Fleas are considered parasites as they feed on the blood of animals. Dog fleas can infest at any time of the year. Its peak season is about 5–6 weeks after the weather turns warm. That means springtime also marks the flea population explosion.
Fleas are also some of the most common dog care problems. To help you nip this infestation in the bud, we have rounded up some of the most common dog flea questions and their answers.
1. How do you know if your dog is affected by fleas?
Dogs scratch themselves every now and then. Howevedr, 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. The following are other telltale signs:
- Black specks on your dog’s fur and/or bed. These could actually be flea droppings. You can confirm by putting one speck on a piece of tissue and applying some rubbing alcohol on it. If it turns reddish, it is indeed flea faeces.
- Dark, sesame seed-like specks at the base of the dog’s ears and rump. These are where fleas usually converge.
- Scabs on itchy areas that are frequently scratched.
- Loss of hair on the affected areas.
2. What do fleas do to a dog?
A dog can get sick from flea bites. A flea infestation can cause:
- Severe itching that leads to skin irritations (flea allergic 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, canine pets can develop anaemia from the loss of blood.
- If a dog ingests a flea infected with tapeworm eggs, he may be affected by tapeworms.
- A dog can catch canine Bartonellosis, which can be transmitted by fleas, amongst other pests. It is also known as cat-scratch disease (CSD). Symptoms of this dangerous illness involve fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, seizures, anaemia, and lymph node swelling.
3. Can a person get fleas from a dog?
Yes, humans can get affected by fleas from their canine pets, even the home. In fact, 9 out of 10 human flea bites are caused by pet flea infestations. As such, it is important to resolve flea infestations in pets as soon as they are detected. This way, you protect yourself, your home, and your pet from future health problems.
Typically, fleas will target human ankles, which will become very itchy and develop small red spots. As humans are not as hairy as animals, it is easy to notice fleas and their bites on human skin. Humans also do not need to use flea treatments. However, humans need to be aware of flea-borne infections, such as tapeworms and CSD.
4. How do you prevent fleas?
As flea infestations can happen all-year round, preventive measures must also be done at all times of the year. They are as follows:
- 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 the adult fleas.
- Hang rugs, mats, and other non-washable home items in direct sunlight. Fleas dislike light.
- Put some borate powder in hard-to-reach crevices of your furniture.
- Place eucalyptus plants, or their stems and leaves, in areas of the house where your pet usually stays.
- Spray your window and screen doors with bitter orange essential oil or some other citrus oil mixed with water. Fleas do not like the scent of citrus.
- Maintain your yard’s neatness. You can also spread nematodes in your yard as these can feed on flea larvae.
- 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.
- Have your pets wear flea collars to repel such pests.
- Spray a herbal solution containing eucalyptus, rosemary, cedar, marigold, or lemongrass on the dog’s fur. This will help deter fleas.
5. How do you treat fleas in dogs?
You can ask for treatment recommendations from your veterinarian. There are a variety of flea shampoos and sprays that you can use. However, be careful about using chemical flea treatments, especially those that contain permethrin. Consult your vet about any that you are planning to use for your pets.
The following alternatives are safer yet effective in eliminating dog fleas:
- Wash your dog with limonene shampoo. Run a flea comb over his coat whilst he is in the bath in order to drown the pests.
- Boil fresh rosemary (two cups) in enough water for thirty 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.
- Apply a few drops of lavender essential oil at the base of the dog’s tail and at the back of his neck. You can also add some at the base of his ears and underneath his thighs. This helps keep the infestation from progressing.
6. Why do fleas 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. This is so that all fleas, no matter what stage they are, are eliminated completely.
Eliminating and preventing flea infestations take a lot of time and patience. That’s because fleas cannot be eliminated in just one day, even if you fumigate your entire home. With perseverance and consistency, you will eventually succeed in ridding your dog and your home of fleas.