The Best Flea Treatment For German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies, or any breed of dog for that matter, is determined by a range of factors.
These factors should take into account that the best practice for German Shepherd dog flea treatment involves:
- Both prevention and control stages.
- Objectives of both stopping development of fleas, and killing adult fleas
- Prevention can be ongoing, whilst control takes anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months
This best dog flea treatment guide will run you through everything you need to know from how to prevent and control fleas on your German Shepherd and in its environment, to the types and best products for doing so.
NOTE: the following is for informational purposes. Always seek the advice of your vet before making any decisions that effect the health or well being of your dog.
Best Flea Treatment For German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies: Flea Prevention and Control
A lot of German Shepherd owners realise that adult fleas live on the dog itself, but they are unaware that the flea eggs, larvae and pupae can live in the external environment – both inside and outside the house.
Regardless of the flea treatment product you choose for each pet, you should always gain your vet’s approval and advice beforehand (flea treatment for dogs can be harmful to cats!).
What Are Dog Fleas?
Fleas are different to ticks, mites (scabies and mange), chiggers, flies and gnats.
Fleas are a small dark brown parasitic insect that survive by biting the skin, and feeding on the blood of your German Shepherd.
It is extremely important not only to control and kill fleas if you suspect your German Shepherd has them, but to help prevent them too by stopping the development of flea eggs and larvae.
Fleas don’t only lay eggs in the warmer summer months like most people think, but lay eggs year round including the winter months. This means flea prevention must be a consistent and life long thing.
How Does My German Shepherd Get Fleas?
Your German Shepherd may get fleas by coming into contact with another animal, or being exposed to them in an indoor or outdoor environment.
Other animals includes other dogs and cats (and wildlife) who have adult fleas, and indoor and outdoor environment is carpets, bedding, furniture, household items/materials and organic matter that contain flea larvae and pupae (pre adult fleas).
Why Knowing A Flea’s Life Cycle Is Important for Effective Flea Treatment for Dogs
The flea life cycle is as follows:
- Adult Fleas jump on your German Shepherd, drink/eat its blood and lay eggs
- Flea Eggs (produced at 50 per day per female flea) drop from your German Shepherd into your indoor environment
- Flea Larvae hatch from the flea eggs and develop into flea pupae. Larvae and pupae move out of the light into places like your dog’s bedding, into furniture, under carpets, behind curtains – anywhere really. Pupae can lead to the development of tapeworms.
Your goal is to break the lifecycle with a mixture of flea treatment products and cleaning, and do this consistently.
How Long Do Fleas Live, & How Long To Do Flea Treatment For?
The above cycle happens as quickly as 2-3 weeks, or as long as 6 months – and during both the hot and cold seasons.
Flea control treatment lasts up to 6 months, whilst flea prevention is ongoing!
You really do have to be patient and persistent when it comes to treating a flea infestation or outbreak on your GSD. Don’t get discouraged or frustrated!
Difference Between Flea Control and Flea Prevention When Treating a German Shepherd
Phrases like flea cure, flea remedy, flea repellent, flea medication or flea killer are all great, but aren’t technically right when it comes to flea treatment for dogs.
Flea treatment for German Shepherds and all dogs involves two parts – flea prevention and flea control (they are often done simultaneously when an infestation occurs). The difference between the two is:
Flea prevention usually means adult fleas are not present either in the environment or on your dog yet, and you take protective measures to keep it this way.
Topical treatments which are applied to your Alsatian directly are popular and seen by some as the best flea prevention for dogs
Flea control means your German Shepherd is infested with full grown adult fleas.
You must look for flea control products in this instance to kill the live adult fleas on your GSD’s skin – sprays, shampoos, oral tablets etc.
