If your dog is itching more than usual lately, there’s a good chance fleas are to blame. This tiny parasite loves to burrow in your dog’s fur, causing endless discomfort as it repeatedly bites your dog’s skin. And although fleas can’t fly, these pesky critters have no problem getting around. Here’s everything you need to know about finding and treating fleas in dogs, then taking steps to keep these pesky critters from coming back.
How To Tell if Your Dog Has Fleas
Catching fleas is easy to do, but finding evidence of these fast-moving brown bugs is a greater challenge. This task can be facilitated with the help of a dog flea comb, or by looking for dog flea bites in the (possibly raw, irritated, balding, and scabby) areas where your dog has been scratching. Pet owners may also notice black flakes — aka “flea dirt” or feces — in their dog’s fur, which is tell-tale sign that flea bites are causing your dog’s itching.
What Do Flea Bites Look Like?
Flea bites are small red, pimply bumps that often appear in lines or small clusters. Dog flea bites usually appear on your dog’s neck, back legs, groin, upper tail, and belly. Dog flea bites may be difficult to spot in your pet’s fur. Ear mites can also cause itching and bites on your dog’s skin, but (as the name suggests) these pesky bugs prefer to burrow in or around your dog’s ear canal. Humans can also get dog flea bites, usually on their legs, feet, and ankles.
Are Dog Fleas Contagious?
Extremely. Fleas can’t fly, but these tiny parasites are empowered with powerful legs that allow them to jump between dogs on walks, at the park, in kennels, dog houses, or even outside, where your dog might get close to a flea-infested cat, raccoon, squirrel, chipmunk, possum, or rodent. Fleas also thrive in hot, humid climates.
Are Dog Fleas Dangerous?
They can be. Although most dogs with flea bites find them more itchy and uncomfortable than anything else, some dogs have an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva. This can cause your dog even more itching and scratching, so much so that he breaks the skin and/or sustains a painful infection. Flea-bitten dogs can also ingest fleas hosting tapeworm eggs, thus allowing this extremely dangerous parasite to blossom inside your dog’s digestive system. Small dogs, seniors, and puppies can even become anemic from too many dog flea bites, causing serious damage. These are all reasons why it’s essential to treat dog fleas before they lead to a serious condition.
How To Get Rid of Fleas
Fleas are easy to catch, but they’re difficult to get rid of, in part because fleas — in addition to burrowing in your dog’s fur — have also laid eggs and larvae throughout your house. This makes it essential to treat your dog, house, yard, patio, and all household pets for fleas at the same time.
This effort should begin with a deep clean of your home. Vacuum floors, mattresses, and furniture (ideally with a disposable vacuum bag), follow up with a steam cleaner, then wash all of your sheets, blankets, and dog bedding in hot water. Then give your flea-bitten dog a good scrub with our dog flea treatment shampoo or K9 Advantix® II Flea Treatment for Dogs, which is available in varying strengths to treat fleas in dogs of all sizes. The final step includes fumigating your house with a dog flea spray to get rid of flea eggs and larvae. Don’t forget to spray your yard and patio.
How To Prevent Dog Fleas
Cleanliness and prevention are key to helping your dog get rid of fleas for good. Start by washing your dog’s bedding at least once a week and regularly vacuum the house to capture fleas and their eggs. Then dress your dog(s) with a preventative flea/tick collar or flea tag to keep them catching fleas again. You can also administer a monthly flea and tick treatment to keep these pesky critters at bay. In between treatments, bathe your pet with our Chamomile and Oatmeal Soothing Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs to keep him or her clean without the harsh chemical irritants that dry your dog’s skin (and cause more itching).
Fleas are easy to catch and difficult to remove, so prevention is the best way to keep dog fleas off your pet and out of your home. But if your dog has fleas, don’t fret. Just follow the steps above to treat your dog’s fleas and prevent these unwanted intruders feasting on your pet again.
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