Fleas are a nuisance to your dog, making him itch and scratch, but they also can be a danger to your pup's health, carrying disease such as tapeworms and producing allergic symptoms in some sensitive animals. Fleas in the ears can be especially irritating, and require extra cleaning and eradication steps to get rid of them for good.
Fleas are small copper-colored parasites that infest your dog's skin and hair and reproduce quickly. Their bites draw blood and flea saliva can be an allergen to some dogs, creating flea allergy dermatitis, an intense itching that presents with a red bumpy rash and sometimes flaky skin. When fleas infest your dog's ears they may cause the ears to look dirty, hence the term, "flea dirt." Ear infestation will look like a sprinkling of black pepper flakes in and around your dog's ears.
Flea Removal from Dog’s Body
A dog who has fleas in his ears probably has them everywhere else on his body, as fleas like to jump about on a warm host. Use a commercial flea bath or powder or a castille-based peppermint-scented soap to bathe your dog. Use a cotton ball to gently clean the insides of his ears with a commercial ear cleaner. When you're done, apply a commercial topical flea agent, like Frontline, that starts killing fleas right away. If you prefer a natural remedy, use food grade diatomaceous earth. When sprinkled on your dog's body and bedding, diatomaceous earth will dry up the fleas within a week.
Flea Removal from House
When your dog has fleas, your house probably has fleas as well. Eradicating the flea eggs, larvae and adult fleas will stop the infestation. Use a fabric-safe flea powder on your carpet and upholstery, or use food grade diatomaceous earth per manufacturer's guidelines. Wash all soft items such as bedding in hot, soapy water. You may need to repeat the process or use an indoor flea fogger to ensure total eradication.
When to See a Vet
If your dog has a severe flea problem and conventional home treatments don't work, see your vet for a flea dip. If your pup creates open wounds from aggressive scratching, he could need an antibiotic to prevent against infection. Your vet may prescribe a topical anti-itch cream or an antihistamine to stop the itchiness of flea bites. Once the problem is taken care of, ask your vet about an appropriate flea prevention method, such as a collar, topical ointments or powders, to protect against infestation in the future.