So, your dog has sand fleas. Or at least, you think your pupper does.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Whether or not dogs can get sand fleas
- How to tell if your dog has them
- Ways to naturally kill them and get rid of them
- How to prevent sand fleas for your next beach stroll with your doggo
By the end of this guide, you should have everything you need to control, manage, and kill the fleas.
Sound good? let’s get Fido flea-free!
Last updated: 12/30/19.
Can dogs get sand fleas?
Yes, it’s possible for your pupper to get sand fleas just like any other flea problem. Sand fleas are present in many parts of the US.
They’re especially apparent in native areas like beaches, swamps, marshes, any other humid areas with large bodies of water.
Sand fleas will easily infest your dog. They’re a burrowing flea, which means they burrow into your dog’s skin.
After that, they’ll feed on the dog’s blood. Note that sand fleas can also infect humans, so they’re not limited to just canines.
For people who walk their dogs on beaches, or live next to a beach, sand fleas can become a real pest.
How do you know if your dog has sand fleas?
It’s pretty easy to tell. Sand fleas are very small and microscopically small (almost).
After you spend a day out with your dog, the fleas will latch onto your doggo’s feet and start to find areas to feed. They’re transparent and difficult to see. But you can tell that your dog may have sand fleas if it constantly scratches, bites, or licks itself.
The fleas cause extreme itchiness and irritation when they bite and feed on your dog’s blood. They burrow through the skin and this will make your dog go crazy.
Here are the most common signs of sand fleas on your dog:
- Constant scratching, biting, or likcing of his fur
- Visible tiny black fleas on the body
- Possible yelping or barking during the bites
- Small rashes or bumps on the skin
- Possible raised temperatures (fever)
Where do the fleas come from?
Sand fleas are native to areas with salt and water. Places like marshes, beaches, swamps, or other humid areas with plenty of water are prime habitats for them.
They prefer tropical areas and are found in the United States, South America, the Caribbean, Madagascar, and even Africa. In the US, they’re most commonly encountered on the beach.
However, if you hike with your dog on nature trails or other recreational parks, they may also be present. Coastal regions tend to have more sand fleas than others.
They’ve also been known to be found in the desert areas.
Do they carry diseases?
Sand fleas can spread a disease called tungiasis, where the fleas will burrow into your toes or feet. This can cause extreme itchiness, sore bumps, rashes, fever, and more.
The problem is that sand fleas that initially infected your dog can later spread to you. Or you may both end up getting an infection at the same time. The fleas are relentless.
Are they the same as a sand crab?
Yes. Sand fleas have many common names, including mole crabs, sand crabs, beach fleas, crab fleas, beach bugs, beach crabs, sand hopper, and other combinations. Sand fleas aren’t actually a flea.
They’re actually very small crustaceans (just like crabes) but are tiny enough to be mistaken for a fly. But they do bite, which leaves a nasty welt that’s hard to avoid scratching for days.
They’re often confused with biting midges and mosquitoes, but they’re not the same thing.
These crabs are also often confused with the “sand fly” which is a flying, biting flea but not a crustacean. The terminology is almost exactly the same, but they’re different pests.
Do sand fleas burrow?
Thankfully, they usually don’t spread through your home, even if you bring them in with you. They need the coastal environment to live, and your home doesn’t provide that. So that’s good. One less thing to worry about.
Can sand fleas travel home with you?
Sand fleas can travel home with you, but probably won’t survive for extended periods in your home.
Eventually, they die because they don’t have the necessary environment, food, and water source to survive in your home. But that doesn’t mean the pain they cause and itchiness goes away.
When you encounter them at the beach and they bite you or your dog, that’s all they need to make the next week of your life terrible.
So even though they can’t infest your home, they can still bite you at the beach. And leave you with a “gift” for the next week or two.
Do sand fleas affect dogs?
Sand fleas don’t care if they’re feeding from a human or a dog. They’ll bite dogs just like they bite humans.
That’s why you should take precautions to protect your dog and yourself from them when you go to the beach or other marshy areas.
What should I do about sand flea bites on my dog’s belly?
If you have sand flea bites on your dog’s belly, be cautious as this area is sensitive because there’s no hair.
You’d want to sterilize and disinfect it using a mild topical disinfectant such as rubbing alcohol.
After that, regularly disinfect every day and continue to monitor the rashes. Consult a vet if the welts don’t heal within a few days.
How to get rid of sand fleas on my dog
There are a few different at-home solutions to get rid of these pests.
You can try these methods at home first. If none of them work, always take your dog to the vet!
Here are some home remedies for sand fleas on your dog.
Clean your home
To ensure the sand fleas are killed and to eliminate the chance of another flea problem, be sure to clean your home.
