But first – what are fleas?
Fleas are the most common external parasites of your dog. These small flightless insects are about 1-2 mm in length. Fleas live in the coat of the dogs and their lifespan is about 7 to 14 days. They feed by consuming their host’s blood. Female fleas lay eggs under the skin of your dog. They lay up to 500 eggs per day that are white, oval or round-shaped, and 0.5 mm long. Among the >2,200 species of fleas, the most common dog flea is Ctenocephalides canis.
These eggs will undergo their developmental process from egg to larvae and finally become a pupa. Pupa can stay in this stage for up to 2 years. Under favorable environment, this pupa will emerge as a new adult and passes to another dog by jumping. This cycle continues!
Fleas can transmit many diseases from one dog to another, causing several skin problems. Dog fleas cause severe irritation in animals and develop some specific allergies called flea allergy dermatitis. They also play the role of vector for Rickettsiae typhi and Bartonella sp. and serves as an intermediate host for filaria and tapeworms. Flea reproduction is high during the late summer season because of the high humidity and warm temperatures, but these are mostly found in your dog all over the year.
How do I know if my dog has fleas?
The clinical signs of your dog having flea depend upon flea infestation and the dog’s physical condition. The most obvious sign of having flea is continuous scratching because of intense itching that can cause bald patches on their coat. The other signs include hair loss, the formation of scab, and ulceration of the skin that helps to develop a secondary bacterial infection. In the case of flea allergic dermatitis, papulocrustous lesions may be distributed all over the body.
You can observe these small, black fleas in your dog by close examination of your dogs’ coat. Flea dirt is more evident in such cases. Flea dirt that appears as small, black specks is actually flea faeces. For confirmation of the presence of a flea, you can use a fine-toothed flea comb. This comb will help to remove the flea and their dirt from your dog’s hair.
How do I rid my dog of fleas?
Treatment of your dog all year round is the most effective way to control flea infestations. Your vet may suggest prescriptions in the form of topical applications, shampoos, flea spray, flea collar, and tablets to treat and prevent flea infestation.
In the case of treatment of your dog for a flea, remember to treat your house. A combination of topic applications for killing adult fleas with treatment to prevent eggs from developing into adults is crucial. A regular wash of carpets and soft furnishings are necessary to control flea infestations.
The topical application for controlling flea includes powder, spray, flea collars, and spot-on treatment. Other forms of flea treatment include injection and administration of tablets and liquids. A regular bath with gentle pet shampoo can help to decrease a load of fleas and their eggs from a dog’s coat. Be careful about the skin sensitivity status of your dog. Some dogs may develop irritation after applying medicated flea shampoo. It is always recommended to take advice from the veterinarian in case of any query.