Fleas are a pesky external parasite that can affect any dog, regardless of age or breed. Fleas can be easily transferred and can case huge problems for your dog, and for you! The biting fleas feed about every other day on their host’s blood, but remain on the host in between feedings. Fleas can get on your dog from another flea-infested animal, or by being in an environment where fleas are breeding and can easily jump onto your dog.
You’ll most likely immediately notice if your dog has fleas because he or she will start to itch and bite at the affected area. As blood-sucking insects, fleas will bite your dog and cause your dog to react accordingly. Common skin diseases can result from fleas, like flea allergy dermatitis. Your dog will keep scratching and biting the infected area until loss of hair, skin infection or serious irritation becomes visible. Fleas can also pass on tapeworms to dogs, or cause them to become anemic if too much blood is lost.
In order to protect your dog from fleas, you can purchase flea prevention products. These products are often combined with preventative products for other parasites, like ticks or heartworms. Flea preventative products will stop fleas from attacking and biting your dog, and also kill any fleas that might already be living on your dog. It’s recommended that you use a flea preventative product on your dog regularly, especially if you live in an area where the concentration of fleas might be higher than average.
In order to determine what the best flea preventative product for your dog is, you can consult your veterinarian for an explanation of the different types of products. The most common flea prevention products are topical medications applied monthly directly to your dogs skin. These products can be found in pet stores, and through pet medicine suppliers like 1-800-PETMEDS. Be aware that you are applying a chemical to your dog with the flea preventative, and to monitor your dog after application for any adverse reaction.
In addition to chemical flea preventatives, you can also try to limit your dog’s exposure to other dogs that you are not familiar with. By keeping your dog around other dogs that you know are flea-free, you can reduce the risk of your dog getting fleas from another dog. Also keep your home dry and clean, especially if you have carpeting where fleas can easily live and breed. If you have an outdoor space like a yard, keep grass trimmed and weeds to a minimum as these areas can also be breeding grounds for fleas and ticks.
If your dog does have fleas, you can also get flea treatment products in order to rid your dog of the fleas. You’ll most likely want to contact your veterinarian, who can prescribe oral medication to quickly kill off the flea larvae. Your veterinarian may also recommend a flea shampoo or dip in order to kill the fleas. These shampoos will kill the fleas during the bathing process, so you’ll need to thoroughly scrub your dog at least once. You should also thoroughly clean your house, bedding and any surface where fleas could be living in order to completely get rid of the fleas.