So your dog has fleas…
What are fleas?
A flea is a tiny parasite (an organism that feeds off another living creature, they suck blood like a vampire) about the size of a grain of rice. It hides in the hair on your dog and feeds off his/her skin. Due to their size they can be very difficult to find and can often be overlooked but there are some definitive symptoms to watch out for that can help identify these tiny pests.
For further information on dog fleas check out this Wikipedia article here.
How to spot a flea infestation
If your dog begins scratching a lot it is generally a sign of fleas. When you notice this, you should closely examine your dogs coat. Pay particular attention to the ears, tail and neck. Often there will appear to be dirt in the coat and if you rub this apparent ‘dirt’ between your fingers a red color could prevail. If it does, then this is a sure sign that your poor pooch has fleas. Those bits of ‘dirt’ are actually flea faeces and the red color comes from digested blood. At this point it is advisable to immediately source some flea shampoo.
Why fleas are dangerous?
It is important to treat a flea infestation as soon as it is noticed for several reasons:
1. Fleas can transmit tapeworms and diseases
2. They can transfer to humans
3. They can infest your house making the clean up procedure expensive and time consuming
4. It is very unpleasant for your dog if they remain untreated. In severe cases your pooch may be allergic to the saliva of the flea and further health problems could arise.
There are several factors involved with stopping a flea infestation. Firstly, you should use a flea shampoo to wash your dog. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully and this should kill all the fleas on your pet. You may want to continue using this shampoo for several months to ensure all fleas, their eggs and their larvae are destroyed.
Secondly, you will need to vacuum the house. Especially the areas where your dog spends a lot of its time such as its bedding, its carrier, the car and any other places where it likes to sit or lie for long periods of time. Other areas where fleas generally preside are at the bottoms of drapes/curtains, edges of furniture and in the beds. Vacuuming carefully should remove approximately 50% of all fleas.
Thirdly, you will want to use a specially designed product for flea control. It could a powder or a spray and is an insecticide aimed at killing the remaining eggs and larvae. Again, it is always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for specific details on the use of that product.
Where can I buy it?
Flea shampoo can be found in large supermarket chains such as Walmart, in pet stores, at vet clinics or Amazon.
When should I use it?
Flea shampoo should be applied when your dog has fleas. It is NOT a preventative measure to reduce the likelihood of a flea infestation. It is a treatment once your dog has fleas. There are other products available on the market aimed at flea prevention such as once a month topical treatments, flea collars, sprays, powders and ingestible tablets.