How to Get Rid of Fleas on Newborn Puppies in 3 Steps

how to get rid of fleas on newborn puppies

Newborn puppies are the perfect host for fleas; they’re furry, produce moisture, and live very closely snuggled up to each other with the warmth of their mother. It’s the ideal breeding ground for fleas, so it’s not that unusual to find a 1-week old puppy with fleas.

If not treated, fleas can multiply very quickly unless you get the situation under control. It’s really important that you get rid of fleas on your baby puppies as soon as you can, and safely as possible.

Not only do fleas make the newborn puppies really itchy, but they can also lead to anemia and the transmission of tapeworms.

Handy Hint: Did you know that almost all puppies are also born with worms? Here’s all you need to know.

How to get rid of fleas from newborn puppies

Fleas can lay up to forty eggs in just 24 hours, and newly produced fleas can survive without food for up to 14 days. Because of this, I recommend you take a three-prong attack when treating newborn puppy fleas. That includes treating the mother, the puppies, and then actual home environment.

What you will need

Step 1: Bathe the puppies 

Bathing the baby puppies in a few inches of warm water will allow you to remove the fleas manually. This is the only effective method for such young puppies without using harsh flea treatments.

  1. Aim for the water to be the same temperature as you’d use for bathing a baby, then gently lower them into the basin or sink.
  2. Use your hand to support their head, always keeping it well above the water.
  3. Then carefully pout the water all over the puppy’s coat until it is thoroughly wet.
  4. Now you can lift the puppy out of the water and gently rub with a warm towel to remove all the moisture.
  5. Stand your pup on a dry towel and now use a flea comb to go through all of their coat. These combs are specially designed with very finely spaced teeth to trap the fleas as you work through the fur.
  6. Starting at the pup’s neck, part the fur and then comb a section at a time, removing any fleas that you come across
  7. Ensure that the fleas can’t reinfect your pup by killing them either by squishing them dead or placing them in a container full of boiling water, well out of the puppy’s reach.
  8. Make sure to go all over your pup with the flea comb several times to ensure that none have been missed. Remember that it just takes one missed flea to start the problem all over again!

If you have a litter of pups, every single one must be bathed and then combed. Even if they haven’t been itching, they may still have flea eggs about to hatch.

Remember to keep those who have been bathed away from those still awaiting their turn to make sure there’s no chance of fleas hopping from one to the next.

As soon as all the pups are bathed, then you can turn your attention to the mother and their living environment.

Step 2: Rid the mother of fleas 

Just as it was important to be aware of the issues with flea treatments for a newborn puppy, it’s just the same for the puppy mother, especially if she is still providing milk to the litter.

That’s because some chemicals in the treatments can be passed to the pups while they are feeding, leading to dangerous side effects.

Two chemicals found in flea treatments have been found to be dangerous to pregnant and lactating dogs, and they are Fipronil and Spinosad.

Fipronil has not been proven to be safe for puppies, so that means that it shouldn’t be used on mothers either when they’re pregnant or still feeding the pups.

Spinosad, meanwhile, has been shown to be present in the mother’s milk when given as an oral treatment. It’s not known if it causes side effects in puppies and so it should be avoided when choosing a remedy for the mother.

Do also be careful of products that are described as natural or drug-free; this doesn’t mean that they are safe for either a lactating mother dog or a newborn puppy. There are, however, a range of products that contain Selamectin, which is applied to the skin, and these are safe to give to Mum and have no side effects for the puppies even if she’s still feeding them.

Do make sure to read the manufacturers’ instructions before using any flea treatments and ensure that the mother’s skin and coat are completely dry before the puppies are reunited with her.

Handy Hint: Here’s all you need to know about using flea treatment on your dog when they have just had a bath.

Step 3: Get rid of fleas in the home 

Now you have worked to get rid of the fleas on the newborn puppies and mother, you can do the final stage in the process, getting rid of fleas in the home.

Did you know that fleas are only the dogs when it’s time for a feed?

That then means that for every flea you see on your puppy or dog, it’s likely that there are another 20 in your dog’s bed, carpet, and sofa!

And it’s not only the fleas themselves we need to worry about; the female lays her eggs on soft materials such as upholstery.

When these hatch into larvae, they then feed on dirt before becoming adults. So, this means that it’s essential to treat the home for eggs and fleas to prevent the dogs and puppies from becoming reinfested.

  1. First of all, treat the beds with an insecticide. The flea eggs are really tough and will survive a standard wash if not treated first
  2. Once the insecticide has had time to take effect according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then you can wash the bedding in the washing machine on a very hot wash of at least 60 degrees.
  3. Now have a good vacuum of all the soft furnishings that can’t be washed as this will help the insecticide penetrate more deeply. Don’t forget to empty the vacuum bag very carefully!
  4. Finally, you can use an insecticide spray which contains permethrin to kill any remaining eggs, larvae, or fleas

Do take care of the insecticide as they contain powerful chemicals, which means that all animals, including fish, should be removed from the area before spraying.

Once you’ve finished the treatment, you should open all the windows to ventilate the area before letting everyone back in.

Why you can’t use flea treatment on young puppies 

While there are many flea treatments available for an adult dog and the home, most flea treatments are unsuitable for young puppies. That means that a different approach is going to be needed to sort out the situation.

One of the main reasons for not using flea products on newborn pups is because of the delicacy of their internal organs. This then means that they are much more prone to experience a side effect compared to adult dogs.

Dependent on the type of treatment used, puppies can experience breathing problems, vomiting and become oversensitive to stimulation such as light and noise. Some also become very lethargic with low energy levels.

Generally, you’ll find that flea products have warnings to advise against their use with newborn puppies, or they will state that they have not been tested on youngsters and so are not recommended for them.

One of the most significant risks comes from products that contain permethrins. With a puppy’s metabolism being too underdeveloped to break down the chemical, they then build up in their system.

This means that they can then cause severe and life-threatening symptoms, including neurological damage, paralysis, and seizures.

The problem then is that products without permethrin are unlikely to get rid of the flea problem.

What age can you start flea treatment on a puppy then?

Most puppies can be given topical flea treatments from the age of 6 to 8 weeks old. Tablets are generally not used until puppies are older.


Getting rid of fleas on newborn puppies isn’t actually as hard as you might think. Where the puppies are small with shorter hair, it’s typically quite easy to see the fleas and brush them out.

However, keeping fleas off the newborn puppies is the hard part which is why I recommend your home needs to be treated too… not just the puppies.

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Here are some more guides relating to young puppies that I have recently published.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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