Can You Use Flea Powder on Nursing Dogs?

Keep pests away from your pooch and her pups with flea-controlling options safe for them.
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Fleas cause all kinds of issues for pups and mother dogs, including anemia, itchy skin, skin irritations and hair loss. These pests may transmit tapeworms to a mother dog and her offspring. Among the many products on the market to rid your furry friends of these icky pests are flea powders. Flea powders may not be appropriate for nursing pups or their mothers.

Pups and Some Insecticides Don't Mix

Some flea powders contain insecticides with pyrethrins, derived of chrysanthemum flowers, according to Pyrethrins aren't appropriate for pups under 12 weeks of age, or nursing mother dogs. They can cause tremors, seizures, vomiting and excessive drooling. Other powders contain the organophosphate insecticide tetrachlorvinphos. Like pyrethrin-based flea powders, tetrachlorvinphos isn't appropriate for nursing mother dogs or puppies. This chemical is also dangerous to humans and is potentially harmful to dogs in general, making it a poor choice to use on your canine companions even after they stop nursing, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Safer Herbal Powders

Natural flea powders don't actually contain insecticides. Instead, they are made with herbal flea-repelling ingredients like the essential oils of cedar, rosemary, peppermint or orange. Essential oils are derived through the steam distillation of plants. Other ingredients may include dried herbs, including peppermint and rosemary leaves, which have been ground into a powder or food-grade diatomaceous earth. These ingredients are generally considered safe for young nursing puppies and their mothers. Read the directions to the herbal flea powder you choose to see if there are any warnings about using it on nursing pups, because ingredients may vary.

Flea Powder Considerations

Mother dogs lick their young to clean them and to stimulate elimination. For this reason, flea powders of any kind are not wise to administer. She'll ingest the powder when she cleans them, possibly upsetting her tummy and removing the flea-repelling powder from their coats. Pups might also inadvertently ingest the powder while nursing. Generally, flea powders aren't as effective at preventing and fighting fleas as prescription flea medications currently available, and they may harm young pups, the Pet Informed website advises.

Better Options for the Family

Consult your vet about which flea treatments are safest to use in nursing pups and their mother. Topical flea medications like selamectin or fipronil are considered safe for use on nursing mother dogs, according to These medications aren't appropriate for young pups under 8 weeks of age, though, so apply them only to mom's withers. With the youngsters, the safest option is to bathe them using dish soap to drown fleas and brush them with a flea comb to manually remove them. Some oral flea medications are safe for use in pups 4 weeks or older but not for those who are younger.