Pet owners should be well aware of the fact that fleas could cause severe harm to your dog. If you notice that your dog has fleas, you’ll want to take every step possible to remove the pest. Failure to do so could result in severe health complications for your dog. Below, we’ve provided a breakdown of why fleas are bad for your dog and the steps you can take to remove them. We’ve also listed a few of our favorite products that could help.
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are a tiny parasite that live by hematophagy. This means that they must consume blood from a host organism to survive. Although there are more than 2,000 species of fleas globally, the pests are picky eaters. This means that each species of fleas prefers the blood of a particular host. So, for instance, cat fleas are different than human fleas, which are different than dog fleas.
Fleas can be problematic for dogs because of how quickly they can spread. Although the pests only measure up to 1/6” in length, they can jump up to seven inches high and 12 inches long. This means that fleas can quickly jump from one dog to another, even if the dogs don’t come in direct contact with one another.
There are four stages to the flea life cycle:
Unfortunately, only the adult flea is visible to the naked eye, and even that could be difficult sometimes. However, adult fleas make up a mere five percent of the dog flea population, according to Frontline.
Why Fleas Are Bad For Your Dog
Fleas can cause numerous health problems for your dogs. Dr. Adam Denish told PetMD, “Fleas can cause a wide variety of issues for your pets, the most common of which is flea bite dermatitis, which is a specific allergy to flea salvia.” Denish continued to say that this dermatitis can lead to “intense itching and scratching” which then causes the skin to break open. Dogs who are allergic to fleas are more likely to suffer from dermatitis.
Although the broken skin will scab, there’s a good chance that it can become infected. You’ll then have to take your dog to the vet to treat the issue. Your vet will likely ask you to administer both oral and topical medications. According to Denish, the bites and scratching, “can happen on any area of the skin, but the most frequent site is the back and base of the tail.”
Perhaps more troublesome is the fact that fleas can cause tapeworms to develop. Tapeworms are initially inside the flea. When your dog ingests fleas, the tapeworm escapes and grows inside of your pet. Tapeworms could grow up to a foot long and cause severe health problems like weight loss.
You’ll need to visit your vet to help treat the tapeworm. The likelihood of your dog ingesting fleas is higher than you think. All it takes is one flea to jump from your dog’s skin onto its food.
Furthermore, fleas could have long-standing health implications on infected puppies. One of the primary concerns is anemia. This occurs when there is a significant infestation on a puppy or young dog who is not fully-grown. The fleas attack so much that they end up driving down the dog’s red blood cell count, causing them to become anemic. If owners do not treat this immediately, it could result in death.
Finally, your dog’s fleas could pose a risk to your family as well. Even though dog fleas won’t feed on human blood, they could still spread disease when they bit humans. Dog fleas have been known to spread cat scratch fever and the plague to humans.
Ways To Get Fleas Off Your Dog
If you suspect or find fleas on your dog, there’s no need to panic. There are a few steps and measures that you could take to get fleas off of your dog. Once you perform these steps, you may also want to call your trusted vet to inform them that you found fleas. Your vet may want to screen your dog to make sure that there is no risk of future health complications and that your dog does not need any additional medications.
Bathe Your Dog
Upon discovering fleas, one of the first things you should do is give your dog a thorough bath with lukewarm water and mild soap. This should prove useful in removing fleas from the skin. It should also help prevent the spread of fleas throughout your home.
You may find that there are over-the-counter flea shampoos available for pets, but we recommend talking to your vet before using one of these products. If your pet is allergic to fleas, this shampoo could irritate their skin and potentially make infections even worse.
Clean Your Home
In addition to cleaning your dog, you’ll also want to clean your home. Anywhere where your dog has traveled is at risk of exposure to fleas. For instance, imagine your dog laid in its bed and a few fleas stayed behind. When your dog returns to its bed after its bath, the fleas will begin biting its skin again. We recommend washing all bedding in hot water. We also recommend that you vacuum or mop all of your floors. Do not leave the vacuum bag in the vacuum.
Use a Flea Comb
Manufacturers now produce flea combs that you can use to remove the pests from your dog’s skin. For example, Safari Pet Products offers a comb that customers could purchase on Amazon for less than $5. The product has a 4.40-star rating on Amazon with more than 2,250 customer reviews.
Flea combs have very fine teeth that will trap even the tiniest of fleas. The teeth are fine enough to remove feces from the bugs, which often look like black flakes of pepper. You may find fleas centralized on your dog’s neck and tail, so be sure to comb these areas diligently. After each pass, dunk the comb in a bucket of hot water to kill any fleas or eggs that you’ve removed.
Topical Products That Could Help Get Rid of Fleas
In addition to the techniques listed above, topical solutions are an excellent solution to help kill fleas and prevent them from reappearing on your dog’s skin. Below, you’ll find our three favorite topical solutions that you could use to help get rid of fleas. Our team has had experience using these products on their pets and swear by their effectiveness. Each product is available on Amazon at an affordable price.
Wondercide Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Control Spray
This Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Spray from Wondercide is 100 percent natural, which makes it safe to use on cats and dogs. The product has nearly a four-star rating on Amazon with more than 2,600 customer reviews. Of those who reviewed the product, more than 55 percent gave it a five-star review. The product comes in four different sizes, with prices ranging from about $13 to $100. Available sizes include:
- Four ounces
- 16 ounces
- 32 ounces
- One gallon
This spray targets the entire flea lifecycle, not just adult fleas. The solution is primarily cedar oil, which blocks octopamine. Octopamine disrupts the heart rate and metabolism of fleas and ticks. Customers can spray this product on their pets directly, which will kill any fleas and larvae they’ve left behind. Pet owners could also use this spray as a preventative tool, applying it to carpeting, upholstery, and bedding.
Wondercide recommends that owners spray it on infected pets two to three times per week. They also say that owners should apply the spray to surfaces every 30 days when using it as a preventative tool. Holistic Veterinarians recommends this product, and it is safe for use around children.