how to give your dog a flea bath with flea dog shampoo

How to Give Your Dog a Flea Bath

Believe it or not, the start of flea season is right around the corner.

These tiny, wingless parasites thrive in warm, humid environments and can cause discomfort and health issues for both pets and their humans.

Fleas feed on the blood of their hosts, leading to itching, irritation, and in severe cases, allergic reactions. If you've ever had a dog that is allergic to flea saliva, you know how miserable these tiny little creatures can make your dog.

To combat fleas naturally requires a dual approach: proactive prevention and targeted treatment.

Fighting Fleas In Your Yard

Let's first talk about things you can do in your yard to reduce the fleas in your dog's environment.

These are all easy things you can do for your dog but not ON your dog: 

    1. Beneficial Nematodes: Spread beneficial nematodes in your yard to feed on flea larvae and other garden pests. They are safe for you and your dog to be around and will slowly reduce the amount of fleas in your yard naturally. We apply them in the spring. 

  1. Diatomaceous Earth: This powder, made from fossilized diatoms (algae), is non-toxic and can be sprinkled around your yard to kill fleas. We highly recommend spreading it in your yard and not applying it topically to your pet as it can be irritating to the respiratory system over time. 

  2. Keep Your Lawn Trimmed: Fleas prefer to live in tall grass and weeds. Keeping your lawn mowed and your garden tidy reduces their habitat.

  3. Cedar Chips: Spread cedar chips around your yard, especially in areas where your pets like to spend time. Fleas dislike the smell of cedar.

  4. Plant Flea-Repellent Vegetation: Certain plants like lavender, mint, and chrysanthemums naturally repel fleas. Planting these around your yard can help keep fleas away.

  5. Encourage Wildlife: Birds and certain insects can be natural predators of fleas. Having a bird feeder or bird bath in your yard can attract flea-eating birds like starlings or grackles.

  6. Wash Bedding Frequently: In the spring and summer months, step up the frequency of washing bedding and blankets. You can use 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) of 4-Legger shampoo in your washing machine instead of detergent. Add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the washer if you have very hard water.
  7. Vacuum Carpets Frequently: Yes, you can vacuum up fleas but be sure to dispose of it and seal the trash bag so they won't just jump out of the trash and back into your carpet. If you see multiple fleas, you may want to clean your carpet. Here are our tips for using 4-Legger in your carpet cleaner

Regular Grooming With Safe Dog Shampoo for Fleas

Regular grooming of pets helps in detecting and removing fleas before they have a chance to reproduce and cause an infestation.

If you don't already have a flea comb, get one to keep handy in case you need it. Sometimes that one pesky flea on your dog is causing them a lot of grief and a flea comb can help!  

We recommend getting a bowl mixed with water and an ounce of 4-Legger dog shampoo. If you get a flea on the comb, dip it in the water for a few seconds so it doesn't jump right back on your dog.

Using flea shampoo with neem oil or essential oils like lavender, lemongrass, orange, peppermint, or cedarwood that are diluted and applied properly, can act as natural flea repellents but with hundreds of flea dog shampoos on the market that are not organic or are detergent-based, it's important to be aware of the potential dangers and toxicity associated with these products and their ingredients. 

Ingredients in Flea Dog Shampoo

A lot of dog shampoos for fleas use permethrin, a synthetic chemical that belongs to the family of pyrethroid insecticides. It is widely used in agriculture, home pest control, and public health programs. Permethrin is effective against a broad range of pests, including ticks, mosquitoes, mites, and many other insects.

One of its key characteristics is that it is neurotoxic to insects, leading to paralysis and death. 

When permethrin was approved for use in 1979 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it classified it as a "weak carcinogen" to mammals and highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates.

A "weak carcinogen" is still a carcinogen and should not be used on any animal.

Notably, if you look at the warning labels on these shampoos, it makes clear that these are likely not the best ingredients to put on your dog! 

