All about dog fleas
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
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
How to control dog fleas
Effective control of dog fleas requires the three P's! Pets,
Premise and Persistence
Pets - control of fleas on your dog
Premise - control of dog fleas in your environment
Persistence – controlling dog fleas is an ongoing battle.
Environmental 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.
Controlling fleas on your dog
There are many excellent products that if used appropriately will
control dog fleas on your pet.
There are many ineffective and even dangerous products
commercially available over the counter so always consult your veterinarian for the best and safest.
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
Most will kill any dog fleas at the time of application, but they have no
Your dog may have more fleas within 24 hours of being
Some of the newer sprays can be safely used every day, if necessary
Flea rinses (dips)
May be effective 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
Depending on the product, these sprays are usually applied weekly ? the growth regulators help break the flea's life cycle
Can be effective for a couple of week. 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
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
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. 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.
Controlling dog fleas in your environment
Control of dog fleas in your dog'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. Flea control in dogs that regularly go outside or live outside can be more difficult.
Unless you have strictly indoor pets, environmental control of
dog fleas 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
The second treatment should be done 2 weeks after the
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
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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