We often bring pets to our home and they instantly become our family members. We provide them with all the essentials their bodies require and take good care of them. In the case of a dog, from buying the best dog food to taking it for regular health check-ups to a veterinary doctor, we make sure that our pet gets the best care. We often get worried when our pet stops eating, behaves differently, or is in a bad shape. Similarly, you might have come across a problem of fleas on your dog. It is not a good sign and might be harmful to the health of your dog and medication becomes necessary. Also, it is important for you to get the bugs off your dog too as it prevents the number of itchy and irritating bites your dog gets, and this, in turn helps in keeping the fleas out of your home. People often have a question in their mind that is, “What’s the best flea treatment for dogs?”. The following article shall be informative for you as it will tell everything about fleas on dogs, how you can detect that something is wrong, and what are the cures.
How to Know there are Fleas on your Dog?
The day you start noticing tiny spots here and there at your place and those beautiful hairs of your dog falling and becoming thin, know that something is wrong with your pet. There are more than 2,500 variety of species in the world and among these, the most common fleas among dogs are known as Ctenocephalides felis, also known as Cat Flea. If your dog has fleas, it is most likely this one.
Being a pet owner is not an easy job, you have to be aware of any and everything that is not right with your pet which includes any possible signs of flea infestation.
- Scratching – If you see your dog scratching or biting at its fur, the cause of this behavior could be fleas. Even if you are not able to catch the fleas, the scratching sign is enough for you to know that something is wrong. Why does the dog bite its fur or scratches? The answer is, fleas can cause sharp pain when they bite also, their salivary glands release a substance that is irritating for most dogs.
- Seeing the flees yourself – Adult fleas can be around 8 inches long, reddish-brown, and extremely thin. You might need a microscope to exactly see what they look like. They can jump upward and outward at least 12 inches in a single leap. Several studies have shown that if there is a big flea on your pet, there is a greater chance of many immature fleas also being around it.
- Flea Dirt – It can be visible and looks like pepper. Flea dirt is what fleas leave behind. It can be seen on your dog’s skin or your dog could leave it at someplace here and there. Common places where the dog might leave flea dirt are:-
- It’s bedding
- On the carpet
- Your dog’s favorite chair or couch where it likes to sit, even though you have ushered them off it a number of times.
The specks or tiny spots that you see at your place are actually bits of dried blood that turns from black to brown, and then finally back to red if you rehydrate them on a wet paper towel.
Understand the Life Cycle of a Flea
There are four stages of the life cycle through which the fleas evolve:-
The adults live on your dogs and lay their eggs on them. These eggs spread all throughout your homes and thus, multiply in number. Then, they hatch into larva. During the pupa stage, larva form cocoons. Then, they hatch and become adults. To understand the life cycle of fleas is important because when you go through the best dog flea treatment reviews, you might get confused as they will be addressing different stages of fleas and their treatments accordingly. So, all kinds of treatments might not give you the best results. It is for this reason that you should know your dog has been infected with flees of which stage.
What you Can Do?
“How to kill fleas on dogs?”– a very common question among pet owners. Let’s see what you can do.
- Giving the dog a bath – Do you have a geyser at your place? If yes, make use of it and get some lukewarm water. Even if you do not have a geyser, you can easily get the water done on your gas stove. Along with the lukewarm water, take a mild soap and give a nice warm bath to your dog. You may use any flea shampoo also but it is better to use it after having consulted your veterinary doctor. Your dog might be allergic to fleas and thus, its skin might be sensitive therefore, before using any product on your dog, consultation is necessary. There are some chemicals in flea products that can make irritation and infection even worse. If the dog is allergic to fleas, the doctor might call it- flea allergy dermatitis. A bath although is not a must, can actually be very helpful for your dog.
- Using a fine-tooth flea comb – You can try combing your dog’s hair with it. There are spaces in between the teeth of a flea comb. It helps in trapping fleas and lets your dog’s fur pass through it easily too. These combs can also help in removing flea poop also known as flea dirt. While doing this, you need to be a little careful especially when combing the neck and tail areas of your pet because these places are where fleas usually feed.
- Killing the flees – How to kill fleas on dogs? What you can do is, the moment you find these little buggers on the flea comb, you need to dunk the comb into hot soapy water to kill the fleas. You better not try to crush the fleas because they are very agile and jump quickly so, it becomes hard to kill the bugs.
- Regular and frequent checks – If your dog is prone to getting infected with fleas, you should comb the dog’s fur at least once a week with a flea comb, until you are very sure that your home and the dog is free of fleas.
- The grooming – It is usually seen that dogs and pets groom themselves when they have fleas and your dog might also, do it. If it does so, let it do. Do not stop it but if in case your dog is nipping, chewing or scratching at itself too much and you start noticing hair loss or red, inflamed, or bloody skin, you need to take your pet to the doctor straight away.
- Prevention and treating your dog – The best what you can do is preventing your dogs from getting infected and for this among many available, you can go for the best flea and tick protection for dogs.
Infections and Diseases Carried by Fleas
Fleas and ticks can cause many infections. Some of them are as follows
- Tapeworms – These are internal parasites that can be inside your dog’s stomach. Humans, especially children can also get affected by them. They are spread when infected fleas are accidentally swallowed. If you see symptoms such as; abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and segments of worms in stools, these all can be because of tapeworms. Your dog might get re-infected even after the treatment, this is because animals are unable to maintain the level of hygiene and personal care as we humans can.
- Murine Typhus – This disease is usually carried by rats but if a flea comes in contact with any such infected rat, it might spread the disease everywhere and anywhere it goes. By biting the victim, these fleas pass on the disease in his/her bloodstream.
- Anemia – This happens because of blood loss. If your dog has ticks or fleas, they can cause losing blood, and thus, your dog becoming anemic.
- Lyme Disease – Lyme can be transmitted to dogs when a tick of the Ixodes family attaches itself and feeds for 24 hours or more. During this time, what happens is, the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi gets transmitted to the dog, and thus, infecting the dog.
- Tick Paralysis – It first starts by causing paralysis in the hind end and then slowly progresses towards the head part. Then it finally ends up paralyzing the respiratory muscles and rendering the dog unable to breathe. In the initial stages of this disease, your dog would not be able to walk but it will be able to wag its tail.
- Babesiosis – If your dog has this tick-transmitted disease, it can be lethargic and might have a mild fever. “What’s the best flea medicine for dogs?”, well in the case of this disease, treatment is not very easy but multiple antibiotics might help, though it shall take long.