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 PetEducation.com. 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 PetEducation.com. 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.
- WebMD: Safety Tips for Using Flea and Tick Products on Pets
- Pet Informed: Flea Control for Puppies -- A Guide to Treating Fleas on Puppies
- PetEducation.com: Ingredients in Flea & Tick Control Products
- The Humane Society of the United States: Flea and Tick Product Ingredients: What You Should Know
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Fleas
- petMD: Fleas on Dogs and What You Can Do About Them
- AustinTexas.gov: Nursing Mothers and Their Puppies
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Flea Product Comparison
- Mother Earth News: Natural Flea Control
- The Holistic Puppy: How to Have a Happy, Healthy Dog; Diane Stein
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.