Dog Fleas Symptoms and Signs – On My German Shepherd, Or In The Environment
The major sign or symptom of dog fleas on your German Shepherd is of course itching – and the itching and irritations that occurs from a flea’s bite is known in veterinary terms as ‘Parasitic Dermatitis’. Other signs of fleas in German Shepherds are:
- Flea dirt in a dog’s coat
- Flea eggs in the indoor or outdoor environment
- Irritated skin on your GSD
- Excessive scratching, licking or biting of the skin by your GSD
- Hair loss by your GSD
- Scabs, wounds and hot sports on your GSD
- Pale gums and tapeworms
- You start feeling itchy (fleas can attack you too!)
Flea Allergy – Is My German Shepherd Dog Allergic to Fleas?
Flea allergy dermatitis is a hypersensitivity, or allergic reaction in the skin, believed to be caused by the flea saliva in a flea’s bite.
Symptoms include frequent and severe itching and scratching, hair loss and abrasions on the dog’s skin.
Ask your vet for the best cause of treatment, which may be to persevere with flea treatment.
How To Tell If My German Shepherd Has Fleas?
GSD’s have a double coat (one for insulation, and the other to repel the elements like dirt and water), which makes identifying fleas on your GSD sometimes challenging.
As we write in our article Why Is My German Shepherd So Itchy?:
“The flea’s bite will cause itching, and for sensitive German Shepherds, the flea saliva will cause itching. Look for this and the above symptoms and signs.
Fleas dislike the light, so it’s best to search for fleas on your dog in the furrier areas of their body where there’s less exposed skin. They are about the size of a pinhead and can be seen running across the surface of the skin.
If you can’t see the fleas, look for flea dirt. Flea dirt is little black specs on the skin surface (faeces and blood).
Wipe the skin with a wet paper towel. Small blood stains on the paper towel will confirm it is infact flea dirt.”
What should be particularly noted and is relevant to you as a German Shepherd or dog owner, is that only 5% of fleas in your environment are adults that attack your dog, and a massive 95% live dormant as eggs, larvae or pupae inside or outside your house environment.
How To Treat and Remove Fleas on Dogs and Puppies: Essential Steps for a Successful German Shepherd Flea Treatment Program (Control and Prevention)
Knowing how to treat and remove fleas on dogs and puppies involves 4 key steps :
1) Remove Fleas From The Indoor Environment
Involves mainly killing adult fleas, and preventing other fleas from developing. This is a 2 part process in itself that involves –
1. Vacuuming, cleaning and washing the areas your pet spends the most time – its bed, furniture, rugs, mats, crates, your car and other surrounding areas.
You especially want to wash your pet’s bedding weekly at least.
Vacuuming has been reported to remove up to 50% of flea eggs. This can be done daily or weekly, and ensure you remove vacuum bag contents immediately in a plastic sealed bag.
2. Treat the same areas with a flea treatment – sprays and powders work best. Foggers tend to work best for open areas, while sprays are good for small areas like floor surfaces, cracks and in and around beds and furniture.
Make sure the product contains both an adulticide and an IGR (Insect Growth Regulator). Take into account the presence of kids, other family pets, people with asthma when choosing. Always get your vet to approve.
2) Remove Fleas From The Outdoor Environment
Fleas like environments that are warm, non in direct sunlight, damp/moist and are also found in organic matter like leaves, grass and other plant matter.
Because of the warmth, fleas do like summer and spring, but the moist environment during rainfall in the winter can be good for them too.
Wild animals and rodents can contain fleas so make sure you take care of rodent infestations and discourage wild animals from spending time in your yard.
Keep dog kennels clean and washed, sweep the areas where your dog spend the most time outside, and in general keep your front and back yards as clean as possible so you give fleas no time to establish or maintain breeding or living grounds.
3) Remove Fleas From Pets
This one is pretty straight forward – you will want to treat your German Shepherd, and other dogs or cats directly with any one of the flea treatment control product types and options –
- Topical Flea Treatment
- Flea Spray, Wipes and Powders
- Flea Dips
- Flea Shampoos
- Flea Collars
- Oral Flea Control Tablets
- Injectable Flea Control
- Flea Combs
Don’t get disheartened or disappointed when you begin flea treatment and control, and you can still see fleas on your German Shepherd immediately after treatment.
