How to Use a Flea Comb for Effective Flea Control

Summary: A quality flea comb is an affordable way to identify and remove fleas from pets. Since this process is non-toxic, it can also safely remove fleas on kittens and puppies. In fact, you can use it for many different types of pets, even if they are very small. I have had some readers tell me that they even use one for their rats! Regardless, with a little effort each week, your pets can be flea free and although they are usually used in conjunction with other flea products, it’s definitely a good option for any pet owner for keeping fleas under control.

Early identification is critical when it comes to fighting fleas. If any signs of fleas are found, immediate action should be taken. Using a flea comb is one of the most popular ways to detect the presence of fleas and to actually remove the adult fleas from the fur. In this article, we are going to explore the best way to use it, discuss a few warnings, learn about repeat schedules and a look at a short checklist for purchasing one that will yield the best results for the cheapest price.

What Is a Flea Comb and When Should I Use Them?

Flea combs are a fine toothed device that you can use to find fleas (and remove them) from pets. In fact, most of them can be used for both dogs and cats or even other furry animals like rabbits. While normal human hair combs might work, they won’t be as effective because the teeth of the comb needs to be very close together to ensure that fleas, dirt and eggs are caught.

  1. For removing adult fleas – This will bring immediate relief to your pet
  2. For the identification of flea dirt – This indicates the presence of fleas.
  3. For the removal of flea dirt, adult fleas and their eggs.

Also remember that these combs are great for removing fleas from small pets that cannot use most flea products due to sensitive skin. It’s also a great way to control fleas if you prefer to avoid chemicals.

Couple Warnings for Using a Cat Flea Comb

  1. Cats sometimes freak out when being brushed. If you find yourself engaged in a potential fight to the death with your cat, its best to seek alternative methods for getting rid of fleas, especially if it has sharp claws! ;)
  2. When brushing, be aware of any sensitive areas on your cat. While they may not be any cause for concern, any pain your cause during the process will create a fear that may make your pet run as soon as they see you take out the comb. Since you will probably be doing this fairly often, that is the last thing that you want and will make things difficult for you in the future.
  3. If your cat has a number of flea bites, brushing their fur and using the comb to find fleas can be very painful due to inflammation. I recommend treating the bites with a soothing cream before brushing or alternatively, just be gentle while doing it to avoid any unnecessary pain.

Flea Combs for Dogs (And Cats) – How to Use Them

I know what you are thinking – how hard could it be? To be honest, it’s as easy as brushing your own hair so it shouldn’t be too difficult (hopefully). However, since we are using a flea comb to find and identify fleas and their remains, there are a few things that you can do to improve your success rate.

  1. Unless your dog or cat has very short fur, the first thing that you should do is brush it with a normal sized flea comb to ensure that its fur is free of knots. Since the flea comb has very fine teeth, if you try and brush your pet with it and its hair is tangled, it will be extremely difficult to do and can even hurt your pet.
  2. You will need a place to discard of any fleas and dirt that you find. The easiest way to do this is to pour some hot water into a container of your choice and pour some lemon based dish soap into it (about the same amount you would put into your sink before washing dishes). In fact, washing your pet with this mixture can get rid of fleas on your dog and its something to keep in mind for the future. Many people recommend putting flea spray or something like that in the water but it’s really not necessary.
  3. dog flea combsTake your pets outside! Since fleas can jump from their fur, we don’t want them to escape back into the house. Also remember that flea eggs can also fall off your pet, we also want to keep those away from our carpets otherwise we will have another outbreak of fleas in the near future. Sit your pet down and get ready to use your flea comb. At this point, you may want to request the assistance of a friend or family member. While most pets usually love the attention, some pets don’t appreciate being held down and from experience, they can sometimes physically show you their displeasure. If you are combing a cat, this can result in much pain and it’s a good idea to have some backup available. ;)
  4. Starting with the head and neck region, give your pet’s fur a good (but gentle) brush, making sure that you take the time to cover all areas. The tummy region is also a common place for fleas to hang out so don’t forget it! While combing for fleas, you will also need to check your pet’s paws to ensure that no fleas are left behind. I usually dunk the comb into my hot water/soap solution every couple brushes or when I notice any fleas or dirt on it.

How Often Should I Use These Combs?

Clock image for schedule flea combingIf you have a bad flea problem in your area (places with an excessive amount of trees, grass, etc. are especially vulnerable), you may need to do this on a daily basis. However, I usually comb my pets at least once a week to ensure that I am proactive with my flea control and I have found this to be perfectly sufficient. Just remember that your dog may pick up fleas during an outdoor visit to the park or during a long run so it may be worth checking it’s fur afterwards to make sure there are no fleas. If you are using a monthly spot on treatment (like Front Line or Advantage), the requirement to consistently brush your pets for fleas is reduced but I still recommend a checkup from time to time.

Where Can I Purchase a Comb and How Much Will It Cost?

