Fleas are a common problem for both cats and dogs. Your pet may pick up fleas in an environment accessed by infested pets or wildlife, such as while playing at the dog park or hiking in the woods. Fleas can also make it into your home by hitching a ride on clothing or shoes. It takes just one flea to cause an infestation - a single female flea can lay up to 40 eggs per day!
Fortunately, there are a few ways you can safely kill fleas on your pet at home. One very effective and easy home remedy for fleas is Dawn dish soap. However, most vets agree that dish soap does not repel fleas or prevent infestations. It should also not be used as a flea preventative as frequent use could cause dryness or irritate your pet’s skin and coat.
Learn more about the flea life cycle, how Dawn dish soap works to kill fleas, and how to prevent flea infestations.
What Is the Flea Life Cycle?
Before you can determine how best to kill the fleas living on your pet, you must understand the life cycle of the flea. There are four main stages of the flea life cycle, including:
1. Flea Eggs
When a female flea lays eggs on your pet, these eggs may spread throughout your pet’s coat and onto his surroundings, such as carpets and bedding.
2. Flea Larvae
In about one to 10 days, flea larvae hatch from eggs. Flea larvae live in dark, moist areas, don’t like sunlight, and feed on organic debris. They are most commonly found in carpeting, bedding, and under furniture and baseboards.
3. Flea Pupae
Flea larvae transform into pupae after enclosing themselves in a silk-like cocoon. Approximately one to two weeks later, they emerge as adult fleas. However, some remain in their cocoons for weeks or months.
4. Adult Fleas
Once full-grown, adult fleas can be seen with the naked eye on cats and dogs. They generally start to bite immediately after getting onto your pet, meaning your cat or dog may begin scratching soon after.
How Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?
Dawn dish soap has long been touted as a gentle and effective cleaner, even being used to clean wild birds that have been impacted by oil spills. This top-selling liquid soap contains surfactants that help cut through tough dirt and grease to achieve a deep clean. Surfactants also decrease water’s surface tension, meaning dirt and other debris, such as fleas, sink to the bottom.
Similar to other soaps and shampoos on the market, Dawn dish soap can be used to kill fleas on dogs and cats. By decreasing the water’s surface tension, it causes fleas to sink and ultimately drown. The ingredients in dish soap also damage fleas’ waxy exoskeletons, which are the hard outer shells that provide protection. If the exoskeleton is damaged, water can enter the flea’s respiratory tract, causing them to drown.
Which Type of Dawn Dish Soap is Best for Killing Fleas?
Dawn dish soap is a popular method of killing fleas on pets as it is safe to use on cats and dogs. However, there are many types of Dawn dish soaps currently on the market and some are safer than others. When choosing a soap, opt for a variety that is free of perfumes and additional chemicals. In addition, dilute the soap in warm water before applying it to your pet’s fur.
Dish soap should be kept away from your pet’s face, especially around the eyes and ears. After creating a lather and thoroughly cleaning your pet’s coat and skin, use plenty of clean water to rinse away the soap. Avoid using Dawn dish soap too frequently as it can dry out your pet’s coat and strip their skin of natural oils.
Pet owners can successfully use Dawn dish soap to kill both flea eggs and live fleas. However, flea eggs will commonly fall off pets and end up in carpeting, bedding, and other areas of the home. It is possible that your pet could reintroduce fleas back into his coat. That is why it’s not only important to treat your pet, but also to take the necessary steps to rid your home of flea eggs and adult fleas.
How Can I Prevent Fleas on Pets?
Dogs and cats that have fleas can develop a range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as intense itching. Your pet may scratch, bite, or lick his or her body to try and relieve the discomfort. He or she may also appear more anxious than usual and have gums that appear pale, a sign of anemia caused by a flea infestation.
Preventing fleas on pets requires several important precautions, including:
- Limit the amount of time that your pet spends outside
- Avoid exposure to stray or wild animals
- Bathe your pet regularly and check for fleas
- Speak with your vet about flea control products
Dawn dish soap is effective at killing fleas on dogs and cats but may not work for all animals. If your pet has developed fleas and his symptoms continue after bathing him with Dawn dish soap, schedule a visit with your vet to determine if further treatment is needed. Dawn dish soap should not be used as a permanent solution to fleas. For long-term results, dogs and cats require flea control products prescribed by a licensed veterinarian.
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