Puppy being washed

Puppy Flea Shampoo - A Life Stage Guide

OUR #1 PICK

The best value for money

Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo

  • Safe for use in puppies 12 weeks or older.
  • ​Long lasting effect (up to 30 days).
  • ​Effectively kills fleas, flea eggs and larvae on contact.
  • ​Also effective against ticks and lice.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Flea treatment for puppies under 12 weeks can be a real challenge.

    The main reason is that most of the tried and true pesticides used for flea and tick control are just not safe for the sensitive systems of our tiny fur babies.

    Don't worry, we won't leave you hanging!

    This article provides a review of products and techniques safe for flea control in puppies under 12 weeks, followed by the top flea and tick shampoos for dogs over 12 weeks old.

    Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine


    Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here


    Fleas On Puppies | A Note of Caution

    When you are using any potent chemicals on your pup, watch closely for any adverse reactions. They are rare, but they can be severe.

    Contact your vet immediately if you suspect something may have gone wrong with any flea treatments. Pay particular attention to any signs of irritated skin, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite changes and/or lethargy.


    Pest Resistance

    You may find that landing on the right flea control product for your puppy is complicated by the fact that some regions have fleas and/or ticks that have become resistant to the pesticides used in some flea control products.

    Because of regional differences in pest resistance, you should contact your vet to find out the most effective pesticides for your area, especially when choosing a long-term topical treatment.

    Consider using a flea spray for another layer of protection. Learn more here:

    A Guide To Flea Spray.


    ​Best Puppy Flea Shampoo

    IMAGE

    PRODUCT

    FEATURES

    RATING

    Aspectek Sticky Dome Flea Trap with 2 Sticky Discs

    • Completely non-toxic
    • Attracts fleas with light, heat, and a slight odor
    • Traps fleas by its sticky glue

    Diatomaceous Earth

    • Natural and non-toxic
    • Made from ground aquatic fossils
    • Completely safe for home use

    Safari Flea Comb with a Double Row of Teeth

    • Removes fleas and eggs by drawing through the fur
    • Suitable for young pups who cannot use flea shampoo

    Dawn Bath

    • Great for unmanageable flea infestation
    • Suitable for pups under 4 weeks with severe infestation
    • Inexpensive shampoo alternative

    Capstar Flea Tablets

    • Oral treatment, easy to administer
    • Kills adult fleas
    • Fast results as soon as ingested

    SynergyLabs Richard's Organics Flea & Tick Shampoo

    • Safe and effective
    • All natural
    • Inexpensive

    Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar

    • Suitable for pups age 7 weeks old or above
    • Economical
    • Kills fleas through contact

    Bayer Advantage II Topical Flea Treatment

    • Safe for pups weighing 3 lbs and age 7 weeks or older
    • Applied along the backline
    • Helps with lice problems

    Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control

    • Suitable for pups weighing 5 lbs or more
    • Lasting flea protection
    • Waterproof treatment

    Gold Medal Pets Shampoo for Dogs

    • Safe for use in puppies 12 weeks or older.
    • Mild and pleasant scent.
    • Effective against fleas at all life stages as well as ticks.

    Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo

    • Safe for use in puppies 12 weeks or older.
    • Long lasting effect (up to 30 days).
    • Effectively kills fleas, flea eggs and larvae on contact.

    Mycodex Flea Tick Shampoo

    • Safe for puppies 12 weeks or older.
    • Formulated with sensitive skin in mind.
    • Kills fleas and ticks of all life stages.

    TropiClean Neem and Citrus Pet Shampoo

    • All-natural ingredients that avoid controversial pesticides.
    • Fantastic tropical smell.
    • Skin soothing and conditioning properties.

    Flea Shampoo For Puppies - Life Stages

    Can you use a flea shampoo on your 8 week old puppy, even though the shampoo says for 12 weeks and older?

    The answer is no. Puppies are extremely sensitive to chemicals and so topical or oral treatments are just out of the question.

    See below for more info on this topic.

    If you're after the top flea shampoo for adult dogs check out our guide.

    Fleas Shampoo For Dogs


    Under 4 Weeks

    When your puppy is less than 4 weeks old, the flea control options are very limited.

    However, there are some things you can do, and we here at Wiley Pup want you to have the information you need to do the best you can for your poor little flea ridden pup!

    Treat Their Environment 

    While flea shampoo is out of the question for puppies this young, there are a few things you can do to help with a flea infestation.

