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Dog Flea Control, finding and curing fleas

Effective dog flea control requires the three P's! Pets, Premise and Persistence 

  1. Pets - control of fleas on your dog 

  2. Premise - control of dog fleas in your environment 

  3. Persistence – controlling dog fleas is an ongoing battle. 

Environmental dog flea control is probably the more important of the two. Adult dog fleas on your dog account for as little as 5% of the total flea population. Dog fleas can be shared by cats and dogs, so if you have a cat, it must also be treated.

Dog fleas feeding on your dog can cause several problems:

  • Itching and scratching at the flea bite—in most dogs, the itching is mild and temporary

  • Some dogs become allergic to flea saliva and develop severe itching, hair loss, and skin damage from scratching and biting at the site. If left untreated a skin infection can develop

  • Tapeworm infestation—dog fleas are an essential part of the tapeworm's life cycle ? the dog is infested with tapeworms when it swallows a flea that contains immature tapeworm stages

  • Anemia—loss of red blood cells.  This occurs only with severe flea infestations, and usually only in young or sick animals

Finding dog fleas

It is easy to tell when a dog is heavily infested with dog fleas. You can see the fleas crawling over the dog's skin and through the hair.

However, if your dog has only a light infestation, you may not see any fleas unless you look for them. A common place to see fleas is on your dog's belly and the inside of the thighs, where the hair is thin or the skin is bare. Another place to look for dog fleas is in the dense hair over your dog's rump, especially near the base of the tail. Part the hair and inspect the skin for either fleas or flea dirt.

Flea dirt is actually flea droppings. It looks like black grains of sand or cracked pepper on the dog's skin. If you place a few particles of flea dirt on a white surface (e.g. a piece of paper) and wet them, you will see a reddish brown stain form. This is because droppings from dog fleas contain digested blood from the flea's blood meal. You may also notice tiny areas of dried blood on the dog's bedding from moistened flea dirt that has since dried. 

Dog Flea Control

There are many excellent products that if used appropriately are excellent for dog flea control on your pet.

There are numerous products that will kill adult dog fleas on your dog. However, they vary in the duration of their effects:

Flea shampoos, sprays, and powders
Most will kill any dog fleas at the time of application, but they have no lasting effect.

Your dog may have more fleas within 24 hours of being treated 

Some of the newer sprays can be safely used every day, if necessary 

Flea rinses (dips)
May provide effective dog flea control for 4–5 days, depending on the product ? the rinse is applied after the dog has been shampooed; it is left to dry on the dog's coat 

Sprays containing flea growth regulators
Depending on the product, these sprays are usually applied weekly. The growth regulators help break the flea's life cycle  for more effective dog flea control.

Flea collars
Can be give effective dog flea control for a couple of weeks. Flea collars are not very effective in warm, humid climates (environments that are ideal for immature flea development) 

Some dogs are sensitive to flea collars and develop skin irritation under the collar. If this happens, you should remove the collar and use another method of flea control 

Spot on products
Advantage® and Frontline® are two brand name products that are applied to a small area of the dog's skin; they effectively kill fleas for at least a month.

They kill the adult dog fleas, usually before the flea has had a chance to bite your dog. Be sure to select the appropriate package for your dog's body weight 

A tablet that sterilizes any eggs laid by the fleas that feed on your dog. You must give your dog the tablet once a month for effective dog flea control. This drug does not kill the adult dog fleas on your pet, but it does break the flea life cycle by preventing hatching of the next generation of flea eggs Consult your veterinarian for a recommendation on what would work best for your pet. 

Manage your environment

Dog flea control in your pet's environment is fairly simple for indoor dogs, especially if you have no other pets that regularly go outside. It is impossible to rid the outside environment of all fleas. Dog flea control in pets that regularly go outside or live outside can be more difficult. 

Unless you have strictly indoor pets, environmental dog flea control must target both your house and your yard: 

Use a fogger or long-lasting spray to kill any adult and larval fleas 

If you have a particularly bad problem with dog fleas, it is often worth having a professional exterminator treat your home 

Dog fleas in the pupal (cocoon) stage are resistant to insecticides, including foggers, so it may be necessary for you to treat your home 2 or 3 times to get rid of all fleas 

The second treatment should be done 2 weeks after the first 

You should also wash or otherwise treat your dog's bedding on a regular basis 

Yard / Garden
Spray your yard with an insecticide that has residual activity for at least 30 days 

For a difficult flea problem, consider having an exterminator treat your yard 

In warm, humid climates, it may be necessary to spray your yard every 30 days during the warmer months of the year 

Some newer products contain a growth regulator (fenoxycarb) and need to be applied only once or twice a year 

With the new residual treatments for your dog, environmental control is less important. In some cases, using these products on your dog effectively controls the flea population in the environment. Consult your veterinarian for more information on controlling fleas in your pet's environment.

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See also: [Advantage] [Frontline Plus] [Pet Medicine] [Pet Insurance] [Dog Health] [Dog Illnesses]




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