You can purchase one at most pet shops, vets and even supermarkets usually stock them. Remember that you will also need a normal pet brush (if you don’t have one already) that can remove the knots and tangles out of the fur. This should not be the same brush you use for flea combing. Here are a few things to look for when purchasing a quality flea comb:

  1. Preferably, you should purchase one with metal teeth. In my experience, a plastic flea comb tends to not last long and metal ones are a lot stronger.
  2. The comb teeth need to be very close together (fine toothed) and it’s ideal to get one with two rows (double row) of them. This improves the chances of catching the fleas, eggs and dirt while brushing your animal.
  3. I usually look for a product that has a rubber handle. I find that it makes it easier to use but this is optional.
  4. You shouldn’t need to spend anything more then $15. There are even decent quality flea combs that sell for as low as $5 so they should be affordable for most people.

Is That All That I Need to Do to Control Fleas?

Picture of a flea comb A quick answer – sometimes :) I know that’s a bit vague but if you have an isolated, small flea problem, removing them off your pet is usually all you need to do. However, if your flea problem is fairly bad and you have noticed fleas in your carpets, beds and other areas around your home, addition steps need to be taken. You can use flea bombs to kill the fleas inside and a few natural flea removal methods or flea products (like Frontline) to get rid of them nice and quickly.

In conclusion, regular grooming is very important, especially for finding and getting rid of fleas. While it’s often not the only thing that needs to be done, taking a proactive stance against fleas can help you avoid major problems later. As long as you are consistent and follow a regular routine, flea combs are a very effective, non-toxic, affordable way to control fleas on your pets and their use is recommended by The Bug Squad. Thanks for reading my guide and I invite you to leave a comment below. Thanks!

Natasha Anderson

Natasha Anderson

Hi there! My name is Natasha and I would like to thank you for reading this guide. If you have any concerns or would like to ask a question about this article, I encourage you to leave a comment below and I will provide a reliable answer within about 24 hours. Remember, all this information is provided at absolutely no cost and if you have enjoyed what you have read, please show your appreciation by sharing this post on your favorite social network below. I look forward to helping you!
Natasha Anderson
Natasha Anderson
Please note that the contents of this guide is for informational purposes only. If you would like to receive professional advice to diagnose a pest control related problem, please contact your local exterminator or certified expert immediately.

Comments

  1. Valery says:

    Your information is spot on. But we have done it all and my dogs still have a few fleas. Poor things are getting baths every day. And one had sensitive skin. I’m drying her out. I shaved off her long silky hair. She is blonde so we can find them on her. Only good thing is her chronic yeast problem is getting better. But my other dog is dark. Finding them on her is hard. What else can we do? We’re in S Fl.
    Thank you

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Valery! Thanks, I appreciate your kind words! I recommend using a simple dawn and soap wash for a couple days. I know that might sounds overly simplistic but it works so well for me and has for many of my readers. There is some additional information on the steps in other articles on this blog so check them out when you have a chance. Let me know if I can help you with anything else :)

      • Rachel says:

        But what about when they clean themselves afterward and ingest the dawn or soap wash? Isn’t that harmful?

        Thanks :-)

        • Natasha Anderson says:

          Hi Rachel, you should definitely rinse them to remove all the soap. Once it’s gone, there is no risk.

  2. Leila says:

    What do you recommend if i cannot bring my cat outdoors. i live in a small apartment and while i brush him the fleas are jumping right onto my floor. I am not able to catch them in time. I have a pretty difficult infestation going on and cannot find any ways to keep this issue under control. I only discovered that my indoor cat had fleas because i was being severely bitten. fleas were the last thing i could think of… but we found it and now we are doing everything we can do get rid of them… I am having a very difficult time finding products for humans (i have very long hair and dont think that brushing it every day is working) and i am having a hard time brushing my cat… Your suggestions are very appreciated.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Leila! I recommend giving your cat a wash with dawn soap and warm water (wear protective gear though lol). Once the bulk of the fleas are dead, do a DE treatment on your carpets, etc. around the house and then continue with your daily combing and your cat will be fine. As for the flea bites, check out my article on that subject as it will go into much more detail then I can go into here. Let me know if you still have questions after reviewing it :)

      • Kathleen Norton says:

        Hi Natasha, I enjoy your site and information. I was doing what I thought was complete jobs of combing my kitties for fleas. One time when my kitty had a sore on her muzzle among her whiskers I soaked her muzzle area with silver colloidal. To my surprise out of her muzzle came many fleas. I had not thought to comb her muzzle, not seeing any fleas there, and it is not pleasant for my kitties, but now I do. I can comb my whole kitty and then comb their muzzle and will find that so many fleas flee out and into the kitty’s body fur that I have to comb them all over. Often they come out and crawl right over the kitty’s eye. They are also often right around the eyes, forehead and some right on the ears. If a kitty doesn’t let you comb it’s muzzle one can always resort to using a cotton ball and soaking the area as they then flee the area in fear of the water. Another place fleas may hide is the tail. If you don’t get every flea two left are enough to repopulate them. When they were hiding In the kitties’ muzzles I wasn’t aware, but I was leaving many of them.

        • Natasha Anderson says:

          Hi Kathleen! Glad you like my work :) Wow that is hectic, thanks for sharing that info, I will definitely pass it on to those that need it. Appreciate your contribution to the community!

