Once you see your pet scratching its skin and being restless, it is a signal that your four-legged friend is likely to be infested with fleas. These bloodsuckers cause severe health problems in dogs and cats and even threaten their lives in case the issue has long been neglected. That is why you should take fleas seriously and address the problem when the infestation is still minor. A flea infestation may not be visible, so pay attention to certain skin issues indicating the presence of these parasites. These symptoms include itching, flea feces on the pet, red skin, scabs or untypical foul odor, loss of hair, weakness and the ear infection.
However, many pet owners facing a flea problem, are unwilling to resort to chemical solutions killing these parasites. Being potent enough to destroy a bloodsucker, insecticides are equally unsafe for children and the animals themselves. Even though a spray or powder is applied in accordance with the label, you never know how the pet’s organism would respond to the chemical compounds. Add to this how hard it is to prevent a pet from licking its fur or skin treated with chemicals. And that is where flea combs come in handy. This is a safe, effective, and cheap tool allowing you to detect and kill fleas. In this review, you will get all the necessary information about different types of flea combs and what scientists say about this tool. You will learn how to use a flea comb in the right manner and what related products are commercially available.
3 Flea Combs For Cats & Dogs
What Should You Know About Flea Combs?
The first lesson that needs to be learned is that a cat in gloves catches no mice. In other words, it is going to be a lot of work. Unless it isn’t a matter of just a handful of parasites, you will have to comb the pet regularly and persistently. Scientists from the University of Georgia recommend using a flea comb several times a week in order to obtain better results. You should also have a bowl of warm, soapy water at hand to drop the trapped flea there. So you will kill the bloodsucker easily and without mess.
The problem with combs is that they don’t help to deal with a heavy infestation and are more effective on adult fleas rather than their eggs and larvae. Typically, a pet owner can get rid of at most 60% of these bloodsuckers over the course of one combing. Apart from that, many of them are the dead ones while alive fleas will try to get away. In fact, this tool may serve as a bridge for them, so be careful. In addition, combing is not that effective on long-haired pets since it is hard to smoothly work through their fur.
Therefore, if things are so bad, you have to take a combination of measures including insecticides. Simple physical removing, such as combing and vacuuming, is the first line of defense against fleas. Jeff Schalau, a specialist with the University of Arizona points out that the choice of other measures depends on a degree of the area infestation, whether your pet is kept indoors or is let out, how much money you can spend and the pet’s sensitivity to chemical solutions.
Flea combs also help to monitor these insects and reveal the level of infestation. But it isn’t that simple either. Generally, we can see only a third of fleas on the pets while combing increases the number of detected bloodsuckers twice. But this means that some of them still manage to escape and remain unnoticed. That is why you should comb regularly or even on a daily basis to be sure about the true level of infestation.
Now, what are the reasons for using flea combs?
- Both cats and dogs enjoy the stroking and attention. Combing is one more way to show your beloved pets that you take care of them.
- Some pets, especially cats, don’t tolerate water while bathing helps keep the infestation low. This is largely due to the soap acting as a mild insecticide. As researchers from the University of Tennessee note, if bathing is impossible, a flea comb for cats will become a good substitute.
- This tool can be applied to any breed of cats and dogs, regardless of their age and health problems. It virtually has no contradictions.
- Apart from adult fleas, it also eliminates flea debris.
- You will not keep encountering pet hair around your house, on sofas, chairs etc anymore. This will help you keep up sanitary conditions and, therefore, unfavorable environment for pets.
- Allows to spot fleas in their early stages and as well as to prevent a further spread of infestation.
- Reduces the need for application of chemical solutions.
- In case you have a furry dog or cat, grooming with a flea combs helps get rid of knots and matting.
- Combing is recommended after application of insecticides. Some solutions paralyze, instead of eradicating the fleas. To avoid their recovery, comb them out of the fur.
8 Steps On How To Use A Flea Comb
Should you get the hang of grooming your pet with a flea comb, you will understand what a useful thing it is to do! So, what should you start from?
STEP #1. Before doing anything else, make sure that the coat of your cat or dog is dry, otherwise, it will be hard to comb. If it is wet, first use a conventional brush with wider gaps between the teeth.
