Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas on Dogs? How Effective is It?

Dawn dish soap
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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

Information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinary research.

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You may have heard people talking about a useful life hack recently. Giving your dog a bath with Dawn dish soap is indeed one way to kill adult fleas, but it’s not the most effective way. That being said, there are some circumstances where a mild, temporary flea treatment like dish soap might be a desirable option.


When to Use Dawn Dish Soap on Fleas

When your dog has fleas, their discomfort can lead to scratches and open sores, and even skin infections. Since most flea medications are topical, it’s not always possible to put this type of medication on your dog when his skin is so raw. It could be painful and most topical flea treatments like Advantage say they should only be applied to intact skin.

The obvious problem here is that the dog will not be able to heal while still plagued by fleas. So we still have to eliminate fleas, oral flea medications are well suited for this use such as Bravecto, Credilio, Nexgard, Simparica and Trifexis. If you’ve been caught off guard and the vet store is closed, that’s when Dawn Dish Soap might come in handy. Using something you already have at home like dish soap can be an appealing idea. This is a temporary solution to help you when needed: the dog needs proper flea medicine as soon as possible. We are just going to speak to you clearly and simply. This is a palliative measure.

If your dog has fleas, washing them with Dawn can provide temporary relief and give your pup a chance to start healing while you receive the proper medication. This is because when it comes to a parasite like a flea, the little bloodsuckers themselves are just half the problem.

remove mites and fleas from dog's paw
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Does Dawn dish soap kill flea eggs?

It is in this question that lies the reason why Dawn dish soap is not an effective remedy. Fleas do not just arrive, live their lives and die. They reproduce and they do so by laying eggs. These eggs do not stay on the dog, they fall into the environment. Your carpet, your upholstery and more.

Although Dawn Dish Soap is quite effective in killing adult fleas, it does not eliminate an infestation like proper medication does. Fleas will continue to hatch from eggs and grow from larvae to adults, continuing the cycle. You might be wondering how it kills fleas, which brings us to our next section.

How does Dawn dish soap kill fleas?

Fleas love water. They don’t drown in it. You may notice that bad flea season usually occurs when you have a combination of warm or mild temperatures and lots of humidity. Fleas do not drown in water because they have exoskeletons that allow them to float on water. When you add Dawn dish soap – or any detergent for that matter – to the mix, it acts as a surfactant. In other words, it changes the surface tension of the water and the fleas are unable to float. This causes them to sink and eventually drown.

While this may sound great and has its uses as a temporary fix, the fact is, like fleas, your dog was also not designed to be bathed in this artificial substance.

Is Dawn dish soap bad for dog skin?

In moderation, like once in a blue moon, if your dog has a bad flea infestation and has scratched itself raw, that’s usually fine, but it’s not. still the case. Different dogs have different skin sensitivity and may react differently to dish soap. Although most dogs do well after a wash and rinse, some may even regain their skin After irritated, which is not what you want if your pup is already in pain on that front.

While flea medications are great for destroying infestations across generations, you can also find products that help eliminate them from your space, which is just as important.

dog taking a bath
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How to get rid of carpet fleas

If you went through the process of eliminating your dog’s fleas with Dawn Dish Soap and finally applied a proper treatment, you probably won’t want to repeat that. We understand that. It will help speed things up if you treat your carpets as well.

There are several products on the market that kill fleas, offspring, and eggs in your carpet. These usually come in powder or spray form and are quite easy to use. They can be harmful to pets and children, so exercise caution and do your due diligence when choosing a product. Once you have found something reasonably safe and removed all the little beings from the premises, it is a matter of vacuuming thoroughly, spraying following the instructions closely and waiting so many minutes before cleaning. enter again.

If desired, it may be helpful to steam clean carpets before spraying. It certainly helps the house feel less infested. The more fleas you can eliminate from your dog’s environment, the fewer fleas there will be to try and reinhabit their world, which happens to be your home and your dog! Don’t forget to hot wash any bedding and dog blankets you can. It is important to treat all pets in the household with appropriate flea medication (be aware that many flea treatments for dogs are not safe for cats).

Cleaning mat
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When you come home from work or wake up in the middle of the night to find that your dog has scratched fleas, it can provide some relief. That said, it should be understood that fleas only spend part of their time on the dog and are actually infesting the environment – ​​your home. The only way to get lasting relief for your dog is to treat fleas with proper medication and remove them from your home.

Featured image credit: Dawn, Amazon

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