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How often should I flea bathe my dog?

How often should I flea bathe my dog?

Fleas are a nuisance for you and your dog. There are many ways to rid your canine companion of fleas, including a flea bath. If you are using a flea shampoo to control fleas, you may be wondering how often you can give your dog a flea bath. 

How often should I flea bathe my dog?

How often to flea bathe your dog will depend on the product you are using. It’s important not to bathe your dog too often, particularly with flea shampoo, because it can irritate your dog’s skin.

Typically, the term flea bath is used to refer to bathing your dog with a flea shampoo or using a flea dip. 

Signs Your Dog Has Fleas

Before we talk about how often you should bathe your dog with fleas, let’s take a look at signs your dog has fleas. 

The first symptom most people notice is scratching or biting. Your dog may scratch furiously and often in certain areas. They may also bite frequently. If you watch, they will barely open their mouth and nip at their fur in an attempt to catch the fleas.

Another symptom of fleas is flea dirt. These small black specks look like dirt, but they are actually flea poop. Gross, I know. If you are wondering if your dog has flea dirt or just plain old dirt, there’s an easy test. 

Get a few specks on a white paper towel. Wet it slightly. Flea dirt will have a red color, and will run with a reddish brown color when wet. This is because it contains blood.  

Flea Life Cycle

To understand how to get rid of fleas, it’s important to know the flea life cycle. 

Once adult fleas find a host (your dog), they will mate and lay eggs. The eggs hatch within 1-10 days. Once they hatch, they are in the larvae stage. They feed on blood and flea poop. 

Within 5-20 days, they will mature to the next stage. They spin a cocoon, and enter the pupa stage. The flea is difficult to kill in this stage. The cocoon protects it from insecticides, including flea treatments. It doesn’t need to feed during this stage. 

They will not hatch until there’s a host available. This means if they are in your carpet or furniture, they will wait patiently inside their cocoon until they can access a host. 

Once they sense a host, they hatch and then climb onto the host. They feed, and the cycle begins again. 

This cycle is one reason why it’s difficult to get rid of fleas. Most treatments kill adult fleas, but eggs and pupa are more difficult to kill. Fleas mature and mate quickly, which also contributes to the problem. 

No matter the flea treatment you use, you should use it as directed to break the flea life cycle. If you wait too long between treatments, the fleas can mature and mate, keeping the cycle going. 

Flea Shampoo

Generally, flea shampoo shouldn’t be used more than once a week. Many experts recommend once every two weeks. Flea shampoo will kill any fleas present on your dog, and will keep killing fleas for two weeks. It’s effectiveness may be reduced by frequent bathing with regular dog shampoo, because it can remove some of the residue.

Flea Dips

Flea dips are similar to flea shampoos, but there are some differences. They can contain different active ingredients than flea shampoo. They are also applied differently. 

Flea dips are usually mixed with a small amount of water and then applied to your dog’s coat. You can apply the solution with a sponge or “dip” your dog into the water. Some formulas are designed to be applied directly to skin, while others need to be mixed with one gallon of water. 

Be sure to read the directions on the flea dip, because misuse can cause skin irritation. 

Flea dips are very effective at killing fleas on your pet, typically killing the fleas upon contact. However, you may have fleas jumping ship, onto your bathroom or even yourself when giving your dog a flea dip. 

Flea dips repel fleas longer than shampoos. Most flea dips shouldn’t be used more than once a month, and should provide 30 days of flea protection for your dog. 

How often to bathe a dog that has fleas?

It’s important to keep your dog clean. You love the way their coat looks and feels after a bath, but you wonder if it’s possible to bathe them too often. Is less better? What can you do to keep them clean between baths? 

How Often to Bathe Your Dog

Most vets and groomers recommend not bathing a dog more than once a month. If your dog has fleas, you may choose to bathe them more often to remove fleas and flea dirt from their coat. 

If your dog has skin issues, don’t bathe your dog more than once a month unless it’s recommended by your vet. It can cause further skin irritation, worsening the existing problem. If your dog has healthy skin, the most you should bathe them is once a week. 

