How Dogs Get Fleas — The 4 Stages

Tossing a little flea powder on your dog won’t ward off fleas. You must treat the entire inside and outside of your home to ensure these buggers stay away.

Eggs that a flea lays on a dog often fall off into bedding, floors cracks and carpets, where they hatch, eat organic matter and eventually become adults, beginning the entire cycle anew. By: tys720

My husband and I now have an outdoor dog (Bunker) and an inside dog (Angel) — in past years we had 3 outside dogs. Amazingly, our flea problems are as aggravating as ever.

Tiny brown flea loves warm weather and high humidity levels. Though our South Carolina summer has brought both, I hope to nip fleas in the bud this year after applying what I learned about how dogs get them to how I flea-proof my home.

How Dogs Get Fleas

  1. Adult flea: Dogs become infested with adult fleas through contact with other animals as well as from wooded areas, leaf piles and tall grass. Fleas don’t have wings, but they are blessed with strong back legs, giving them the power to jump from host to host. Once on a dog, a flea will continually feed and lay eggs. An adult female flea will live on the dog for weeks, laying 20 to 30 eggs per day.
  2. Egg: The eggs fall off the dog, developing wherever they fall. (This could be in carpet, bedding, even in cracks in the floor.)
  3. Larva: Once the eggs hatch, the wormlike larvae begin to feed, eating skin scales, organic matter and even the feces of the adult flea (yuck).
  4. Pupa: As the larvae grow, they form a cocoon (pupa) for protection, until it is time to emerge. Then the new adult flea jumps onto a nearby host — and the cycle repeats itself.

Don’t Miss: Identifying Fleas on Dogs and Cats

A dog with a flea outbreak usually shows signs, the most common of which is constant scratching. You may see fleas jumping on your pet’s skin, but most likely they will be on his belly or inner thighs.

Video Overview

In this video, 2 veterinarians (Dr. Mike Ontiveros, DVM, and Dr. Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD) explain more about the life cycle of fleas and how to treat them:


For the best results in controlling flea outbreaks, treat the inside and outside of your home as well as your pet and his living area.

Don’t Miss: All About Ticks — And the Truth About Frontline, Advantix, Etc.

Simply tossing a little flea powder on him, getting him a flea collar or giving him a bath is not going to do the trick — these things may help to slow the fleas down a bit, but they’ll be back.

Ask your veterinarian to recommend a good flea control product. There are many on the market today, including Advantage, K9 Advantix, Frontline, Frontline Plus and Bio Spot.

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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