One of the most challenging responsibilities of owning a poodle is keeping your fur baby free of fleas. Fleas are not only irritating, biting vermin, but they can also cause health problems for you and your pet if left untreated. This guide will take you through the necessary steps to rid your poodle of these parasitic insects.
Eliminating fleas on a poodle requires treating them with a product formulated to kill fleas, their larvae, and their eggs. These products can be administered via topical application, flea shampoo, sprays, or orally. Owners will need to utilize a long-term flea preventative—like flea collars—to avoid future infestations.
While many people elect to take their pet to a vet or groomer when they have a flea problem, you can tackle the issue yourself with the right supplies and methods. It’s important to know, however, that to rid your pet and home from fleas permanently, you’ll need to treat not only your pet but any other places your poodle goes inside and outside of your home. Otherwise, you’ll end up in an endless cycle.
These are the five best flee treatments options for poodles:
1. Topical Treatments
Topical preventatives are one of the most highly recommended methods by veterinarians to get rid of fleas. This treatment is applied directly to your poodle’s skin behind the neck between the shoulder blades (a spot where they cannot lick).
It then absorbs into the oil glands just under the skin and works very fast to kill not only adult fleas but also flea larvae and eggs. An effective topical treatment will keep your poodle free from fleas and ticks for a month.
Note: Topical flea treatments work best as a preventative or to resolve a minimal flea issue for your pet.
Choosing a Topical Flea Treatment
There is a dizzying array for flea treatments out there. But even home remedies can be harmful or deadly for your poodle, depending on its age and weight. Consult your groomer or veterinarian to discover if topical treatment is appropriate for your poodle, and to choose the best option for you.
The most highly rated topical flea solution brands include:
Consider asking your vet if one of these is right for your poodle.
Applying Topical Flea Treatment to Your Poodle
Before beginning, double and triple check the package to ensure the product is formulated for dogs and is the correct dosage for your dog’s age and weight. Read and re-read the instructions. It’s advisable to wear gloves for this process.
- Once you’re prepared, open the product. Using your thumb and forefinger, separate the hair on the back of your poodle’s neck.
- Apply the product directly to the skin, being sure not to let it trickle into other areas.
- Wash your hands thoroughly when this is complete. Dispose of product container safely.
Remember to carefully read all information in the product’s packaging and observe your poodle for possible adverse reactions.
Advantages of Topical Flea Treatments
- Effective for both fleas and ticks
- Kills live vermin, larvae, and eggs
- Prevents further infestations for up to 30 days
- Available over the counter or through the veterinarian
- Can be easily applied at home
- Can be used for poodles over six weeks old
Precautions When Using Topical Flea Treatments
- Remember, you’re directly dealing with a pesticide. Again, it’s imperative to read the packaging and instructions thoroughly to ensure you have a product that is formulated for canines, and that you have the correct dosage for your poodle’s weight. If you have any doubts or questions, contact your vet.
- Do not use topical flea treatments on puppies under six weeks old. Medications like this are not intended for use in young puppies; their growing physiological systems cannot tolerate it. The use of topical treatment on puppies under six weeks of age can cause severe illness or death.
- Like humans, all dogs are different when it comes to medications. Reactions to topical flea treatments can occur even when you follow the directions to the letter. If you observe skin irritation, or if your poodle vomits, becomes agitated, lethargic, or exhibits shaking or seizures, they could be having a reaction. If you think your poodle is having a reaction to any flea treatment, you can call the 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center at (855) 764-7661 and contact your vet immediately.
- Some topical products are sold as “natural” solutions to getting rid of fleas and ticks. However, “all-natural” and “organic” does not mean they are safe for your poodle. Some essential oils and plant-based products can cause severe reactions in dogs, even if all packaging directions are followed.
2. Flea Shampoos
If you see fleas on your poodle or little specks of black material (which is called flea dirt—actually digested blood), your pet is probably suffering from itching and irritation. The best way to get your fur baby immediate relief from the effects of fleas is to give them a flea bath with an effective shampoo formulated for canine flea treatment.
Selecting the Right Flea Shampoo
For advice on choosing the best flea shampoo for dogs, please consult your veterinarian or groomer; they will know your poodle’s medical history and are the best source.
Some of the most widely recommended flea control shampoos for dogs can also be found on Amazon. My favorite is the Lillian Ruff Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs. This product worked great for my dog and smells great too! You can check out the current price on Amazon here.