  3. lynnia says:

    hi natasha, a few weeks ago, my apartment got infested with fleas badly from a nuisance neighbor that brought in dogs that had fleas on them, i have a indoor cat that was scratching badly & the lil devilish things were & still r crawling all over him, ive been getting bit badly by these things & i just gotted a flea comb today & used a lemon scented dishwashing liquid solution (the dishwashing liquid & water) and combed over my cat various times, im hoping this will kill the fleas cause i tried to use a sargeant flea spray & a flea collar from them, & my cat reacted badly to those things. im not comfortable with flea bombs & its too pricy for me to go to a vet right now, is there a alternative safer way to get rid of fleas in the carpet like borax or ive heard of table salt that can FINALLY kill them? im going to do this flea comb dishwater solution once a week to hopefully clear my cat of fleas. thanks & ure article was very very helpful.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Lynnia! Your best bet is to combine flea combing, dish soap and water and my flea trap if you are on a budget. Let me know how that goes.

  4. Pernille says:

    Hey! I have a question…I just used Frontline on my cats and I was wondering can I use a flea comb after applying Frontline… will it remove the oils from the product?

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Pernille! I suggest you wait 24 hours :)

    • John Sanders says:

      Hi, I have a question.
      I just bought a new house and it was infested with fleas. My dog is treated with flea medicine and had the house professionally exterminated. My dog picked up the fleas. Now my dog is between two houses and I know he has fleas and I don’t want to get the fleas in my old house, but I have seen a couple. I combed my dog, and found them on the comb. The question is, how do I know if these fleas are going to die because they seem to be alive. Can fleas jump off a flea comb? The ones I pulled off while combing seem to just run in circles. Is that from the medicine or just the comb doing that to them

      • Natasha Anderson says:

        Hi John! Using a flea comb is just to get them off the pet. You will still need to kill them. I suggest their washing your dog with dawn soap and warm water or using a spot on treatment :)

  5. Kassey says:

    My cat has fleas, its not too bad as of now. 5 months ago she had them and we used advantage and she had an allergic reaction and almost died. Rushed to vet and they gave her some shots and pills to save her…. she started scratching again last week. I bathed her in dawn and used a flea comb, got rid of the fleas. Two days later and she is scratching, I combed her and found some fleas! I read that over bathing can hurt her skin. How often can I bathe her? How often should I comb her? I have 2 small kids, so a flea bomb isn’t an option. I have not seen any fleas in my home anyways.
    What do you suggest?

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Kassey! Bathe her once every two weeks and comb her whenever you want.

  6. Geri says:

    I have found that fleas cannot jump out of the bathtub (no water necessary) and once there I can kill easily by hand.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Gerl! That’s a good point, thanks for the suggestion.

    • Sue says:

      I do both my indoor cats in the bath, that way I can kill any flea that comes off them, I went to someone’s house and brought them back I was horrified my boys have been flea,ed the house has been sprayed and am using a flea comb 2aday and still getting the odd few out, I feel so unclean I have had a few bites but no more thank goodness, I hover every day and empty the hover dram every time thank goodness I have a pet hover, I got in touch with my vet and he wanted £38 per cat just to look at them am on a very low income. But I seem to be winning fingers crossed.

      • Natasha Anderson says:

        Hi Sue! Keep up the good work, sounds like you are winning :)

  7. Donna says:

    I have found that for pets (such as cats) that don’t like a bath tub or the idea of being placed in water, put Dawn on a wet washcloth and rub the fur. While they still may not like it, they can tolerate it better. Then pour a small amount of water over the fur until soap suds are gone.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Donna! Thanks for the lovely suggestion, very clever!

  8. John Sanders says:

    Natasha, I think I was confusing and didn’t really get my question across because I didn’t word it well.

    I used medicine on my dog for two years now(first shield trio). Well the house I bought gave my dog fleas. We didn’t move in there yet but we go there frequently to do work. My dog goes as well. Basically, the fleas on my dog are not dying even though he has been treated for quiet some time. are these fleas going to die, off on him? I haven’t taken him to the new house in 2 days, and I checked him and they are still on him and alive. So I have been keeping my poor dog outside so we don’t get them in the house that we are in now (old house). I want to bring him in, but I don’t want the fleas to spread into my home. I called the first shield trio customer service and the rep there states I need to keep exposing him to the fleas to kill them off because once they jump on him they will die, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The fleas are not dieing and inexplained that to the rep. She stated that the medicine breaks down their nervous system and the fleas are unresponsive although they still seem to be alive. Like I said it has been two days since he has been in the new house to try to control this on him, but the fleas still seem to be alive. Shouldn’t they be dead by now?

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi John! Sounds like that rep is trying to pull a fast one, the fleas should have been dead long ago. I suggest trying something like Frontline or Advantage, those two spot on treatments usually work well. Let me know how it goes!

