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My Dog Still Has Fleas!

What to Do When The Medicine Isn’t Working

By Matt Popkin. January 01, 2011 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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My Dog Still Has Fleas!

Sometimes getting rid of fleas comes down to trial and error until you get it right. If you're saying to yourself, "Why does my dog still has fleas?" Ask yourself these key questions and find out why.

You’ve been a great pet parent. You went and bought the best flea medication and applied it to your dog, just like you were supposed to. You followed the instructions! You did it all correctly! But you’re stuck saying those five words every dog owner dreads: “My dog still has fleas!”

Don’t worry! This could be for several reasons. Ask yourself the following questions and you’ll soon find the answer to your flea problem.

Are You Really Sure You’re Doing It Right?

The first thing to check (and double-check and triple-check) are the directions of whatever flea medicine you bought. For instance, if you are giving your pet an oral flea pill like Comfortis or Capstar Flea Killer, make sure you know how often you need to administer the dosage. Or, if you are using a spot on solution like K9 Advantix, make sure you are getting the applicator under your pet's hair and onto the skin. This is a common mistake that can lessen the effectiveness of your pet’s pest protection.

How Healthy is Your Pet’s Skin?

Dry and unhealthy skin can affect how well spot on treatments work. A good washing and combing of your pet’s coat could help with the application of the medicine and help let it do what it's supposed to do: keep your pet happy and healthy!

Where are All the Fleas Coming From?

Some estimate that over 90% of the flea population lives not on your dog, but in your house and your yard. You may be doing your best to keep your pet flea-free, but if the rest of the area is infested, you may still be seeing some scratching. Consider treating your home and yard for pests as another measure to keep your pet healthy.

When Did You Start the Medication?

Once you see fleas on your pet, it’s going to be more difficult to get them off than if you were using the medicine as protection before the pests showed up. Many vets encourage owners to use flea medication year round, but if you want, you can also begin treatment a few months before the peak flea season beings. Find out when that peak season is for you by using our Flea & Tick map, which is based off of historical weather data for your region.

Are You Treating All Your Pets for Fleas?

Well, are you? Just because one isn’t scratching as much as the other doesn’t mean that all of your pets aren’t suffering from fleas. That also means more fleas laying eggs in your home! However, if you have both cats and dogs, make sure to use the species-specific medication for each.

Are You Being Patient?

If you’ve exhausted all other options, maybe it's because you're trying to rush through the process. Flea eggs that were originally on your pet may have fallen off into the corners and cracks of your home, and that's just the start of the flea life cycle! Those eggs could take up to twelve months to become adult fleas, and when they do, those pests can then jump back onto your pet. It could be helpful to continue to protect your pet even after you think the flea threat is gone, just to make sure.

More Flea and Tick Control Advice

Oral Flea Control: Flea and Tick Pills to Keep Your Pet Healthy
Spot On Flea Control: Which Treatment is Right for Your Pet?
How to Use Spot On Flea and Tick Treatment

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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