What To Do When Your Dog Has Fleas

Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Fleas on your dog can cause a wide range of issues, from annoying to serious. Fortunately, fleas can be treated, and future outbreaks prevented. A key part of this is knowing how to recognize flea larvae and flea eggs on dogs, and then understanding the best ways to treat your dog so fleas don't come back.

Recognizing Fleas on Dogs

If you want to know if your dog has fleas, there are several methods you can try. Watch for intense scratching or biting.1 Carefully inspect your dog's skin for signs of fleas, such as a tiny bug scurrying or jumping across his fur, or black specks ("flea dirt") that are actually flea excrement. Run a flea comb through your dog's fur to catch fleas or flea dirt.

You also want to know how to recognize flea larvae or eggs on your dog. Flea eggs are about the size of a grain of salt, oval-shaped, and off-white.2 They're tough to spot, so you might only see them in bedding. Flea larvae, which hatch from flea eggs, look like very tiny, off-white worms.

You're more likely to see adult fleas or flea dirt than flea eggs or larvae. You might also see tapeworm segments, which are larger than flea eggs.3 They look like small grains of rice and tend to show up where your dog sits or sleeps. How does your dog get tapeworms? Your dog can get tapeworms from swallowing fleas.

How to Treat an Immediate Problem

If you notice signs of fleas, you will want to take action right away.

  1. Clean your pet thoroughly with a product like Adams Plus Flea & Tick Foaming Shampoo & Wash for Dogs & Puppies to kill fleas and flea eggs. It kills fleas, ticks, and lice and prevents flea eggs from hatching for 28 days.
  2. Vacuum your entire home with a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner. The beating brushes in a quality vacuum can remove one-quarter of the flea larvae and over half of the flea eggs. Make sure you vacuum carpets, floors, and all upholstery. If possible, have your carpets professionally cleaned. After cleaning, take the vacuum outside, remove the bag, and discard it. Flea eggs and larvae can hide in your carpet; it may take several days of vacuuming to remove all the flea eggs.
  3. Follow the preventative steps below to make sure you stop fleas from coming back.

Why Prevention Is So Important

Once a flea finds a home on a dog, it feeds, then lays up to several hundred eggs in a few days. Ten adult females can produce nearly 10,000 flea eggs in just 30 days. Eggs and larvae can be found in the grass and soil of your yard. Fleas can hitch a ride on your dog and into your home, where their eggs fall onto the carpet and furniture. The eggs then lie dormant for weeks before they emerge as adults. The flea life cycle is long, with the average lifespan of an adult flea being 113 days.

The most effective approach to a flea problem is to treat your pet, your home, and your yard before an infestation takes hold. Try these three steps to prevent fleas from coming back.

Treat Your Pet

Use Adams Plus Flea & Tick Spray or Adams Plus Flea & Tick Collars with an insect growth regulator (IGR) designed to kill flea eggs and their larvae. The spray is effective for up to two months, and the collars are effective for up to seven months. IGRs disrupt the flea's growth cycle by preventing these pests from maturing into biting, breeding adults.

Treat Your Home

Treat your home thoroughly so fleas, eggs, and larvae don't survive.

Treat Your Yard

Make sure your dog doesn't pick up fleas in the yard and bring them back inside.

  • Mow the grass first. Collect and discard the clippings.
  • Attach Adams Yard & Garden Spray to the end of your garden hose and spray the areas that your pet can access. This will cover up to 5,000 square feet and is suitable for use on labeled outdoor surfaces.

After all of this is done, inspect your pets regularly to make sure the fleas haven't returned.

Fleas can cause a wide variety of issues for you, your dog, and your home. With a few simple steps, you can take care of the fleas you currently have and prevent them from coming back.

1. Burke, Anna. "What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Dogs?" AKC,
11 June 2019, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/flea-bites-on-dogs/.

2. Coates, Jennifer. "What Do Flea Eggs Look Like and How Do You Get Rid of Them?" PetMD, 7 June 2019, https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/what-do-flea-eggs-look-and-how-do-you-get-rid-them.

3. AKC Staff. "Tapeworms in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention." AKC, 21 December 2015, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/tapeworms-in-dogs-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention/.

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