There sat our dog, Butch, with a funny, goofy looking expression on this face. Or, at least, I saw it as a goofy-looking expression. He was scratching furiously. I wouldn’t have thought much about this except he’d been scratching furiously just a few minutes before that. And again a few minutes before that.
A realization suddenly dawned on me. Butch had a serious flea infestation.
What can jump 14 inches, begin laying eggs after just 48 hours of their first blood meal and are terribly hard to eliminate? The answer is, of course, fleas.
Why Your Dog Fleas Will Be Cat Fleas
Butch’s problem is all too common with dogs. They are very susceptible to becoming a walking Flea Hotel.
There are more than 2000 varieties of fleas all across the world. Just here in America, there are more than 200 different types. The most common types of fleas are the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis). However, and here’s a bit of irony, the flea most commonly found on dogs is cat fleas. And in rare cases, these fleas can transmit disease, including the plague and murine typhus. Also, if your dog eats a flea that has been infected with a tapeworm, good, old Fido will soon have a tapeworm himself.
Did you know that a single flea can nibble on your dog more than 350 times in a single day? Once your dog has been infested, it can become obsessed with cleaning itself, which can lead to a loss of hair and hot spots or allergic dermatitis. This makes dog flea treatment vitally important.
How To Know If Your Dog Has Fleas
The best way to tell if your dog has fleas is to look for flea feces. They will be small grains of what looks like dirt. However, if you take this “dirt” and crumble it in your fingers, along with a small amount of water and it turns red, you have found your proof. This is because flea feces contain dried blood.
The most common places to find fleas on your dog is its belly, his or her favorite bed or in any area where your dog lies down frequently. These feces drop off and accumulate in cracks and other recesses. Look carefully, and you may find the feces hiding in the soft under fur in its coat or in the deep recesses of its pet bed. Fleas love to lay their eggs in places like this because they are warm, fertile areas.
Dog Fleas – A Tiny Menace
Fleas can enter your home without you even knowing it. They can be attached to your clothing or to your pet. They can be found in parks, forests, kennels and other areas common to dogs and other warm-blooded animals. Why are they there? It’s because this is where they can find hosts so that they can reproduce. Female fleas can lay up to an amazing 50 eggs a day. This means that in about nine months, a female flea can cause up to 1 trillion descendents! And because they have a four-stage life cycle, they are extremely hard to eliminate.
Does A Dog Flea Equal Household Fleas?
One of the biggest problems of a dog flea is that they can soon become household fleas. When your dog enters the house, some eggs will remain on it while others fall off, spreading the tough, little intruders throughout your home. These eggs will develop into larvae, the second stage of the flea’s lifecycle.
Before you can detect them, the larvae will become pupae. The pupae develop a silk-like cocoon, which is extremely tough. The pupae can live inside this protective shell for up to one year without feeding. This shell is so tough it can protect the fleas from even some of the strongest fleet defenses. So when you think you have totally eradicated the problem and you’re free of these pests, they seem to come back out of nowhere. They just lay there in wait for a host. In just three weeks, the adult flea can develop and mature. It lives in its adult stage for about 25 days.
Dog Flea Treatment
If you find that your dog, like our Butch, is scratching itself often and furiously, you can pretty much assume it has been infested with fleas. The good news is that there are a number of dog flea treatments available that can rid your dog of these pests.
Dog Flea Collars
The first dog flea treatment is flea collars — the old, standby way to kill dog fleas. They are available almost everywhere – in pet stores and even grocery stores – and are relatively good at keeping fleas off your dog by providing an inhospitable environment in your pet’s fur.
However, you must be careful in choosing a flea collar because many of them contain harsh and possibly dangerous chemicals. If you put one of these around your dog’s neck, it can actually compromise its nervous system. Before choosing a flea collar, he sure to read the instructions on the package to make sure the collar is right for your dog’s size and weight
Topical Dog Flea Treatments
A second and very popular type of dog flea treatment is topical treatments. You can find these at your local pet store or get one from your veterinarian. All you do is place a few drops of the medication between your dog’s shoulder blades — under its fur – and this will protect Fido for some time. Among the most popular of these treatments are Frontline ® and Advantage® brands. Again, be sure to read the instructions on the package to make sure the one you are choosing is right for your dog’s size and weight.
Oral Medications For Fleas
You can obtain oral flea medications from your veterinarian. They cause the flea larvae to stop reproducing, thus bringing an end to its lifecycle. Two of these oral flea medicines are Encard and Clindamycin.
It’s easy to use flea powders but you should carefully monitor their use as they can cause your dog to develop dry skin. While powders were used historically for dog flea treatment, they have been replaced over the years by more sophisticated and effective types of flea control.
Flea Shampoos And Dips
Another favorite dog flea treatment is to bathe him or her with a dog flea shampoo or giving it a dip. If you catch the fleas early on, you may be able to stop them from taking over your home. It is important that you find a shampoo that kills the fleas and doesn’t just remove them from your dog.
You can also take Fido to have it flea-dipped. However, this will not eliminate any flea infestation in your home. You must treat your house as well as your dog.
You can comb your dog with a flea comb. However this is likely to remove only 10-60% of its fleas. You may think of a flea comb as a good solution but it generally only relocates your problem. This is because if you comb the dog indoors, the fleas will simply jump to your carpeting or furniture. If you comb it outdoors, the fleas will just jump onto the grass where they can be picked up and brought back into your home.
The final alternative is to spray your dog to kill its fleas. However, most flea sprays will only kill adult fleas. These sprays come in bottles and will not only kill fleas on your dog but can also be used to kill fleas on your carpets and furniture. Two of the more popular flea sprays available are Frontline Spray and KnockOut Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs by Virbac. There is also an all-natural spray available named called Ectopamine Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs.
Treating Your Yard For Fleas
The best way to keep your dog from becoming re-infested over and over is to also treat your yard. However, if you have a very large yard this may not be possible. But if you have a smaller yard, then you can spread insecticides and mow frequently and this should help keep the fleas under control.
Dog Fleas – Tough Little Critters
Fleas are a lot tougher than you might imagine. But if you are diligent and patient, you can rid your dog of these pests. Since most household treatment may take as long as three weeks to take effect, it’s much better to stop the fleas before they can get in. And the best ways to do this is to keep your dog free of fleas and to keep a watchful eye on your house to make sure they are kept at bay.
The Effectiveness Of Dog Flea Treatments
The various dog flea medicines now available – such as the oral and topical treatments – are considered to be the most effective way to rid your dog of fleas and keep it flea free. Next, in effectiveness are the flea sprays, followed by shampoos, powders and flea collars. While flea collars are the “old standby,” they have fallen out of favor because of the harsh chemicals they contain and the damage they could do to your dog’s nervous system.