PSA: Dawn Soap Isn't Recommended to Kill Fleas on Pets

Posted by Christy Caplan
Itchy Dog

If you're looking for flea control for your dogs, and you'd like an alternative to the medications often prescribed by vets, you may look to Dawn to solve your dog's problems. Perhaps you've seen all the discussions online that report certain side effects including excessive thirst, dehydration, nausea, panting, and pink colored skin after some dogs take specific medications?

Unfortunately, Dawn isn't the answer. In order to really take care of fleas, you need to see a vet with your dog.

Does Dawn kill fleas on dogs?

While Dawn dish soap can kill fleas on your pet, doing so isn't the effective or even efficient method. Most importantly, it won't stop a flea infestation from coming back. Although Dawn kills fleas, using it is basically a band-aid until another outbreak shows itself.

How does Dawn dish soap kill fleas?

According to PetMD.com:

"Dawn's ability to remove grease, grime and oil from wild birds can be attributed to a chemical reaction. When soapy water is combined with oil or grease, it forms micelles (clusters of soap molecules) that trap the gunk, explains Dr. Chris Reeder, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist with BluePearl Pet Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee.

"To kill fleas, a completely different process occurs. Fleas have exoskeletons that allow them to float in water, explains Dr. Reeder. 'Dawn (and other soaps like it) creates a kind of surfactant, or surface tension, that will compromise the exoskeleton and make adult fleas sink,' he says. So essentially, the soap drowns the fleas."

Can Dawn dish soap irritate a pet's skin?

In the rare case that a pet is really suffering from fleas, Dawn is O.K. to use, but skin-related issues could be a side effect. PetMD.com also tells us that you should look for a vet-recommended shampoo:

"For example, if the pet already has irritation from having a number of fleas on the skin, and you're putting Dawn on skin that's already irritated, there is potential for it to worsen," says Dr. Reeder.

If you need to get rid of fleas, first grab a flea comb, which will show you flea dirt and make sure it's fleas you're dealing with. Only use dawn soap if your pet is covered in them! Use warm water and shampoo your dog with a dawn bath.

Some people also consider Diatomaceous Earth as this is a natural alternative to medications, but it's not proven to work either and can be difficult to apply to your pet's fur.

Try a flea shampoo that your vet recommends if your dog has a flea problem. Flea remedies that are on the 'DIY' category don't always work. Be very careful with essential oils and some are toxic to your dog or cat. Always talk to your vet about flea collars before using a product that touches your dog's skin or fur, too.

What tick and flea prevention medication do you use for your dogs? Leave a comment below with your story. 

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PSA: Dawn Soap Isn't Recommended to Kill Fleas on Pets