Fleas may be tiny, but they can cause a big problem when they attack Your Golden Retriever. Once they find their way into your home, they’ll quickly multiply, and within no time, the entire house will be infested with these tiny monsters. These parasites thrive in warm and humid conditions, which is bad news for Golden Retriever owners during the summer months.
Getting rid of fleas on a Golden Retriever naturally, is a multi-step process that starts with bathing your dog using a lather or lemon bath, and a flea comb to get rid of the parasites on his body. Then completely ridding the house of fleas by washing the dog’s bedding, and steam cleaning all surfaces where fleas live.
In case you’re wondering how you can safely fight these buggers off your Golden Retriever, then read on and I’ll tell you about the signs to look for to see if your dog is flea-infested, safe and natural ways to get rid of fleas on your Golden, as well as other preventative measures you can take. Let’s dive in.
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Signs of Flea-Infestation in a Golden Retriever
Before you even spot the tiny parasites, your Golden Retriever may already be flea-infested and suffering a great deal. So, it’s best to know the signs associated with flea-infestation in dogs, so you can deal with it before the problem gets out of hand.
These are the signs to look for in case you suspect fleas on your Golden Retriever:
- Red, irritated skin
- Hair loss
- Tapeworms in your dog’s feces
- Dog chewing and biting its skin
- Flea dirt on the dog’s coat (little black specks of flea poop on their skin)
- Severe scratching and itching
How To Get Rid of Fleas on a Golden Retriever (3 Natural Ways)
Not all methods of fighting fleas on a Golden Retriever or other dog are safe. For example, when used over time, some sprays and topical medications can be cancerous or may cause allergic reactions in your dog. Below are some ways to naturally get rid of fleas on a Golden Retriever without exposing your dog, yourself, or your family to other health problems.
1. Oatmeal Shampoo and Flea Comb For Your Golden Retriever
Just using a mild, soap and lukewarm water will be enough to begin the process of ridding fleas from your Golden’s skin and fur. To get rid of fleas naturally, you’ll want to avoid using a harsh flea shampoo or soap. I recommend using Burt’s Bees Natural Oatmeal Shampoo (Amazon). This PH balanced shampoo is free of sulfates, fragrances, colors and other harsh chemicals, and the oatmeal will help soothe any itching or inflamed skin.
Note: It’s not uncommon for some Golden Retrievers to suffer from flea allergy dermatitis. In this case, as little as a single adult flea bite can cause your Golden’s skin to flair up and cause uncomfortable itching for days. In some cases, your dog may end up having raw spots or even open wounds on his skin from scratching. This condition will make your dog’s skin very sensitive and bathing with a typical flea shampoo can cause further irritation and even infection.
Once your Golden is bathed, you’ll want to use a special flea comb, like this one on Amazon, to remove any fleas you find on your dog’s body. A flea comb has very closely spaced teeth that will catch fleas and remove them from your Golden’s skin and fur. This is an effective, non-toxic way to remove fleas from your Golden Retriever.
Steps to Using a Flea Comb
Here are the simple steps to using a flea comb on your Golden Retriever:
- Take your Golden outside as you don’t want any fleas to jump off of them or the comb in the house
- Get a bowl of water and mix in some liquid dish soap
- Carefully part and comb through your dog’s fur little by little
- When you see a flea, or flea dirt (little black specks of flea feces) simply comb it out and quickly dip the comb into the bowl of water and dish soap, which will capture and kill the flea.
- You’ll especially want to focus on areas around your Golden Retrievers neck, legs, belly and tail.
Using a mild bath and a flea comb, while time-consuming, is the safest and most effective way to remove fleas from your Golden Retriever, and is the one recommended if your dog has extremely irritated skin or open sores due to flea allergy dermatitis.
If your Golden Retriever is suffering from fleas, and doesn’t have any cuts or open sores on their skin, you can give them what’s called a ‘Lemon Bath’ to kill fleas.
Recommended Reading: How Often Should I Wash My Golden Retriever? (Explained!)
2. Use a Lemon Bath To Kill Fleas on Your Golden Retriever
Lemon is an acidic fruit that will kill fleas as well as any bacteria that may be on your Golden Retriever’s skin or fur. Begin by taking 1/2 cup of lemon juice (fresh is best but store bought will work okay) and mixing it in a bowl of warm water (between 1.5 – 2 cups of water), then mix in 1/4 cup of baby shampoo (or the oatmeal shampoo that I mentioned above). Make sure it is well mixed.
Wet your dog and begin to work the shampoo into your dogs coat. You’ll want to make sure that you’re reaching all the way down to the skin. Be careful of getting an of this mixture into your dogs eyes, as it will sting! Let the shampoo sit on your Golden for a couple of minutes so that the lemon juice can do its job. Rinse thoroughly, and feel free to repeat a second or even third time.
