How Soon After a Flea Bath Can Fleas Return?

by Catherine Troiano
    He may enjoy his bath, but he needs long-term flea control.

    He may enjoy his bath, but he needs long-term flea control.

    Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

    When fleas invade your dog’s coat, he might scratch himself incessantly. A single bite from a flea can make a dog with sensitive skin especially miserable if he suffers from flea allergic dermatitis. Your first instinct may be to bathe your dog and wash those offensive parasites down the drain, but bathing is a brief remedy. To keep new fleas from attacking your canine companion, follow up with a preventative product recommended by your veterinarian.

    Bathe First

    If you opt to start your furry friend’s treatment with a bath, ask your veterinarian to recommend a safe and effective flea shampoo. Begin by thoroughly scrubbing your dog by lathering down to the skin, starting at the head and proceeding back toward the tail. Fleas like to retreat to the neck, the base of the tail and in between your dog’s toes, so pay close attention to these areas, removing all lingering fleas with a flea comb. When you complete this arduous task and dry your pet, take steps to prevent re-infestation. Shampoos kill only the fleas that are on your pet during the bath. They are ineffective against new invading fleas.

    Protect Against Future Infestations

    Ask your veterinarian to recommend an effective preventative flea product for your dog to prevent further infestations. Apply a veterinarian-prescribed topical treatment to the back of your dog’s neck each month. The substance disperses throughout the surface of his body through the natural oils in his coat. The initial application of one of these products will kill the fleas within 48 hours, enabling you to forgo the flea bath altogether. If you choose to give you dog the spa treatment and bathe him first, apply the product as soon as he dries. Other prescription preventatives include oral tablets. Avoid using over-the-counter flea control products, which are less effective in providing your furry friend with prompt and lasting relief.

    Treat His Housemates and Your Environment

    Treat all other dogs and cats in your family using the proper products. Most flea preventatives for dogs are deadly to cats, and dog treatments are formulated based on the animal's weight. Many products are not safe for use in newborn puppies and kittens. It is imperative to use only the products your veterinarian prescribes for each pet and to follow the instructions exactly. Take steps to clean the house and yard. Thoroughly vacuum the home, especially along corners and crevices, then throw away the vacuum cleaner bag. Thoroughly wash all pet bedding and toys. Keep the lawn cut low and trim all outdoor vegetation to decrease potential areas for fleas to gather; ask your veterinarian to recommend a safe treatment for the yard.

    Abolish Fleas, Preserve Health and Happiness

    After instituting a comprehensive approach to flea prevention, you help save your dog from the consequences of a flea infestation, including flea allergic dermatitis, flea anemia and tapeworms. Some flea control products also prevent ticks, minimizing your dog’s risk for developing Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. Since baths are ineffective at killing fleas outside of the tub, talk to your veterinarian about the safest and most effective products to keep all of your pets free of fleas, healthier and happier.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Based on Long Island, Catherine Troiano has been writing pet articles for various pet-related websites since 2011. After graduating from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she worked for 16 years as a veterinary technician and served as the cattery manager at a local shelter.