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What to do with an 8-Week-Old Puppy with Fleas

Rottweiler puppy laying on some brick pavers

Is your 8-week-old puppy itching like crazy? Do fleas seem to be everywhere in your home? Is there a constant stream of blood coming from his nose, ears, or paws? If so, you’ve got a puppy with fleas — and they’re probably biting you too! You may be wondering what to do about an itchy puppy with fleas. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help get rid of the pests and keep them away in the future.

This article outlines everything you need to know about how common flea infestations occur as well as some effective natural remedies that you can use at home.

Can’t Use Any Medicated Shampoo on Puppies Under 12 Weeks

This is just the way it is with puppies. Their bodies are too vulnerable to different ailments as well as products that are designed to help them. You need to find other methods to use.

No matter which method you use, the puppy has to be of the right age and weight. This makes them safe to treat. However, not all puppy flea treatments are safe to use at the same age.

The following chart will help guide you when you are using vet-approved chemical treatments. We removed any from the list that needs to be applied over the 12-week benchmark

ProductAge MethodFrequencyFleasTicks
 Advantage Multi7 weeks,
3 pounds
Capstar4 weeks &
2 pounds
  Frontline Plus8 WeeksTopical MonthlyYY
K9 Advantix II7 WeeksTopicalMonthlyYY
Revolution6 WeeksTopicalMonthlyYY
Sentinel Flavor tablets 4 weeks &
2 pounds
Seresto7 WeeksCollar8 MonthsYY
Trifexis8 WeeksTablet1 MonthYY
Vectra 3D8 WeeksTopicalMonthly YY
Virbac Effitix Plus8 WeeksTopicaMonthlyYY

**Information is taken from

There are many good non-chemical options you have available. One of the best is the old-fashioned flea comb. It brings no side effects, does not harm your puppy and is safe to use every day.

Another good old-fashioned method would be giving your little puppy a bath. Just do not use any flea shampoo on him or her prior to 8 weeks of age. Older puppies can handle mild flea shampoos.

When you use those external flea remedies, you have to be careful. If you have more than one puppy they may lick the topical ointments and get it in their mouths. You will have to keep an extra eye on them to make sure they remain safe while being treated for fleas.

Even some in the chart may be filled with strong chemicals that can cause some nervous system issues. Going old-fashioned maybe a bit more work, but your puppy is 100% safe after every treatment.

To further protect your puppies from fleas, you should treat your home and yard regularly. That way you can spare your puppy the harsh chemical treatments and use simpler methods to keep them flea free. It is totally up to you which anti-flea treatment you use but err on the side of caution.

Are there home remedies for puppies with fleas? Check out our post “Home Remedies for Puppies with Fleas” to learn more.

Puppies With Fleas Under 12 Weeks

3 multicolor newborn puppies laying side by side

There are many more treatments you can apply when your puppy reaches 2 to 3 months old. Their bodies are not as vulnerable to chemicals, etc., but you still have to be careful their bodies are still very delicate.

1. You Have to Be Careful of Side Effects– Not all puppies can handle the medications most vets prescribe. Here are some of the side effects they may contract- excessive salivation, vomiting, respiratory issues, and either over-sensitivity to stimulation or profound depression

2. Read the Labels– While some chemical solutions are clearly marked ‘not to be used on puppies’ other remedies have never been tested on them and the only words are not recommended for puppies. You have to make sure before you use it on your pet. Puppies can die very easily when given the wrong medication.

Woman reading the label on a bottle

3. Read the Label– You have to also read the ingredients portion of the labels. If those products have permethrins, then you should not buy or use those products on puppies. If you do, you are exposing your pet to a chemical they can’t break down.

That ingredient can build up in their bodies causing neurological damage resulting in excessive shaking, drooling, paralysis, or even seizures. Unfortunately, those pet products used to kill fleas, etc., that do not contain permethrin are not usually very effective, if effective at all. Buying them would be a waste of money.

What you need to do is use different but safer methods. Here are a few of those to choose from:

1. Warm Water Bath– Get your puppy used to taking baths by giving them a bath in warm water. It should feel good against their skin, and it should kill all the fleas.

Fleas cannot swim so if they get off your puppy alive, they won’t remain alive for very long. Also, a good bath should wash off the eggs and larvae still residing on your puppy’s body.

Flea comb isolated on a white background

2. Puppy Flea Comb– One of the best methods to use. You can use this method every day and even twice a day if you want. Just comb the fleas onto your hand and then either quash them or dumb them into boiling hot water to kill them.

3. Keep Your Puppy Away from Infestations– These infestations are in their bedding or your clothing. Or it could be their mother. The puppies may not have any chemical protection yet, so it is imperative to keep them away until your clothes, all dog bedding, and their mother can be treated.

You may want to treat the carpets, furniture, and rugs at the same time to further protect your puppy.