Flea Comb

A flea comb is not only useful for identifying fleas on your dog, but removing them as well. It can also remove flea dirt, which can irritate your dog’s skin. It’s also just plain gross, and not something you want on your dog’s coat. 

Cleaning Wipes

Cleaning wipes are another option. These are gentle enough for daily use in most cases. If your dog has a skin condition, consult your vet before using to be sure it won’t cause irritation. 

Cleaning wipes are similar to wet wipes that parents use on their children. They allow you to quickly wipe away surface dirt and smells. 


If these options just won’t cut it, you can always use water. Bathing your dog refers to using dog shampoo. Regardless of whether it is designed to kill fleas and ticks, or simply to clean your dog, using it too often will dry their skin. It also removes healthy bacteria from the skin that act as a protective barrier. 

When you bathe your dog with only water, you avoid these problems. Water is safe for your dog. It will not remove healthy bacteria or oils from your dogs skin, but it can help remove dirt and other irritants. 

If your dog has a flea infestation, you can combine water with the flea comb to remove more fleas and flea dirt. This can help keep your dog clean in between flea baths. 

How often should I treat my dog for fleas?

How often you should treat your dog for fleas will vary widely based on the treatment that you use.

Flea Shampoo

If you are using flea shampoo, you’ll want to treat your dog once every 1-2 weeks. Using it less often allows fleas to return, and using it more often is bad for their skin. 

Flea shampoo is an effective emergency treatment, but it’s not an ideal long-term solution. Instead, it’s best to combine it with a flea preventative. 

Flea Dip

A flea dip should be used every 30 days. Like flea shampoo, waiting too long between treatments will allow fleas to return. Treating too early is harmful for your pooch’s skin, and may expose them to unhealthy amounts of chemicals.

Like flea shampoo, it’s best when used as a short-term solution. Use it to remove the initial infestation, and then use another treatment method to keep your dog flea free. 


Flea prevention pills are very convenient. They are in a chewable form that most dogs don’t mind eating. You’ll need to give them to your dog on a regular schedule. Most need to be given monthly, but some provide three months of protection. 

If you don’t administer them at the correct time, protection wanes and leaves your dog vulnerable to fleas. Most also provide protection against ticks. 

Today’s flea pills begin working quickly. Most begin working within 30 minutes, and kill all adult fleas within 1 day. 

However, if your dog has a major infestation, flea pills can be combined with a flea shampoo or flea dip to provide immediate relief and long term protection. 

Topical Flea Prevention 

Topical flea prevention is another convenient way to treat and prevent fleas. It is a small tube of liquid that you apply to your dog’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. 

It works quickly and essentially kills fleas when they come into contact with it. Treatment needs to be reapplied every 30 days. 

How often can you use flea and tick shampoo?

You can use flea and tick shampoo once every 1 to 2 weeks. Using it more often will dry your dog’s skin, which can cause skin problems. The medications in the shampoo shouldn’t be applied more often than once a week at the most. 

Will bathing my dog get rid of fleas?

Bathing your dog should be a tool in your flea fighting arsenal. It can help get rid of fleas, but it’s more effective when paired with other methods. 

Water or Standard Shampoo

You don’t have to use flea shampoo on your dog to kill fleas. Any soap will kill the fleas on your dog at the time of the bath, because it will smother them. 

Of course, the effects only last until the shampoo is washed off. If your dog gets more fleas, the shampoo won’t kill them unless it’s reapplied. 

Water itself won’t get rid of fleas. However, it can help remove flea dirt. 

Flea and Tick Shampoo

 If you are bathing them with flea and tick shampoo, it will kill any fleas on your dog. It may also offer some protection for 7-14 days. 

However, it will not get rid of fleas in the long term, unless you are giving your dog a weekly flea bath, which isn’t ideal. Combine it with a long-term flea medication for best results. 

Treating Your Home

In addition to treating your dog for fleas, you’ll also need to treat your home. The flea life cycle allows them to live in the pupa stage for an extended period of time, so they can be present in your carpet or upholstery. 

When a warm host, like your dog, arrives, they emerge from their cocoon and make their home on your dog. 

Flea sprays and powders can be effective treatment options. Vacumming also helps remove fleas and eggs. If there’s a severe infestation, a carpet steamer can kill the adult fleas.