No, Dawn dish soap should not be used as a regular flea treatment for pets

Although Dawn dish soap can kill fleas, it should not be used as a flea treatment for pets because it could irritate their skin and coat, or be harmful if ingested.
Credit: Pascal Huot -

Dawn dish soap is typically used to remove heavy oils and grease from dishes, pots and pans. Rescuers have also used Dawn to remove oil from the feathers and fur of animals caught in oil spills in the past.

Multiple websites claim that Dawn can kill fleas on pets. And VERIFY viewer Kelsey recently asked our team on if Dawn should be used as a regular flea treatment for her cat and other pets. 


Should Dawn dish soap be used as a regular flea treatment for pets?



This is false.

No, Dawn dish soap should not be used as a regular flea treatment for pets.


Dawn dish soap can kill fleas on pets during a bath, according to Claire H. Holley, the executive director of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA), but she says “it is only a temporary solution to the problem of flea infestation.” Ed Faulkner, a general practitioner at Weddington Animal Hospital in Matthews, North Carolina, agrees with Holley. 

“I don't consider Dawn dish soap to be a flea treatment. I consider it to be a shampoo that we use one time for a cat that comes in that's in rough shape,” Faulkner told VERIFY. 

According to PetMD, Dawn is considered a temporary fix against fleas because it does not repel or prevent flea infestations, nor does it help eradicate flea offspring after adult female fleas lay eggs. 

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“Say you get a kitty that comes in covered in fleas — a Dawn bath is very effective that one time to help remove a lot of the dirt, the grime, the greases that have accumulated on them, as well as the fleas, but it is not a substitute for flea prevention,” Faulkner said.  

A Procter & Gamble spokesperson also told VERIFY in an email that Dawn dish soap should not be used to help with pets’ fleas.

“Dawn dish soap is intended for dishes that you handwash, with a few additional uses that our research and development (R&D) team has approved, not including using Dawn dish soap on pets,” the spokesperson said. 

Because Dawn is effective in removing oils, Holley explained that using it often can strip a “pet's fur of essential oils that are needed to keep the fur and skin healthy and comfortable.” Holley also told VERIFY that Dawn is not recommended as a regular cleaning agent for pets. 

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“Their skin and coat can be irritated by this strong detergent, causing even more problems. Additionally, it can be harmful if ingested or if it gets in your pet's eyes,” Holley said. “It is best to use a gentle shampoo specifically for pets, unless otherwise advised by your veterinary professional.” 

Holley and Faulkner both say the best way to combat a flea infestation is by placing your pet on a “reputable, clinically proven preventative flea and tick regimen (either topical or oral).”

“That will not only keep it healthy and comfortable, but keep the home environment healthy and comfortable, as well, by killing fleas and preventing infestations. This goes double if the pet is an outdoor pet,” Holley said. 

Faulkner recommends talking to a veterinarian about which flea prevention method would work best for your pet because the type of treatment they need may vary based on other medical conditions the pet may have.

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