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When To Put Flea Medicine On A Dog After A Bath?

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As a responsible dog owner, you will know how important it is to place flea treatment on your dog. While it is important to use flea treatment on your dog if they currently have fleas, it should be used as a preventative measure too.

The majority of flea treatment is topical and is applied to your dog’s skin. Given this, it is only natural to wonder whether bathing a dog will have an effect on how effective the flea treatment is.

In this article, we will be talking you through everything you need to be aware of in regard to flea treatment and baths. We will be discussing when the best time is to apply the flea treatment and what you should consider before applying the treatment. 

When to put flea medicine on a dog after a bath

What Is Flea Treatment?

Before we get into when is the best time to place flea treatment on a dog after a bath, you should be aware of what flea treatment is, and where it is applied.

Flea treatment helps to get rid of fleas from your dog’s fur. Fleas are a type of parasite that can be quite troublesome. They live on your dog’s skin and within their fur and feed on a dog’s blood by biting them. 

A dog can pick up fleas in a number of ways. Some of these include from other dogs and in long grasses. When it comes to the warmer months or, the colder months when the heating in a home is turned on, this creates the ideal breeding ground for fleas.

Given that fleas are relatively easy for dogs to pick up and can quickly get out of hand, it is important to keep on top of flea treatments. While some people only use flea treatment when their dog has fleas, it is important to use it as a preventative measure too.

This will help your dog avoid having fleas at all and will stop the problem before it has begun. Ideally, a dog should be treated every month.

Where Is Flea Treatment Applied?

The majority of flea treatments are topical. This means they are applied directly to a dog’s skin. This is the best method, as it will target the fleas directly, and this is the most effective.

The flea treatment is typically placed in a pipette that you squeeze onto the skin in between your dog’s shoulder blades. It is important to place it here as your dog will not be able to reach it.

However, not all dogs are able to have a topical flea treatment. In these cases, flea tablets can be administered, or you can choose to opt for a flea collar, such as a Seresto, instead of a topical treatment.

Will Bathing My Dog Affect Flea Treatment?

Given that the majority of flea treatments are topical, and are applied to the skin, care will need to be taken when it comes to baths.

For example, if you place the flea treatment on a dog, and then bathe it the same day, or a few days later, this can affect the effectiveness of the flea treatment. This is because you are washing off the flea treatment before it has the chance to be completely effective.

As a result of this, it is recommended to place the flea treatment on a dog at least 2 to 3 days before a bath if you have to, to ensure that it has had a chance to be effective before it is washed off.

Ideally, it will be placed on a dog’s fur at a different time to when the dog is bathed, or around a week before this. Though, this is not always possible. Always remember that the sooner you bathe a dog, the less protected they will be if the flea treatment is washed off.

While many types of topical flea treatments are waterproof, they can still be washed off to an extent. This is why it is also not recommend taking your dog out into the rain after the treatment has been applied.

How Long Should You Wait To Put On Flea Treatment On A Dog After A Bath?

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While you may assume that you can place flea treatment on a dog as soon as it has been bathed and dried, this is also not recommended. This is because of the natural oils in your dog’s fur. When a dog is washed, the majority of the natural oils in their fur are stripped. While these oils will return after a few days of being washed, it is not instantaneous. When the flea treatment is placed on a dog, it spreads through its fur using these natural oils.

Given this, if you are placing the flea treatment on a dog as soon as it has been bathed, the natural oils are not present to disperse the treatment. This means that the flea treatment is not as effective as it should be. While it is unlikely that all the natural oils will be removed from the dog’s fur with bathing, it can still have an impact on the flea treatment if only some are removed.

The last thing you will want to happen is for the flea treatment to not be applied correctly, especially if your dog currently has a flea problem. 

We recommend waiting around 3 to 4 days before placing the flea treatment on a dog after being bathed. This is a good amount of time to wait as it is likely that the natural oils will have been replenished. While you can apply the treatment after two days, we would recommend waiting that extra day to help ensure that the flea treatment will work effectively.

It is worth noting that different brands of flea treatments will have slightly different rules surrounding this. Given this, you should always read the instructions carefully before applying the treatment.

What Do The Flea Treatment Companies Recommend?

Here are what two of the most popular flea treatment companies recommend. It is important to always ensure that you are checking the packaging of the different brands to ensure that you are following the recommendations they give. 

Frontline Recommendations

Frontline is a very popular type of flea treatment that is particularly effective. If you are using this type of treatment, they state that you can apply this treatment to the fur after the dog has been dried.

While they state that you do not need to wait, it is worth doing this for maximum effectiveness
. It is worth noting that this treatment is stated not to wash off if your dog has been bathed or swims. You will just need to ensure that your dog is not wet for 24 hours after application to ensure that the treatment has time to work.

Advantage Recommendations

Advantage is another popular flea treatment brand. As we have covered in this article, Advantage also recommends that you do not bathe your dog for at least two days and that you should wait for two days after the treatment has been used.

As you can see, the rules will change slightly depending on your treatment type. This is why it is important to ensure that you are following the instructions correctly.

We would always recommend waiting for a few days after bathing if you are unsure of whether the flea treatment should be applied.

Alternative Flea Treatments

While the majority of this article has covered topical flea treatments, other types are available too. In this section, we will be discussing these different options and whether baths will affect their effectiveness.

Oral Flea Medication

If you cannot place topical flea treatments on your dog, a few oral tablets are available. While the majority are typically not as effective as topical treatments, they are a suitable alternative.

What is great about these treatments is that they cannot be washed off. Given this, it will not be impacted if you choose to bathe your dog. 

Seresto Collar

If you prefer not to use topical treatments but you are still looking for a flea treatment option that works, you can purchase a Seresto collar. These are effective and will last for a good number of months.

As this is a flea collar, it will not be affected if your dog is washed. In addition to this, it is water resistant and is not affected if your dog is bathed or swims with it on. They recommend that you only bathe your dog around once a month while the collar is worn, however. 


We hope this article has helped you learn when is the best time to place flea medicine on your dog. As you can see, it does vary depending on the type of treatment you use.

However, as a general rule of thumb, you will want to apply flea treatment either around a week before bathing or 3 to 4 days after bathing. This allows the flea treatment the best chance of working correctly.

It will also help to prevent the flea treatment from pooling and not to spread around the dog’s fur with the natural oils. If you have any questions or concerns, you should always ensure that you thoroughly read the instructions for the flea treatment you are using.

Alternatively, you can choose an oral flea treatment or a flea collar if you do not want to worry about when the treatment needs to be used, as these are not affected by water. 

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.