Flea Prevention and Treatment for Dogs
Fleas are more than a gross nuisance for dogs, they can also cause itching, injuries, and secondary skin conditions. If fleas are left untreated on a dog, he can hurt himself with all the scratching, which leaves them open to infections in the skin or bloodstream.
What Are Fleas
Fleas are extremely small insects that can live on a dog’s skin and feed on a dog’s blood supply just like a tick. Peak flea season is late summer but can be year-round in warmer or tropical climates. Fleas prefer shaded and sandy areas in your yard but can jump on our clothing and our pets, and they can easily infest carpeting and furniture in our homes.
Fleas have a lifespan of seven to fourteen days, but when in the egg phase, they can be dormant in carpets and upholstery for up to nine months. Heat and humidity can bring latent eggs out of dormancy, so when you move into a new apartment or home and your dog walks on an egg-laden carpet, it may trigger the eggs to hatch. Adult female fleas can start laying eggs within twenty-four hours of their first blood meal, and they can lay fifty or more eggs per day.
Fleas can also transmit diseases to your dog. When a flea bites your dog, bacteria can get into the dog’s bloodstream which can cause infection. Heavy flea infestations can result in severe blood loss, leading to anemia. Fleas can also carry tapeworms. These tapeworms can get into your dog's stomach if your dog bites at his skin and ingests a flea. Flea tapeworms shed small segments that look like grains of rice. If you see these in your dog’s feces, then contact your veterinarian for deworming recommendations.
Identifying Fleas on Your Dog
It can be difficult to spot fleas on your dog. Fleas appear as small, brown or black-colored bugs that can be observed moving through your dog’s haircoat or jumping on and off them. Fleas like to stay in shaded areas, so they hide in furry areas to avoid light. Fine-toothed flea combs are often used to help bring adult fleas to the surface. Even if you don’t see active adult fleas, you might be able to see flea “dirt” or flea feces. These look like little pepper granules on the skin and are made of digested blood, so they can have a reddish appearance when they are moistened with rubbing alcohol on a white paper towel.
Preventing & Treating Fleas
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be used as an inexpensive preventative flea treatment. While apple cider vinegar doesn’t actually kill fleas, it does repel them and make them jump off your dog.
One popular method of using apple cider vinegar as a preventative treatment is to add it to your dog’s drinking water. Add one teaspoon per quart of water. If your dog does not like the taste, you can start with a lower amount and gradually introduce more to allow your dog to acclimate to it.
You can also make apple cider vinegar into a spray. Mix two parts apple cider vinegar to one part water. You can use this spray on your dog’s coat and allow it to soak in, or you can dip a comb into the mixture and brush it through your dog’s fur.
Flea Collars can prevent fleas as well as treat an existing infestation. Each collar differs slight but generally is effective for up to eight months. However, because it’s worn on the neck, it treats the best in that area (head, ears neck) only leaving other parts of the body more exposed.
If you live in an area that you know has fleas, this can be a great solution to help prevent and keep fleas from making a home on your pets.
Oral & Topical Treatments
Oral and topical treatments are the fastest ways to kill fleas. These treatments are available in over-the-counter options like Advantage, these options are good but do wash off with water, so be mindful when your dog is swimming or gets a bath. Oral pills and chews are very effective for breaking the cycle of fleas, killing adult fleas and eggs. Prescription products like Trifexis or Comfortis are active for approximately one month and a good way to get rid of fleas if your dog has them. If you have additional questions or concerns consult your veterinarian.
An important part of prevention is cleanliness. Keeping your home clean is an important key to breaking the cycle in your dog’s environment. If you have a lot of carpeted areas, then you will need to make sure that they are vacuumed often. Upholstered furniture in your home may need to be sprayed for fleas. Clean any other areas that your dog visits often, for example, their bed or favorite sitting area, car, etc. When it comes to your yard pay close attention to shaded and sandy areas. These are where fleas will congregate (sunny and dry areas are less likely).
Dog baths are also important. Make sure your dog gets a good bath regularly. During the bath check for fleas (examine the bathwater as well). You should also check his stool from time to time to make sure that there are no tapeworm segments present. If you see fleas or tapeworm segments, then make sure to contact your veterinarian right away.
Thank you for reading our article, we hope you have found it useful for you and your pet.
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- Nov 01, 2019
- in Pet Blog