It can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to rid your German Shepherd of all fleas.
Adult fleas must absorb the insecticide to die, and developing eggs, larvae and pupae must also be eliminated in the surrounding environment.
Be consistent and persistent with treating fleas on your dog.
Note that flea treatment products formulated for dogs can be toxic to cats. This is mainly due to the ingredient, pyrethrin (an insecticide), which cats are more sensitive to.
Even within the dog species, it is important to get flea treatment products specifically for a German Shepherd and medium-large dogs. In addition, follow the product instructions and your vet’s advice closely.
4) Keep Immature Forms Of Fleas From Developing
Prevention is the key to keeping fleas from developing in the first place.
Prevention can be achieved by two key ways –
- Applying a once a month topical treatment to your German Shepherd, or other prevention based flea treatment product for dogs
- Keeping both indoor and outdoor environments clean and in a state which does not promote or assist the living or development of fleas. A product like flea spray can also be used.
Active Ingredients In Flea Control & Prevention Products and Medication For German Shepherd Flea Treatment
The best flea treatment products for German Shepherd dogs and puppies usually contain one of, or a mix of insecticides and IGR ingredients:
Insecticides use many ingredients, and their main use is to kill fleas. Some insecticides specialize in killing adult fleas specifically, and they are called adulticides.
If there is a flea infestation already, you need insecticides in order to control the live fleas.
Good luck trying to pronounce them, but if you want to know, some of the main insecticides are Pyrethrins, Pyrethroids, Imidacloprids and Arylheterocycles.
Insect Growth Regulators and Development Inhibitors
Ingredients of flea control products can vary and include adulticides, chemicals that can kill immature forms, insect growth regulators/development inhibitors, or combinations thereof.
You will need a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator (IGR), such as Nylar (pyriproxyfen) or methoprene.
Safest Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs – Signs Your German Shepherd Dog Is Sensitive To, Or Flea Treatment is Toxic For Your German Shepherd
Like with some human medications or treatments, there can be side effects for both you, your family members and your dog when using flea medication for dogs on your GSD.
Each dog and human is affected differently – some not at all, and some experience side effects – it always depends!
What you should consider when using any flea products or dog flea medicine – whether it be a spray, collar, oral treatment etc. – is the severity of the flea infestation compared to the potential risks and side effects and risks of using the product. You can weigh this up in conjunction with your vet.
For example, sharing a bed with your dog while it has fleas, or is using dog flea medication is not recommended by some.
A good way to monitor and manage the potential side effects of flea prevention or treatment is to:
- Become aware of the commonly used ingredients in flea products which you can see at PetEducation.com
- You can do further research by looking at the ingredients listed in the product and searching for MSDS or Safety Sheets of those ingredients. Here is a fact sheet for Permethrin for example.
- Read a broad range of reviews from other flea product users – positive and negative.
- Once your German Shepherd begins treatment, monitor the side effects on him/her, you and your family. Discontinue use immediately if you observe negative side effects.
Always consult your vet if you believe you or your GSD has been harmed by flea treatment products. You can usually tell if you or your family experience side effects, but common signs and symptoms of sensitivity and ingredient toxicity for your German Shepherd include:
- Tremoring and Shaking
- Vomitting and Dry Retching
- Difficulty Breathing
- Hair loss or skin irritation around the neck in the case of flea collars
What Factors Determine The Best Flea Treatment For German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies?
There are many remedies for fleas on dogs out there – both commercial and natural or home flea remedies.
The choice of products for flea treatment will need to be based on:
- The extent of the flea infestation the species,
- The dog breed and its size (the best flea treatment for large dogs specifies on the package what size dog the flea and/or tick remedy is for)
- Health status of the dog
- Age of the pet
- The environment and presence of other pets
- Special family needs (e.g. infants arounds, people with asthma).
