How to De-flea a Newborn Puppy

Fleas in newborn puppies can cause deadly anemia.
two puppy asleep image by Zolran from

Fleas are small, wingless parasites that infest dogs of all ages, including newborn puppies. While oral and topical flea medications help rid your dog of these pests, many are unsafe for use in puppies under 4 weeks old. A flea infestation in a young puppy can cause anemia, a potentially fatal condition due to the extreme loss of blood in the tiny animal. This makes getting rid of the fleas something that must be done immediately. Natural essential oils and manual removal can safely rid your puppy of these external parasites, leaving him flea-free and healthy.

Step 1

Add a few drops of lemongrass, lavender or citronella essential oil to a teaspoon of gentle, insecticide-free dog shampoo to create a flea-fighting, puppy-safe shampoo.

Step 2

Wet the puppy's fur with warm water from a kitchen sprayer or pour a cup of warm water over the puppy's body.

Step 3

Fill your kitchen sink with an inch or two of warm water. Add a couple of drops of the essential oil to the water to help kill any fleas that come off of the puppy during his bath.

Step 4

Rub the essential oil shampoo mixture into the puppy's fur, working it into the skin. Avoid getting any soap directly on the puppy's face. Let the soapy mixture stay on the fur for five minutes to repel as many of the fleas as possible. Handle him gently during this process, massaging the soap into his skin, to keep his body warm so he does not become chilled.

Step 5

Rinse the puppy thoroughly in warm water, using the kitchen sprayer or gently pouring cups of the warm water over the puppy's body.

Step 6

Wrap a soft towel over a heating pad set to low and place it near the sink.

Step 7

Towel dry the puppy and place him on the wrapped heating pad. The pad will keep the puppy warm and prevent hypothermia while his fur is still damp.

Step 8

Fill a glass with rubbing alcohol.

Step 9

Rub petroleum jelly on a flea comb to help fleas stick to it. Use the flea comb to carefully rake through the puppy's fur, concentrating on the armpits, tail and between the puppy's toes, recommends the Partnership for Animal Welfare Rescue website. Dip the comb into the glass of rubbing alcohol to kill the fleas and their eggs as you find them.

Step 10

Remove fleas from around the puppy's face and ears with blunt-tipped tweezers. Dip the tweezers into the cup of alcohol to kill the fleas.

Step 11

Change all of your puppy's bedding, including blankets, towels and pet beds, to prevent fleas from re-infesting him when you place him back into his soft nest. Wash all of the bedding in hot water.


  • Consult your veterinarian if you find a puppy infested with fleas who is lethargic or cold; this could indicate that he is near death and requires emergency care.

  • Never use products that contain insecticides, which may be unsafe for young puppies. Read the labels of flea medications to ensure that your puppy is old enough to use them.

  • Don't keep puppies in an outdoor area exposed to fleas and other parasites such as ticks.

  • Never place the puppy's head below the water level or pour water on his head. Instead, use a washcloth to wipe down the areas around the head, face and ears.


  • Check the towel you use to dry your puppy and the towel wrapped around the heating pad for fleas. Wash these items in hot water to kill any fleas on them.

  • Clean the inside of the puppy's ears with mineral oil on a cotton pad or with dog ear cleaning solution to clean away any fleas that crawl into the ears during the bathing.

  • The residue of the essential oils on the puppy's skin will continue to protect him from new fleas infesting their coat.

  • Line the kitchen sink with a towel or bath mat to prevent the puppy from slipping around the wet surface during a bath.

  • Sprinkle salt, sodium borate or a mixture of the two on your carpets and vacuum it up to rid your home of fleas and their eggs. Dispose of the vacuum bags afterward by placing them in a sealed plastic bag outside of your home.

  • Bathe and groom all of the puppies in a litter to ensure all of them are flea-free, and treat the mother with a topical flea preventative such as selamectin, which can be used safely on nursing female dogs, according to the website.

  • Recheck your puppy daily for fleas by brushing through his fur with a flea comb coated in petroleum jelly.

  • Flush fleas down the toilet to dispose of them.

  • Use natural flea sprays containing essential oils around your home to help kill and repel fleas.

Items You Will Need

  • Lemongrass, lavender or citronella essential oil
  • Gentle dog shampoo
  • Towels
  • Heating pad
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Flea comb
  • Blunt-tipped tweezers


About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

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