Fleas Are A Pain On the Dog!
27 April, 2015
With Spring here in full force, we pet owners can feel the effects in the great weather, winter being over and some of our allergies are in full bloom. And, our poor dogs, with flea season at its’ highest are the most susceptible to fleas. Fleas on our dogs are annoying for our pups and if they don’t get treated right away, it can lead to bigger health issues and a longer case of flea infestation.
Dogs are very susceptible to fleas
Fleas are hearty and nimble, and when searching for a host, they can jump anywhere and at such a fast pace. Three pairs of legs make for excellent leaping capabilities and a laterally flattened body allows for quick movement in a dog’s fur.
With a complete life cycle ranging anywhere from 15 days to 21 months, depending on environmental conditions, fleas are most commonly found on a dog’s stomach, the base of the tail and his or her head. With heavy infestations, however, fleas can thrive anywhere on the body. They feed once every day or two, and generally remain on their host during the interim which is why the sooner you catch it, the quicker you can get rid of them.
Below are some of the symptoms that your dog has fleas
Droppings or “flea dirt” in a dog’s coat
Flea eggs on dog or in dog’s environment
Excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin
Scabs and hot spots
Fleas are about half the size of an apple seed, but may be as large as the size of a grain of rice. They’re jumping insects, with laterally flat bodies, and they have no wings. If you don’t see actual fleas, look for flea poop. Flea waste may collect on the skin of your pet, and will look like tiny crumbles of dirt.
Some dogs even have an allergic reaction to fleas
When a dog has a heightened sensitivity to the saliva of fleas, just one bite of a flea can cause an allergic reaction. This condition is known as flea allergy dermatitis and causes intense itching and discomfort for your dog. Signs include generalized hair loss, reddened skin, scabs and hot spots. Flea allergy dermatitis often leads to skin infections.
Not all scratching indicates fleas on dogs. Scratching of the ears may indicate ear mites or another ear infection. Scratching or licking other parts of your pet’s body may indicate a food allergy, or other irritation.
Dogs in wamer climates are more susceptbiel to fleas
Dogs who live in warm, humid climates, where fleas thrive at temperatures of 65 to 80 F, and those who live outdoors are most vulnerable to fleas.
If you think your dog has fleas, call your veterinarian for the best treatment
As soon as you think your dog has fleas, make sure to see your veterinarian who will confirm the diagnosis and discuss appropriate treatment options. It is important to tailor your treatment to your dog and his environment, since certain products in combination can be toxic. Your veterinarian can also determine the best plan for preventing fleas in the future as well.
Some of the common treatments an/or options include a topical, liquid treatment applied to the back of the neck, shampoos, sprays and powders. Some products kill both adult fleas and their eggs, but they can vary in efficacy. It is very important not to use products on your dog that are intended for cats (and vice versa). Prescription products are generally more effective and safer than over-the-counter products.
When treating fleas, it is important that all of your pets are treated for fleas, including indoor and outdoor cats, and that the environment is treated as well.
Tips to prevent fleas on your dogs
1. Thoroughly clean your house, including rugs, bedding and upholstery. (Remember to discard any vacuum bags.) In severe cases, you might consider using a spray or fogger, which requires temporary evacuation of the home.
2. Using a flea comb on your dog and washing his bedding once a week will go a long way toward controlling flea infestation. Also, it is important to treat your yard as thoroughly as your house. Concentrate on shady areas, where fleas live, and use an insecticide or nematodes, microscopic worms that kill flea larvae.
3. Use flea shampoos, even when no fleas are present. If the flea repelling shampoos appear to be too harsh for your dog, try adding a few drops of eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, and citronella essential oils to some unscented castile soap. Essential oils may irritate cats, so only try this with dogs. Adding brewer’s yeast and garlic to your dog’s food may also help to repel fleas.
4. Try adding apple cider vinegar daily to your dog’s drinking water. Not only does it deter fleas, it improves a pups skin and coat condition from the inside-out.
As always, the best way to be flea-free is to prevent infestations in the first place. Treat your dogs monthly with a veterinarian recommended spot-on flea repellent. In areas with an especially high flea population, you may consider allowing your pet to wear a flea collar while they’re cavorting outdoors or try some of the natural homeopathic repellants on the market.