sand fleas on dogs

Sand Fleas on Dogs: Cause for Concern?

Sand Fleas are not insects but a harmless creature that live in sandy areas. However, sand fleas on dogs can be extremely annoying!

Sand Fleas belong to the family of crabs, lobsters, and shrimps, and classified as a crustacean.

Sand fleas do not live on your dog or at your home but can be present as a results of exposure or contact with them.

However, a species called “Tunga penetrans” is often misunderstood as a sand flea. They are known by different names in different regions like “chigoe flea”, “nigua”, or “jigger”. This kind of sand flea is also known as burrowing flea as the female species burrow under the host’s skin and lays her eggs there.

dog hanging out on the beach

Sand Fleas on Dogs 

Dogs can get sand fleas if you live in a sandy area with your dog or vacation near or on a beach. They are about the size of a rice grain and have wings with a grey and black spot on them. Sand Fleas are most active in the early morning and around dawn as they search for food near the beachfront.

They burrow into the skin of your dog and feed on their blood. Your dog may have skin infections as a result.

If you notice your dog scratching himself or see minor bumps and rashes on his skin, it might be due to sand fleas.

How to identify Sand Fleas on dogs? 

Sand Fleas are pretty annoying and may cause your dog to scratch all the time, resulting in rashes. If your dog is allergic to flea saliva, then the itching can be more unappeasable.

dog is scratching

Excessive scratching may lead to skin infections that can further lead to the spread of various diseases. Sand Fleas may be challenging to detect as they are just 1-2mm big.

However, there are ways to check for sand fleas on dogs:

  • Check for rashes or red skin on your dog.
  • Comb your dog’s hair with a fine-toothed brush, starting from the back and moving to the front, to look at the skin. You may use a flea comb for that.
  • The fleas will have a red or brown colour.
  • The swollen area on your dog’s skin will have black spots
  • If something is moving on your dog’s skin, it’s most probably a sand flea or some type of flea.

How to prevent Sand Fleas on a dog

How to treat sand fleas? 

Most sand flea bites will vanish on their own, but if you observe your dog scratching and getting irritated, it’s time to visit the vet. Before that, there are some home remedies for sand fleas on dogs that you can try to treat this annoying condition.

Clean your home

To ensure that the sand fleas are killed and there is no further spread, make sure to clean the whole house properly. Clean the dog area properly as there may be more sand fleas in places where your dog is hanging around.

Vacuum all the furniture, bedding, carpet, curtains to ensure proper cleanliness. Laundry all the clothes from the day you went out and after returning.


You may sprinkle some table salt in areas that you think sand fleas might be present. This may help to dry out and kill the fleas without doing anything strenuous. It’s also safe and easy to clean. You may vacuum up the salt after a week and this will suck up all the dead fleas.

dog at the beach

This is the simplest way to eliminate sand fleas from your home. You may also add salt to your dog’s bath but make sure that eyes and wounds don’t come to contact with the saltwater.


Vinegar being acidic, is useful in killing sand fleas. Add some vinegar to water and spray the solution in areas you suspect the presence of sand fleas.

You may also add white vinegar to your dog’s bath but keep a low concentration to avoid any side effects on your dog’s skin.

Essential Oils

You can prepare an oil spray by adding a few drops of natural oil into a bottle and mixing with pure water. It is used to repel the sand fleas on dogs. Lavender and mint oil will work best to efficiently kill sand fleas.

dog playing on the beach

How to prevent Sand Fleas 

Most of the cases of sand fleas on dogs are reported from people who have travelled to sandy and beach areas. If you are vacationing with your dog on a beach, there are high chances that your dog gets affected.

Here are some tip to prevent sand fleas from getting on your on canine friend:

  1. Avoid visiting the beach after it rains as the sand fleas are more active in cool air.
  2. Bring your dog to the beach mid-day as sand fleas are more active during early mornings and evenings.
  3. Minimize the risk of being bitten by sand fleas by creating a barrier between your dog and sand. Use a towel or beach mat and avoid direct contact with the sand.
  4. Prevent your dog from digging as calves are easy targets for sand fleas.
  5. Shower your dog after leaving the beach and shake out the beach towels and mats to prevent them from spreading sand fleas into the car and at home.
  6. The dog’s environment should be treated (see methods discussed above) to eliminate the sand fleas.
  7. Cover your dog’s paws with pads to prevent them from burrowing into the skin.

dog sitting on the sand at the beach


Final tips 

Sand fleas on dogs are not fun at all but should not keep your dog and yourself away from the beach.

Even if your dog gets affected by sand fleas, the inflammation can be reduced by following the treatment recommendations discussed above.

Don’t ignore the condition because it may cause a severe skin infection if untreated for a more extended period.

Make sure your dog does not scratch as areas affected may get more infected.

Keep in mind, that sand fleas on your canine friend can be easily treated and there is no need to panic if he is affected. Follow our advice or if in doubt, consult a veterinarian.

Leave a Comment