of the itching.
Spotting flea dirt can be tricky, as it resembles normal little specks of dirt that your dog may have picked up while out and about.
Here's how to check:
You can check whether it is flea dirt easily by removing a few of the specks and placing them onto a damp paper towel. If the specks spread out into a small bloodstain, you’ll know that fleas are the culprits (flea dirt is made up of tiny pieces of dried blood).
How Can You Kill Fleas On A Dog With Different Methods of Flea Treatment?
Once you’ve determined that your dog has fleas, or even if you just want to set them on a course of flea prevention for the future, there are a few different options at your disposal to help you get rid of them.
- Spot-on treatments and tablet medication are two of the most powerful flea treatments at your disposal. Tablets will help to disrupt the flea life cycle while spot-on treatments see the medication spread throughout the body via the oil glands and kill either adult fleas or eggs.
- You can also buy a flea spray for your dog, but these do need to be frequently applied to provide continual protection.
- Flea collars are also relatively popular: they work by spreading the medication from the collar on to your dog’s skin and coat, thus repelling and killing any fleas. Try a flea collar if you want an all-the-time solution.
- Flea shampoos are a gentle alternative to flea medication and, providing they’re of a high enough quality, can be just as effective as the more chemically enhanced options of tablets and spot on treatments.
Whatever method of flea control you use, you should be sure that you’re ‘treating’ your home at the same time. Otherwise, it could become infested, which can be awful for you and for pets.
Why is that?
Adult fleas will lay an abundance of eggs on your dog, which will fall off into their bed and around your house, before they too hatch into adults and restart the flea life cycle. Ensure that all pet bedding gets a deep clean.
Once you spot an infestation, you’ll need to thoroughly vacuum your home, wash all bedding and even furniture covers and curtains. This should destroy any lurking eggs or larvae.
And while natural flea control is an option, in most cases, stronger products will be more effective.
Some dog owners even choose to use commercial foggers to completely eradicate their homes of fleas, although these chemical-laden solutions should only be used under advice from pest control experts.
Do Flea Shampoos Really Work?
The simple answer is yes!
Of course, how much any treatment works on fleas depends on what product you choose and how effectively you use it!
To understand why flea shampoos are the most effective compared to other treatments, keep reading!
We've got the answers you need.
Benefits of Flea Shampoo over Spot Treatments and Medication
A high-quality flea shampoo is one of the safest and most efficient ways to treat your dog’s flea problem, interrupting the flea life cycle and killing active adult fleas – all without resorting to heavy chemical medications.
As you might have guessed, choosing flea shampoo over spot-on treatments and medication for your dog is often seen as taking the ‘natural’ route to flea prevention.
But there are different remedies with different effects:
- Many of these shampoos contain naturally occurring insecticides that destroy fleas without bearing the risk of side effects like other, more potent options.
- Some dog owners find that anti-flea tablets, while usually reliable and fast working, can be strong enough to cause nausea and stomach upsets in their pups. Because of their power, it’s important that you discuss giving your dog tablets with your vet so you can be sure to give them the optimal dosage.
- Also, tablets will only kill eggs and not the adult fleas. This is important – it will disrupt the flea life cycle and stop any more eggs from hatching – but means that you’ll need to use them with another treatment to kill the adult fleas as well.
- Spot-on treatment also has its limitations, as it usually either kills the adult fleas (thus leaving the eggs and larvae to hatch and restart the flea lifecycle), or just the eggs – again, you may need also to use shampoo to kill the adult fleas in this case.
The best flea shampoo for dogs will be able to kill all stages of flea from egg to adult, successfully disrupting the flea life cycle while also killing any remaining fleas too.
Also flea shampoo is easy to use – it can simply be subbed in for your usual dog shampoo at monthly bath times and requires less maintenance than getting your pup to take a tablet every morning, or to stay still long enough for the spot-on treatments to be administered.
