Flea combs serve as an effective method for removing fleas and flea dirt from your pet’s coat. They can serve as a semi-effective tool for managing a flea infestation in a pet who is allergic to the insecticides that are found in flea drops, flea shampoos and preventatives.
The flea comb is also a great tool for determining whether your dog or cat has fleas, as the parasites get hung up in the extremely fine teeth, which have very narrow spacing. In addition, some fleas and flea dirt can remain even after you’ve applied a flea medication. The comb is effective in removing this debris from the pet’s coat.
How to Use a Flea Comb
Before using a flea comb, use your pet’s brush to remove any tangles or mattes. These extremely fine tooth combs are virtually impossible to pull through unbrushed fur in pets with medium or long fur lengths.
Next, bring the pet outdoors in a brightly-lit location. Attach your dog to a tether or ask a friend to hold your dog’s leash. Grasp the sides of the flea comb; most have indentations on the side. Press the comb into your cat’s or dog’s coat at a 30-degree angle and start combing at the base of your pet’s head and go all the way to the base of the tail. Keep the comb’s teeth flush against the pet’s skin.
After each stroke, take a few steps away from the dog or cat and examine the comb for fleas. Most flea combs are black; the flea will look brown in comparison to the black comb. They typically get caught between the comb teeth or at the base of the teeth. If a flea is present, wipe the comb with a paper towel that has been dampened with an anti-flea spray.
Fleas tend to congregate on the pet’s back, so begin by combing this area. Then, comb the tail, the pet’s sides and finally, the chest and stomach.
Never use a flea comb indoors, as you will dislodge the fleas, but some may jump off the comb before you’ve wiped them onto the paper towel. Therefore, they may be released into the home where they can bite humans or re-infest your pet.
What Should I Do if My Dog is Allergic to Flea Medications?
If your pet is intolerant or allergic to flea medications, consult your veterinarian. Alternative treatment methods are available. Depending on the precise nature of the cat’s or dog’s allergy, the vet may recommend a different parasite treatment (with a different active ingredient) while under the veterinarian’s supervision. Your vet may also be able to provide an anti-histimine injection prior to flea treatments to prevent an allergic reaction from occurring.
In the interim, a daily brushing with a flea comb can serve as an effective method for controlling fleas in your pet’s coat. It won’t kill flea eggs and it won’t get each and every flea, but daily flea combings will go a long way toward keeping your pet comfortable until you can find a suitable parasite control solution.
See our related article for more information on how to determine how to tell if your pet is allergic to flea medications.