Shampooing Your Poodle to Eliminate Fleas
There are a few key points to remember when shampooing your poodle to get rid of fleas. For one, you’ll need to prepare yourself and your bathing area before beginning:
- Bathing miniature and toy poodles is actually easiest in the kitchen sink using the faucet’s spray attachment. It saves your back from constantly bending over in the tub and your knees from a long period of kneeling.
- It’s best to bathe standard poodles in the bathtub or shower using a spray attachment.
- Put on a waterproof apron to protect your clothing from the water and flea shampoo.
- Some people prefer using gloves as well for this process, especially if you’re sensitive to detergents.
- Many dog owners make a practice of just bathing their dogs while they take a shower themselves; this is not recommended for this procedure.
- Make sure you have lots of towels within reach for drying. You don’t want to have to get them when your dog is wet and more likely to shake off the water everywhere else while you’re away.
- Since you’re dealing with an insecticide, be sure that infants and small children will not be in the bathing area.
How to Give a Flea Bath to Your Poodle
1. Using the spray nozzle of your sink or shower, wet your poodle’s coat using a water temperature that feels a little warm to you. This will make your poodle feel most comfortable during the bathing process. Dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, so the perfect temperature for you might seem chilly to your poodle and cause them to become agitated. No one enjoys cold water sprayed on them!
2. Apply a stream of shampoo down your poodle’s back. Using circular motions with your hands, work down the legs, up to the head, and toward the rear and abdomen, creating a foamy lather. Add a little more water or shampoo if needed to make sure your poodle is fully coated with lather.
3. Carefully use a washcloth or your fingers to apply some lather (not shampoo) to your poodle’s face and work it into the skin around their eyes and ears. Some dogs don’t like this step and will try to resist, but it’s essential. If you don’t let the shampoo penetrate all areas of your dog’s skin, the fleas will remain and multiply.
4. Once you’ve completely saturated your poodle’s coat with shampoo, turn off the water and allow it to soak in and work for at least ten minutes or longer according to manufacturer’s instructions. You can continue to massage the shampoo in—which most dogs really enjoy—or you can just let it soak.
5. After you’ve given the shampoo time to work, it’s time to rinse. Be sure to adjust the water temperature for your dog’s comfort before beginning to rinse.
- The best way to rinse your poodle is to use one hand under their chin to lift the head slightly, then use a spray nozzle to rinse starting at the back of the head, letting the water roll down.
- Once you’ve rinsed the back, work your way down to the legs, tail, and rear before moving on to the abdomen and under the chin.
- Save the face for last. Most dogs do not enjoy getting their face rinsed, and might become wiggly. Be gentle with the spray of water, or use a cup complete the face rinse.
Fleas and flea dirt should have washed and rinsed away during shampooing and rinsing. If you still see evidence of them, you may have to repeat the process. Be sure to follow the manufacturer or veterinarian’s instructions regarding this.
6. Dry your poodle. Most poodles are accustomed to all of the grooming procedures, including blow-drying. If your poodle doesn’t mind it, blow dry your poodle and use a grooming brush to fluff the hair into the shape you prefer.
Since you’ve just put your poodle through a lot in the flea removal process, don’t worry too much about style. But it’s important to get them mostly dry to avoid the accumulation of moisture that could contribute to itchiness.
7. Rinse and wipe clean the sink, shower, or tub area thoroughly to make sure you’ve cleaned away any fleas, flea dirt, or shampoo. If you’re in the kitchen, you don’t want cooking utensils or food to come in contact with the shampoo. If you’re in the bathroom, you’ll want to ensure that infants or small children aren’t exposed to it.
8. Lastly, throw all of the towels and washcloths in the washing machine and wash on a sterilizing cycle to avoid smelly linens.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Giving Flea Baths
- Be aware that this is not for the faint of heart. You will see fleas trying to escape death. They will migrate to places you haven’t yet covered with shampoo, or even onto you during a bath.
- Don’t panic if you see blood! While it is pretty gross, your dog probably isn’t bleeding. Fleas are parasites that consume your dog’s blood. When digested, it becomes little specks called flea dirt. When water is applied, they dissolve and turn red and will be visible in the lather and water.
