How do dogs get fleas?

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Most dogs have had or will pick up fleas at some point in their lives to the frustration of conscientious owners. But how do dogs get fleas?

Fleas are a common problem and it is very easy for your dog to pick up fleas, usually from the environment accessed by other infested pets, or wildlife. However, there are some simple measures dog owners can take to reduce the risk of your hound being taken for a ride.

Flea hotspot #1 – Other animals

One of the most common ways your dog will pick up fleas is from the environment following contact with other animals, be it pets or wildlife. Dogs are sociable creatures, and fleas can even jump from the pup they met in the park onto your pooch or even from other household pets.

In fact, your dog is at risk of flea bites from both cat fleas and dog fleas – the most common types found in the UK. Although the dog flea prefers to feed on dogs, the cat flea is more common and isn’t picky, and will target dogs as well as your pet cat.

Plus, dogs love to investigate open spaces where wild animals carrying fleas are also present. On your daily walk, or even in your garden, your dog could come into contact with birds, rodents, rabbits, squirrels, foxes and deer, or places they’ve been, all of which might have fleas.

How to prevent your dog catching fleas from animals

It can help to discourage wildlife from making homes in your garden. Try not to leave out anything that may tempt them, such as your dog’s food, any nuts and seeds, and keep rubbish bags in a wheelie bin, so as not to attract any hungry foxes.

It is, however, important for dogs to socialise with other dogs and pets for their wellbeing. Rather than restrict contact with other pets, the most effective way to protect dogs from fleas is to use a flea treatment regularly. You’ll need to apply it to all pets in the household to minimise the chances of an infestation.

Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar lasts for up to eight months, killing fleas through contact so your dog can roam wherever they like. Seresto is suitable for both dogs and cats. For other household pets, alternative treatment options are available – ask your vet for more details.

Flea hotspot #2 – Your home

Unfortunately, uninvited fleas can easily break into your home and make it their house too. Flea eggs in the home environment can hitch a ride on people’s clothing, and fleas can be carried by pets visiting you, and on nesting wild animals, such as mice that might have set up camp under your floorboards.

Remember, home infestations can happen quickly – a single female flea can lay up to 40 eggs per day! 

How to prevent fleas coming into your home

If you’ve got some furry friends coming over for a visit, try to politely find out from the pet owner whether their flea treatment is up-to-date, so as not to pass fleas to your pets or into your home environment.

If you do have a rodent issue you may need to tackle that to help cut the risk of fleas entering your home.

In the event that you find fleas on your pet, or in your home you should act quickly, targeting them at every stage of their lifecycle:

  • Wash all bedding, including pet bedding in hot water (ideally 50 degrees Celsius or above to kill adult fleas and their eggs)
  • Thoroughly vacuum all carpets to help remove flea eggs and dispose of the bag outside, away from the house
  • You may wish to steam clean your carpet to help kill flea larvae
  • Use special flea spray from your vet on furniture, flooring and pet bedding which can prevent flea eggs and larvae developing. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Put children’s soft toys in a bag and into the freezer to kill any flea life stages present

Find out more on how to get rid of fleas in the home once and for all.

Your dog can also get fleas from the home environment

Flea hotspot #3 – Pet facilities

Indoor areas where other dogs frequent pose a risk of fleas for your pet. Doggy day care, veterinary practices, grooming facilities and boarding kennels are not always free from fleas. Despite often strict rules requiring dogs to be flea free in these facilities, treatment varies from dog owner to dog owner, so fleas can easily find their way in.

How to prevent fleas from your dog services

Ask about the flea prevention protocols your dog service providers have to ensure your pet is sufficiently protected. It’s important to find out how they respond in the event of finding an animal under their care with fleas and how often they have outbreaks in their facilities, so you can be prepared if another arises.

Fleas are a common problem and it is very easy for your dog to pick them up.

Flea hotspot #4 – Outdoors

The cat and dog flea does not tend to live outside, as they spend their adult lives on pets or wild animals, though occasionally eggs, larvae and pupae can be found in warm sheltered areas. If you have experienced a flea infestation in your home, and your dog spends time outside of the house (for example, an outdoor kennel or the boot of the car), then these places will need treating too, since they can be a source of repeated infestation.

How to protect your dog from fleas in the environment

It’s good practice to check your dog for ticks after a walk in woodland and through long grass, so why not also regularly keep a lookout for fleas after ‘walkies’ and meeting other animals by using a flea comb? Flea faeces, known as flea dirt, are a tell-tale sign that your dog has fleas so look out for black specks on your dog's skin and fur.

Flea hotspot #5 – Warmer climates

If you’re travelling abroad with your dog, they will be exposed to different bugs and the diseases they carry. But in warmer regions, fleas are a particular risk because they are able to survive for longer periods in the open environment without a host, waiting to jump on your dog.

How to protect your dog from fleas when abroad

An easy way to protect your pet from fleas and ticks while travelling abroad is to use a flea and tick treatment so you can enjoy your adventure without worrying about your pet. Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar kills fleas, and repels and kills ticks before they have the chance to bite, reducing the risk of transmission of unfamiliar infectious diseases that might be carried by the bugs.

Flea prevention is better than cure

You want your dog to enjoy life, whether that’s being cosy at home or exploring the great outdoors without the irritating itch flea bites cause or, worse, skin disease and hair loss. With so many opportunities where your dog can pick up fleas, the most effective flea control is to use a flea product to help protect your pet by preventing fleas in the first place. Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar offers complete protection for your furry best friend because the collar slowly releases the active ingredients carried across the skin and fur by the dog’s natural oils. There’s no mess and the simple collar design means there’s no fuss.

Use Medicines Responsibly.

Seresto Flea and Tick Control collar contains imidacloprid and flumethrin [NFA-VPS]. Further information is available from the datasheet at or on request. The Bayer cross is a Registered trademark of Bayer AG. Seresto, Elanco and the diagonal bar logo are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates. Elanco UK AH Ltd., Form 2, Bartley Wood Business Park, Bartley Way, Hook, RG27 9XA. Tel. 01256 353131.

Pack shot of Seresto flea and tick control collars for dogs and cats

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