Precautionary Statements: Hazards to humans and domestic animals. Humans: Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling and before eating, drinking, chewing gum, or using tobacco. Causes substantial but temporary eye injury. Do not get in eyes or on clothing. Avoid contact with skin. Wear goggles or face shield. Remove contaminated clothing and wash clothing before reuse. Animal: Do not use on puppies or kittens less than 12 weeks of age. Consult a veterinarian before using this product on debilitated, aged, medicated, pregnant, or nursing animals. Sensitivities may occur after using any pesticide product for pets. If signs of sensitivity occur, bathe your pet with mild soap and rinse with large amounts of water. If signs continue, consult a veterinarian immediately. 

It is also worthy of mention that dog shampoos that use insecticides like permethrin list the insecticides in their list of ingredients but fail to include the list of all of the other ingredients even though the other ingredients are 97%-99% of the formulation!

Never use a shampoo that doesn't list all of the ingredients and double check EVERY ingredient in the pet shampoo ingredient database to make certain they are safe and non-toxic. 

Selecting A Safe And Non-Toxic Natural Flea Dog Shampoo

While all of 4-Legger's shampoos will help with fleas, here are our favorites:

  1. Revitalize Organic Neem Dog Shampoo with Sweet Orange Essential Oil: This shampoo is an excellent choice for dogs suffering from flea bites, allergies, or skin inflammation. It combines organic neem oil and sweet orange essential oil to repel pests, promote collagen production, and reduce inflammation. Additionally, its natural deodorizing properties help eliminate the "doggy smell".

  2. Organic Cedar Dog Shampoo and Conditioner with Peppermint & Eucalyptus: 

    Cedar and peppermint, two very effective natural pest repellents combine to make this great smelling formulation pack a punch to fleas. Formulated with organic guar gum, this thicker shampoo helps to slow down and trap fleas while conditioning your dog's coat.
  3. Organic Lemongrass and Aloe Hypoallergenic Dog Shampoo: This shampoo is our "go to" for its gentle formulation but it is still very effective with getting rid of fleas. Like all 4-Legger shampoos, it is also a safe puppy shampoo.

Each of these 4-Legger shampoos harnesses the power of organic and natural ingredients to provide effective, chemical-free solutions for flea control and skin care in dogs.

How To Give Your Dog A Flea Bath

When giving your dog a flea bath, you should first start by making a "ring around the neck" with the shampoo.

I like to mix 4-Legger organic dog shampoo with water and then pour it around my dog's neck line and work it into a lather. This creates a barrier for the fleas that, when giving your dog a bath, will run up to hide in/under the ears.

Once you've created the barrier, you can use a wash cloth to carefully wash your dog's face, being extra careful around the eyes and ears. 

With the face clean and the neck barrier still in place (apply it again if you've rinsed it off), you are ready to wash the dog's body! 

Cover your dog with warm water and then starting at the neck line, work your way down and back to the tip of the tail. You will likely see fleas jump off your dog as you wash them. Be sure to wash in the arm pits and their private bits!

After your dog is lathered up, let it sit for a few minutes and continue to lather the shampoo with water deeply into your dog's coat. While I sing songs to my dog during this step, it is not required and the fleas don't seem to care one way or another. 

Rinse the shampoo from your dog, being sure to get under the arms and tail (places where fleas love to hide). 

The key to effectively using natural products instead of toxic pesticides to deal with pest season is consistency and frequency.  4-Legger has made it easy to manage both!  Since most people don’t bathe their dog everyday, that doesn’t mean the fleas take the days off in between baths.  That’s one reason we made our essential oil-based sprays using the same essential oil scents that pests hate so that you can easily keep your dog layered in the protective benefits of essential oils every day in between baths!  Lavender, Sweet Orange, Lemongrass and Peppermint will work in perfect tandem with our 4-Legger shampoos to create a hedge of protection around your dog all season long!

Happy bathing!