When Can You Start Flea Prevention or Control for German Shepherd Puppies?
You should have regular vet check ups when your GSD is s a puppy. These check ups are the perfect time to talk to your vet about when to start the flea treatment prevention process and recommended products.
Secondly, the flea prevention product itself will have instructions on how old your GSD puppy should be before you can start using the product on him or her.
Some topical flea treatments (used as a preventative) can be given to German Shepherd puppies as young as 6-8 weeks old.
These topical treatments are seen by some as the best flea treatment for puppies, and a form of puppy flea control, or puppy flea and tick treatment if the product happens to also kill ticks.
Difference Between Flea, Tick and Lice Treatment Products for Dogs and German Shepherds
Fleas, ticks and lice are obviously different organisms, but the ingredients in the products used to treat and kill them can be largely the same.
It really does depend on the brand and type of product as to what it is formulated to do. For example, some collars are formulated to protect against fleas, ticks and lice. Some dog flea medicine and medication like topicals do the same.
When determining the best flea and tick treatment for dogs and in particular your German Shepherd:
1) Work with your vet to determine firstly what organism you are protecting against or controlling, and
2) Also work together to pick the best product/s to achieve that protection and control.
What Are The Types Of German Shepherd Flea Treatment (Prevention and Control) Products and Medication Available?
Some of the general things you want to look out for when purchasing different brands and types of flea treatment products are:
- Is it for flea prevention, or control, or both?
- Does it kill, or stop the development of fleas, or both?
- Does it treat fleas, ticks, or lice, a combination, or all three?
- How many doses are in the product, or how long will it last? (a month, or several months?)
- Is it formulated for German Shepherds and large dogs in particular? The best flea flea treatment for German Shepherd dogs when it comes to dog flea pills for example, is usually formulated for large dogs between 50-90 pounds in size.
Your vet can help you determine the type and brand of flea product best for yours and your dog’s situation.
It is not uncommon if your dog has fleas for your vet to suggest using both a flea preventative like a topical, and a flea control medicine like tablets.
So, what is the best flea and tick treatment for dogs? Here are some of your best options..
Topical Flea Treatment and Medication (Prevention)
Topical treatments are for flea prevention, and are usually once a month in frequency of use. Along with oral pills and tablets, topical flea treatment is sometimes called dog flea medication.
Topical flea treatment comes in the form of a liquid applicator which you apply to a small area of your German Shepherd’s back. Frontline and Advantage are some of the well known Topical flea products for dogs.
Some people see topical treatments as the most cost effective/cheap, and best flea prevention for dogs.
What Is The Best Topical Flea Treatment For German Shepherd Dogs?
Oral Flea Control Pills, Tablets and Medication (Control)
Flea pills for dogs kill adult fleas on your Alsatian, so are intended for flea control. They are often combined with a flea preventative like a topical treatment or flea spray for dogs.
Most oral flea tablets for dogs and German Shepherds start working within 4 hours and only last 24 hours – they kill fleas for 24 hours, and then another tablet has to be given to the dog.
One tablet per day until the fleas are gone is generally what most brands suggest, but read the directions of use for the tablets you buy to confirm.
Check the packet is intended for large dogs, and how many tablets are in the packet.
The commonly used products often double as a flea and tick pill for dogs if you are also looking to treat ticks.
What Are The Best Flea Pills For German Shepherd Flea Control?
Flea Spray, Flea Wipes and Flea Powders (Prevention and Control)
The best flea spray for dogs can both kill adult fleas and protect against developing flea larvae.
Sprays are intended to either spray directly on your German Shepherd dog, or in the indoor or outside environment (follow instructions of the spray you purchase).
Flea sprays come in either spray bottles, or in aerosol cans. Application usually involves holding the spray a distance away from your dog so the liquid is misting by the time it hits the fur.