STEP #2. Now, you move to a flea comb for cats and dogs. Put your pet on a firm surface so that it sits comfortably with a newspaper spread under the animal. In case you do it indoors, laying newspaper or something similar is crucial because fleas can jump and are very fast. Once on the carpet or floor, they are more likely to get away and infest the room. For this reason, using a flea comb outside the house is a safe solution to the problem.
STEP #3. Then, put a bowl with the soapy water nearby. “Fill a small container with water and add a few drops of dish soap. Comb your pet and when you see fleas getting caught, plunge the comb in the water. The fleas will drown and sink to the bottom,” specialists with the University of California suggested in a guide. Such container is where you will rinse the flea comb and destroy the parasites. The container should be deep enough and half-full so that the fleas cannot jump out of it.
STEP #4. Some solutions will help you reinforce the effect. Researchers from Stanford University advise spraying a flea comb with ethanol. When using a flea comb for dogs, add coconut oil which is so attractive to dogs. You may first rub it with the hand and then comb it through the fur. The bloodsuckers attach to the tool and thus can be easily extracted from the coat.
STEP #5. How should you comb? Start with the pet’s head, shoulders moving down to the chest, then, work towards its sides, back, legs and finally the tail. Groom the animal tenderly and without hurrying, moving in the same direction as the fur growth.
STEP #6. Monitor the areas you are treating since the fleas will do their best to escape the tool and are likely to show up. To hurt their chances of survival, treat the same area twice or more times. Simultaneously, dip the flea comb in the soapy water to clean it. There is a trick: do it quickly so that soap particles remain on the flea comb. This trick will not directly eradicate the adult fleas but will result in the female fleas laying unhealthy eggs.
STEP #7. How long should you comb? Again, much depends on the level of infestation. If no flea is discovered, you may limit this exercise to ten minutes but in case of a severe infestation, you should do it as long as half an hour or more. Another way of determining the required durability of grooming is counting strokes, the number of which shouldn’t be less than two hundred at a time.
STEP #8. When the grooming is over, give your pet something delicious so that next time the animal knows that combing is a double pleasure. Also, don’t empty the bowl with the soapy water for fifteen minutes or so to be sure that the fleas drowned. After that, throw away the newspaper and discharge the water. If you were combing the pet indoors, vacuum and clean the room.
What Types Of Flea Combs Are Available?
A flea comb is a special tool designed to detect and remove fleas from the animal’s fur. That is why the basic criteria of its effectiveness include how well the tool passes through the pet’s fur and how well it traps the fleas, their eggs and dirt. For this reason, a flea comb is different from a regular brush and should have finely spaced teeth, with a gap not exceeding 0.2 mm. Since it is impossible to simply calculate them, you may eyeball the density of the comb. Just hold it up to the light and if the light shows through, this means that the bloodsuckers will have all chances to get away.
This tool can be of different types: metal and plastic one as well as a flea zapper. What are their advantages and disadvantages? A metal flea comb is the most durable and reliable. Also, it is easier to maintain and is good for detangling knots. However, metal can enter a chemical reaction, so take it into consideration when grooming the fur which was previously treated with insecticides. A plastic tool is cheaper and lightweight but is much less sturdy. A flea zapper is an electronic comb detecting and eliminating these bloodsuckers on contact. Like any automated device, the flea zapper provides higher productivity and facilitates the grooming process for pet owners.
Flea combs may have a single or double row of teeth. While the double-row ones are believed to be better at removing the parasites, the single-row ones are preferable for cats and long-haired dogs. The thing is that long hairs are likely to entangle in two rows, whereas the other option makes combing easier. This is also due to the fact that a single-row comb has longer teeth.
Comparison Table Of Flea Combs’ Effectiveness
|Metal flea comb||Durable, sturdy, and easy to maintain.||Metal can enter a chemical reaction with insecticides.||10|
|Plastic flea comb||Cheap and lightweight.||The least durable and sturdy option.||8|
|Flea zapper||More productive, facilitates the pet grooming.||The most expensive one.||10|
TOP Best Flea Combs & Grooming Accessories
Below you will find a review of three different types of flea combs: metal, plastic and a flea zapper. We have compared advantages and disadvantages of a double-row comb, explored customers’ experiences in using combs with plastic and metal teeth regarding their sturdiness. Learn how fleas are killed by electric shock in the flea zapper and what downsides this appliance has. Also, we have included in the review two related products — a spray based on natural oils that kills fleas on contact and coconut oil making the fleas attach to the comb during the grooming.
