What's the Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas on Pets? Flea Treatment Options

What's the Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas on Pets?
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Fleas are annoying pests that are not the easiest to get rid of. Check out these different options that are best for you and your pet.

There are many options available, but how can you figure out the best way to get rid of fleas for your pet? When choosing a treatment for your pet, consider how itโ€™s administered, the treatmentโ€™s effectiveness, and any potential side effects that can occur. Of course, your vet is a great resource for determining how to get fleas off your pet. You may find that using a combination of treatments is necessary to completely eliminate fleas from your pet. One important caution: Whatever products and methods you select, be sure to only give cat medication to cats, and dog treatments to dogs. Doing otherwise is potentially very harmful to pets.

Flea Pills and Orals

There are several types of flea pills for dogs available that work to treat fleasโ€”some pills target the flea eggs and others work by attacking adult fleas. In many cases, your pet will require several pills in order to destroy the life cycle.

Pills are generally not suitable for very young pets and can cause side effects. Some pills may require a trip to the veterinarian, too. If itโ€™s a struggle to get your pet to swallow pills, even when they are given with food, pills might not be a workable option, though there are products like Pill Pockets that make giving pills easier. Some oral flea treatments, like Comfortis, come in chewable form too.

While pills are one of the more effective ways to eradicate fleas, the potential side effects and visit to the veterinarian for prescription versions may be marks against this option.


Flea shampoos are very effective when used in conjunction with pills or other treatments. On their own, however, shampoos are not a lasting method and only destroy adult fleas for about a day.

Cats and dogs can both be shampooed, but different shampoo varieties are used for each animal. One important factor for deciding if the shampoo is the right method for your pet is the amount of distaste your cat or dog has for bath time. Since the shampoo has to sit on your pet for around 10 minutes, it wonโ€™t be a quick dunk in the tub for your cat or dog.

Flea Collars

Choose flea collars carefully. Collars can work in two different ways, but the most effective variety releases chemicals into your cat or dog's skin. Flea collars kill adult fleas and ticks. Some pets will develop a rash by the collar. Sometimes, fleas will continue to bite pets, just not near their heads. Flea collars like Seresto, which distribute active ingredients through the pet's skin, are more effective at full-body treatment. Flea collars are mainly effective as a preventative, and less effective as a treatment method. Collars cannot be used on puppies and kittens.

Flea Dips

Lasting for two to three weeks, flea dips are a strong chemical treatment. Because dips linger on your petโ€™s skin, they have fallen out of favor as a preferred treatment for many pet parents, since cats and dogs may lick their skin and ingest insecticides.

Flea Powder

These treatments last for up to a week and can kill adult fleas as well as repel them. Sprays and powders are suitable for both cats and dogs. To apply the treatment, pets will have to be held still while their eyes are covered. Note that the odor may be unpleasant.

Spot-On Treatments

Lasting about a month, spot-on treatments are applied to your pet's back between the shoulder blades. Spot on flea treatments is capable of disrupting the flea's life cycle, although they have to be reapplied on a monthly basis. When applied regularly and on schedule, this treatment method is quite effective.

Environmental Treatments

While it is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of non-chemical solutions, flea combs are definitely effective at removing the fleas living on your pet.  Note that many essential oils are quite dangerous for pets, so steer away from using them unless a veterinarian or trusted medical resource okays the usage.

Natural Flea Treatment for Your Home and Pet

For some, alternative or โ€œgreenโ€ flea and tick treatments are a no-brainer. Fewer chemicals in our environment - both personal and global - are a great thing. Itโ€™s also nice to support companies who work to meet the growing needs of a more ecologically aware citizenry. For some, choosing the greener alternative is already a way of life. For others, circumstances demand alternatives.

When To Use Alternative Flea & Tick Methods

If, for example, you have a toddler whoโ€™s very handsy with your pet, or if your pet has debilitating allergic reactions to common flea and tick treatments, other options may be necessary. Happily, there are several treatments that, when used properly and in conjunction with one another, can be both effective and safe. Across the board, alternative treatments require more time and diligence than set-it-and-forget-it once monthly spot-on treatments.

