Flea Bath For Dogs: The Most Helpful Bath For Fido

Flea Bath For Dogs
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Remember back when you were a kid and you were doing everything within your power to convince your parents to let you have a dog? Remember what the very first reason was after they said no? Fleas!

All that the jumping, all that biting and of course all the itching! And your poor dog is the one not only taking all the blame for it like a trooper, but also having to deal with the brunt of the flea assault.

That being said, there are a lot of remedies out there and a lot of solutions to keep the fleas off of your dog, however none of them are as powerful and as proven as the traditional flea bath.

What to use for an effective bath

There are a lot of solutions and a lot of chemical compounds that were designed and engineered in order to be effective against fleas and ticks. There is a problem, however: not all things work or are as safe for all dogs. Thus it goes without saying that there are a lot of things to take into consideration before actually deciding on what product to use for your dog and you will need some help in order to do this.

Effective bath for dog

The best thing that you can do is consult the dog’s vet and see what he or she recommends for your dog. However, even though taking a doctor’s opinion is always recommended, we can also use it to more or less benchmark other products that could work.

Do remember that these products are toxic and that they can and will hurt your dog if used inappropriately, so make your choice wisely. Don’t look for the strongest or the cheapest solution out there, look for the one that is more or less the best suited for your dog. Not strong and toxic enough to hurt the dog, but not weak enough to not do anything.

There are a lot of forms in which these products come in as well, and knowing what to expect from them will make your life easier when sorting through them.

Flea powder

This is by far one of the most known, popular and common solution out there, being in use for a little over a century now. The only problem with the powder is the fact that you will have to keep a very close eye on your dog and prevent him or her from licking the powder off, which in of itself is toxic and can do some serious damage to the dog’s digestive system if ingested in the right quantities.

Flea bath salts

These are special salts that dissolve in the bath water itself and are supposed to help get rid of fleas and ticks effectively as you bathe the dog.

Flea bath salts and dog bathing

There is just a small problem with the salts: they are dependent on the volume of water used in order to bathe the dog. That being said, they are quite a good choice for small dogs because they don’t require too much water to begin with, however in the case of big or even giant dogs, this can prove to be a very costly solution, not to mention the fact that constantly monitoring water levels and constantly adding in bath salts is not a fun thing to do to begin with.

Flea shampoo

It goes without saying that, at the moment, this solution is the most in demand one on the market. This happened because it is easy to use and you require next to no attention span in order to use it on your dog. There are some that come with a couple of special instructions; however most of them don’t go past the “add a bit of water to it before usage” level of extra instructions.

Dog flea shampoo

Again, this solution comes with a couple of things to watch out for as well, the biggest factor of them all being the thickness of the dog’s fur. The main idea for this shampoo is to penetrate the fur all the way to the skin and not only wash the dog but also kill the fleas, the ticks and their eggs, as well as coat the skin and the fur with a thin layer of protection against fleas in the future.

Flea drops

This is a more localized approach, basically putting drops of flea poison on to the areas that are affected the most by their presence, directly on the dog’s skin. Again, this is a more localized approach and even though it covers a substantial area of the dog’s fur and skin, it will not cover the entire body.

This method is recommended mostly as a preventive method, making sure that your dog is protected from fleas, ticks and other such parasites.

Something worth noting about this solution is the fact that this is the most toxic one of them all, and it is recommended to first consult a vet and even have your dog checked medically before administering it to make sure that there will not be any complications and any health issues in the future.

Prepping the Flea Bath For Dogs

Before the actual bath can take place, you will have to make a few preparations in advance. Most of these are more or less quality of life changes and preparations that you will be making; however it will be more than worth it in the long run.

  • Remove all carpets and mats from the bathroom floor. One of the most commonly accepted truths is the fact that most pets don’t like baths. There are exceptions, however the vast majority of pets cannot stand sitting and even standing in water. Dogs especially have a problem with water and baths in general, which is why they will splash around and try and escape as much as possible.
  • Have towels on hand. Most people don’t really take this advice into consideration most of the time. However, leaving your dog alone in the bathroom, even for a short period of time can and usually does spell disaster for the rest of the household.
    Having to leave the bathroom for a couple of seconds to get a towel for your dog can result in the dog escaping the bathroom and proceeding to wipe himself or herself on all the furniture, on the bed, on the rugs, on the sofa, on the carpet, literally everywhere.
  • Make sure that the water is just right. We love our dogs and it is more than normal for us to try and make sure that we are doing our best to make things as comfortable for them as possible. The last thing we want to do is to cause our dogs discomfort by making them bathe in water that is too cold or too hot for them, making it not only uncomfortable but also painful in some cases.
  • Full or empty? This is mostly up to the dog’s preference; however this is something to bear in mind if you want to make the bathing experience a lot more pleasant for your dog. That being said, some dogs prefer to be put directly into a tub full of water, while some prefer having the water rise around them.

This is mostly a matter of personal taste; however make sure that you are aware of it.

The last thing that you want to do is spend up to 15 minutes trying to stop your dog from escaping the bath.