It is very important you don’t get the spray in your German Shepherd’s mouth or eyes. Speak to your vet and read instructions about how to best use sprays.
Some people cover their dog’s eyes whilst applying the spray, and use a damp cloth to apply around the eyes. Flea Wipes are also an option around the eyes and ears.
Flea powders are either for flea control (kill fleas) via direct application, or prevention via application to your carpet in which case they contain flea growth inhibitors. Sprays tend to be more popular though because they are less mess.
Specific things to look out for in Flea Sprays for your German Shepherd are:
- Natural type ingredients (peppermint oil is common) for sensitive pets and adults or children with allergies or asthma. Also smells nice!
- Non staining spray (for indoor use and bedding)
- Differentiate between indoor and outdoor sprays
- State how old the dog has to be in order to use the spray
What Are The Best Flea Spray and Flea Wipes Flea Treatment For German Shepherd Dogs?
Flea Collars (Prevention and Control)
Flea collars kill adult fleas, and tend to last for a period of months so can have a preventative effect.
Some things you should look out for with a flea collar are:
- That your GSD has at least two fingers space between the collar and the neck
- No excess collar is protruding out for your dog to chew on
- How long the collar lasts and in what conditions – water resistant to rain, swimming, bathing etc.?
What Are The Best Flea Collars For German Shepherd Flea Treatment?
Flea Shampoos (Control and Prevention)
The best flea and tick shampoo for dogs is intended mainly to kill adult fleas, but some include ingredients (Insect growth regulators) which also stop the development of pre adult fleas and can be a preventative too.
A shampoo with natural ingredients like aloe and plant extracts is beneficial for your dog’s skin and can smell great.
Always check whether the shampoo can be used on puppies.
What Is The Best Flea Shampoo For German Shepherd Flea Treatment?
Flea Combs (Control)
The best flea comb for dogs will double as a comb to both groom your German Shepherd’s coat, and to remove fleas from the skin. Needless to say they are quite handy!
Vets recommend them sometimes for German Shepherds that sick, pregnant or even German Shepherd puppies.
When you brush through your German Shepherd’s coat, you should be able to see the fleas on the brush, which you then dip in a bucket of water mixed with a little detergent or even flea control product like shampoo.
The best flea bath for dogs often involves washing your German Shepherd with water and either flea shampoo or flea powder, followed by using your flea comb on your German Shepherd.
Best Flea Comb Flea Treatment For German Shepherds
Flea Dips and Rinses (Control)
Flea dips and rinses are not as commonly used. They are quite strong in concentration and smell. They should be used with great care and sometimes as a last resort for heavy infestations.
Under no circumstances do you want to get a flea dip or rinse in your dog’s mouth or eyes.
What If My Flea Infestation Is Really Bad – Professional Flea Exterminators
Sometimes an infestation is so severe that regular flea treatment will not work.
In this case, speak to your vet about where you can contact a local professional flea exterminator.
To avoid getting stung in the hip pocket too significantly – it is wise to ask for a guarantee on the treatment, or what the exterminator’s policy/prices are on return and repeat treatments in case the first visit doesn’t fix your problem fully.
More Information and Facts About Dog Fleas
If you want to read more about fleas, her is another good summary about pet fleas which includes:
- How Do You Tell If Your Pet Has Fleas?
- How Do Pets Get Fleas?
- Why It’s important to Treat And Prevent Fleas
- Why You Need To Treat For Fleas All Year Around
- Why Do Fleas Spread So Quickly?
- The Lifecycle Of A Flea
- How To Protect Your Pet From Fleas
- Fast Flea Facts (via Advantage © Flea Control)
My German Shepherd Is Scratching But No Fleas – What Do I Do?
If you notice your German Shepherd itching constantly, but doesn’t appear to have fleas, there might be something else causing skin problems.
Read this article about itching by The Daily Shep about skin irritations to see what the problem might be.
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