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My Dog Has Fleas! What now?
With the rising Summer temperatures here in the south comes the humidity and unfortunately with that combination also come fleas. These hateful little parasites who spend their time eating our dog’s blood are a very common problem this time of year.
Some of the warning signs fleas leave behind can help you catch the attack early. If you notice dark droppings in your dog’s fur or bedding then that is the flea’s droppings (which the larvae feed on) or you might notice tiny white flea eggs but, they are much harder to see. If your dog is suddenly licking or biting and scratching, he’s trying to tell you something.
A flea is not just a nuisance to your dog. A flea eats 15 times their own weight in blood! Fleas can cause anemia in severe cases, especially in puppies. Look for pale gums or uncharacteristic lazy behavior. Some dogs can have an allergic reaction to flea bites that can become infected quickly because of the moisture and heat the dog adds to the bite by licking. Just keep your eyes open to hair loss, scabs or red irritated skin. If you think your dog has an allergic reaction, get him to a veterinarian.
Fleas can be treated and killed, but you'll have to be patient and follow all the steps.
If you are dealing with a full out infestation of fleas in your home or kennel area then take the time to treat the fleas at every stage. Starting with killing off the adult fleas and treating your dog with either an over the counter flea shampoo, a flea collar, oral tablets (available from your veterinarian) that are given either monthly or daily or spot on skin treatment oils.
The only way to avoid fleas all together is prevention but, that is often easier said than done. To get a handle on them, you must stop their life cycle. Understanding the flea life cycle is simple but, it will take time and preparedness to get it right. The key is to stop the flea from reproducing, to which they are very vigorous. There are four stages in the life cycle of a flea, the adult, the egg, the larva and the pupa. Just killing them in the adult stage only gets rid of a small percentage of the fleas that are occupying your dog and his living environment. In the adult stage they need blood from the host in order to lay eggs (about 40 eggs a day for one adult female) and removing your pet from the area until after treatment is the best way to keep the flea from getting her needed nutrition. Eliminating the the egg, larvae and pupa is a little more time consuming but, it’s the only way to completely rid your dog and possibly your house from fleas. The egg, larvae and pupa can be removed from frequent vacuuming and carefully spraying a safe insecticide that specifically includes fleas as one of its victims because some insecticides do not include the chemical that penetrates the flea in the in the egg or pupa stage. You may have to repeat this treatment over and over again.
Once you have followed all of the procedures for getting rid of the fleas, then it is best to begin preventive measures in order to fend off another take over. Start outside, mow your lawn frequently and don’t leave out things that attract rodents. Next, treat all of your animals at once, including dogs and cats. Wash any pet bedding frequently and of course, continue vacuuming any area that your dog occupies including couches and pillows.
Fleas like to be in the same environment as your dog. So if Fido likes to be there, then so do the blood thirsty fleas. Warm, moist fur is the ideal spot for fleas to hang out. Fleas love the same shady spot that your dog loves. Worst of all, fleas love carpet. Continue to treat all of these areas all Summer and a few times throughout the other seasons and you shouldn’t have any more flea problems. Just remember, an infestation can take just a few short days to complete because those little jokers can lay 40 eggs a day.