  9. John vdH says:

    Regarding your post about waiting 24 hours before combing my cat after putting on frontline. I didn’t, and now wondering if by brushing I messed up. I wouldn’t want to put a second dose, or should I? Looks like the comb works for the daddy fleas but there are these small suckers that fall through the metal comb. We also used this powder all over the apartment then vacuumed it up after an hour to let it settle. Will that really break the flea cycle? I think our next step is that dawn bath but I know my cat will go to the death before letting me get him in! Your feedback appreciated!

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi John! To be honest, I think it would have been fine, don’t stress about it. It will break the cycle if it stops the eggs from hatching. Hehehe good luck, you will need it ;)

  10. Kelley says:

    Hi all. I thought I would share my experience and what worked for me. I used to use a spot on, but I no longer can as my cat has a really bad reaction to it and gets very sick. Anyhow, I will get back to that later. I bought canning jars and a bunch of lemons. I sliced up 2 lemons per jar and poured boiling water over the lemons, then while still hot I capped the jars. The jars seal as they cool so you can make up a bunch in advance and still keep sealed jars that you don’t use up during your battle. The lemons must steep for a min. Of 24 hours. The longer the better. After a jar has steeped, drain the lemon water into a spray bottle, discarding any peals/pulp. Vacuum your carpets and furniture very well, making sure to get underneath as well. Remove the vacuum bag, place into a small plastic bag and seal (I actually double bagged). Make sure you always remove and bag the vacuum bags after EVERY vacuum, and take the bagged vacuum bags to your outside garbage immediately. Now set your spray bottle on a fine mist and spray everywhere. Everywhere you spray should be slightly damp. You’ll want to vacuum 1-2 times daily, making sure to remove the used vacuum bag immediately after each vacuuming. Spray everything with your lemon water as often as you can, just make sure everything has had a chance to dry between mistings. I bathed my cat with regular dawn dish detergent, not the ultra, just the original regular strength. For scabed over sore spots, or really itchy spots you can use a little 100% virgin, UN-refined organic coconut oil (which you can find in your bakery isle). You may need to heat the oil a bit to thin it, but it soothes the itch and helps speed healing. The lemon water misting helps control the fleas in your home, and it also makes it smell wonderful. You can also use DE in your home, just make sure to work the DE way down into the nape with a broom, and when using DE, do NOT vacuum for about a week. Make sure you get food grade DE, not just the stuff for your garden- garden grade cannot be used indoors. You may need a mask when working with DE as its a fine powder. You can also rub a small amount of DE deep into your pets coat, down near the skin. DE needs to be reapplied if it gets wet, so using DE and the lemon water shouldn’t be done together. I have food grade DE and am getting ready to apply it to my floors, carpets, furniture and cat. The lemon water I have used before and I can attest to its effectiveness when combined with vacuuming. You can also cut a flea coller into pieces and drop a piece or 2 into your clean vacuum bag before putting it in your vacuum. You will still need to dispose of the bag after each use though, so I didn’t bother. I tried the lemon water after doing tons of research because my money situation was terrible, and I bought a bunch of the cheapest vacuum bags I could. And I was so happy it worked. Now I am trying different methods to see how they work compared to my tried and true methods. This the DE. I spent a fortune on all natural flea shampoo AND conditioner AND the same spray, and it was a HUGE waste of money, time and work. The fleas are just as active immediately following the bath then before. So that was a huge fail and I now have to wait to give my poor cat another bath, all the while she is suffering- this my reason for looking into flea combs. I hope the DE works as others have said. Otherwise I will stick with my lemon water/vacuuming, and I will never stray from dawn dish soap again! The heat and vibration from your vacuum will hatch eggs, and suck the fleas up, which is why you need to vacuum so much. Also, if you are getting bit, use some original scent skin so soft by Avon. Fleas hate it and won’t be staying on you long enough to bite, if they even land on you at all. Do NOT try to use skin so soft on your pet- they can get sick if they lick too much if it off themselves. But boy do I wish Avon would make a skin so soft animal product. At any rate, I hope my misery has enlightened and helps others. Best of luck in our battles with these miserable causing fleas! Cheers!

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Kelly! All I can say is wow, you win the prize for the most informative (and lengthy, in a good way) comment on my blog hehe :) Thanks for taking the time to write this out and share it with everyone, you are awesome!

    • Jo says:

      Hi please can you tell me what DE stands for?

      Thanks

      • Natasha Anderson says:

        Hi Jo! Diatomaceous earth. Make sure you get the food grade one.

  11. Lai-Lai says:

    The EASIEST way to clean a flea comb it to wipe it off with dry toilet paper, make sure it’s pinched around the flea so it’s can’t escape, & drown the little sods in the toilet. The paper will weigh them down & prevent them from breathing or crawling out.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Lai, thanks for your suggestion, love it.

  12. rob says:

    My small cat is very sensitive to topical treatment. Luckily she LOVES the flea brush. My new rescue cat is another story. She’ll tolerate a few passes but gets aggressive. Going to try Frontline on the big cat and the dog. Dog is pretty agreeable to about everything. Got to get a handle on it… such a nasty business. I use a small amount of palmolive or frontine on a q-tip as the coup de gras for the pleas. Rolling them up in the hair works in a pinch. Then they get flushed.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Rob, sounds like you have the situation handled, thanks for sharing the tips!

