DOG / grooming
Dog Flea Prevention: How Do I Protect My Dog From Fleas?
Dog flea prevention is a common consideration for pet parents of all different pups. These pesky insects can cause a lot of problems for a dog and it’s important that anyone who has a dog understands how fleas occur, the best ways to get rid of them, and the best ways to prevent them in the future. Knowing this can save your dog from a lot of discomfort and flea-related problems. Keep reading to learn more about fleas, how dogs get them, what to do to get rid of them, and how to prevent them in the first place.
What Are Fleas?
According to Michigan State University’s Pesticide Safety Education Program, fleas are “insects that are parasites of mammals and birds.” A parasite is an organism that lives on or inside another organism, causing it harm in some way. Fleas can harm your pet by feasting on their blood and using them as a place to lay their eggs and reproduce.
These insects develop by laying a huge amount of eggs that hatch into larvae and develop into full-grown fleas.
What Problems Do Fleas Cause?
Fleas can cause a ton of issues for our pups. This is why dog flea prevention is so critical to their health. It is important to note that if your pup has fleas, their vet should be contacted immediately to address any of these issues. Some of the most common issues that fleas can cause include:
Itchy Skin/Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
Flea Allergy Dermatitis, also known as FAD, can happen to pups who have a specific flea allergy. While fleas can make most dogs feel itchy at the least, some pups have a reaction to the parasite bite itself that can lead to itchy skin, hair loss, patchy fur, and even skin infections.
Dogs will sometimes use their teeth to chew at itchy spots where fleas are biting them. If a dog ingests any of these insects, they can develop a tapeworm. Fleas can sometimes carry tapeworms into your dog, which can cause nutritional deficiency, weight loss, and a host of other issues for your pup.
Flea-bite anemia is the result of fleas biting your pup hundreds of times a day, causing blood loss. This can be dangerous for all dogs, especially dogs with less blood volume or slow red-cell production.
How Do Dogs Get Fleas?
1. Other Animals
If your dog spends any time with other animals that have fleas, then they are very likely to get them too. Fleas are fast to jump from pup to pup and won’t hesitate to do so!
2. At Home
Fleas are smart and will try and make a home on anything and everything that will potentially lead them to their next meal. This means they can ride into your home on your clothes or on guests who have come into contact with them. Once in your home, they can live and lay eggs in your carpeting and furniture.
3. Pet Places
Places that house animals all day long are definitely more likely to have fleas. These areas can include doggy daycares, dog groomers, and other similar places. Many of these places will require flea treatments in order for your dog to go there.
Any dog that spends a lot of time outside will be susceptible to fleas. Dogs can pick up fleas in the grass, at the park, or really anywhere outside.
What to Do if Your Dog Has Fleas:
1. Talk to a Vet
If your dog has fleas, you should consult your vet to get the best advice and recommendations. They can also evaluate your dog to see if the fleas have caused any of the previously mentioned issues. There are plenty of options that they might direct you to use to treat or prevent fleas including flea and tick pills, flea spot-ons, or other flea treatments.
2. Bathe Your Dog
Sometimes a nice warm, soapy bath can do the trick. Some soaps work really well at killing fleas when used on a dog in a lukewarm bath. Pet parents need to ask their vet what the best soap is to use on a dog for fleas.
3. Use a Flea Comb
Flea combs are great for detecting fleas and getting them out of your dog’s fur and undercoat. These critters will work hard to make a home on your pet as best they can and a flea comb is specifically designed to get some adult fleas off of your dog.
How to Remove Fleas From Your Home:
When fleas enter your life, they do not just stick to your dog. They can survive in a home as long as they have a viable source of food. Removing them from your home can be tricky but here are some tips:
1. Treat all Your Pets
Treating all of your pets removes a flea's best source of food and will cause them to eventually die off. If you have multiple pets, they all need to be treated. Talk to your vet about the best ways to treat your pets for fleas.
2. Vacuum & Laundry
Fleas love carpets, fabrics, and upholstery. Use your vacuum cleaner to get them out of your carpet and furniture, but also wash any fabric that you can including bedding, curtains, pillow covers, etc.
Dog Flea Prevention Tips & Tricks:
Now that we know more about fleas, how they happen, and how to get rid of them if they’re present, the next step is dog flea prevention. Dog flea prevention is the process of making sure those pesky insects don’t find their way back to your pet in the future.
Talking to a vet is the best and most informative way to learn about dog flea prevention and how to keep your pup protected. A veterinarian will point you in the right direction about what flea prevention to use, how often to apply it, and how to check your dog for signs of fleas moving forward. Some general tips and tricks for dog flea prevention include:
1. Stay on Top of Treatments
Whatever plan your vet has set in place, stick to it and do not forget. Being diligent about your dog’s flea prevention is the best way to keep fleas away. Make sure you are treating any other dogs or cats in your home as well, so fleas do not find another route into your home. Do not apply flea products made for dogs onto cats as they are not safe for cats. Other products that can help keep fleas away include flea collars or yard flea treatments.
2. Bathe Your Dogs Regularly
Regular baths are a great way to nip fleas in the bud if they somehow find their way onto your dog. Use a flea shampoo or soap that your vet has approved of if your dog currently has fleas.
3. Check for Signs
Always be on the lookout for potential signs of fleas like little black flecks called “flea dirt” or an increase in itching activity.
4. Be More Attentive During Warm Weather
Fleas prefer warmer, humid weather. Pet parents need to pay special attention if they live in those climates or during the summer months.
While dog fleas can definitely be a hassle, there are plenty of ways to get rid of them and use dog flea prevention methods to keep them from coming back.
Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.