- Caution: Be careful not to let lather get directly in your poodle’s eyes. This could cause irritation. Also, try to avoid water and shampoo from entering your poodle’s ears. This can cause a condition sort of like swimmer’s ear.
- Be sure that you have rinsed every bit of shampoo from your poodle’s coat! Soap left behind can cause itching and irritation.
- Do not just leave your dog in the bathtub or sink unattended; they could try to jump out and injure themselves in the process. Grab your device and entertain yourself if you must, but it’s best to remain with your pooch and speak to them in calm, reassuring tones.
Pros and Cons of Flea Shampoos as Flea Treatment
The benefits of flea shampoos include their speed and effectiveness in killing fleas. Most flea shampoos are safe for adult dogs and puppies twelve weeks and older. Good flea shampoo can kill fleas, ticks, their larvae, and their eggs, resulting in residual preventative effects.
One of the most valuable benefits of shampooing as flea treatment is the immediate relief from itch and irritation your poodle will get from a soothing bath. You’ll likely see noticeable relaxation and signs of increased comfort and attitude after a flea treatment bath. In short, a much happier poodle!
There are also some drawbacks to shampoo flea treatments. Specifically, most dog flea shampoos are not formulated for puppies under twelve weeks old. In addition, because it contains an insecticide, you must follow the instructions precisely; you have to keep it away from those it could harm, and it doesn’t always smell delightful.
3. Flea Sprays
Flea sprays are a widely sold option for ridding your pet of fleas. There are a variety of products on the market. Check with your groomer or veterinarian to advise you in selecting the product that is appropriate for your poodle.
Flea sprays contain a pesticide in liquid form, usually diluted with rubbing alcohol or water. They are applied by literally spraying the product onto the coat and skin of your pet.
While flea sprays do kill fleas, usually on contact, they have little residual effect and have to be applied repeatedly to get even meager results.
In addition, most pets, including poodles, do not enjoy having something sprayed onto their bodies; it can be somewhat traumatic for them.
Amazon has a great selection of flea spray options. These are the best three products I’ve used to date. Click on the links below to see pictures and current prices below:
- Adams Flea & Tick Spray (recommended by vets)
- Tropiclean Flea & Tick Spray (a favorite of those who prefer natural remedies)
- Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Gentle-Mist Spray
4. Oral Flea Treatments
If you’d like to avoid topical applications or bathing your poodle to rid them of fleas, oral flea treatments can be a great option. The formula is contained in a pill that you administer monthly to your poodle; it can kill fleas in about thirty minutes. The fleas will also die when they bite your dog and fall off.
Of course, this means that the dead fleas are going to fall off everywhere your dog goes.
While oral flea treatment is an effective method of getting rid of your poodle’s fleas and will have a thirty-day residual effect, it is not safe for puppies under four weeks old, or for any dog under two pounds. This eliminates the product as an option for many miniature or toy poodles.
As with any medication, the manufacturer’s directions must be followed in detail, and your poodle could have adverse reactions to the product.
Bottom line: oral flea treatments should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian and are more useful and practical as preventative treatment than a flea shampoo.
Your veterinarian can prescribe the most appropriate oral flea control regimen for your poodle. Consider inquiring about the following highly rated options:
5. Flea Collars
Flea collars are another solution to solving your poodle’s flea problem. They are effective at killing fleas and can provide up to eight months of protection. So there’s no bathing or application of any product, other than fitting your dog for a flea collar, which can be convenient.
With the eight-month preventative effect, flea collars are excellent for preventing future flea infestations for many dogs. However, for indoor pets (which applies to most poodles), this isn’t always an excellent option for a dog with an existing flea problem because you’ll end up with dead fleas around your house.
In addition, flea collars are not safe for puppies under seven weeks of age, or dogs weighing less than eighteen pounds. This makes them an excellent choice for larger standard poodles, but not an option for most miniature or toy poodles.
Amazon carries a good selection of flea collars including several varieties and sizes. Some of the most highly rated are Seresto, Adams, Canes, and Repels.
What About Home Remedies for Fleas?
If you begin to research, you’ll encounter many folks touting home remedies involving household products or essential oils to treat fleas. These remedies are not recommended as effective flea control solutions.
While they may kill live fleas, they may not get rid of the flea eggs or larvae that will be the next generation of vermin in your infestation. More importantly, as mentioned before, just because ingredients are natural does not mean they are safe for your pet. Some essential oils or combinations of substances can be harmful or deadly for dogs.