  13. Kathy says:

    I just started using the flea comb method. I generally get about 3 or 4 fleas each time. An article I read says that translates to 100 fleas in your house per flea on the comb so I always follow up by vacuuming. I know the above article says you needn’t put anything in the water that you dip your flea comb into BUT if I have to use the comb daily I might as well add something to the water that will aid in repelling fleas. I’ve been reading lots of articles that mention the repellent features of stuff like lemon water (as described in the lengthy comment above) apple cider vinegar, lavender, skin so soft and neem oil. I’ve been spraying the dog before walks with lemon water. I make an after bath rinse with 2 oz. vinegar, 62 oz very war and a tablespoon of skin so soft. (I’ve been using this for years and my dogs have never been slick with oil. It does make their fur soft and they smell great) I also make mosquito wipes for my family with 1 tbl spoon vinegar 1 drop lavendar essential oil, 1 drop clove oil and one tbl spoon vinegar emulified and poured over several select-a-size paper towels cut in half to make small squares. I just started using the wipes after each shower for flea repellent because fleas love to eat me. It keeps the fleas away and this winter my skin has felt fantastic.) Every 3 days I make an oil rub with 10 drops of olive oil and 1 drop of neem oil. If I’m doing all of that, why not add something to the flea comb water dip. The comb will work the stuff through the comb, kill the fleas in the water and the residual smell will repel the fleas right? Maybe if I do that I won’t have to do all of the stuff above. Today I added vinegar and a few drops of Skin-So-Soft. The vinegar is supposed to make him less itchy. The oil may condition the skin to make him less of a flea target.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing your wisdom with the community, you made some very good suggestions. Yes that would repel fleas but there is no harm in doing all of it, keep it up.

  14. Lauren Rosen says:

    Hi Natasha,

    I put frontline on a foster pup. He had terrible dandruff and then two nights later I saw one flea crossing his bed. We had just come in from the park where he was rolling in dead leaves. Regardless, I checked her and checked her. Nothing. She is still biting occasionally though with some dandruff. I used frontline, but also used coconut oil on her skin –not realizing that the oil may get in the way of the frontline working. I also combed her that night. Should I hope that the frontline is still going to work, or should I reapply. Will it be very bad for her? Should I bathe her and then reapply?
    thanks.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Lauren, I am not too sure if it will interfere, if I had to guess I would say no. Just wait and see if it works :)

  15. Leslie says:

    Hi Natasha,
    I have been combing our Maine Coon on a daily basis for the past several weeks since we found out he had fleas. This cat has always been a very gentle and loving cat, but recently his behavior has changed towards me. In the morning we start our day with some love and scratches. The past couple of mornings he has turned aggressive and swatted at me. He hasn’t displayed this kind of behavior towards my hubby and I’m wondering if it might have to do with the daily combing. Any thoughts.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Leslie, might be, perhaps it is hurting him. I suggest you get a brush that doesn’t pull his fur too much.

  16. riya says:

    Hi Natasha..ive a indian kitten .her age is 6-7 months. recently i spotted small black fleas on her .I visited a vet for consultation but i didnt took my kitten along as she gets really aggressive when i make her sit in the basket.The vet gave me a fipronil spray 0.25.but after reading the reviews for the same im in two minds as it as many side effects from burning the skin to seizures n lot more.i dont want my baby to go through all this.Pls help as im really worried for my baby.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Riya, if your vet prescribed it, it should be fine for her size. Give it a try and keep an eye on her, otherwise try some of my natural flea removal guides on this blog, I have a lot more.

  17. La'Ree says:

    Hi Natasha,

    I am an owner of 2 small short haired dogs and a fluffy cat. We had been free of fleas for a really long time until earlier in May, when my cat got stuck outside (he’s indoor only) and began having what looked like dirt on him (only now do I realize it was “Flea dirt”). When I actually spotted a flea on my short haired dog, I instantly gave each of them a bath, combing through their fur. I found about six fleas on my cat and and eight fleas on my dog. The other dog didn’t have any. I thought that was that, until my father found a flea on my cat. So we washed them again. It wasn’t until a week ago that we found the flea eggs on the carpet and some larva that had hatched. So we picked up everything, ( we just have rugs, no carpet) and all the linens and clothes and bedding, ect. and took them to the laundromat and washed everything while my father bathed the animals in flea shampoo with IGR and then he sprayed inside the house with flea spray again with IGR and then sprayed most of the yard with bug spray (I don’t know if that had IGR in it).

    Since then we have still found around 20 fleas on the cat and for or five on one of the dogs, the other dogs still doesn’t have any, with in this week over the span of days since my father combs the cat out with a flea comb. We checked the rugs we have and the larva had died, and the eggs which looked shiny at first now look dull. We are washing our bedding often, and we have yet to bring in any of our laundry yet in case of more fleas. We sweep the floor almost every day and we just bathed the animals again today. Is there anything more we can do? I was thinking about buying those pills that make the fleas die in 30 minutes Capstar I think its called. We can’t really afford Frontline or Advantage flea medication for the animals since it costs quite a bit, We haven’t seen any fleas around the house other than on the cat and my one dog, so do you think we have an infestation or are they coming from outside? (which is my theory why one of my dogs doesn’t have fleas since she rarely stays outside very long). Is there something that costs a bit less but still works? Are we on the right track? Is there anything else we can do to make sure this doesn’t get worse?

