Do Dog Flea Shampoos Work?

Written by: Kristina Lalovic
When your dog gets fleas for the first time, your first instinct might be looking for flea repellent products that will eliminate these annoying pests. One of the most common products to use in this case is the good, old dog flea shampoo. But do these shampoos work? In this article, we're letting you know more on dog flea shampoos and their efficiency.

Finding out your dog has a flea problem isn’t really the best news a dog owner could have. However, it’s not the end of the world, unless your dog is allergic to these blood-sucking parasites and that the fleas are not infected with a disease, fleas can be easily treated with a proper approach.

You can do plenty of things to prevent and treat fleas in dogs, but dog flea shampoos are among most common treatments when it comes to getting rid of fleas. Although there is usually no reason to panic if you spotted fleas on your dog, having parasites that are making your dog itch and causing potential health problems isn’t something that should be left untreated.

Today we’re focusing on how dog flea shampoos work, if they really work and how long does it take them to have effect.

Before getting into details, let’s briefly see what fleas are and why they might be dangerous for your dog.

What Are Fleas And Why Are They Dangerous

Fleas are skin biting parasites that thrive in warm and moist environments. The majority of fleas (95%) are found on mammals, while only 5% are found on birds. These insects live by sucking on blood from their host. However, a dog infested with fleas won’t have only blood sucking parasites.

Here’s how. Fleas have four stages of their life cycle – egg, larva, pupa and adult. Depending on environmental conditions, their life cycle can last from 2 weeks to several months. This basically means that if you have spotted only a couple of adult fleas on your dog, it might be that he is actually infested with a greater number of flea eggs and larvae. Bear this in mind and we’ll explain later on why it’s important in the process of treating fleas in your dog.

Are fleas dangerous? Well, they can be.

Two main reasons fleas might be dangerous to your dog are:

  1. in case your dog is allergic to flea bites
  2. in case fleas are infected with a flea-borne disease.

Flea saliva contains a natural compound that softens the skin of the parasite’s host making it easier to penetrate into the skin and suck blood. Their saliva is known to be an allergen that irritates a dog’s skin resulting in a lot of itching, scratching and potentially causing flea allergy dermatitis.

Not only, but these parasites can also spread several diseases (flea-borne diseases) to your dog:

  • Tapeworms
  • Anemia
  • Bartonellosis

Spotting Fleas On Your Dog

Fleas are small parasites that are usually from 1 to 2 mm long, they are very tiny, but still visible to the naked eye. They are dark brown and will therefore be more easily found in light-colored dogs. If your dog has a coat of a darker color, they might be a bit more difficult to detect.

Fleas also leave tiny black specks of flea dirt (that are essentially flea poop) that are easily spotted on a dog’s skin. It should be your regular routine to always check your dog for fleas during your grooming sessions.

If you found fleas on your dog, that probably means that your furniture or carpet might be infested with fleas as well. You should adopt adequate measures to eliminate these pests from your home efficiently.

Signs Your Dog Might Have Fleas

Other signs might also indicate that your dog has fleas, including:

When performing a visual check for any traces of fleas on your dog, concentrate on the abdomen, lower back, neck, ears and the base of your dog’s tail.

Treating Fleas In Dogs

So, if you spotted some flea dirt or caught fleas in action, you surely want to eliminate any trace of parasites on your dog. Before initiating your flea war you need to know getting rid of fleas means two things: applying adequate products to your dog’s skin and cleaning all spots and furniture in your .

Luckily, there are plenty of products that help you get rid of these annoying parasites.

You can opt for collars, spot-on treatments or even pills. However, today we’re focusing on dog shampoos also referred to as “flea bath”.

While you can also make natural flea remedies in the comfort of your home, you may prefer finding great flea shampoos that are much more powerful in fighting these tiny pests.

Things To Look For In A Dog Flea Shampoo

When choosing a dog flea shampoo for your dog there are several things you should take into consideration. First of all, you don’t only want to kill fleas and their eggs, you also want to make sure the shampoo has these characteristics too:

  • can prevent further infestations and have a longer protection against insects and parasites
  • can help in regenerating your dog’s irritated skin. (look for oatmeal, aloe vera and coconut extract in the composition of the shampoo)
  • can kill lice

A very important thing when buying a dog flea shampoo is to know how many times you should bathe your dog in order to get rid of all pests. Some shampoos require only one wash, while others need several baths.

Do Dog Flea Shampoos Work?

All dog flea shampoos will help in your fight with pests, but not all of them have the same effects. Some may just reduce the number of parasites, others might only eliminate adult fleas but not eggs and larvae, and ultimately, some or may not include a longer protection from these pests.

PestPolicy offers a great insight into the best dog flea shampoos. Make sure to check them out, as they are suitable for all dogs since they don’t contain strong chemicals that irritate skin.

People often expect dog flea shampoos offer an immediate treatment that will clear out your pup from fleas. Although the shampoo will probably work well in killing fleas that are currently present at the time of bathing, it won’t offer a long-term protection from re-infestation.

There are three types of dog flea shampoos : organic, natural and chemical. Each of these does the job thanks to different active ingredients that eliminate these miniature pests.

Organic flea shampoos usually contain essential oils that repel and kill fleas. Those usually have cedar oil, peppermint or clove.

Natural shampoos are effective thanks to d-limonene and citrus peel that is also quite powerful in eliminating parasites, and finally, chemical flea shampoos are based on active ingredients such as pyrethroids and pyrethrins that are created in the laboratory.

If you have a small dog or a puppy you may want to avoid chemical flea shampoos as their active ingredients might be too strong for young and small canines. Instead, look for a natural shampoo that won’t be too aggressive to your dog’s skin but will still do the job well.

Bear in mind that in order for all flea shampoos to work it is necessary to follow he label instructions. It won’t be enough to wash your dog once with the shampoo to eliminate all the pests and their eggs. Your flea prevention strategy will likely include reapplying dog flea shampoo after some time, grooming and flea combing your dog regularly, cleaning your dog’s bedding, your own bedding, carpets, and furniture.

Make sure you brush and comb your dog more often than usual in order to monitor the situation. This is the easiest way to notice any changes or reemergence of new parasites.

Check out this video to learn how to properly flea comb your dog.

How Long Does Flea Shampoo Take To Work?

Usually all flea shampoos will kill the fleas on contact, which basically means you’ll be able to comb off dead fleas out of your dog’s fur as soon as you rinse the applied product. However, some shampoos will provide a longer protection by leaving a small amount of the product on your dog’s fur even after rinsing which will repel any potential parasites or insects.