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How Long After Flea Treatment Can I Bathe My Dog? (What You Need to Know)

This is not medical advice. For medical advice regarding pets, see your veterinarian.

If you want to bathe your dog after applying flea treatment, you must wait at least 24-48 hours. During this time, the product you have applied enters the dog’s body, and there will be no risk of washing it off before it takes effect.

Did you apply an antiparasitic product to your dog and wonder if you can go out with it in the rain? 

Or maybe your dog got really dirty, and you want to bathe it right after you applied the flea treatment?

In this article, you will find out when you can wash your dog after applying flea treatment, how topical parasitic products work, if you can wash your dog before flea treatment, and more.

How Is Flea Treatment Applied?

The application method of flea treatment depends on the product you use. There are topical treatments, like spot-on pipettes or sprays, or oral treatments such as chewable tablets.

Before answering the question of how long you have to wait before you can bathe your dog, we have to take a look at the different flea treatments. The waiting period changes depending on the treatment.

Flea treatment is available in many forms:

  • Spot-on pipettes
  • Collars
  • Powders
  • Sprays
  • Chewable tablets
  • Shampoos
  • Spot-on pipettes
  • Collars
  • Powders
  • Sprays
  • Chewable tablets
  • Shampoos

Related: How Often Do Dogs Need Flea and Tick Treatment?

Spot-on treatment against fleas

This is a ready-made topical formula that comes in a pre-packaged pipette. These products are usually effective for four weeks and are the most commonly used.

Break the tip of the pipette and pour the contents on your dog’s skin. The application is done on a single point for small and medium to small dogs (up to 25 kg), on the neck between the shoulder blades. 

For medium and large dogs (over 25 kg), the content is placed on several points on the neck and on 2-3 more points along the spine, including the base of the tail.

If the product is applied in several places, you must keep an eye on your dog. It shouldn’t lick that area until it dries (20-25 minutes). Otherwise, your pet can ingest the product, and even if it is not in dangerous amounts, it is something that no one wants.

Wait 48 hours after application with spot-on treatment before bathing your dog.

Spot-on Pipettes

Flea collar

This product is placed around the dog’s neck and secretes chemicals for up to eight months, depending on the brand.

You can bathe your dog at any time. Remember to take off the collar beforehand.

Related: Flea Collar Poisoning in Dogs

Antiparasitic tablets

These products are given orally and use chemicals such as Lufenuron and Spinosad to kill the fleas or stop them from growing.

Antiparasitic tablets are more suitable for dogs that are sensitive to the active ingredients in topical products or when you want to bathe your dog.

Water doesn’t interfere with flea tablets. You can bathe your dog at any time.

Antiparasitic tablets

Antiparasitic spray

Sprays are often not as effective as other methods. They can be effective for up to four weeks, depending on the brand.

Wait 48 hours after application with spot-on treatment before bathing your dog.

Sprays flea treatment for dogs

How Do Topical Antiparasitic Products Work?

From the moment you apply a spot-on pipette to your dog, it takes about 48 hours to start noticing some of the effects. During this time, your dog may scratch even harder than before. 

This happens because fleas begin to sense the active substances in the product and become hyperactive, causing your dog to itch even more.

The active ingredients in topical antiparasitic products dissolve in the natural oils from your dog’s fur and skin, spreading around its body. They form small reservoirs in your dog’s sebaceous glands and release their contents over time.[1]

Fleas die in different ways depending on the treatment:

  • Impaired neuromuscular system, which leads to paralysis[2]
  • Disruption of normal nervous system function[3]
  • Depolarization of the sodium channel on nerve axons[4]

How Soon Can I Bathe My Dog After Flea Treatment?

You can bathe your dog 48 hours after flea treatment. Bathing can cancel the protection that an antiparasitic product offers if you do it right after application.

Because topical flea products take effect within about 48 hours of application, you have to wait before giving your dog a bath. During this period, the substance has time to spread around the body and provide protection against fleas and ticks.

If you bathe your dog before the 48-hours mark, you risk washing away the flea treatment. However, this does depend on the product:

  • If you use an antiparasitic collar, take it off before bathing and put it back on after your pet is completely dry.
  • If you have given your dog antiparasitic tablets, you can bathe it at any time because the water does not interfere with the active substance in the product.

When deciding to bathe your dog after flea treatment, make sure you use a flea shampoo to increase your chances of effectiveness.

How Soon Can I Bathe My Dog After Flea Treatment

What About Bathing a Dog Before Flea Treatment?

Washing your pet before applying the flea treatment is as important as bathing after application. In this case, it is best to wait 48 hours before applying an antiparasitic product.

Because topical antiparasitic substances need natural oils to be distributed around the body, it is important to keep your dog unwashed at least 48 hours before application. 

During this time, the natural oils of your dog’s skin and hair will reach a normal balance, giving the treatment a greater chance of effectiveness.

If you apply treatment too soon, the result will be a weak dispersion of the active substance around the body.

Conclusion

For topical antiparasitics to work, they must be applied directly to the skin. The dispersal of antiparasitic active substances on the entire surface of the body happens through the sebaceous glands in the dog’s skin. If the application is not made directly on the skin, the effect of the antiparasitic can be diminished.

Do not bathe your dog for 48 hours before applying a flea product, as the effect of the product can be diminished.

Do not bathe the dog 48 hours after applying a flea treatment because you risk washing the substance, and the effect won’t be the same.

Do not apply topical flea treatments if your dog has skin lesions. Ask your veterinarian under what conditions you can apply a product or if you need to use other products, such as collars or tablets.

Related: How to Apply Flea Treatment to Dogs

FAQs

Can I Brush My Dog After Flea Treatment?

You can brush or comb your dog after flea treatment, but try to avoid the area where you applied the flea treatment. Do not wash your dog 48 hours after applying a product.

Will a Bath Wash off Flea Medicine?

If less than 48 hours have passed since you applied the product, you risk washing the substance off your dog. If you wash the substance, the effect of the product will be diminished.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.