    Sorry for all the questions, I just want to make sure that we don’t get any more fleas for my animals sake and my sanity. Thanks in advance. :)

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi La’Ree, my guess is that those fleas are coming from outside as you said. My suggestion, wash your dogs (and if you dare, your cat) in warm water and dawn dish soap, that will kill all their fleas instantly. Then use a couple DIY flea traps (check my article on this) in your home, using tea lights instead of candles. Then keep your animals inside for a awhile and see if the flea problem disappears. If it reappears when you let them out, then its definitely and outdoor issue and we can look at that then. Hope that helps, please share this article with your friends :)

  18. Susan says:

    If people have trouble getting their animals to stand in water it’s worth showering them down. My cats hate having water up their ankles but are ok if it feels like it’s raining indoors.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Susan, thanks for that fantastic suggestion!

  19. Maya says:

    Hello. Thank u for the elaborate info on flea combs. I have a hamster and he was born here at home. I don’t know how he got it, but I can see a flea on his long hair. He’s a Syrian long haired hamster. I can’t use any meds on him as all websites I’ve visited WARNED about the dangers of insecticides and other cat/dog flea replant or treatment since hamsters are very tiny and delicate. Please advise.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Maya, have you tried using a small flea comb on him? Probably your best bet :)

  20. gary scott says:

    Hi Natasha , Thanks for writing this , a great article, Despite having treat my cat Tiger for fleas using frontline last week I noticed he was still scratching so bought a flea comb earlier today and yes unfortunately as well as those gritty black pieces I found about 8 live fleas , all of which I destroyed. I have also treat the house and hovered again and again hoping to get rid of these . Thankfully Tiger likes being combed although he can go into playfight mode if you do too much !! I will comb every day and hopefully keep these fleas at bay until his next frontline treatment.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Gary! Thanks for your kind words! Fantastic, glad you are making some progress, I am sure it will work out. Give Tiger a pat for me :)

      • gary scott says:

        Thanks Natasha , only counted 2 today after so yes we are winning !! and yes I will and a hug too !!!

        • Natasha Anderson says:

          Hi Gary! Awesome, glad I could help!

  21. Alison Boissonnas says:

    Thank you for this great article! We are fostering some 4 week old kittens and are bathing them daily in Dawn and then combing. My problem is that the eggs stick fast to their fine fur and the comb seems to get very few dislodged. I couldn’t possibly pick each one off. There are hundreds of eggs. Is there a better way to make the eggs stick to the comb?

    Thank you.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Alison! It is a pleasure! That works well but don’t do it every single day, it will dry out their skin. Are you sure that they are eggs and not something like dandruff?

      • lynne mcsheffrey says:

        just a note for those in the UK Dawn is the same as Fairy liquid so dont spend a fortune on amazon

        • Natasha Anderson says:

          Hi Lynne! Thanks for the tip!

  22. Katie says:

    We just moved into a new home and on the way during the move I found flea dirt on one of our cats we treated her and the other two pets with topical treatment when we arrived I isolated her in one bathroom and but she did walk through the kitchen one time but has since been in her bathroom. We sprayed the carpets with flea spray and washed eveything she touched. We combed the dog with the flea comb but fpund no fleas pr flea dirt at all. The other cat had 2 specks of dirt after 30 combs but no other signs. The cat with fleas I have used wipes on her everyday to remove flea dirt then I have used the flea comb but in total since finding the problem have only found 3 fleas and she is not itchy. I hate keeping her isolated but I dnt want our new house to become infested. Have I done all I can do? Do u think we caught the problem early since its a new environment? Plz help when can I let my poor kitty out again

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Katie! I personally think you have done enough, let the cat into the house and just monitor the situation. As soon as you notice a couple fleas in the home, you can easily combat that issue, provided you don’t leave it for weeks and weeks. Hope that helps!

  23. Tiff says:

    Hi, I placed white paper under my dog and brushed him but only managed to catch one flea on the comb. The others were crawling around on the paper and I didn’t want them to jump back on my dog so it took several tries to smash them with the back of the comb. Any suggestions to what I can do aside from that? I don’t know if I should be spraying the raid flea on them while my dog is a few inches away or sprinkling DE? Also, is it safe to spray the raid flea carpet or any fogger and leave the house closed up for like 2 wks if I’m going away??