What not to do when bathing your dog

There are quite a few things that you should never do while bathing your dog. These are mostly predictable and logical mistakes however, many people still make them regularly.

Loud noises

Singing, yelling and various other loud noises are strongly discouraged when having to give our dogs a flea bath. First and foremost because the dogs are stressed out enough as it is, and in the vast majority of cases, they are looking for the quickest way out of that tub. The last thing that they want to do is put up with our noises and sudden vocal explosions.

Feeding your dog in the bath

There are a lot of reasons why you should not do it, and most of them are self-explanatory.

Don't feed your dog while bathing him

However besides clogging up drains, contaminating the water and making the atmosphere a lot more unpleasant than it already is, it is actually bad for the dogs health, not to mention the fact that the idea of giving treats and rewarding the dog at that moment in time tends to send the wrong kinds of messages.

Covering up the smell

Oh the smell of wet dog! It’s enough to drive many away from a room, and certainly enough to remain ingrained in our memories for quite a while. That being said, if you think dealing with the smell as the dog is drying up, imagine how it must be when the dog is actually getting wet in front of you.

And as a result of that rather unpleasant nasal experience, most people try and cover up the smell with things like perfumes, deodorants, air fresheners and so on, which not only annoys the dogs but also makes them incredibly uncomfortable because of their keen sense of smell. The chemicals and aromas in these smell masking products interact with them in an unpleasant manner.

Using a tight grip

I understand that constantly fighting your dog to make sure that he or she stays in the actual tub can and usually does wear down your patience and nerves. It is usually stressful, not to mention how annoyed we can get when we see our dogs literally take advantage of each and every opening that they can find. We feel like we are taken advantage of and as such we tend to act in more aggressive ways.

Don't use tight grip

Not going as far as to resort to any actual violence, but going as far as to use a strong rip and even shake the dog a bit in order to more or less establish our dominance and make him or her understand that they have to obey us and that they have to stay in the tub.

This is a bad idea because the dog tends to interpret this in the wrong way, and depending on the dog’s mood and personality, you can get bitten, you can receive a lot of hostility and resistance from the dog, or you can more or less force to dog and permanently give off the impression that a bath is a bad thing, causing the dog to become defensive the next time you attempt to give him or her a bath.

The actual bath

Giving a bath to a dog can and usually is quite a challenge, that being said there are a lot of ways to go about completing this task, and a lot of these ways are the wrong ones.

In all honesty, we tend to get a bit too carried away and a bit too preoccupied with saving time and effort, often times forgetting the actual reason for which we give our dogs a bath, which is why it is good to keep a very strict and inflexible list of steps in your head.

First and foremost, make sure that the bath is nice and prepped and that you have your flea solution on hand, make sure that there are extra towels ready and that the dog in question is rather calm and docile.

Depending on the dog’s preference, either sit the dog in the tub and fill it with water, or fill the tub up with water and place the dog in it. Either way, the water level should be about 2 thirds of the way to the dog’s head, stopping more or less around the shoulder blades.

How to give your dog a flea bath

The idea behind this is to kill off fleas and any unwanted parasites by drowning them as well, making it easier for the solutions to take effect. After that is over and done with, start scrubbing your dog with the solution that you have chosen, along with the dog’s favorite shampoo.

There is always the option of special flea shampoos that contain the anti-parasitical solution in their composition. This is recommended to be used over other products because of the way in which it acts, managing to get through the fur and at the skin level faster than the rest of solutions. One thing to note here is the fact that you should expect to start seeing dead fleas floating around in the water, so don’t be alarmed or too disgusted by the sight.

After that is all over and done with, start draining the bath tub while still scrubbing and gently massaging the dog in the process. Making sure that the solution does its job and maintain a nice and relaxed state of mind for the dog himself or herself. After all the water has been drainer, rinse thoroughly until no traces of either solution or dead fleas are coming out of the patch of fur that you are rinsing.

This part is usually the one that takes the longest, depending on the thickness of the dog’s coat. Something like a golden retriever can set you back quite some time, while something along the lines of a Tibetan mastiff can set you back almost an hour just with rinsing alone.

Your dog after the bath

Anyway, after that is finally over and done with, take the dog out of the tub and let him or her shake the water off. Your dog will do this anyway so might as well get it over with and save up some time on towel drying the dog. Although do expect a bit of a mess in the bathroom as a result of this.

After the shaking is over and done with, grab the towel and start drying the dog off, making sure to not miss a spot or leave any excess dampness on the coat. This can lead your dog to catch colds, or various other health issues that derive from it.

In conclusion

A flea bath for dogs is not the hardest thing in the world to pull off, however you will need to be careful and keep a close eye on your dog. Any sign of discomfort or any sight that the dog would respond negatively to the chemical treatment should warrant an immediate stopping of the bath and careful rinsing of the area to wash the chemicals away.

Remember that you are trying to get your dog rid of fleas; however it is not imperative enough to put the dog’s health and comfort at risk. All in all, if done properly, a flea bath for dogs can leave both you and your dog happy that the flea problem is over and done with, with no remorse or hard feelings on any side.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.