With spring fast approaching and the promise of warmer weather to come, many insects which may be dormant during the colder months begin to wake, including pesky dog fleas! It’s important to know how to prevent, spot and treat these insects in time to keep your dog healthy, clean and happy.
Keeping an eye out for fleas during the warmer months is essential in the protection of not only your dog, but also yourself, as fleas can be transmitted to humans too. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself and your pet safe from fleas these spring and summer months!
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are small flightless parasites which live off of the blood of warm-blood animals such as humans, cats, dogs, rodents and others. During the warmer spring and summer seasons (and year-round for some humid and hot countries), these parasites reemerge and become every dog owner’s worst nightmare. Although they are wingless, fleas spread by jumping long distances from one host to another, and reproduce at exceptionally fast rates, making an infestation likely to occur with even the smallest number of them present on a single host animal. Flea eggs hatch within 2 days and can hatch in almost any environment, including carpets and furniture inside houses.
What Are The Dangers?
- Flea bites can cause scabs and sores as well as hair loss, leaving the wounded area exposed to more bacteria and irritation.
- Not only do fleas cause irritating and painful bites, but they also carry bacteria and other diseases such as tapeworms which they could transmit into the blood and lead to harrowing consequences.
- Flea infestations can lead to malnutrition and anaemia as a result of feeding off the host’s blood.
- Weight loss and lethargy due to the fleas taking vital nutrients from the blood.
- Certain skin reactions, called flea dermatitis, can occur on hosts with sensitive skin and can lead to many bacterial skin infections.
How To Prevent Fleas
For all dog and pet owners out there, preventing the infestation of fleas would be a much more convenient action that to deal with the long process of removal and treatment. The most important factor in flea prevention is hygiene, as it’s vital to make sure your house as well as any place your pet may wander into, such as yards or gardens, are clean and safe. Wash your dog regularly and search their fur for any signs of fleas or irritation. Also, keep your dog’s bedding and clothes constantly clean and washed.
Keeping the grass and undergrowth trimmed and healthy leaves little place for fleas to grow and develop. Moreover, make sure no other feral animals or wildlife come into your yard, for woodland creatures such as opossums, racoons and rabbits can carry these parasites and leave them on your pet’s bowls and other furniture outside.
There are also many tick and spot-on flea prevention treatments which can be given to your pet and put into their fur in order to make it not inhabitable for fleas and can be bought from your vet or a pet store. Keeping your pet’s fur groomed and clean, as well as keeping it short, limits the hiding places for fleas and makes it easier to spot any signs if fleas do emerge.
How To Spot Them
These are the tell-tale signs of a pet infested with fleas:
- Constant itching and scratching of the back, legs and ears
- Black specs, also known as flea dust or the flea’s faecal matter, would be present in your pet’s fur and usually on their backs
- Visible irritation of the skin, including scabs, sores and hair loss
- Flea eggs on your pet or in a pet’s environment – such as their bedding, furniture, carpets etc.
- Lethargy and weakness, wherein extreme infestation situations the blood could become weak with diseases such as anaemia, causing an animal to display obvious signs of lethargy
If you suspect your dog has contracted these parasites, you must contact your vet immediately to seek and carry out the appropriate flea treatment procedure. Flea and tick treatments help in ridding your pet of these parasites, such as spot-on treatments, pills or sprays. However, getting rid of dog fleas is not an easy task and can take time and effort until your pet is fully clean. Your dog may need to receive IV or other nutritional supplements from the vet depending on how severe the infestation had been and the effect it had on your dog.
After your dog is flea-free, the next step is cleaning your households entirely to ensure fleas did not reproduce or spread onto your furniture or clothes. Vacuuming and washing your house is essential in ridding it of any traces of fleas!