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Tiff, just dunk the brush (with the fleas) into soapy water, kills them instantly. Hope that helps :)

  24. Aimee Bray says:

    Hey there!! 2 weeks and 2 days ago we found 3 fleas on our Bernese Mt. Dog whom is regularly treated on pet armour plus or Adnantix 2 for xl dogs. All 3 cats who are also treated monthly were clean (no flea dirt, no fleas). I went into panic mode, laundered, vacuumed and steam cleaned carpets (5xs over) now I have been continuing to comb and vacuum. They are all still clean and homemade traps had nothing in 2 weeks. Yard was also treated, but it rained a lot the following day for a week so not sure how that worked. I keep checking cats areas for dirt and nothing. It’s a bit harder to check on our big hairy black dog, but he was capstared a couple times spread out to be safe. As long as I retreat at given time and vacuum do you think I can assume it’s under control? I don’t know how long he had those fleas or more, but he is always treated. Thank you, I need a little anxiety help. Good thing it’s getting cold out.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Aimee! I am almost certain that it is under control, well done! Just keep an eye out for fleas and take immediate action if you find any.

      • Aimee says:

        So ekkkkk after 4 weeks and 2 days of cleaning, vacuum, water traps, capstar here and there, no bites on us, I found one flea on my cat, I think the others were clean along with the dog. Since they are treated and no signs of an infestation, can I assume it’s a missed egg? And that we will see a few here and there, but since they are treated and I vacuum it will be okay!? I hate anxiety!! All I can think of is what if te treatment didn’t work.

        • Natasha Anderson says:

          Hi Aimee, honestly, I think you have won. A couple fleas (provided the numbers don’t increase) is nothing to worry about. Hope that helps you.

  25. Wendy H says:

    My normally indoor cat was recently on vacation with us and was outside quite a bit. Since we can home (only a week ago) I noticed just a couple fleas. My husband got her the drops from Walmart (hertz I believe) and I gave it to her and four days later I saw two on her so two days I gave it again as I read you can reapply after 4-5 days. And now after combing I found two. I dip the comb in water and dawn and they die very quickly. I’m just wondering what to do now. I have no carpet. She is only indoors. Do I comb daily or a couple times a day? Get drops from a vet? How long does it take the drops to work? Also I couldn’t find a flea comb at Walmart but they had metal lice combs which look pretty much the same. Is that OK to you? Thanks so much!!!!

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Wendy! The comb sounds fine to be honest. Yes, comb daily and kill those fleas in dawn. If that doesn’t work after about 7 days, let me know!

  26. Brittney says:

    Hi, today I saw one little black big on my dog. I picked it out and killed it. I
    Immediately after I went to the pet store and bought flea treatment and a comb. Once I got home I did the treatment and a few hours later I decided to use the comb. I combed him for about 20 minutes and saw nothing! Could this mean that there could have only been one on him? Or if it was another bug from outside? I’ve never dealt with these before and I’m freaking out thinking about it lol!

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Brittney! Yes it is possible, just a bit unusual hehe. Maybe you just caught it early. Check my article on DIY flea traps if you want to be extra cautious.

  27. Burma Welber says:

    Hi Natasha,
    I came across your site and have read all the posts about fleas and what to do about them. Like the rest, my dog got infeasted and gave them to our “inherited” cat, which is an inside cat. I have treated my dog for the last 3 months with the Spot on PetArmor plus for dogs, and also treated the cat with the same one for cats. When I saw the cat scratching excessively, I checked and found he was loaded with fleas, so that stuff didn’t work. Checked the dog and she too had fleas, but not as bad. Now it took two of us to bath the cat, (you would have thought we were killing him,) in Dawn and then the dog. She is pretty good with the bathing part. Anyway, Dawn has killed almost all the fleas on both, but am still keeping check on them with the flea comb. Now my question is, is there a difference between flea combs? When I use it on the dog, it works fine, when I use it on the cat the flea goes through the comb instead of catching it. By the way, thanks for this site of your’s, gave me lots of info.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Burma, well done on managing to bath the cat, that is an achievement in itself hehe. Yes there is, you will need another comb for the cat for it to work effectively. Thanks for your kind words :)

  28. Erica says:

    Hi Natasha,
    I came across your website today and read some of the posts, and found it very informative. We’ve always had indoor cats, until one day about a month ago a kitten came wandering into our backyard. My husband and I fell in love with her immediately and took her in. We also unwittingly brought fleas into our house with our new addition. The kitten and one of my other cats are short-haired, and the other has medium length hair. It seems that from observing their behavior that while the kitten brought the fleas in to the house, she no longer has them, nor does my other short-haired cat. However my cat with the longer hair is infested. Since discovering them, I’ve taken steps to wipe them out, including drops, vacuuming and laundering, and I used a flea killing spray on my drapes and upholstered furniture. I also bought a flea comb yesterday and combed my longer haired cat thoroughly; I combed the kitten and didn’t even find one flea, and I didn’t see any on my other short hair, but she didn’t let me comb her very much. Is it possible for fleas to “prefer” one cat over another? Sounds weird, I know, but I don’t want to treat all three with drops and vet visits if only one of my cats is really affected. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Erica, yes it is possible, strange I know hehe. The issue is though that if you do that, chances are they the fleas will move to the other untreated ones so its probably best to continue with all three. Let me know if the fleas start to subside. :)

