Black Puppy Looks Up at its Owner | FRONTLINE® Flea and Tick Protection
Black Puppy Looks Up at its Owner | FRONTLINE® Flea and Tick Protection

Flea Protection for Dogs: Tips to Help Keep Your Dog Protected

Fleas may be tiny, but they can pose huge health risks to your dog. Here’s how to tell if your dog has fleas, what to do if you’re faced with an infestation, and how to treat and protect your dog monthly all year long.

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What Do Fleas Look Like on Dogs?

Adult fleas are 1/8 inch long and reddish-brown in color. In cases of extreme infestations, it’s common to see fleas in your dog’s coat or even jumping around your dog’s environment. You may also find them while using a flea comb during routine grooming or flea checks. 

What Are the Signs of Fleas on Dogs?

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You may not always see fleas on your dog right away, but there will be other signs. Here are some indicators that your dog may be dealing with fleas. 

  • Your dog is scratching. If your dog is scratching more than usual, fleas may be at fault. Flea bites—or more specifically, flea saliva—can cause discomfort and irritation. Your dog’s incessant scratching may also lead to patches of hair loss or red, irritated skin. 
  • You find flea dirt. Flea dirt may look like specks of pepper, but it’s actually flea feces, made up of blood and the flea’s waste. Flea dirt may be found either on your dog or in their environment, like on their bedding. To determine whether a suspicious fleck is flea dirt and not actual dirt, place some on a damp paper towel. If the paper turns red, it’s flea dirt. 
  • Your dog has pale gums. In extreme flea infestations, dogs (especially puppies) are at risk for anemia, which causes pale gums. This condition happens when the dog loses large amounts of blood due to flea bites. 
A Puppy Scratches Behind its Ear | FRONTLINE® Flea and Tick Protection A Puppy Scratches Behind its Ear | FRONTLINE® Flea and Tick Protection

What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Dogs?

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When a flea bites a dog, it often leaves tiny, red dots on your dog’s skin. These bites sometimes become inflamed due to the dog scratching or biting at the site. In addition, some dogs have strong allergic reactions to flea saliva, called flea allergy dermatitis. This can cause additional inflammation or even scabbing. 

Inflammation on a Dog's Skin | FRONTLINE® Flea and Tick Protection Inflammation on a Dog's Skin | FRONTLINE® Flea and Tick Protection
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How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs

If you find fleas on your dog or in your home, you want to treat them as soon as possible. This helps reduce the risk of your dog contracting a flea-borne disease. 


Start by giving your dog a bath with pet-friendly gentle shampoo and warm water, which can act as a gentle insecticide. After doing this, use a topical flea treatment to kill the remaining adult fleas, flea eggs, and larvae and break the flea life cycle by protecting against future infestations.

Flea Prevention for Dogs

Flea Reproduction

Keep in mind that fleas reproduce rapidly, with a single female flea laying up to 50 eggs per day.1 These eggs will fall off your dog and scatter throughout their environment, continuing the infestation until the flea life cycle is broken.

Flea Checks

While treating your dog for active fleas, it’s also helpful to implement preventive measures that will protect your dog against future infestations. 

Make sure to use a monthly flea and tick protection that kills adult fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae to break the flea life cycle. Another important preventive measure is to perform regular flea checks. There are 3 primary methods for this:

  • Flea Dirt Test: If your dog has thick or dark fur, making it difficult to see live fleas, this may be the easiest option. When brushing your dog, lay a white towel under them to catch any eggs or fleas that fall out. If there are any black specks, wet the towel to see if they turn red. If so, it’s flea dirt. 
  • Visual Check: Lay your dog on their side or back and examine their skin by parting the hair and looking for signs of fleas. This may include flea dirt, flea bites, or even live adult fleas. 
  • Flea Comb: Brush your dog’s fur with a flea comb, getting as close to the skin as possible. Flea combs are designed with teeth that are narrow enough to catch fleas and flea eggs. Keep a bowl of hot water and soap nearby to dip your comb in after each swipe.

Preventing Fleas Indoors

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You can prevent fleas from thriving inside your home with a simple cleaning routine. Since flea eggs can fall off your dog and scatter throughout their environment—like your dog’s bed or your carpet—it’s best to vacuum regularly. (Be sure to empty the bag outdoors when you’re done!) It’s also helpful to wash your bedding and your dog’s bedding frequently, using hot water. 

A Vacuum Cleaning a Couch while a Dog Sits there Indifferently | FRONTLINE® Flea and Tick Protection A Vacuum Cleaning a Couch while a Dog Sits there Indifferently | FRONTLINE® Flea and Tick Protection

Preventing Fleas Outdoors

Dogs spend a lot of time outdoors, which is where most flea infestations begin. To keep the parasites from making their way indoors, try to make your property as unwelcoming to fleas as possible. Here are some tips: 

  • Mow the grass often. Fleas can’t stand long exposure to the sun. By keeping your grass short, you’re exposing the soil to the sun and giving fleas fewer places to hide. Be sure to also trim your shrubs and remove any debris from your property.
  • Discourage wildlife from entering your yard. Fleas don’t only infest your pet and your home—they also prey on wildlife, like deer and raccoons. In fact, these wild animals are likely how fleas end up in your yard! Combat this by putting up a fence that will keep out deer or stray dogs. You should also make sure your garbage is secured so as not to attract raccoons or opossums.  
  • Use diatomaceous earth. If worms aren’t your thing, try using diatomaceous earth. This dust is made from the fossilized remains of algae, and it’s nontoxic to pets and humans. However, it’s not recommended to apply this product directly to your pet.
  • Use pet-friendly insecticides. If these natural methods aren’t enough to control the fleas on your property, it might be time to up the ante! Talk to a professional exterminator about pet-friendly insecticides that will keep fleas away from your yard.  
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Get Monthly Flea Prevention

One of the most effective ways to manage flea infestations is to treat all pets in your household—even indoor cats—with species-appropriate monthly flea control. FRONTLINE® Brand Products not only kill the live fleas on your pets but also combat future infestations by breaking the flea life cycle.