This means doing anything you can do to kill the little pests as they can be hiding around your home. Wherever your dog has been, treat the area as if there are possible fleas there.
You’ll want to do the following, for starters:
- Vacuum furniture, carpet, bedding, curtains, and other fabrics
- Use a steam cleaner to kill off sand fleas in high traffic areas where your dog hangs out
- Laundry all clothing from the day you went out
- Sterilize your laundry hamper
You can sprinkle regular table salt around areas that you think the sand fleas are hanging out. This will dry out the fleas and kills them without you having to do any work. It’s also safe, natural, and easy to clean up.
Just vacuum up the salt after a week. You’ll likely also suck up all the dead sand fleas while you do this, so that’s cool.
This is one of the easiest ways to get sand fleas out of your home and off your dog. You can mix salt with your dog’s next bath and use the saltwater to rinse. Avoid contact with eyes or wounds. The salty water will help get the remaining fleas off your dog.
You can also use DE and sprinkle it around your home like salt. This is also a safe and natural way to kill the rest of the sand fleas.
Even though EE is safe, you should avoid touching it when possible. And keep your dog and other pets away from it- and your kids.
Vinegar is acidic and has been reported to help in killing sand fleas.
You can actually dip your feet in vinegar once a day for 20 minutes to kill any fleas on your feet. If you have sensitive skin or other conditions, avoid doing this. You can also add vinegar to a spray bottle and dilute it with water in equal parts.
Spray the solution onto your dog’s paws, belly, or other areas where you notice sand flea bites. If your dog reacts to this negatively, use more water to dilute the solution. Avoid if your dog has conditions sensitive to vinegar.
You can also shampoo your dog with vinegar by adding a quart of distilled white vinegar to the bathwater.
So fill up your tub, pour in a quart, and use the vinegar water to shampoo and kill off any sand fleas. The scent of the vienera helps keep the fleas off your dog and also kills any that are crawling on your pupper.
Dry off your dog afterwards. This also works against typical fleas that bite your dog, not just sand fleas! Pretty cool.
You can make your own oil spray by adding a few drops into a spray bottle and then filing it up with pure water. Anything that’s minty and strong can be used to repel the sand fleas from you and your dog.
You can also spray some directly onto your shoes (the edges and sole), but make sure it’s not concentrated enough to damage your skin. Or your dog’s paws.
A few of popular choices are lemongrass, lavender, mint, peppermint, citrus, or eucalyptus.
How to repel sand fleas
You can use a variety of home remedies to repel sand fleas.
Some of these flea repellents you can make yourself at home. Others you can buy commercially before you head to the beach next time.
Here are some methods to keep sand fleas away:
- For a commercial approach, you can wear bug repellent with DEET. But avoid when possible. Opt for natural repellents.
- Spray your feet with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water.
- Use baby oil on your feet in generous amounts (this may make you lose traction, so be careful)
- Spray your feet with mouthwash (they hate the scent)
- Use coconut oil on your toes (again, this can make it slippery)
- Try spritzing Pine-sol around your campsite if you’re camping in
- Use mint (mint essential oils, mint spray, or actual mint)
- Light citronella candles if you’re doing a campfire
- Keep your windows and doors shut if you’re camping near the beach
- Use essential oil sprays, such as eucalyptus, lemongrass, and peppermint around your campsite
These tips may help keep sand fleas away from you and your dog. You can apply some of those techniques to your dog’s paws also. Just be sure to do your research first and see how your dog reacts. Stop right away and wash with water if he shows signs of poor response.
Here are some other tips to avoid getting bitten and prevent sand fleas:
- Use closed-toed shoes for yourself
- Get some dog shoes for your dog
- Don’t go to the beach in the early morning or evening
- Always use some kind of equipment or material to keep you off the sand
- Use a beach chair for sitting, or use a beach towel if you must lay in the sand
- Cover your feet, ankles, and calves at all times
- Don’t go to the beach after rain
- Don’t go to the beach on a cloudy or cold days
- Always clean yourself before going into your car and home after a day out
Does Bravecto kill sand fleas?
Bravecto is a popular topical and oral solution for dogs and has been shown to kill sand flies.
A study found that an oral dose of the solution was higher than 94% effective in killing sand flies for 31 days.
If you really want to kill the sand fleas immediately or they’re president, you can try giving this product a try. Use as directed.
Did you get rid of the sand fleas from your dog?
With these tips, you should now have what you need to infinity, prevent, and kill sand fleas from your dog.
If you have persistent or difficult fleas, get your dog checked out by a vet for professional treatment.
If you have any questions, leave a reply and ask me! Or if you’ve dealt with sand fleas before, leave some tips for other people!
And if you found this guide to be helpful, consider telling a friend who may be dealing with the same problem.
Did you both walk the beach together?
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.