Pyrethroids vs Pyrethrins
If you’re wondering why flea tablets and spot-on treatments are stronger than flea shampoo, it’s because of their ingredients.
The majority of flea treatments will contain at least one of these two ingredients: pyrethroids and pyrethrins.
Here's what you need to know about them:
Both are potent anti-flea chemicals, but synthetic pyrethroids are designed to be more powerful and long-lasting than naturally occurring pyrethrins. The latter is commonly found in flea shampoo for dogs and thus is a little gentler than oral medication that usually contains both.
Flea shampoos usually contain pyrethrins, while flea tablets and spot-on treatment often contain pyrethroids, or occasionally both. It’s clear why shampoo is the gentler, safer option.
Who Should Use Flea Shampoo?
We’d recommend flea shampoo to all dog owners. If you’re bathing your dog regularly anyway, it makes sense to use a shampoo that’s also preventing fleas and killing any that they already have, in addition to the many other benefits of using a high-quality shampoo.
Treatments for fleas are varied, so you want to make sure you choose the one that is right for you.
Flea shampoo is likely to appeal to owners who prefer to take a more natural course of flea control for their dogs, and those who are reluctant to hand over not-insignificant sums of money for chemical-laden treatments which, while effective, aren’t exactly what you’d call gentle.
How To Give A Flea Bath
You might be wondering "How can I give my dog a flea bath?" Flea baths are one of the most popular ways to get rid of fleas.
Here's what to do:
- Cover them in shampoo and lather thoroughly, especially on the neck.
- This prevents fleas from escaping.
- Get the whole body wet, and let everything sit for a few minutes before rinsing well.
What to Look for in a Good Flea Shampoo
A good flea shampoo will contain pyrethrins as an active ingredient, as it is this ingredient that actually kills the fleas. Now that you know how to kill fleas, you know that a good flea shampoo matters.
Pyrethrins come from the chrysanthemum flower and are a potent insecticide, causing dysfunction in the flea’s nervous system and their eventual death. They are not as toxic as synthetic pyrethroids as they’re broken down naturally by your dog’s stomach acid.
Ideally, you should buy a shampoo that:
- Kills adult fleas, larvae and eggs so as to completely halt the flea lifecycle
- If you only kill adult fleas, then you will need to keep repeating the process as the eggs already laid will simply continue to hatch, thus producing more fleas
- Aside from its ability to kill fleas, a good dog shampoo will also provide other benefits, such as moisturization of the skin and coat, odor neutralization and effective cleansing of dirt and debris
- It should also smell pleasant and not leave any nasty build-up behind either
- To ensure it’s as gentle and safe as possible for your dog to use, you should look for a shampoo that contains mostly natural ingredients, without any soaps, detergents, parabens or other irritating chemicals.
What to Avoid in Flea Shampoo
Whether you have small dogs or big dogs, some ingredients just shouldn't be in your flea shampoo.
Here's what to remember:
You should avoid buying any flea shampoo that’s the opposite of what we’ve described above. Avoid the heavy chemicals and look for what other dog owners have used and found effective among topical treatments.
Word of mouth is incredibly important when it comes to wading through the marketing guff and finding good quality products for your dog. They can’t talk, so it’s best to be guided by what other owners have done and found to be true.
You might even want to find out what your veterinarian recommends!
Take in the Amazon reviews, and consult ‘best of’ advisory lists like this one to be as informed as possible on the subject.
Not all shampoos will be able to kill both adult fleas and the eggs, so in this case, you may need to use a spot-on treatment as well to ensure that the flea lifecycle is correctly halted.
The Best Flea Shampoo for Dogs Reviews
Following are, in our opinion, the best flea shampoos available for dogs, with this roundup of products having been put together from our own experiences, as well as reading through and compiling the opinions and feedback of countless existing users of the products from around the web.
We're sure within this list you'll find a product that suits the needs and preferences of both you and your pooch.
This flea shampoo for dogs is a bestseller in many online stores and is famous for its powerful combat of fleas.