3. Give Your Golden a Lather Bath to Eliminate Fleas
Another way to kill fleas on you Golden Retriever is to give them what’s known as a ‘Lather Bath’. It’s the same as a regular bath except that instead of using dog shampoo, you use regular dish soap (the kind you probably have sitting on your sink right now). A rich lather made up of thick gooey dish soap will trap and drown any fleas on your Golden Retriever’s body in minutes.
A lather flea bath is safe and very effective at killing fleas, although a bath with dish soap will dry out your Golden Retriever’s skin, which may cause other skin related problems. So after giving a lather bath, you will always want to give your Golden a second bath using a PH balanced dog shampoo. Again, I’d recommend using Burt’s Bees’ Oatmeal Shampoo (Amazon).
While both a lemon bath and lather bath will do a great job killing any fleas on your Golden Retriever’s body, neither of these two methods will repel or prevent fleas from jumping on your dog in the future. That’s where natural flea repellents come in.
Natural Golden Retriever Flea Repellents
Once you’ve removed all the fleas from your Golden Retriever’s body, the next step will be to keep them off. This is where a medicated flea treatment usually comes in, but what if you want to protect your Golden from fleas and ticks without using pesticides and medications with potentially harmful side effects for your dog and your family?
Here are a few natural ways to repel fleas, and keep them off your dog:
Apple Cider Vinegar and Salt – You can make a flea spray using apple cider vinegar and salt that fleas hate. Mix 6 cups of apple cider vinegar, 4 cups of water, and a healthy pinch of salt to spray directly onto your Golden Retrievers coat. This flea repellent keeps fleas away by naturally balancing your dogs PH balance, which is good for your pet and creates an unlivable environment for fleas. Take care not to spray this mixture into your dogs eyes.
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Rosemary Dip – You can also use Rosemary to create a dip that will repel fleas. Take fresh rosemary and steep it in a few cups of boiling water. Strain the solution and dilute it with some additional warm water. When the temperature feels good, pour it over your Golden Retriever and let it air dry. The smell of rosemary will keep the fleas at bay for a few days.
Coconut oil and Neem oil (both at Amazon) – One or the other of these two effective oils can be rubbed between your palms and massaged into your Golden Retriever’s coat to repel fleas if you don’t have time for a full grooming session.
Recommended Reading: How to Take Care of Your Golden Retriever’s Coat: Step-by-Step
Warning: A Word About Essential Oils, Fleas, and Your Golden Retriever
People have been raving for years about all the wonderful things essential oils can do for their hair, skin, nails, mood, etc. As with any fad, people started touting the benefits of using these oils on their dogs, in particular as flea remedies.
While you will find information online telling you to use things like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil to kill and prevent fleas on your dog, I must warn you that while effective in warding off fleas, these essential oils are toxic to dogs if used incorrectly, ingested, or applied in the wrong amounts.
Essential oils MUST be diluted, and only used in small amounts, as high or undiluted doses can cause severe health problems in your dog. You should contact your vet for more information before using these types of oils on your canine friend. Because of this, I don’t recommend using any essential oils on or in your Golden Retriever!
Removing Fleas From Your Home So They Don’t Re-infest Your Golden Retriever
The final step of protecting your Golden Retriever from the ravages of a flea infestation is to remove all the fleas, flea eggs, and larvae from inside your home so that there isn’t an endless cycle of fleas attacking you, your family, and your dog or other pets.
This is without a doubt the hardest and most labor intensive part of breaking a flea infestation. It’s also, however, the most important one. It’s all well and good to get the fleas off your Golden Retriever, but if they are alive and thriving in your home or yard, the little buggers will be back all over your furry friend in no time!
The following are the things you must do to break the flea life cycle and eliminate them from your home:
Steam Clean and Machine Wash Everything
Steam cleaning and machine washing are the most common and effective ways to get rid of fleas in your house and on your Golden.
Machine Wash – Gather all the loose soft furnishings that your dog spends time on. These may include rugs, blankets, mats, towels, toys, and pillows, and throw them in the washing machine using warm to hot temperatures. High temperatures and soap are enough to get rid of all the fleas and flea larvae that may be present in these items. Tumble dry for at least 15 minutes to make sure all the fleas are gone.
Steam Cleaning – This is where the rubber hits the road. The areas in your house that can not be picked up and put in the washing machine (like the carpet and sofa’s) will need to be steam cleaned. Steam cleaning at a high temperature (at least 212°F) will kill all the fleas, larvae, and eggs. Unfortunately, however, most at-home steam cleaning machines will not get hot enough. You will either need to call in a professional or rent a professional grade steam cleaner from a place like Home Depot.
These two processes will eliminate fleas in all of their growth stages. Ideally these will both need to be done on the same day in order to fully kill off all the fleas in your house.
Other Ways To Remove Fleas From Your Home
Although extensive steam cleaning and washing are the two most reliable ways to eliminate fleas from your home, and protect your Golden Retriever and family from these pesky little parasite, there are some things you can do to prevent or minimize a few fleas from quickly becoming an infestation.
