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What Is Flea Dip?

By J. Beam
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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"Flea dip" refers to both the process and product used to eliminate fleas, typically from dogs, as cats tend to be more difficult about the process. A flea dip involves immersion in water treated with either natural or synthetic insecticides. The animal is essentially “dipped” and then the product dries on their skin, rather than being rinsed away like shampoo. Common insecticide ingredients found in flea dip products are similar to those found in other flea products like sprays and powders, and include pyrethrin, carbaryl, and limonene.

Most dog groomers offer flea dips as a grooming service. Though it is entirely possible to purchase a dip product and attempt the procedure at home, those with excessive or unnatural aversion or fears of bugs may find the process unnerving. Many times when a dog is immersed in a flea dip, the fleas begin jumping off the animal and onto every other surface, including the "dipper." This is most evident in severe infestation cases, but some people find the process a little disturbing and would prefer it be performed by a groomer.

Squeamishness aside, a dip can be an effective flea elimination process. If performing the process at home, be sure to use a product that kills all stages of flea life – adult, larvae, pupa and egg. Most products will address all stages and are effective because they coat the dog’s skin in pesticide. Some products are also labeled effective against ticks and other pests as well. Keep in mind that this can be a harsh treatment from a chemical perspective and dogs with sensitive skin may not do well. Irritation caused by dryness and itching is always possible and even dogs that appear unaffected should not be dipped more than two or three times per year.

While flea dips are an effective way of dealing with fleas, they are not recommended for flea prevention. Most dips are effective for only 30 to 35 days and should not be repeated at frequent intervals. Therefore, other measures should be taken to prevent fleas. Effective measures include topical flea prevention medicine, pills, and collars. You can discuss flea prevention options with your veterinarian or a reputable groomer.

If a flea dip is in your pet’s future, you can find products for at home use at a pet supply retailer. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions and do not use on puppies 12 weeks or younger. For flea prevention or elimination on puppies, consult a veterinarian or groomer for safe products and procedures.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1004485 — On Feb 22, 2021

Pretty much no groomers offer flea dips anymore, since they are not safe and not good for the dog's skin. We use flea shampoo to treat existing fleas and eggs and recommend a topical flea medication to prevent re-infestation!

By anon971532 — On Sep 27, 2014

Is there some kind of unwritten code here that you can't mention brands? Kind of makes most of the information useless if you tout something and don't say what it is.

By anon358230 — On Dec 09, 2013

The flea dip that I used on my dog worked well and good until last month. I could not be sure of the right product and started searching for the same on the internet. I found an online store which claimed that they can offer professional advice to help me get rid of the fleas troubling my dog. I accepted their advice and used the flea dip that they asked me to order from their store. Much to my delight, it worked.

I did not take my dog to the vet because I had done a week before this trouble started. As I did not want to disturb my routine of taking the dog once a month to the vet, I wanted to see whether there was a solution available on the internet forums.

By Oceana — On Oct 03, 2012

I think that taking a dog to the vet is best when he needs a flea dip treatment. I'm all for getting rid of fleas, but my dog fights me so hard when it comes to bathing that I just can't handle him.

He weights eighty pounds, so I can't even lift him all the way. The vet has assistants who can work together to dip him into the chemicals, and if he becomes too unruly, they can sedate him.

By wavy58 — On Oct 02, 2012

@healthy4life – Some people want to rescue an animal but simply can't afford expensive flea treatments. I found an abandoned, hungry dog, and even though I knew I couldn't spend a lot on flea treatments, I took him home.

Flea dip came in very handy for me that summer. I could afford it, and it really did get rid of the fleas.

In fact, I had to always dip him outside in a bucket, because the fleas would scatter everywhere. If I had dipped him in the tub, I might have never gotten all the fleas out of my house!

By healthy4life — On Oct 02, 2012

@JackWhack – I agree with you. A lot of people who use dips for flea control just don't want to take the necessary measures to prevent the fleas in the first place.

My grandparents used flea dip on their dogs, and they would never dream of spending a lot of money on pills or collars to prevent infestations. They just let the poor dogs get covered in fleas and then dealt with the issue.

I give my dogs a pill once a month that keeps them from getting fleas. It's very effective, and it doesn't involve any messy, wet situations.

By JackWhack — On Oct 01, 2012

Last year, I found a puppy in the road that was in bad shape. He was so skinny that his bones showed, and he was covered in fleas.

I had to bring him into the house to take care of him, and I wasn't quite sure how to get rid of his fleas. I knew that he was in no state to tolerate a flea dip or any other medication, and I wanted him to see a vet before I gave him anything with chemicals in it.

So, I just filled the bathtub with warm water and dipped him into that. Most of the fleas floated out into the water, and for those that didn't, I used a fine-toothed comb on his fur.

I've heard of people using flea dip as a regular treatment on their dogs, but to me, it sounds like something that should only be used in extreme cases. However, many dogs that are covered in fleas are not strong enough to take being dipped in those chemicals.

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