Owning a pet such as a dog or a cat can be a wonderful experience, but it can come with its problems from time to time. Fleas, for example, can be an irritation not only to the animal on which they live but also to the owner of said animal! If you suspect that your animal has fleas it is important to act quickly before the fleas spread. To combat this problem, it may first help to understand a little about fleas and why dogs are particularly susceptible to fleas.
Fleas – The Basics
Fleas are small, blood-sucking creatures that are usually less than three millimetres in length. They can attach themselves to a ‘host’, a dog for instance, and feed on its blood to survive. Fleas only have a short lifespan – they can live anywhere from sixteen to twenty-one days and will feed every two to three days. They will spend most of this time on the body of their host although fleas are also known for their incredible jumping abilities.
Fleas thrive particularly well in hot and humid conditions and so dogs will be more susceptible to catching fleas in summer months. Fleas will commonly accumulate around a dog’s abdomen, the base of their tail and their head. However, if an animal has a particularly heavy infestation of fleas they will roam the whole body.
Prevention of Fleas
Any pet owner should ensure that their dog or cat is given a regular flea treatment every couple of months to keep fleas at bay. A flea treatment will commonly be in the form of a liquid that can be applied to the back of the animal’s neck. This liquid will then be spread over the whole of the dog’s body and will keep fleas and other biting creatures at bay. Such a treatment can be found in most large supermarket stores in the pet aisle and at any veterinarian. It is a lot easier to prevent fleas than it is to treat them. It is therefore important for any pet owner to keep up with regular flea treatments.
Recognising the Symptoms of Fleas
Recognising the symptoms of fleas will give any pet owner a head start in eradicating them in the early stages of an infestation. Some of the symptoms to look out for in dogs include excessive scratching, biting or licking of their skin, hair loss, scabs on their skin and pale gums.
Owners should also make themselves familiar with what a flea looks like and what their eggs look like. A dog should be groomed regularly with a fine toothed comb. During such combing, one should look out for small flea eggs either on the animal or in their surrounding environment, such as their basket or bedding.
Treatment of Fleas
If it is believed that a pet has contracted fleas then it is important to make an appointment to see a veterinarian. They will be able to confirm the diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan. If a household with multiple pets discovers that one of the animals has fleas then all of the pets in the household must be treated for fleas. The house itself will need to be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed.
A word of caution – do not treat cats and dogs with the same flea treatments. Flea treatments are specifically designed with either a cat or a dog in mind and dog treatments can be toxic to cats. Although you would not need pet insurance for this treatment, ensuring your pet is covered if they get ill is an important part of caring for your animal.
Each pet owner needs to be sure that they have taken precautions against illness and extortionate vets bills by investing in pet insurance.