It effectively disrupts the flea life cycle by killing fleas at all life stages: from lice to larvae, eggs and adult fleas.
It’s a little stinky but it certainly gets the job done! To get rid of fleas, the smell is worth it!
- Kills fleas, ticks, eggs, larvae and lice — you can actually see them coming off your dog when you rinse out the shampoo
- Contains pyrethrins — a potent natural insecticide
- Guarantees 28-day control of pre-adult fleas so you can reduce the number of bath times
- Also contains aloe, lanolin, coconut extract and oatmeal to effectively cleanse your dog’s coat, get rid of any dirt and debris and moisturize
- Also works to remove dandruff and scales and softens the coat
- Lathers easily
- Smells quite strong
- Requires a fair amount of lathering to properly penetrate your dog’s hair and cleanse their coat
SynergyLabs are another popular dog shampoo manufacturer, and this blend is specially formulated to kill fleas and ticks on contact, while also effectively cleaning your dog’s coat.
Reportedly an extremely effective cleaner, owners have reported whiter than white coats on their light-haired dogs after use!
- Kills fleas and ticks on contact
- Formulated with 0.15% pyrethrins derived from flowers
- Moisturizes the skin and hair, exfoliates layers of dead skin and dandruff and cleanses the coat of any dirt and debris
- Smells great
- Doesn’t leave any sticky residue after it’s been thoroughly rinsed out
- Contains aloe and lanolin to soothe bites
- Lathers well and rinses easily
- Takes a while to work.
This is one of the most effective low-cost flea shampoos for dogs on the market right now.
Getting rid of fleas with this product is easy. It’s known for being a potent flea killer while also ensuring to get your dog clean and refreshed in no time.
- Will kill fleas and ticks for up to 10 days after application
- Contains Permethrin insecticide
- Also contains oatmeal to moisturize and replenish the skin and coat, leaving it shiny and soft
- Delightful Hawaiian ginger scent
- Lathers easily
- Concentrated — a little goes a long way
- Some reviewers commented that the packaging was not quite robust enough and that the product was easily able to spill out of the bottle
This is another tropical-inspired flea shampoo that’s super popular with dog owners among all the flea products out there.
It’s hypoallergenic and all natural, so great for dogs with sensitive skin.
- It contains neem oil - a natural antifungal and anti-bacterial agent to repel fleas and ticks
- Contains all-natural ingredients and is 70% organic
- Free from irritating detergents and soap
- Relieves irritations from flea and tick bites
- Reduces smelly odors with its fresh citrus scent
- Deep cleanses to remove dirt, debris and grease
- Packaging is 100% biodegradable
- It’s not as potent at killing fleas as some of the other shampoos on this list — you may need to use it in tandem with a spot-on treatment
- Some reviewers noted that the packaging leaked a little in the shipping process
Wahl is one of the best-known pet shampoo manufacturers in the industry and this natural flea and tick shampoo is very popular for its mild yet effective formula. Even local veterinary expects love it!
Like the Tropiclean above, you may need to use it in conjunction with a spot-on treatment as it is entirely natural.
- Made of 100% natural and plant-derived ingredients
- Contains natural insecticides and antibacterials: rosemary, mint and cedar oil
- Easy to lather - it has 5% more surfactants than its competitors so penetrates your dog’s skin and hair better than many others
- Free from PEG-80
- Smells fantastic
- Produces really soft coat after use and cleanses the hair of dirt
- Make sure to rinse it out thoroughly as it can leave build-up on your dog’s hair
- Not as potent at flea killing as more chemical-laden products, although a good natural alternative
Flea treatment for dogs doesn't have to feel impossible. Keep all the pets in your house happy and flea-free.
You're hopefully now clued up on the best gentle alternatives to spot-on treatments and tablet medication for dogs with fleas: specialist flea shampoo.
Easy to use, safe and with no side effects, it’s no wonder that so many dog owners choose it for their pups.
Product images: © Amazon.com
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