Canine Flea Prevention: Worth the Time, the Money and the Effort!
Fact: Americans love dogs. Americans REALLY love their dogs! In fact, a significant number of Americans count their dogs as “family.” Literally millions of people have chosen to purchase, rescue or otherwise adopt dogs in lieu of having their own offspring!
In fact, even in the midst of the recent economic downturn, the clearly defined niche of pet retail, which includes pet stores, pet food, veterinary care, flea and tick products, doggie daycare, dog boarding, dog training and doggie sitting experienced growth even as other areas of the economy declined.
To the degree that most parents would go to the proverbial “ends of the earth” to provide anything their human child required, so will a significant sector of the canine parent population do for their furry friends. It goes without saying that one of the first things that such a responsible dog owning guardian does without thinking is to search out and provide the Best flea treatment for dogs available.
Fleas – Where Do Dogs Catch Them?
Fleas are small, dark brown insects that thrive in temperatures of 65-80 degrees and in humidity levels of 75-85 percent, and so, they are not just a summer nuisance – it depends on your climate. Dogs often acquire fleas from contact with other animals as well as in environments suffering from flea infestation – and that could mean your rug or your house generally.
The strong back legs of this insect enable it to jump from host to host or from the environment onto the host. (Fleas do not have wings, so they cannot fly!) The flea’s bite can cause itching for the host but for a sensitive or flea-allergic animal, this itching can be quite severe and leads to hair-loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections. Some pets, hypersensitive to the flea’s saliva, will itch all over from the bite of even a single flea!
Fleas can be seen scurrying along the surface of the skin. Dark copper colored and about the size of the head of a pin. Fleas hate pine oil, cedar oil, black walnut, and eucalyptus oil and are prone to burrow into your pet’s fur, so looking for them within furry areas and on the pet’s belly and inner thighs will provide your best chances of spotting them.
Look for “flea dirt”, too. “Flea dirt” looks like dark specks of pepper scattered on the skin surface. If you see flea dirt, which is actually flea feces and is composed of digested blood, pick some off the pet and place on a wet paper towel. If after a few minutes the tiny specks spread out like a small blood stain, it’s definitely flea dirt and your pet has fleas!
Other Signs That Your Dog Has Fleas
Perhaps you’re wondering how do you know if your dog has fleas other than the obvious signs of infestation? Dogs have a range of responses to a flea infestation, but they all involve scratching. Habitual scratching always indicates that something is amiss with your dog. Some dogs scratch the fleas themselves, as well as their bites, and other dogs develop an allergic reaction to flea saliva.
The severe itching that accompanies this kind of reaction all but drives some dogs mad. The skin around the flea bites first turns red and frequently becomes infected. In addition to scratching, signs that your dog has fleas include seeing fleas, having them jump on you, waking in the morning with small red bites on your skin, and finding fleas on your dog.
Fleas typically congregate on the dog’s rump, head and neck. Sometimes you might see an actual flea itself, which, when you try to apprehend it is likely to jump away. More often, you will see flea dirt, which looks like tiny grains of black pepper nestled against your pet’s skin. Flea eggs are white, and are reminiscent of dandruff. Flea dirt is commonly much easier to spot. Other signs that a dog has fleas include raw areas on the skin known as “hot spots,” pale gums, anemia and a diagnosis of tapeworms.
The Harm Fleas Inflict on Dogs
Dogs with flea infestations tend to be obviously unwell and agitated or, when infestation is extreme, withdrawn and quiet. The longer they’re infested, the unhealthier they become. Fleas are able to take in as much as 15 times their own body weight in blood, and a heavy infestation will render a dog anemic, and in some cases, will actually kill their host.
Fleas also carry tapeworms, which are a pest in and of themselves, causing anemia, diarrhea and weight loss. Individual tapeworms can grow as long as eighteen inches, and are a serious threat to an animal’s health. Heavy flea and/or tapeworm infestations have been known to literally kill young puppies as well as dogs that are old, ill or infirm.
How to Get Rid of Fleas On Dogs
When someone discovers their dog’s flea infestation, their first Google search is often “How to get rid of fleas on dogs?” Fortunately, with today’s modern insecticides, flea infestations are relatively easy to eradicate.
Dog owners have a choice between topical medications, such as Frontline, Advantage, and Bio-Spot or oral preparations such as Comfortis, Trifexis, Revolution and the like. Some oral preparations also eliminate heart-worms.
One problem with topical preparations is that occasionally, fleas develop immunities to their active ingredients, and for all practical purposes, they no longer work, sometimes in large areas of the country. If you treat your dog with a topical preparation and a day or two later he is still scratching, you may need to try a different product.
Natural Anti Flea Treatment for Pets
Some dog owners, when trying to figure out how to kill fleas on dogs, find that their research leads them to natural flea relief products such as diatomaceous earth, which is often mixed with Neem powder. Fleas cannot abide the scent of Neem, and the microscopic diatoms in the diatomaceous earth slice open flea exo skeletons, causing them to die.
In order to completely eradicate a flea infestation with natural products, it is necessary to continue treatment for up to three weeks in order to have the killing agent present when new fleas hatch.
Vacuuming is a tremendous help when the dog’s environment contains fleas, as are efforts to wash his bedding. Simply shampooing a dog in a gentle shampoo will kill any fleas on his body. When giving a dog a flea bath, be sure to wash his head and neck area first, to chase the fleas down his body as opposed to up into his ears, nose and eyes.
Eradicating a flea infestation is not difficult, but it requires alert and continuous effort. Even giving your dog a flea collar to wear is better than nothing, although these are becoming increasingly difficult to find. By ensuring your dog is free of parasites, you’ll be doing a great deal to ensure that he enjoys a healthier, happier as well as longer lifespan.