Safari Double Row Flea Comb
The product is intended for monitoring and removing fleas and their debris from pets of various species. These bloodsuckers will be effectively trapped in the comb due to its double-row structure. Groom your dog or cat easily, regardless of the pet’s breed and age. This flea comb is particularly suggested for using following the application of insecticidal dusts and liquids. According to the producer, this tool is recommended by professionals and assists in discovering fleas in their early staging, thus, preventing further spread of the infestation.
Prior to grooming your pet with this flea combs, check for any hair tangles in the fur and, if there are any, remove them. The seller says that without doing this, the product’s teeth can be damaged. But we would add that it is the case with all double-row flea combs because the second row helping in catching fleas is not actually helpful when the tool comes across the knots. Meanwhile, not all customers are happy with the comb having the double row of teeth. Some say that when the insects get in between the rows, the second one, in fact, hampers removing them as it isn’t easy to get them out from there. So the bloodsuckers get an opportunity to escape.
Based on customers experiences, Safari comb is tightly packed with teeth, with approximately thirty per inch in each row. The teeth are made of metal but some buyers complain they bend. This flea comb is purchased for grooming dogs, ferrets, cats and kittens, even those as young as 7 days old. In other words, you can use it on any animal that can sit still. The tool is lightweight, just 1.3 ounces, and compact — 3.2 inches in length. This is essential especially if you have to comb for half an hour or so at a time.
The double-row flea comb is in demand, with over 1,800 customer reviews. The buyers have awarded it 4.4 out of 5 stars. “Upon first use, I removed 15 fleas. My poor girl. This is after being unsuccessful with the monthly Advantage treatments,” a customer wrote. “I sprayed the comb first with the flea spray, before combing my dogs. The first time, I used this product on both dogs and had a total of 20 fleas fall off on the comb,” another buyer noted.
Price: Check current price
Honbay Double-Sided Flea Combs (4 Pieces)
Now let’s have a look at a plastic option. One of the comb’s peculiarities is that it has two sides so that you can change them when grooming the pet. Another advantage lies in the number of combs in one pack — you get 4 pieces of various colors at half the price of the previous item. The colors are bright which is important as it helps you see the caught fleas better. Moreover, having tried four of them, you can choose the most appropriate one for you. Honbay flea comb is smooth in touch and comfortable to use. Its teeth are long enough and there is only one row, which is why you may easily comb long-haired pets with this tool. So, one of the customers told about the successful grooming of his Persian cat.
For all that, this plastic item has discernible downsides. The major one is the material it is made of. Plastic is less sturdy than metal and isn’t so durable. It is said that the material is hard plastic but some customers report its teeth bend and twist. At the same time, other buyers claim this flea comb being more reliable than the metal ones: “I've used for a year or so and never had a tooth bend or break-off. In comparison, I had a metal tooth comb that would snag on the carpet and bend when brushing,” one of the customers wrote. “The plastic is very firm but not brittle. I like them,” another user noted.
There are other disadvantages though. First, a plastic flea comb can electricify the pet’s hairs. Second, the seller points out that Honbay eliminates adult fleas, saying nothing about flea dirt and eggs. The latter can hardly be removed from the fur by means of this comb because plastic teeth are not thin enough and gaps between them are wider. As we indicated above, the teeth of a proper flea comb should be so dense that you cannot see the light through them. Judging from the picture, it isn’t the case with this item. Also, as one customer has indicated, after the comb being exploited for some time, the teeth have eventually spread.
Its rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars. “I've used two of the four combs on my pets every day for a few weeks. I do a lot of different things to keep them flea-free, and they don't really have any right now, but these combs are perfectly sized for combing out fleas. They're also surprisingly durable: no broken or bent bristles. My pets really enjoy it,” a buyer wrote.