4. Begin Treatment When It Is Safe– Under 12 weeks and older than 8 weeks is a safe time to start treating your puppies with anti-flea remedies. Some can be used earlier but you be the judge of that. Pick the right time when it is safe to begin using those chemical treatments above.

5. Use Natural Solutions– Again, like immediately above, pick the safest time for you to use natural anti-flea remedies. These are usually safer to use than chemicals, but they are not always safe for puppies.

Do some research on the different natural remedies to make sure you are not harming your treasured pet. While they are natural, they may not always be effective.

To Keep Puppies Flea-Free, Treat the Mother

Mother dog laying in grass snuggling with her puppies

This is an essential move you need to make. Puppies feed off their mothers or cuddle with them. Fleas on her can transfer to the puppies. So, you need to be careful and make sure you treat the mother.

Here are ways to do that:

1. Use prescription products, avoid over the counter or “natural” medications only

These are safe for the mother, but you have to be careful. Some chemical options can have their ingredients leech into the mother’s milk and harm the puppies. Check the labels or ask your vet which ones would be safe for a lactating mother to use.

Be careful of products labeled as drug-free or natural. They may or may not be safe for the puppy. They are safe for the mother but not vulnerable pups. Also, while these natural products may be safe, they may not be effective either.

2. Use selamectin-based medications on pregnant and lactating mothers

Woman applying flea control medication to the back of a golden retriever's neck

There are products that contain the ingredient called selamectin. This ingredient has been determined to be safe for pregnant and lactating mothers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions strictly and apply them to the mother’s skin.

Then wait several hours to let the medicine dry before letting the puppies be with their mom. Do not exceed the recommended dosage and only apply externally. The internal application can harm developing puppies in the womb.

3. Avoid using medications containing fipronil and Spinosad

These are two dangerous ingredients for lactating mothers. There are a few anti-flea remedies for adult dogs that have these ingredients. make sure to read the ingredient sections on the label to avoid those products.

Either of those ingredients is unsafe for puppies and Spinosad has been known to exit the mother through her milk. It is unsure if this ingredient causes any negative side effects or not but avoid using it until the mother stops lactating.

To Protect Young Puppies, Treat Your Home

4 puppies, all different colors and breeds, laying in a dog bed on a deck

Attacking the fleas only on your puppy becomes a wasted effort. Only a small percentage of fleas in your home are on your puppy or puppies. The rest are somewhere in your home. To protect your puppies, you need to take the right flea-killing approach and clean your home of fleas.

Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Wash their bedding (and the mother’s bedding)

Fleas love bedding because it is soft, dark, and can be quite moist. When you treat your puppy, you should treat their bedding. Washing is the best way to do that. When the washing machine is done, those fleas are gone as well.

You can use different options once the bedding is dry to keep fleas away, but washing should get rid of the eggs, larvae, and pupae living in the bedding as well.

2. Use chemical sprays or natural remedies on carpets, etc.

You need to treat your flooring materials. Puppies spend most of their time on the floor, so you need to keep your rugs and carpets flea-free. The way to do that is to use different flea-killing methods.

Vacuum carpets, rugs, and furniture, then apply baking soda and salt to those items. Once you do that you need to keep your puppies away from those treated areas.

Or you can use chemical sprays to kill those flea creatures in all stages of life much faster. However, you will still need to keep your puppies away from those items until it is safe.

Hand holding a box of Hot Shot Bedbug and Flea Fogger

3. Foggers and flea bombs

This will get all the fleas, eggs, etc., in your home. The trouble is that you have to vacate the home for a few days until the pesticides have done their work.

That means putting your puppies n a pet hotel, at friends or family, or taking them to a hotel with you.

4. Professionals

Not cheap but effective. This method is the same as above in that you have to move out while the professionals do their work. Fleas can be anywhere in your home, and you need to get them all. This is one way to do that.

Treating puppies for fleas means treating your whole home and yard for fleas. Your puppies need a good start in life.

Some Final Words

Adult yellow lab laying nose to nose with a puppy

The best way to protect your puppy from fleas and other harmful insects is to prevent them from getting onto your puppy in the first place. This means making sure that any area you are likely to sit, sleep, or care for the puppy is free of fleas. Cover any areas where your pet sleeps with a flea collar or other means to prevent fleas from getting onto their body.

If you have already got an infestation, there are a variety of things you can do. You should use one of the natural remedies, such as tea tree oil, and you should use one of the chemical ones when they are available. These types of treatments are not only better options than the harsh chemicals, but they are also the safest for your pet. They can also be used safely on any other animals you may have.

Once your puppy reaches about 3 months of age, you may also want to begin using some of the other chemical treatments. These will help your puppy deal with the problem faster and easier. Once you know your puppy is old enough and can handle the other products, you can begin using the ones that are safe for him or her.

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.