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If you ask a dog guardian what do they dread the most about the warm months, the first thing they are most likely to tell you is fleas. Flea infestation is the nightmare if the dog care regime. Fleas are generally small and dark brown in color. They prefer to live in temperatures of 65 to 80°F with humidity levels of 75 to 85%. The infestation of fleas is most prominent in regions of the southern United States. In this post I discuss about fleas on dogs treatment, signs, transmission and prevention.
What are fleas?
Fleas belong to a common parasitic family and are mainly responsible for infesting dogs on coming in physical contact with them. The lifespan of a flea is around 7 to 14 days. Fleas are generally very tiny and measure around 1 to 2 millimeters in length. Fleas get transmitted to dogs by coming in contact with them.
How do dogs get fleas?
Dogs get infested via fleas either by coming in contact with other animals which have fleas or by coming in contact with the fleas present in the environment. Fleas have very strong back legs which allow them to jump from one host to the other in the surrounding environment. Fleas however, do not have wings so you will not observe any flying fleas.
However, once a flea has infested your dog, they will lay eggs while taking up residence in your dogs fur. The eggs have a length of 0.5 millimeters and are oval in shape.
Fleas are capable of transmitting via contact and are the usual causative organisms of many types of skin conditions in dogs.
Modes of flea transmission:
- Cats, dogs, squirrels and rodents an bring fleas into your house and drop them on the floor. From here, the fleas can jump up on your other dogs, cats or other animals as well as other members of the household.
- Mice entering your house can bring in fleas along with them.
- Dog kennels, dog houses or even dog day cares may harbor fleas if not properly and regularly cleaned.
- Fleas have a tendency to hatch and populate on bedding and furniture and can easily get transmitted to your dog from here.
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Fleas in dogs symptoms
The situation most commonly encountered is fleas in dog fur. This is how they generally get transmitted from one place to another. In dogs, fleas mostly cause itching. However, if your dog is allergic to fleas or has a generally sensitive skin, the itching can be severe. This can lead to constant chewing and scratching of the region leading to inflammation, hair loss as with the second skin infections. If your pup is hypersensitive to flea saliva, he or she may itch or scratch all over their body from the bite of a single flea. A flea specific skin allergy is the flea allergic dermatitis (FAD) which is generally caused by a flea bite.
Fleas on dogs signs:
How do you understand that the itch your dog is feeling is because of the presence of a flea? There are a few signs which you can look out for when checking for fleas on your dog:
1. Is your dog scratching or biting himself more than normal?
Any behavior when exhibited over the top can be an indication of a problem. If your dog is constantly biting, scratching or chewing at a specific region on their body, chances are that particular region is suffering from a flea infestation.
2. Look closely at your dog’s fur:
The good part about fleas is that they can be observed running around the surface of your dog skin, are dark in color and about the size of a pin head. To look for fleas, check the furry regions of your dog, the inner thighs and belly. You can also use a flea comb. These are designed to pull out fleas. Use the flea comb on the tail region of your dog’s fur where the flea infestation is maximum.
3. Check your dog for flea dirt:
If your dog has flea dirt, it can also signal the presence of fleas on your dog’s leader has an appearance like dark specks of pepper scattered on your dog’s skin. If you observe the presence of the dirt on your dog, you can check for the presence of fleas on your dog in the following manner:
Pick up some of the flea dirt (flea feces containing digested blood) and place it on a pre-wetted paper towel. If in the span of a few minutes, the flea dirt spreads out like bloodstains on the paper towel, it is a clear indication that your dog has fleas.
4. Finally, check your dog for flea bites:
Always stay on the lookout for flea bites if you’re afraid of flea infestation. Flea bites generally look like small red raised bumps on your dog’s skin.
Signs and symptoms of flea allergies in dogs:
Some dogs are allergic to fleas. Even one flea bite can cause a severe allergic reaction in a dog who has flea allergy. Check out this blog post to understand the signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs. Some symptoms which may indicate that your dog has flea allergy are:
- Development of crusts on the skin
- Development of redness on skin
- Extreme itchiness
- Presence of moist red regions like hotspots on the skin
- Loss of hair
- Infection of the skin
If you are worried that you dog might be suffering from flea allergy, I would recommend that you pay a visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet can prescribe quick-acting medications for your dog which can kill the fleas and provide relief from the constant scratching. Your vet might also prescribe some antibiotics if your dog is suffering from skin infection which has risen due to the flea allergy or is present secondary to the flea infestation.
Can fleas kill dogs?
If your dog is unfortunate enough to land up with a severe infestation, it can cause anaemia (low haemoglobin). A normal flea would feed on fresh dog blood and feed on fifteen times its own body weight. The fuel gained from the consumption of so much blood will allow them to lay 20-50 eggs on an average everyday. These eggs will hatch and give rise to more fleas. These new fleas will repeat the same cycle which will cause blood loss. Severe blood loss can even cause death of the dog.
Fleas in dogs, treatment and prevention:
Prevention of flea in dogs
The best way to protect your dog from fleas is to prevent the flea infestation entirely. Do not give fleas a chance to infect your dog or get into your house. To understand how to get rid of fleas using natural methods as well as how to prevent fleas from getting into your house or affecting your dog, check out this blog post.
To keep your dog protected from fleas, the best method would be to administer a year-round flea preventative to your dog since fleas can survive during the winter season around inside homes, it is harder to get rid of them. Thus, a year-round flea prevention is the best option for both of you and your dog. There are many safe flea treatment options available, all of which I have discussed in this blog post.
In case of fleas, care must be taken not only to protect your dog but also to protect your dog’s bed, your yard as well as your home as these are the hibernation regions for fleas.
How to treat fleas in dogs?
Fleas in dogs treatment mostly involves the following steps:
1. First bathe your pup in an anti-flea dog shampoo.
2. Following this, comb your pup’s hair through an anti-flea comb to get all the dead fleas out.
3. Finally consult your vet about placing your pup on a treatment for fleas in dogs to prevent any further infestation.
Fleas in dogs home remedy:
Some final thoughts
Have you ever encountered a flea infestation on your dog? What did you do? How did you get rid of the flea from your dog, your bed and your house? Please share your flea related experiences and anecdotes in the comment section below. If you have a story wish to publish on my blog, contact me on any of my social channels or my email id.