    First, you can treat the environment with some safe products to help control the flea population. Here are a few things that definitely work:

    ​Aspectek Sticky Dome Flea Trap with 2 Sticky Discs

    Aspectek Sticky Dome Flea Trap with 2 Sticky Discs

    These little flea traps are completely non-toxic.

    They operate by attracting fleas with light, heat and a slight odor (imperceptible to people). When the flea comes in for a visit they are trapped by sticky glue on replaceable cards in the trap.

    It is a very simple solution and these things do work!

    They are not likely to completely solve your puppy’s flea problem, but they will definitely keep the population in check and start working on devastating the population of fleas in your home.

    How will you know it is working? 

    They will soon be covered in dead fleas!

    Set these up near your little guy’s crate or sleeping area for best results.


    ​Diatomaceous Earth

    Diatomaceous Earth

    This is one of those natural, non-toxic remedies that really works.

    Diatomaceous Earth is made from ground aquatic fossils. These skeletal remains are made of silica which grinds into a very fine powder made up of extremely sharp particles.

    When Diatomaceous Earth comes into contact with insects, the fragments are so small that they operate to agitate the exoskeleton of the insect.

    The fine particles absorb the vital oils on the outside of the bug which then promptly dies from dehydration.

    ​Diatomaceous earth is completely safe for use in your home. It can even be ingested safely (although this is not the way you treat fleas).

    However, it does not work on flea eggs. So, to use Diatomaceous Earth with best results, fully wash and vacuum bedding and carpet near your puppy’s sleeping area, then give it a liberal dusting with the product.

    Because you are unlikely to get all of the eggs with a single cleaning, plan to repeat the treatment a few times a week for the best results.

    You can also sprinkle some on your puppy, however, they are likely to safely pick up plenty of dust from their bedding for effective treatment.


    Treat Your Puppy

    ​Safari Flea Comb with a Double Row of Teeth

    Safari Flea Comb with a Double Row of Teeth

    The safest way to treat your baby directly for fleas is the proper use of a flea comb.

    This comb works to remove fleas and eggs by drawing through the fur and gently dragging over the skin, trapping the pests in the fine teeth and removing them from your pup.

    It is best to do this outside if the weather is warm enough, that way you are not adding to any infestation in your home.

    Plan on repeating this procedure daily.

    ​This treatment plan may not completely eradicate the problem, but it is likely to ease the intensity of the issue to relieve the suffering of your young pup until they are old enough to use a flea shampoo.


    Dawn Bath

    If the infestation in your pup under 4 weeks is severe, some vets recommend a bath with the mild dish soap, Dawn.

    However, there are a few things to keep in mind for safety reasons. Here are the steps along with some cautions:

    • Make sure you get the Original Dawn. Do not use any of the anti-bacterial or otherwise boosted versions of this product line. Only the Original Dawn (linked above) is safe for this procedure.
    • Use warm water and lather up well, starting at the head and moving to the tail.
    • Only bath in a warm room without a draft as puppies are very susceptible to getting too cold.
    • Rinse extremely thoroughly. Rinse some more. Then rinse some more. The most important step here is getting all of the soap out of your pup’s fur and skin. This will be the fastest way for the natural skin oils to return as they will be stripped by the detergent.
    • Have several dry towels on the ready. After the bath immediately dry your pup gently but thoroughly and then swaddle in a towel until nice and toasty and completely dry. This is a critical step because a chill at this age is dangerous.
    • Do not repeat this technique more than once a week. It is somewhat invasive as it will strip the natural oils from your pup’s coat, and it is somewhat traumatic to their little bodies.
    • Use this technique only when the flea infestation is unmanageable.

    4 Weeks or Older

    Capstar Flea Tablets

    Once your puppy is 4 weeks old, a medical treatment is available to control fleas as long as your dog is 2 pounds or more in weight.

    Capstar is an oral treatment. It basically works on a 48-hour cycle, then treatment needs to be repeated until all of the fleas are gone.

    This is because it only kills adult fleas which starts as soon as the medication is ingested.

    You will need to wait out the life cycle of the fleas to get a complete flea free puppy. Be sure to follow the package directions.

    Combine this treatment with environmental controls explained in the first section, otherwise your pup will continue to be re-infested.


    6 Weeks or Older

    SynergyLabs Richard's Organics Flea & Tick Shampoo

    There are a few options for puppy flea shampoo for dogs over 6 weeks. These shampoos use essential oils to kill fleas.

    We like this SynergyLabs flea shampoo for puppies because it is safe, effective, all natural, and inexpensive. It is an all-around win!

