Treating fleas on dogs

Caring for your dog requires a lot of work and preventative treatment to ensure that they remain healthy and happy throughout their life. Fleas are one of the biggest threats to your pet’s comfort and health, and, unfortunately, they’re everywhere. Thankfully, you have several options to treat your pet if you end up experiencing a flea infestation. 

Being proactive for your dog’s health is essential for their well-being. Preventative treatments offer the best protection against fleas for your furry companion. Consider the guide below to learn more about fleas, the dangers they pose to your pet, and your flea treatment options.

What Are Fleas?

Fleas are tiny, wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, including dogs, cats, and people. The bug’s head has sharp spikes all around it and a strong mouth capable of piercing skin. Adults are usually ⅛ of an inch in size. 

There are more than 2,500 species of fleas. Your dog can contract them from other infected dogs, your home, grassy areas outdoors, and pet boarding facilities. They have a quick life cycle, but they can reproduce just as quickly. 

The lifecycle of fleas is as follows: 

  1. A female flea will lay up to 20 eggs at a time on a host or a warm spot, like a pet’s bedding.
  2. Within a week, the larva will emerge from the eggs.
  3. Flea larva will enter the pupa stage by weaving a silk-like cocoon and lay dormant until it senses a host nearby. They can remain in their dormant stage for months.
  4. Adulthood is the final stage of a flea’s life. They emerge from their cocoons to eat and reproduce. 

Overall, a flea’s lifespan can last between a few weeks to several months. However, one female can lay up to 500 eggs, so even a single parasitic insect in your home can pose a danger to your dog.

How Do You Know You Have a Flea Infestation?

Most dogs have an allergy to the proteins in flea saliva, which is what causes the bites to become itchy to your pet. If your pet is constantly picking at their skin and appears aggravated, fleas may be a likely cause. 

It’s imperative to examine your dog if they are frequently itchy, especially under their legs, at the base of their tail, and around their belly and groin. If you notice reddish bumps, hair loss, and dry skin, they may have fleas. Fleas on their body will appear as tiny brownish-black specks on their fur, so if you see them in addition to the other symptoms, it’s time to seek treatment.

Problems Fleas Can Cause for Your Dog

Flea bites can be problematic for your beloved pet. Not only do bites from these parasitic insects cause skin irritation and discomfort, but they can also lead to several health issues, including the following: 

  • Tapeworms: Tapeworms are segmented flatworms that live in an animal’s digestive tract. They can infest fleas, so when a dog bites or licks themselves, they can ingest the tapeworm-infested fleas and become a new host for the worms.
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD): Dogs will naturally scratch at the itchy flea bites, but many dogs have FAD. It’s a skin allergy that causes excessive irritation, skin infections, and hair loss.
  • Bartonellosis: Bartonella is a type of bacteria that causes the disease bartonellosis. Evidence suggests that infested fleas can pass the bacteria to canines, causing nausea, irregular heartbeat, and fever.
  • Anemia: If your dog has a severe flea issue due to the insect’s quick reproductive rate, they can cause anemia in your pet by reducing your pet’s red blood cells. Anemia can cause rapid breathing, lethargy, and possibly death without treatment.

How To Treat a Dog With Fleas

Flea eggs are smaller than their tiny adults, and they will easily roll off a surface to fill all types of cracks and crevices in your home. Eggs can live up to a year in a yard, on the carpet, or down the side of an armchair. 

Treating your house and your pet is the best way to protect your home from future infestations. Below are some flea treatments you can try.

Spot-On Treatments

These treatments are liquid drops that you apply to your dog’s skin around the base of their neck. They are highly effective. Some options kill adult fleas, some prevent eggs and larva from entering adulthood, and some do both.

Tablets and Injections

Some pets don’t like the feeling of topical treatments, so injections or tablets are a decent alternative. The flea medication stops eggs from becoming larva so that the infestation cycle doesn’t continue.

Powders

Medicated flea powders are an option for killing adult fleas on pets. However, the powder only remains on their fur for a few days, making it a short-term treatment, and they do not affect the larva.

Flea Collars

Medicated collars are a popular flea control option, thanks to the growth-inhibiting substances they contain. They prevent most insects from growing, but they are not perfect and can irritate your dog. Consult with Penny Paws Animal Clinic or your veterinarian to learn which type of flea collar will be best for your dog.

Flea Treatment Shampoo

You can use flea shampoo as a short-term option to eliminate fleas on your dog. However, the shampoo doesn’t prevent the bugs from latching onto the dog again, so you’ll need to treat your entire home as well to eliminate any remaining flea colonies.

The Importance of Preventative Flea Treatments for Dogs

Without prompt action on your part, your dog and your home can quickly become a haven for fleas. It only takes one insect to cause a severe issue for your pet’s health and comfort. Though only one flea species lives on humans, the rest will bite people, so preventative measures will also keep you and your family safe.

Schedule an Appointment for Flea Treatment at Penny Paws Animal Clinic

The best flea treatment for your dog is the one your vet recommends. If your dog has a flea problem or needs preventative treatment, head to Penny Paws Animal Clinic. Our caring veterinarians will provide unmatched pet care to your beloved furry companion. Call our location nearest you or visit our website to book online and schedule an appointment.