Fleas on dogs are one of the most common canine care problems. To help you nip this infestation in the bud, we have rounded up the most-asked dog flea questions and their answers.
1. Can You See Fleas on Dogs?
Yes, fleas on dogs are visible parasites. They are tiny insects that are much smaller than ants. They have a reddish brown colour, making them easier to spot on dogs with light-coloured fur.
Fleas on dogs are light on their feet and can quickly scurry away out of sight. These parasites are commonly found on the armpit and groin areas of canines.
2. How Does the Life Cycle of Fleas on Dogs Go?
The flea life cycle goes from egg to larva and then to pupa. After this stage, they will reach maturity. Unlike other insects, these parasites have a short life cycle which can take 2–3 weeks or several months to complete.
Full-grown fleas will die around 1–2 weeks if they are unable to find a host. However, their lifespan is drastically long if they grow in ideal situations. They can live for up to 1 year.
3. When Does Flea Infestation Occur?
Dog fleas can infest at any time of the year. Therefore, they can quickly reproduce during hot and humid weather.
Dog flea peak season is about 5–6 weeks after the weather turns warm. That means springtime also marks the flea population explosion. Around this time, pet owners should be sharply on the lookout for flea infestations.
4. What Do Flea Eggs Look Like on a Dog?
Flea eggs on dogs are hard to make out since they are tiny and light in colour. Adding to the difficulty is their ability to fall off of their host in large numbers.
Thus, dog flea eggs are rare to find on dogs at one time. It also means they can spread anywhere in your house. They are often seen on your dog’s sleeping areas, especially his dog bed.
5. How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Fleas?
Dog fleas are parasites that bite their hosts to drain their blood. So look for bite marks.
What do flea bites look like on dogs? Flea bites on dogs are characterised by small, red bumps on the skin. Compared to insect bites, they are smaller. If scratched, they become inflamed, creating a bigger red area.
6. What Are Other Common Signs of Fleas on Dogs?
Dogs scratch themselves now and then. However, if you notice your pet doing so more than average, it could be a sign of a flea problem.
Do know, though, that some dogs may not scratch persistently even when they have fleas. Other hints of fleas on dogs are scabs and hair loss on itchy areas that are frequently scratched.
Do you spot black specks on your dog’s fur and/or bed? These could also be a sign of fleas on dogs. These dark pepper-like flecks are likely to be flea feces or flea dirt.
You can confirm by putting one speck on a piece of tissue and applying some rubbing alcohol to it. If it turns reddish, it is indeed a sign of flea feces.
7. What Do Fleas Do to a Dog?
Never take fleas on dogs lightly. These tiny bloodsucking parasites can cause a multitude of health problems in canines, which can range from mild to severe. A flea infestation can result in:
- Severe itching leading to skin irritations (flea allergy dermatitis), infections, and even hair loss. The itch is your dog’s allergic reaction to the saliva deposited by the fleas in your dog’s skin.
- In cases of significant infestation, fleas on dogs can cause anaemia due to loss of blood.
- Fleas on dogs can also be hosts of tapeworm eggs. If a dog ingests one, he may be affected by tapeworms.
- Canine Bartonellosis is a contagious disease that can be transmitted by fleas on dogs. It is also known as cat-scratch disease (CSD). Symptoms of this dangerous illness involve fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, seizures, anaemia, and lymph node swelling.
8. Can Cat Fleas Live on Dogs?
Yes, cat fleas can live on dogs. Out of 2,500 different species of fleas, it is the one most commonly found in both dogs and cats. If either of your cat or dog has fleas, be warned that these parasites can also proliferate on your other pet.
9. Can Dog Fleas Live on Humans?
Yes, humans can get affected by fleas on dogs. In fact, 9 out of 10 human flea bites are caused by pet flea infestations.
Typically, dog flea bites on humans are found at the ankles. The affected area will have itchy and small red spots.
It is important to resolve flea infestations in dogs upon detection. This way, you can protect yourself, your home, and your pet from future health problems.
10. How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs
You can ask for dog flea treatment recommendations from a trusted veterinarian. There’s a long range of anti-flea products that you can use.
However, be careful about using chemical dog flea treatments, especially those that contain permethrin. Consult the vet about the dog flea treatment that you are planning to use for your pet.
11. What Kills Fleas on Dogs Instantly?
Spot-on treatments can kill the fleas and ticks within 24 hours of application. They commonly need to be administered to dogs once a month.
Oral flea control medications work as well. They are one of the most effective treatments for killing fleas on dogs. These parasites are killed within 2 hours of application. Moreover, Oral flea control medications can last for a few months.
12. What Are Safe Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs?
Here are 2 home remedies for dogs with fleas:
Boil 2 cups of fresh rosemary in enough water for 30 minutes. Strain and add the resulting extract to a gallon of water. Once the mixture is warm, pour it over the affected dog and air-dry him.
Create an anti-flea shampoo by mixing 1 part neem essential oil with 10 parts water. Add in a few drops of regular dog shampoo and shake well.
13. How Do You Prevent Fleas on Dogs?
As flea infestations can happen all-year round, the prevention of fleas on dogs must also be done at all times of the year. Here are some flea preventions that you can do:
Flea on dogs prevention tip #1: Regularly clean all living areas, especially those that are accessed by your pet. Carpets and furniture, both in the home and car, must be vacuumed consistently.
Your vacuum bag should also be replaced regularly. This ensures that your place is free of flea eggs, larvae, and pupae, not just adult fleas.
Flea on dogs prevention tip #2: Have your pets wear flea collars to repel such pests. Check the packaging of flea collars and make sure that they are free from toxic chemicals such as permethrin and organophosphates.
Also, look if the packaging includes specific instructions. Note that the effectiveness of some flea collars diminishes when it gets wet or it is removed frequently.
Flea on dogs prevention tip #3: Wash your dog’s bedding and other accessories weekly to eliminate all traces of fleas and other pests. Use hot water to effectively kill immature fleas.
Flea on dogs prevention tip #4: Use a flea comb to find and catch fleas on your dog once a week. It is also useful in getting rid of dried blood and flea dirt.
Pay attention to the neck and tail areas, as these are where the parasites congregate. Place captured fleas on hot soapy water to kill them.
Flea on dogs prevention tip #5: For flea control in your back garden, consider spreading nematodes in the soil. They are microscopic organisms that prey on flea larvae.
Nematodes can be bought at your local garden store. To properly place these organisms in your back garden, follow the correct ratio stated in the packaging.
It is recommended to apply nematodes before dawn. Avoid doing it in the morning as they are highly sensitive to sunlight and hot temperature.
14. Why Do Fleas on Dogs Keep Coming Back?
It is probably because some of the flea eggs have not been eliminated and have moved to the pupal stage. At this phase, it can resist the effects of many insecticides and stay dormant.
When the time comes, these dormant pupae will then develop into adult fleas. As such, it is important to keep treating the home and the areas where pets frequent. Doing this can make sure that all fleas, no matter what stage they are, are eliminated completely.
Long Battle against Dog Fleas
Eliminating and preventing dog flea infestations take a lot of time and patience. That’s because fleas on dogs cannot be eliminated in just one day, even if you fumigate your entire home.
In some cases, eliminating flea infestations can take months or a year. With perseverance and consistency, you will eventually succeed in ridding your dog and your home of fleas.