  29. Gabrielle says:

    I have an aggressive cat who hates to be brushed. This is what I do to comb her with the flea comb. In a stand-alone shower, I fill the base of the shower with an inch or two of warm soapy water. I bring my cat into the shower and close the doors to seal us in so she can’t escape. She will tolerate getting her paws wet for long enough to comb her and since there’s no running water she knows it’s not bath time. The soapy water will kill any fleas that fall off while I comb her. If there are fleas on the comb, then I just rinse the comb in the soapy water to kill the flea. By the time we are done, there are dead fleas floating in the water and a fairly dry cat. If she sits on the water, her tail gets soapy and I have to rinse her off, but she’s slowly learning not to sit down. I let her out and pull the plug (you can also block the drain with a cloth or plastic bag if you don’t have the option for a plug) and use the shower head to rinse the base of the shower and send all those little devil carcasses down the drain! I find that I don’t need to rinse the soap off her paws (although you could after you’ve cleaned the shower base), I just towel her off really good, which gets most of the soap off her fur. We’ve done it a few times now and she is even starting to like being combed! Hope this helps :)

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Gabrielle! Flipping heck, that is pure brilliance! I am going to save that for future reference, thanks for the great tip! :)

  30. Celia says:

    Hi I found fleas on my dog tried spot on to no avail so got advantage from my vet also treated the house with the spray from the vet 2 weeks ago .. however I have found the odd flea on my dog ..nothing first 2 days now but she is still scratching herself .. do you think I have won the flea war and that the cycle has stopped?

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Celia, personally, I think you have. Well done, just keep an eye on their numbers, should be going down obviously. A DIY flea trap can help you determine that, check out my article on this subject.

  31. Artemisia says:

    I love your column! Very informative. I have 4 indoor cats. I’ve been using Frontline, flea combs, cleaning, bathing, general effective means to keep fleas almost non existent. I wanted to suggest something that works great for bathing.
    Cats freak out when you put them down in the bathtub sometimes. I take a window screen, put it across the kitchen sink , and put the cat on the screen. I use the sink squirter on low, warm water. Fleas will come off, no bending, and the cats tolerate it.
    Hope this helps someone with cat bathing.
    Cheers!

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Artemisia! Thanks for the fantastic tip and for your kind words. I appreciate it and I am certain that the community will benefit from your wisdom. :)

  32. Dominic says:

    I found fleas on my dog a while back. Since then she has had 2 treatments with Frontline plus and a couple if baths using flea shampoo. I also use a flea comb on her regularly. The last few times I have combed her I was unable to find any fleas. However she is still scratching like crazy. It seems like she itches even more than before but I cannot for the life of me find a flea on her. Any suggestions ?

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Dominic, based on your description of the problem, I am almost certain that your dog is just suffering from dry skin or a mild allergy. Keeping this in mind, I suggest that you get something to help with that, as I don’t think you have a flea problem anymore. :)

  33. Morgan says:

    We rescued a cat yesterday and once we got home learned she had fleas. It was late and i only had dawn, so I bathed her in that. Today I purchased a flea comb and I’m still finding amd pulling off live fleas. I’ve read that using dawn dries out her skin and i need to wait awhile before I can apply “advantage”. Mybquestion is How long do i have to wait to apply the treatment. She is quarantined to our bathroom because we have another dog and cat in the house :( thanks

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Morgan, since the spot on is just applied behind the neck, I don’t usually wait too long after the bath. I suggest that you just apply it and let me know how it goes.

  34. Grace Dibden says:

    Hi,
    Recently found a few fleas on my cats (2) have treated them with frontline once a week for the past two weeks, and flea bombed the house and then used indorex spray. So far I am finding approximately 10 dead on the floor each day and 5 to 10 dead or dieing on the cats (approx five on each cat) I am vacuuming all areas of the house and mopping the not carpeted floors with lemon based washing detergent mixed in the water. I am just wondering of an estimation of how bad the problem is? My partner and I are not getting bitten at all and apart from the dead ones that I can see on the tiled and hard floors I am not finding any jumping around, even in the carpeted rooms.

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Grace, if you are finding that many dead each day, your infestation must have been a fairly large one. However, by the sounds of it, you have won the battle. Let me know if you start finding live ones and i will help you.

  35. john cooper says:

    hi try a bar of soap to catch fleas of yor comb just dab it on the flea they stick to the soap an oldy but still works

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi John! Thanks for the tip!

  36. MyRranda Sams says:

    Hi Natasha!
    I recently took in a foster dog and unknowingly had fleas we only saw 2. We treated him gave him a dawn bath and i sprayed the whole house with knockout even,though he was only allowed in one room. Then 2 weeks later we found 10 fleas on him. Bathed him again sprayed the inside again and sprayed the outside. Then two weeks later we found 3 new fleas on him. Hes on monthly preventative but I feel like we’re not making a dent on the situation. Im currently waiting on a flea comb however my other two dogs haven’t had more than one flea this whole time. Is this normal to have it like move in waves? Is there any end in site for me before the hard freezes happen?!
    Thanks!
    MyRranda

    • Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi there! I wouldn’t say it is normal, but it does take some time to deal with the situation completely. You may find that your dogs are getting fleas from outside, or even inside your home. To rule out the latter, check out my article on DIY flea traps, and let me know if they catch any fleas.s Otherwise, the flea comb will definitely help you.

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