Price: Check current price
Epilady Flea Zapper
As we all know, an automated process is more productive than that carried out in a manual way. If you are willing to rely on advanced technologies, try this electric flea comb. This electrically charged device simultaneously detects and kills fleas on contact by releasing a discharge. This by no means affects your pet and is safe for cats, dogs and other species of all ages. Epilady zapper itself is in the comb’s teeth and, therefore, does not contact the pet’s skin, while the fleas get inside the device and come in contact with the electric shock. The teeth themselves are plastic with rubber tips to exclude the skin exposure. One of the customers described the process of zapping in the following way: “As you pull the comb through his fur, you can see little flashes of light as fleas are zapped and when you clean the fur out of the comb, they are dead.”
This flea zapper is a good option for combating a flea infestation, it is clean, fast and convenient. Although the device is larger than the previous items, namely 7 inches in length, it is compact and is just 2.2 inches in width, allowing to hold it easily in the hand. The producer indicates that the fleas zapper is quite but not all buyers agree with this statement. One customer has said that the device produces a constant buzz which actually is not loud but is still audible. In addition to the device itself, a cleaning brush comes with the product, however, two required AA batteries are not included and should be purchased separately.
And yet, two major disadvantages should be highlighted. First, Epilady flea zapper is three times as expensive as the metal one, let alone the plastic comb. However, in case you are determined to groom your pet daily, this tool will turn out to be very helpful and will save your time and energy. The second downside is that the device is intended for dry use only.
It rates 3.6 out of 5 stars in reviews. Some buyers are not satisfied with the way the device works, saying that it does not kill large fleas. “I could not even get it to zap the fleas,” one of the buyers wrote. “With this comb, I was able to comb it over his fur and catch fleas that I didn't even see. It worked flawlessly for us,” a contended customer noted.
Price: Check current price
Vet's Best Flea Home Spray
As we stated before, in case a flea infestation is detected, an integrated approach should be taken. It will be useless to spend hours on grooming a pet, if fleas keep on thriving nearby in the carpet and furniture, where the animal frequently rests. You may be unwilling to apply insecticides, which is understandable, and this where Vet's natural spray will be helpful.
This solution killing fleas on contact is based on natural essential oils, including peppermint oil and eugenol, therefore, is natural and safe for pets and children. the stuff does not stain surfaces, so feel free to apply it to carpets, boards, both indoors and outdoors. Moreover, it can be sprayed directly on dogs and their puppies no younger than a year old. Massage the solution into the dog’s coat and make sure it has reached the skin. But be careful not to apply the spray to cats or the sites they visit. Bear in mind that cats are likely to become thick after exposure to essential oils, with such symptoms as vomiting and difficulty breathing.
The product has got over 5,000 reviews and is rated 3.8 out of 5 stars. Some customers claim that the spray kills not only adult fleas but their eggs as well. “You may need to apply this product to the animal as well as the floor, furniture, and bedding a second time in order to be sure the eggs are really treated and to catch any "sneaky" ones that may slip by,” a buyer suggested.
Price: Check current price
Petpost Coconut Oil
Coconut oil helps your pet in two ways: relieves irritation and reddening of the skin and attaches the flea to a comb during the grooming. It also includes vitamins E, K and saturated fats making your pet healthier. Its main ingredient, coconut oil, is of high quality and is derived of hand selected coconuts. The solution is also recommended to be applied to the dog’s matted fur. The producer is so confident with the Petpost’s quality that it offers a 100% refund without any questions in case the dog dislikes it or the stuff proves to be ineffective.
Do not worry about your pet licking its coat treated with this coconut solution since it is a 100% organic human-grade product without GMO and trans fat. Moreover, it can be safely eaten and dogs really love it. The suggested dose is 1/4 teaspoon daily for puppies and one teaspoon for adult dogs. Its rating on is 4.4 out of 5 stars. “I feel like it made a difference in my Chihuahua's skim after just a few days. She loves it so much, she licks it off the spoon,” a customer said.
Price: Check current price
Comparative Chart: Best Flea Combs
Safari Flea Comb
|It has metal teeth and double row|
Honbay Flea Combs (4 Pieces)
|Made of hard plastic, bright colors, double-sided, single row|
Epilady Flea Zapper
|Electronic device detecting and killing fleas on contact by electric shock|
Vet's Best Flea Home Spray
|Based on natural essential oils. Kills fleas on contact.|
Petpost Coconut Oil
|Based on coconut oil. Relieves the skin irritation and reddening and attaches fleas to a comb.|