What You Need to Know About Dog Fleas and How to get rid of them
I can’t remember how many times I have heard the question “How to get rid of dog fleas?”
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While dog fleas are a pretty common issue, it doesn’t make them any less aggravating. Many dog owners find themselves facing this uncomfortable and annoying problem all year round, but especially in the spring as their pets run around freshly mowed grass and newly reopened parks.
And while it would be nearly impossible for you to try to keep your dog from investigating the world around it and introducing itself to other furry friends, there are certain measures that you can take that will help limit how easy it is for your pet to become infested with these frustrating pests
. By having the knowledge and knowhow ahead of time, you can take the necessary precautions and understand exactly what to do to keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible.
Understanding the Risk
While dog fleas are certainly an extreme annoyance, it’s also important for dog owners to understand the tremendous health risks they can pose, particularly if the issue isn’t addressed quickly. You need to realize that for these fleas, your dog is acting as both a home and a constant food source.
They won’t just leave your pet willingly, and leaving them there will certainly encourage them to reproduce. Not only will this result in many uncomfortable and itchy problems for your pet, but it will also result in much more complicated and potentially dangerous health issues as time goes on.
While most pets end up with small, irritating bumps as a result of flea bites, dogs that suffer from an allergy to the saliva of the flea can end up suffering from extreme allergic reactions and dermatitis. This can cause them to constantly feel the need to scratch and bite at their skin, eventually resulting in swelling and even welts.
This will cause your pet to be continuously miserable and irritable, and it can even lead to infections and cause your pet to suffer from serious medical problems. In addition to the intense scratching and biting, you might start to notice other signs of dermatitis in your pet, such as hair loss, apparent skin damage, and eventually open and oozing sores.
Additionally, it’s important to realize that simply removing the pests in this sort of situation won’t stop the suffering. While taking care of the dog fleas must be the first and principal priority, making sure that you receive secondary care to treat the pain caused by the allergy will be just as important. Make sure that you visit a veterinarian who can offer you guidance as to the best possible treatment for your dog as quickly as possible so that their aggravations can finally end.
When the itching and aggravation caused by fleas get to be too much for your dog, it can eventually result in the development of hot spots. These spots are usually defined as an infected part of the dog’s skin, often seen in a circular shape, and they are the direct result of the irritation caused by a flea bite.
While these sores often start out small and difficult to detect, they’ll quickly grow into pretty tremendous problems which can cause your poor pet to suffer unbearably. They’ll naturally want to bite and lick the area to temporarily relieve the aggravation, but this will only result in a worsening infection. Making sure that you do everything you can to help your pet deal with this annoyance will be key.
First, a great relief to your dog will be to clip and trim the hair around the infected area. Not only will this allow more air to reach the inflamed area, which will feel better right away, but it will also stop the hairs from irritating the area any more than it already is. Next, find a gentle dog shampoo, most likely sold by a local veterinarian, and clean the area so that the infection won’t continue to spread.
Finally, preventing your dog from licking and biting at the area will be incredibly important. The temporary relief that they might feel will only be causing more damage in the long run, so it’s important that you keep your pet from bringing its tongue down on the sore. You may need to invest in a cone collar to really prevent this if your dog is particularly stubborn.
Another serious health issue that can be devastating for your pet will be tapeworms. Because the dog fleas themselves can carry tapeworm larvae, if your pet swallows one of these pests at any moment, they are likely to end up suffering from worms, as well. These parasites will end up making a home out of your dog’s intestinal tract, allowing them to steal important nutrients from your pet and keeping them from living their best life.
Additionally, these vital nutrients will be incredibly important for the fight against the potential infections that fleas can cause, and if your dog isn’t in the best of shape, to begin with, things can quickly become much more complicated.
Make sure that even after you have your dog treated for fleas, you keep an eye out for what will look like tiny grains of sand on the fur around your dogs back area. This could be tiny segments of the tapeworm and is a good indication that you need to have them checked. Another key indicator will be seeing your pet scoot themselves around the floor on their rear, as the tapeworm will most likely be irritating for them.
One of the most serious issues that can come from a flea issue will be the anemia. Fleas are parasites that live off the blood from your dog. This can be a serious problem if it’s left too long without care, and while a tremendous number of fleas will be needed for it to become a life-threatening sort of situation, it’s still much more common than many pet owners realize.
Smaller puppies that wander around outside will be at the highest risk, as they won’t have the high blood volume of grown dogs, and they don’t yet understand how to properly groom themselves to reduce the risk.
Some tell-tale signs to look out for that can help you recognize this serious issue will be pale gums, a more lethargic attitude, or even a lower body temperature. Make sure that you keep a close eye on your dogs even a few weeks after you’ve removed the pests, as symptoms of things like anemia can sometimes take a little longer to show up.
Knowing how to get rid of dog fleas
Understanding the harm that fleas can cause makes many dog owners incredibly eager to get their pets the care they need as quickly as possible. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe a wide range of different potential treatments for your pet, and while you want to take their advice and listen to what they believe is the best course of action, the more you understand about these potential treatments available to your dog, the better off you’ll be. Here are a couple of the options that you might find available to you for your pet’s relief.
Spot on Treatments
One of the first and most common treatments that many homeowners turn to will be spot on treatments. One of the easiest and arguably the most effective form of treatments, this is done by applying a small amount of oily fluid directly onto the skin of your dog.
