Nobody likes fleas; especially our dogs. On occassion I pick a random flea off of one of the dogs. Luke is the easiest to locate fleas on; then Jessie and lastly Tilley. When they are a random flea it's usually on Luke anyhow; he is Mr. Social and tends to wander over to other dogs just to say hi. He is long enough and typically close enough for a flea to jump ship; they do jump from dog to dog. I've had fleas jump on me too; and they run, they head for the hills when you are after them. Fleas are not an easy catch; I'm sure I've looked like a complete idiot as I chase around the floor hopping after the jumping flea that is trying to elude my grasp.
But when they are more than random; you must be proactive before your problem grows. First is to pick up all dog beds and throw them in the wash. Make sure they go in the dryer as this is where the fleas will die if they hang on for dear life in the washer. Next; a bath, any shampoo will do, it does not need to be the chemical type. Fleas drown; so the goal in the tub is to drown some fleas. First you put shampoo all around your dogs tail area, a good thick layer. Next a complete collar around the neck; thick gobs of shampoo, then add water to both areas and lather up. The reason you do this before adding any water elsewhere is because the fleas run for cover; both in the dogs ears and anus. So if they head either North or South they must go through the thick shampoo; and drown.
Then you suds up the entire dog; the whole body. Make sure it is good and thick; down the legs, between the toes, chest, private areas, head, ears everything. Leave it for 5-7 minutes and you will see black dots start to rise to the surface; gasping for life, but alas they drown. Rinse your dog well; you should see fleas swirling down the drain; a wonderful sight. I always use conditioner; and with this application you might just get a few fleas that made it through the shampoo process. Poor it on thick; let it sit and rinse it off well. Not only will your dog be flea free; they'll look and smell fabulous.
Sometimes fleas drop off here are there in the house; vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Every nook and cranny; especially around your dogs sleeping areas. Vacuum beds; furniture, everything. Although if you have an infestation; you might need to look at some sprays or powders. There are natural ones that help; they smell strong but at least they are not composed of harsh chemicals. The first visual symptom of fleas it normally scratching; if I see a scratch I grab my glasses, go to the itchy spot and search. Sometimes there is a flea in there; I grab it pinching it as hard as I can until I get to the sink and run the water to hot. Being careful to put the flea into the water before opening your fingers and then happily watch it swirl down the drain. Sometimes that's it; just one that someone picked up somewhere.
I remember one of my clients at a group obedience class a couple of years back telling me very non challantly that their dog was indeed infested with fleas. I'm sure my eyes grew as she described them hopping around her house. And here she was with the flea bag and all her fleas at class; very generously sharing them with anyone who wanted to say hello. Maybe for some; fleas are not a big deal but once you've been infested they quickly become a big deal. And when you see one of those tiny suckers on your dog; you go into kill mode. Fleas can lead to anemia if they are not controlled. It is sad to see a dog infested with fleas; they simply cannot stop itching. They can also cause flea bite dermatitis; which is basically an allergy to the saliva of the flea. It causes red and swollen skin that itches like crazy. My Jack Russell is sensitive to this and goes insane itching. So at the first sign of itching; I'm all over it.
Mother Earth News article on fleas