Do not try to treat flea problems in young puppies or dogs with other health issues using home remedies. Some household products can kill fleas, but also cause harm to pets. Instead, ask your vet about Zodiac Flea & Tick Powder, Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade Powder, or Adams Flea Powder.
Does Vinegar Kill Fleas on Poodles?
Vinegar is known as a popular solution for removing fleas from dogs, but it is not as effective as people think.
Vinegar is not a useful product for treating your pet or home for a flea infestation. It may repel fleas slightly because they do not like the taste, but it is not an effective treatment for flea eggs or larvae.
Treating Puppies and Nursing Dogs for Fleas
Most of the flea treatments mentioned thus far are not safe for young puppies or dogs who are nursing. If your mother poodle and her litter have a flea problem, you should consult a veterinarian and follow their advice.
Because other products could cause severe illness or death, most vets will use flea powder, applied carefully and sparingly to very young puppies and their mothers.
What Happens to Your Poodle if a Flea Problem is Left Untreated?
Failing to treat your poodle’s fleas will not only lead to a major infestation in your home with fleas feasting on you and your family, but it can also lead to a myriad of health problems for your pet. Below are some of the secondary complications of untreated fleas in dogs.
- Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva and can develop severe skin conditions or dermatitis.
- Areas of high flea concentration and itching can get infected and develop into painful “hot spots,” characterized by hair loss, oozing skin, and an acrid smell.
- Fleas can be carriers of other parasites and deliver those parasites into your poodle’s bloodstream when they bite. It’s common for dogs with a flea problem to develop intestinal parasites, or “worms.” Overall, this takes a horrible toll on your pet’s health.
- The longer you wait to treat a flea problem, the harder it will be to eradicate it. If you see one flea, there are probably more.
- Because fleas feast on your poodle’s blood, an untreated flea problem could result in flea bite anemia. Miniature and toy poodles are especially susceptible to this because smaller dogs have smaller volumes of blood. Even a mild flea infestation can be fatal.
Treat Your Home to Eliminate Fleas Completely
Eliminating the fleas on your poodle will provide them with much-needed relief from the itch, irritation, and secondary health issues they cause. However, if you do not treat your home, yard, your poodle’s bed, and the surfaces they contact, the fleas lurking in your home will attack your pet, and you’ll be right back where you started.
One of the best ways of completely eradicating fleas from your home and pet is to treat your home and yard while you are bathing or treating your poodle. This will end the life cycle of the fleas that are living both on your dog as well as the ones who live in your home or yard in insect, larvae, or egg form.
Treating your poodle and your home at the same time might seem daunting, but can be accomplished by taking your dog to a groomer for flea treatment while you treat the house and yard, or by taking them to a nearby dog self-bathing facility while someone treats the home and yard.
Home treatments for flea infestations involve spraying a pretty powerful pesticide outside your home in areas that your dog frequents, so humans would need to vacate the home during this process. Additionally, spay is applied in every room of the home, paying particular attention to carpets, upholstery, and dog bedding.
One of the most efficient products for eradicating fleas from the home is a room fogger, a powerful pesticide automatic sprayer which you set on a timer and then leave the house for the directed amount of time.
Again, as with all issues regarding your pet, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian before purchasing or deploying a flea treatment for your home and yard.
If your poodle has fleas, it doesn’t mean you’re a terrible poodle parent; even the most fastidiously cleanly dog owners experience this challenge once in a while. You have many choices when it comes to getting rid of fleas, but the solutions themselves can also cause complications or residual medical issues.
The best mode of getting rid of fleas on your dog is often a combination of those listed above. Most of all, you must treat not only your poodle, but your home, yard, and any surfaces they come in contact with.
Additionally, for long-term eradication of fleas, it’s essential to use a preventative of some kind once you’ve ridden your poodle and house of them.
Anytime you introduce substances into your pet’s environment or apply them directly to your poodle’s skin, there is a risk of adverse reaction. Many of the flea treatment products on the market listed in this article are potentially harmful to your dog if used in the wrong combination with each other or in combination with home remedies.
Contact your vet for the best advice specifically for you and your poodle before beginning any flea regimen. Also, have your poodle examined for secondary medical issues your poodle may have acquired due to having fleas to ensure their health and happiness.