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DIY Flea Bath

DIY Flea Bath

The fleas this year have been terrible!  All the sudden the Frontline we’ve used for years seems to be doing absolutely nothing…  Our vet suspects that fleas are developing resistance to some of the common flea treatments, other people blame the wet and mild weather.  Whatever the reason, our poor dog was getting eaten alive.  When this happened mid Frontline cycle I didn’t know what to do.  She’d had a flea treatment so recently that I didn’t want to overmedicate her by giving another dose so soon.  I considered a flea bath but there were so many to choose from I didn’t know which were any good.  Also the active ingredient was described as an insecticide which makes sense but that still weirded me out.  Then one of my animal loving friends gave me an awesome tip – wash your dog with dish soap.  The fleas are smothered by the soap and wash harmlessly down your drain – it’s a beautiful thing!  It’s also cheaper, easier and more convenient than a commercial flea bath!   Here are the specifics:

DIY Flea Bath


  • Dish soap (the kind you use to handwash dishes).  Dawn was recommended as a particularly good brand because it’s pretty gentle on skin but kills fleas well.  I didn’t have Dawn so I used Seventh Generation and it also worked great.


  • Place dog in tub and use the dish soap like shampoo starting at your dog’s neck.  Fleas are surprisingly smart.  When they sense an attack they move quickly for high ground (your dog’s head) and/or run for cover (usually the tail end).  You can fend them off by immediately lathering up a thick soap ring around your dog’s neck.  Aim for a thick lather and make sure to massage it all the way down to their skin, not just the top of their fur.
  • Continue to work backwards until their entire body, including their tail, is fully lathered.  Then let them sit for 5-10 minutes to make sure the fleas are nice and dead.
  • Rinse thoroughly – you should see plenty of dead fleas going down the drain.  Continue rinsing until the soap is gone and you no longer see any fleas.  Comb through their fur with your fingers or a flea comb.  If you see any sign of movement, lather them up again just to be safe.

Note: This method usually works after just one bath. If you’re still seeing fleas, you can bathe them again later in the week.  However, ongoing flea problems often indicate an infestation somewhere in your house or yard.  I would strongly recommend scouring your house (especially their bedding and favorite places) for fleas as well.  Fleas lay up to 50 eggs per day so the sooner you catch them the easier they are to get rid of.  Good luck and God speed!

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