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Newborn puppies provide the perfect environment for fleas to feed and lay their eggs. These dog fleas are very undesirable, as they cause the puppy’s skin to become itchy and irritated.
In more severe cases, the puppy can become anemic due to loss of blood caused by the parasites. Unfortunately, getting rid of fleas can be somewhat tricky when it comes to young puppies, as their bodies are not equipped to handle the strong insecticides most anti-flea products contain. Therefore, eliminating the fleas will involve keeping the puppy clean, while simultaneously treating the mother and any bedding or soft furnishings the puppy is exposed to.
There are no flea products that are safe for use on newborn pups. A puppy’s internal organs are more delicate than those of older dogs, and, therefore, more prone to harmful side effects caused by the anti-flea medications.
A lot of anti-flea products will be clearly marked as unsuitable for puppies on the label. Other products have never been tested on puppies, so the manufacturers advise against using them.
The most effective anti-flea products contain permethrins. DO NOT use these products to treat your puppy. Products that contain permethrins are not safe to use on your pup. A puppy’s metabolism is too immature and can’t break down the permethrins, which can build up in the puppies’ systems and cause neurological damage resulting in excessive shaking, drooling, paralysis or even seizures. Unfortunately, products that don’t contain permethrin are unlikely to be effective and are a waste of money.
Below are steps to follow to get your puppy to a healthy and happy condition.
Step 1 – Bathe the puppy in warm water.
As there are no commercial or prescription products suitable for use on young puppies, the only solution is to keep the puppy clean and try to remove any fleas manually. Here are instructions to follow when bathing your puppy:
- Place a few inches of warm water into a sink or basin. The water should be approximately the same temperature you’d use to bathe a baby.
- Place the puppy in the water, using your hand to support its head and keep it above the water.
- Scoop water over the puppy’s coat until it is completely wet.
- Lift your puppy out of the water and place it on a clean, warm towel. Gently rub the puppy with the towel to remove excess water.
Step 2 – Use a flea comb to remove fleas.
Place your puppy on a dry towel on a flat surface. Use a flea comb to groom the puppy’s damp fur and remove any fleas. Flea combs have teeth that are very close together so you can physically pull the fleas out of the fur. Start at your puppy’s neck and part the fur, combing a section at a time until you have covered your pup’s whole body and removed all the fleas.
Step 3 – Kill the fleas.
It’s important to kill any fleas that you remove from the puppy’s fur, otherwise, they could find their way back and re-infest. You can kill the fleas by squishing them between your fingernails or by dropping them into a cup of boiling water.
If you’re using boiling water, place the cup where the puppy can’t reach it, otherwise, your puppy may knock it over and get burned.
Step 4 – Keep puppy away from infected bedding.
Once you have physically removed the fleas from your pup’s fur, your little one should be free of fleas. However, there is no residual insecticide on his coat to stop new fleas from jumping onto him. Therefore, it is important to keep the puppy away from his mother and any infected bedding until they can be treated. This will help to prevent the puppy from becoming reinfected.
Step 5- When it’s safe to start using anti-flea products.
Once your puppy grows older, his body will be able to handle the ingredients used in anti-flea products and they will be safe to use. Always follow the instructions on the label to find out when it’s safe to start using a specific product. Of the licensed anti-flea medications:
- Revolution (active ingredient selamectin) can be used in puppies from 7 weeks of age onwards.
- Frontline (active ingredient fipronil) can be used at 8+ weeks.
- Oral medications such as Comfortis (active ingredient spinosad) are only safe from 14 weeks of age onwards.
Following the instructions above will give your puppy a well-deserved fresh start. Good luck!
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