Benjamin Franklin’s admonition that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure echoes with authority when it comes to fleas and your dog. The first sign of an infestation may be excessive scratching by your dog or when you smack one on your arm. Getting rid of fleas can be a major undertaking and some times a flea spray is too little too late for the dog.
Dealing with a flea infestation starts with the dog’s bedding. It must be washed and dried, then a thorough vacuum cleaning job, including any surface that may be a nesting place for fleas–drapes, sofa cushions, and the space beneath furniture. A zealous approach would include placing a flea collar in the collection bag of the vacuum. Spray the just cleaned areas with a flea growth inhibitor. During the vacuuming, keep the dog in the bathroom to minimize further spreading. The backyard might be the next stop. Trim back overgrowth and expose it to sunlight; a lawn spray can be considered but it may kill earthworms, ladybugs and other beneficial insects.
Next up is a bath for the dog. Choose a flea shampoo carefully; positive results have been obtained using pine tar soap. Towel dry the dog, but he will certainly shake himself off as well. The final step is to use a preventive.
Flea collars work but may be allergenic to the dog. Flea spray is also a possibility though it can sometimes mat the dog’s fur. The most effective approach is probably a topically applied medicine. It is applied to the skin in the neck area, or along the spine. It is absorbed into the bloodstream and is usually effective for a month. It not only kills any live fleas but is also lethal for flea eggs. Some brands also ward off ticks. This kind of treatment requires a prescription from a veterinarian and can be obtained from the vet, or online. It should be used during the flea season, which begins in the spring and continues until the first hard frost.