Usually, within about 12 hours of the initial application, 100% of the fleas and their larvae will be killed off. Many pet owners turn to this particular type of treatment because of the ease of use, as well as fast and effective nature. With only one dose, you can relieve your pet of the terrible infestation they’ve been dealing with, take care of the pests at all stages of life, and you will have a much happier animal before you know it.
Another way that many pet owners choose to treat dog fleas is through oral medications. This is a perfect solution for pet owners who don’t have the time to be dealing with the sticky and gooey messes that the spot on medications can cause.
Additionally, while you might not see the immediate results that you do with spot-on treatments, the reliability of oral medications is significantly higher. Because these tablets can be given to your pet over an extended period of time, you can rest assured that your dog will be protected against fleas for at least 12 weeks while spot-on treatments only kill the fleas that are currently living on your pet.
However, it’s important to take into consideration that while this treatment is certainly effective, it won’t actually kill off any of the flea eggs. These eggs could easily fall off the pet and onto your furniture, and so you’ll want to invest in a thorough cleaning of your entire household so that you can be sure the problem was taken care of once and for all.
Although a lot of money is spent on flea collars we do not recommend these, we prefer natures way. Finally, one of the most recognizable treatment options will be the old standard flea collar. These collars work by first emitting a gas that repels the pests instantly, as well as seeping a medication into or onto the skin of your dog, killing the pests as they bite or approach the skin accordingly.
While these collars are certainly effective, it’s important that you look for brands that offer both solutions so that you can be sure you get the most care as quickly as possible.
Another serious benefit to these collars is their longevity. Many of these treatment options can last for as long as eight months, giving you the coverage you need to feel confident your dog is flea free for an extended period of time.
They don’t even need to be around your dog’s neck to really work. If you’re worried about having fleas in your home, place the dog collar in a vacuum bag. As you pick up the fleas while you clean, the collar will be sure to finish the job within the bag, which can help to keep your home flea free for months.
Once you’ve taken all the necessary steps to get your dog treated for the fleas, it’s incredibly important that you take a wide variety of preventative measures in order to ensure that you’re not dealing with the same problem later on down the road.
Dog fleas are resilient, and infestations can take weeks or even months to really get under control depending on their severity, which can leave you fighting what will seem like an endless battle against an enemy you can barely see. However, by taking these important steps in prevention, you can help ensure that you’ll never have to deal with this sort of challenging situation ever again.
Take Care of the Yard
While you might not want to think about it, the reality is that your own backyard can be a breeding ground for harmful pests. The first step that you need to take to defend your home against a pest invasion is to treat your yard and maintain it properly.
Keeping your grass mowed and your flower beds weeded and cared for will make a tremendous difference. When you have trimmed shrubs and a well cared for lawn, fleas will have significantly fewer places to hide and build up a home.
Additionally, when your yard is well cared for and protected, you’ll be able to deter unwanted feral animals much more easily. Feral cats, raccoons, and opossums are some of the worst when it comes to bringing in fleas, so make sure that you take every precaution necessary in order to keep them away from your home.
Invest in quality garbage cans, and make sure that you don’t leave any sort of food outside for them to come looking for. The cleaner your yard is, the safer your pets will be overall.
Get Used to Combing
While owners who have dogs with longer coats might be used to the constant brushing and combing out of fur, short hair dog owners don’t usually worry about this kind of maintenance after every trip outside. However, the reality is that taking the time to comb out your pet’s coat with a flea comb every time you go outside can make a world of difference and really prevent a serious flea infestation.
Fleas can hind in the most unbelievable of spaces, so make sure that you really get in there and take a good look around your pet’s skin before you call it quits. The more thorough of a brush job, the better the results.
Also, if you have a pet that has a longer coat, it might be best for you to consider shaving them down in the spring and summer months. While you might love the look of the long and fluffy fur, the reality is that this is a playground for pests like dog fleas, and the less room they have to hide, the better. Shaving them down for a few months out of the year can be a great way to keep them happy, comfortable, and healthy.
Become a Cleaning Pro
While dealing with a flea infestation certainly doesn’t mean that you have a dirty home, going above and beyond to make sure that you keep your home as clean as possible can make a big difference. Fleas love to take up a temporary residence in places like rugs, carpeting, or even the back of closets.
By staying neat and organized, you can help ensure that your home stays flea free year after year. By vacuuming at least once a week, even in the back of the smallest spaces that you’d normally forget about, such as underneath furniture or behind the pet crate, you’ll be ensuring that fleas find your home incredibly difficult to live in.
Additionally, make sure that you change vacuum bags frequently. If you pick up flea eggs and they hatch inside the bag, it can make a safe and comfortable space for them to grow until they are finally able to latch onto your pet.
Spot the signs
Your dog is more than just an animal you look after. They are an important part of your family, and so it’s incredibly important that you get them the care they need in order to be healthy and comfortable.
My final thoughts
Pest infestations can be an incredibly difficult thing to witness, but understanding what you’re dealing with and how to get it taken care of effectively can be a tremendous help, and knowing what it is your pet is going through and what you can do to relieve their aggravations can make a world of difference.
Recognize the signs, listen to your veterinarian, and understand the treatments available to you so that you can get your pet what they need the moment they need it. By keeping these tips and tricks in mind, you and your most beloved pets can live a flea-free and comfortable life starting today.