Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Fleas?

Rubbing alcohol, also called isopropyl alcohol, is known for its germ-killing properties. That’s why so many people rely on it as a disinfectant.

If you’re a pet owner wondering whether rubbing alcohol might also be a good method of killing fleas in your home or on your pet, the answer is a definite no.

Here are some reasons why you should avoid this method of dealing with a flea infestation, as well as some safer alternatives to consider.

But wait. Does it or doesn’t it kill fleas?

If you pluck a flea out of your pet’s fur and drop it into a jar of alcohol, the flea will die. And as you may know, drowning a flea in an alcohol bath is a lot easier than trying to crush one between your thumb and finger.

But dropping a flea into a bowl of hot, soapy water will accomplish the same end result without endangering your pet’s health or the safety of your home.

Isopropyl alcohol can be toxic to pets

You shouldn’t spray or pour isopropyl alcohol onto your pet’s fur or skin in an attempt to kill fleas. This toxic chemical is easily absorbed through the skin, and in large enough amounts it’s poisonous to pets.

It’s important to note that some commercially available flea sprays also contain alcohol, and while a light spritz may be fine, over-spraying or repeat spraying can be harmful.

If your pet laps up some rubbing alcohol, the damage can be even more severe. Symptoms of poisoning begin within 30 minutes of ingestion, and if left untreated, they can be fatal.

In 2017, accidental ingestion of household cleaning products was sixth on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) list of top pet toxins for the year.

  • disorientation
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • shortness of breath
  • shaking
  • stumbling

If you see any of these signs after your dog or cat has come into contact with rubbing alcohol, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately or call the APSCA’s poison control line at 888-426-4435 (if you are in United States).

Isopropyl alcohol is flammable

Spraying isopropyl alcohol on furnishings, pet bedding, or fabrics can create a fire hazard, especially if candles, cigarettes, incense burners, fireplaces, or other open flames are nearby. Although alcohol dries quickly, the fumes and vapors can still ignite fires.

If you use a flea spray that contains isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol, read the instructions carefully. Make sure the area where you’re using it is well- ventilated to avoid possible combustion and to protect your lungs as well as your pet’s.

So, if alcohol is out, what’s the best way to get rid of fleas?

Steps to get rid of fleas

If you’ve spotted fleas on your pet or in your home, it’s a good idea to employ a four-part strategy to eliminate the problem.

It’s important to act decisively, because fleas can cause serious illnesses. These include allergic reactions in both people and pets, heartworm and tapeworm in pets, and on rare occasions, diseases such as plague and typhus in humans.

Talk to your veterinarian

The best option is to first talk to your veterinarian about which products will work best for your dog or cat. Some pesticide products may cause adverse reactions in very small dogs, pregnant animals, or pets with health conditions.

There are many products available to treat fleas in animals, and all of them work differently. It’s important to consult your veterinarian to understand how the product you’re interested in works and whether it’s safe for your pet.

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