Consider Your Options

When utilizing non-chemical flea and tick treatments, the benefits need to be weighed. Using only natural insect repellents may make for a safer pet and home in some ways. However, if an infestation does occur, you may find yourself in a position where you must delouse your home. Preventative treatments are less toxic and less pervasive than post-infestation treatments like, say, fumigation. You may find yourself in an ultimately more toxic situation, so take care when making decisions about preventative flea and tick treatments.


Look for an herbal flea & tick shampoo that contains any combination of natural insect repellents like pine cedar, bergamot, rosemary, clove oil, lavender, eucalyptus, citronella, juniper, or geranium. When shampooing your pet, use lots of the shampoo - more than you ordinarily may, especially when dealing with an existing infestation. Take care to get deep into your petโ€™s fur, and allow the shampoo to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing.

Shop now for an herbal flea & tick shampoo

Another ingredient to look for: Pyrethrins. Pyrethrins are known as natureโ€™s insecticide. The chemical was found in the extract of chrysanthemum flowers more than a hundred years ago. Synthetic derivatives have been reproduced to mimic the effects of Pyrethrins (those are called Pyrethroids) but the original remains true and trustworthy. Some argue that Pyrethrins, though โ€œnatural," are still toxic. Others choose it as a lower impact option. You should decide for yourself.

Shop now for Pyrethrins based flea & tick shampoos

Some shampoos come in spray form and do not need to be rinsed out.

Shop now for natural, spray-on, no-rinse flea & tick shampoos

Sprays for Home

If youโ€™ve ever zested a lemon into a cake batter, you know how much stronger the flavor of that fruit becomes in whatever youโ€™re making. d-Limonine is an extract taken from the skin of any citrus you might want to zest. In labs, the extracts become chemical grade, and those extracts are then used in a variety of โ€œgreenโ€ household cleaners. The natural chemicalโ€™s insecticidal prowess is widely lauded, and d-Limonine is used in many household fleas and tick sprays.

Shop now for d-Limonine based flea & tick household sprays

Other home flea & tick sprays, as with some natural flea & tick shampoos, prefer to use the proven effects of the right essential oils. Some are targeted to deter fleas, but not ticks, so make sure all your bases are covered.

Shop now for flea household sprays made with essential oils

Multi-Use Products

This multi-use Neem Oil comes from well-regarded, 25 year veteran of natural pet care, Richards Organics. Itโ€™s considered a โ€œmulti-useโ€ product because you can add it to a spray bottle with water and use it as a house pest deterrent. You can apply it as a spot-on, directly to your pet, right between their shoulder blades. You can also add it to a gentle shampoo base, and use it as a flea and tick shampoo.

Supplemental Internal Treatments

Fleas and vampires have more than one thing in common - they loathe garlic. No one has yet marketed a garlic necklace for dogs, but adding garlic supplements to your petโ€™s diet can work as a natural insect repellent. Another proven dietary insect repellent is Brewers Yeast. Many natural supplements are packed with both. Some are doled out as yummy flavored treats. Others come in powder form, which may be added to your dogโ€™s food. However, remember that garlic, as well as onions, can be toxic to your pets in large quantities.

Shop for anti-pest supplements with brewers yeast and garlic

Final Notes of Caution

Remember, just because it says โ€œnatural," โ€œgreen,โ€ or โ€œecoโ€ on it, does not automatically make a product safe or non-toxic. The word โ€œorganicโ€ is heading in the right direction, but even that isnโ€™t foolproof. If keeping your pet and their environment "natural" is important to you, you must be diligent in understanding all of the ingredients in each product you use.

More Flea and Tick Control Advice

What Temperature Do Fleas Flourish In?
How to Kill Fleas in the Yard
Five Must-See Flea Videos

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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