    It is important to keep in mind that this formula is not effective against flea eggs or larvae.

    You will need to repeat the treatment once a week for the most effective results.

    Also, increase the effectiveness of this treatment with the use of a flea comb after each bath. Remember to keep up with washing bedding and vacuuming carpets as well.

    You will need to repeat the treatment once a week for the most effective results.

    Also, increase the effectiveness of this treatment with the use of a flea comb after each bath. Remember to keep up with washing bedding and vacuuming carpets as well.


    7 Weeks or Older

    Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar

    Once your pup is 7 weeks old, some new treatments become available that take advantage of pesticides that are safe to use at this age and will provide a more complete protection and eradication.

    This collar works by slowly releasing potent pesticides imidacloprid and flumethrin in safe, ongoing, low doses. This combination kills both adult fleas and their larva as well as repelling and killing ticks and their larvae as well.

    This is an economical option too.

    The collar is pricey to buy upfront, but keep in mind it provides a full 8 months of protection!


    Bayer Advantage II Topical Flea Treatment

    The active ingredients in this product are imidacloprid and pyriproxyfen. It is safe to use in pups that are at least 3 pounds and 7 weeks or older.

    This product is applied topically to the skin along the backline of your pup (where they can’t lick). It is important to note that although this product works great for fleas (adults and larvae) it does not provide tick protection.

    It does, however, help with lice.

    Lice can be a problem, especially for young dogs, so this can be a great combination in the right circumstances.

    Also, this product works by spreading using the natural skin oils of your pup.

    It will be less effective if applied within a few days of their last bath since soap will strip these oils. Each application provides a full 30 days of protection.


    8 Weeks or Older

    Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control

    If your pup is 5 pounds or more, and 8 weeks or older, you can use this topical treatment for flea control.

    The active ingredients are Fipronol and (S)methoprene.

    These chemicals kill fleas, flea eggs, lice and ticks for a complete pest solution for your pup.

    You will administer this medication along the back line of your pup, making sure to wait a few days after their last bath to take advantage of the natural skin oils that help distribute the medication.

    Each dosage provides 30 days of protection.


    ​Puppy Flea Shampoo: 12 Weeks or Older

    ​Once your pup is 12 weeks or older, most commercial flea shampoos are safe for puppies, although it is always prudent to check the label!

    Below you will find our top three pics along with some pros and cons for each so that you can make the best choice for your tiny furry friend.

    Gold Medal Pets Shampoo for Dogs

    This customer favorite is a long-time leader in the flea and tick shampoo category.

    It is very effective against fleas and ticks at all life stages, providing instant and complete relief from an infestation.

    The active ingredients include piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrin.

    While these chemicals have been used for a very long time and are generally considered safe for our dogs, they are widely criticized by environmentalists for their potential impact on the environment.

    While the vast majority of dogs are not reactive to pyrethrins, a rare minority can have severe reactions to it.

    In addition, aquatic life and cats are sensitive to it. It is not a great choice if you have cats or kittens in your household.

    PROS
    • ​Safe for use in puppies 12 weeks or older.
      Safe for use in puppies 12 weeks or older.
    • ​Mild and pleasant scent.
      Mild and pleasant scent.
    • ​Excellent price.
      Excellent price.
    • ​Additional ingredients provide conditioning power for a lustrous coat.
      Additional ingredients provide conditioning power for a lustrous coat.
    • ​Effective against fleas at all life stages as well as ticks.
      Effective against fleas at all life stages as well as ticks.
    CONS
    • ​Contains pyrethrin, a controversial pesticide.
      Contains pyrethrin, a controversial pesticide.

    Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo

    Another trusted name in dog care products is Adams. This choice is another great product for an effective puppy flea and tick shampoo.

    When used as directed, one bath can provide up to 30 days of protection!

    The active ingredients include piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrin, which (as noted above) are somewhat controversial.

    If you have a fish pond that your pup may swim in, or have cats inside your home, you may want to use a product that does not contain pyrethrins.

    This is a great value, particularly when you factor in how long it lasts. It does have a slight medicinal smell, but that will fade within a few hours of the bath.

    PROS
    • ​Safe for use in puppies 12 weeks or older.
      Safe for use in puppies 12 weeks or older.
    • ​Long lasting effect (up to 30 days).
      Long lasting effect (up to 30 days).
    • ​Effectively kills fleas, flea eggs and larvae on contact.
      Effectively kills fleas, flea eggs and larvae on contact.
    • ​Also effective against ticks and lice.
      Also effective against ticks and lice.
    • ​Reasonably priced.
      Reasonably priced.
    CONS
    • ​This product does have a slight medicinal smell.
      This product does have a slight medicinal smell.
    • ​Contains pyrethrin, a controversial pesticide.
      Contains pyrethrin, a controversial pesticide.