Set Up a Flea Trap
A flea trap is a rather simple and ingenious idea that will not require you to spray or rub anything on your Golden Retriever. Just fill a bowl with warm water, add one or two tablespoons of normal dish soap and leave it on your floor overnight in a problem area of the house. This glue-like viscous mixture will trap all the fleas that jump and land on the surface. Empty your bowl in the morning and repeat the process for a few days in a row. Every female flea you capture eliminates up to 50 eggs being laid in your home each day!
If you like the flea trap idea, you can take it up a notch with the Aspectek Sticky Dome Flea Trap (Amazon). These inexpensive traps use a lightbulb and a sticky, ordorless, non-toxic disc to trap fleas and other insects.
You can also use diatomaceaous earth to keep fleas out of your home and away from your Golden Retriever. Diatomaceaous earth or DE is a powder made up of naturally occurring diatoms (single-celled algae). These fossilized diatoms contain silica, which when viewed under a microscope are really just tiny shards of glass.
Fleas either ingest the silica and are torn apart from the inside, or the dry nature of the powder sucks the moisture out of the fleas body. Food grade diatomaceaous powder like this one (Amazon), is completely non-toxic to people and animals, and can be spread around the house, and even in the garden to eliminate fleas and other insects.
You can also use baking soda in the house if you prefer. It works on the same principle, as it dries out and kills fleas by sucking the moisture out of them. Just sprinkle the baking soada or diatomaceaous powder on the carpet, let it set for a few hours and then vaccum it up.
Eliminating Fleas From The Yard (Nematodes)
While the inside of the house is the most important area to eliminate fleas, after removing them from your Golden Retriever, you need to make sure that your yard and garden aren’t full of fleas as well. Fleas love living in the grass, and will quickly re-infest your Golden when he’s enjoying the back yard.
As previously mentioned, diatomaceaous powder works great for both inside and outside the home. You can spread the powder throughout the lawn and bushes to reduce or eliminate any fleas. Another safe method of killing fleas in the garden, however, is to use Nematodes.
Nematodes are tiny little living roundworms that have the ability to kill insects and pests, such as fleas, without harming your pets. You can pick them up at Amazon here. You simply place the material holding the microscopic worms into some water and then pour the water into a sprayer. Then just spray the lawn and yard.
Nematodes are living creatures, and they are sensitive to heat and light, so you’ll need to spray them when the conditions are right (early morning or after sunset). The nematodes are so small, they will enter a flea’s body and release a bacteria that will kill the flea within the next 48 hours. This is an entirely safe and natural way to keep fleas out of your yard, and off your Golden Retriever!
Recommended Reading: Do Golden Retrievers Have Hair or Fur? (A Golden’s Coat)
How To Protect Your Golden Retriever From Fleas
The best way to stop a flea problem is to prevent it before it happens. You don’t need to wait until the fleas come knocking for you to act. Implement the following easy preventive tips to make sure your home is flea-free all year-round:
- Use flea control products. There are some other items that will protect your Golden Retriever from attack by fleas and other parasites. Cedar is known to repel fleas. Some dog breeders report using cedar wood chips in their dog’s bedding to keep fleas away.
- Get your dog examined by a vet regularly. A veterinarian will check for any obvious parasite problems (including fleas) on your Golden Retriever when they’re doing a routine checkup. This ensures that flea prevention products are working properly, if you are using any, and can give you advice on treatment in case of a problem.
- Clean and disinfect the house and yard when treating your Golden. Fleas love warm and humid environments with live debris. Ensure that fleas have fewer areas to hide, breed and multiply by raking all the leaves and clippings from your yard. Vacuum all the carpets and sofas, wash all bedding using hot water and soap, and run them through the clothes dryer.
- Perform regular checks on your Golden Retriever. Inspect your Golden Retriever regularly, more so after a walk in the woods or in tall grass settings, irrespective of whether they are on flea preventative treatment or not. Perform these checks on the inner sides of the thighs and armpits, around the ears, and inside the ears. Check on areas with sparse or thin fur, including their belly. Watch out for black-colored tiny creatures in case you are unsure of how fleas look.
- Avoid using old or expired flea prevention and management products. Check with your vet on new products and brands available on the market that may be more effective in preventing fleas than what you’ve traditionally used. Also, avoid using expired products on your Golden Retriever.
- Groom your Golden Retriever regularly. Grooming is one way to easily spot fleas and other parasites on your Golden, and if spotted, take action quickly. Pay close attention to any areas the dog’s fur is thin (arm pits, belly, etc.), as this is where fleas like to be.
Prevention is the best way to go when it comes to dealing with fleas. Therefore, always endeavor to keep your home and your dog’s surroundings free from fleas and other parasites.
If you find that your pup has fleas, use the safe and natural ways to get rid of fleas on your Golden Retriever that I mentioned in this article to get things under control before an extreme infestation breaks out.