    Mycodex Flea Tick Shampoo

    This may be your best choice in a flea shampoo for puppies with sensitive skin. It contains lanolin, coconut extract and aloe to condition skin and sooth irritation from flea bites.

    Plus, it has a great smell for that pampered pooch!

    Again, this product contains pyrethrin, so be careful using it if you have cats in the home.

    You can rely on this product to be effective against fleas and ticks since it kills them at all life stages on contact.

    For the 12-week-old puppy, this flea shampoo is sure to stop an infestation in its tracks!

    PROS
    • ​Safe for puppies 12 weeks or older.
      Safe for puppies 12 weeks or older.
    • ​Formulated with sensitive skin in mind.
      Formulated with sensitive skin in mind
    • ​Kills fleas and ticks of all life stages.
      Kills fleas and ticks of all life stages.
    • ​Fantastic smell.
      Fantastic smell.
    CONS
    • Contains pyrethrin, a controversial pesticide.
    • ​Pricier than some other brands.
      Pricier than some other brands.

    ​BONUS PICK!

    TropiClean Neem and Citrus Pet Shampoo

    We wanted to be sure to round out our review with an option that would work for multiple pet households.

    If you have a cat or kitten in your home, you may have already read that the common pesticide pyrethrin used in most medicated flea and tick shampoos is potentially harmful to cats.

    This product offers an alternative.

    You should be aware that it does not kill fleas or ticks, but it is a very effective repellant.

    When combined with natural remedies like diatomaceous earth (see above), this flea and tick shampoo for puppies is a safe and effective product for use in mixed pet households.

    Another bonus? 

    It smells great! It has lots of organic skin soothing and fur conditioning properties as well. Your pup has never been so soft and cuddly!

    PROS
    • ​All-natural ingredients that avoid controversial pesticides.
      All-natural ingredients that avoid controversial pesticides.
    • ​Great for mixed pet households because the ingredients are not offensive to cats.
      Great for mixed pet households because the ingredients are not offensive to cats.
    • ​Fantastic tropical smell.
      Fantastic tropical smell.
    • ​Skin soothing and conditioning properties.
      Skin soothing and conditioning properties.
    • ​Excellent value.
      Excellent value.
    CONS
    • ​Repels but does not kill fleas or ticks.
      Repels but does not kill fleas or ticks.


    ​Thanks for trusting Wiley Pup to bring you great information to help you make informed decisions for your dog! Please feel free to leave comments about your experiences with flea and tick control for puppies!

    FAQ

    When can you use flea shampoo on a puppy?

    Most flea shampoos are not safe to use on puppies that are less than 12 weeks old. Until this time, the body of the little pup is too sensitive to withstand the compounds of flea shampoo. However, it is possible to find some flea shampoos with mild formulas that can be used for puppies that are 6 weeks old or older.

    What is the safest flea treatment for puppies?

    The safest flea treatment for a puppy will always be a treatment that’s appropriate for the age of the dog in question. That being said, a simple bath, maybe with a bit of Dawn soap, some brushing sessions with a flea comb, and Diatomaceous Earth are probably the safest things you can do to help fight a flea infestation. 

    What do I do to my house if my dog has fleas?

    You can use Diatomaceous Earth to help kill fleas in your home. Diatomaceous Earth does not kill flea eggs, though. For this reason, it’s also important to vacuum your house often and wash your pet’s bedding.

    Does Dawn dish soap kill fleas on dogs?

    Yes, a bath with Dawn soap will kill fleas by drowning them. Their eggs will be washed off as well. Just make sure not to do it too often and follow the instructions mentioned in this article.

    Does vinegar kill fleas on dogs?

    Apple cider vinegar is often mentioned as a natural remedy for fleas. However, vinegar does not kill fleas. It might act as a repellent, but the effects are temporary at best. Since the fleas won’t be killed, they can come back as soon as the vinegar has evaporated.

    References
    1. 1.R. Morgan Griffin (10 August 2009) Natural Insect Control: Flea and Tick Treatments for Pets: Retrieved from https://pets.webmd.com/features/natural-insect-control-flea-and-tick-treatments-for-pets#1

    Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer

    Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.

    For more info on Sharon click here

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