Fleas: The Questions and Answers You Need to Know

Fleas: The Questions and Answers You Need to Know

Dec 17, 2014

Fleas: The Questions and Answers You Need to Know

Biting, itching, bothersome fleas are more than just a nuisance; they can wreak havoc in your home and be disastrous to your pets’ health. Getting rid of fleas isn’t easy, but flea prevention takes only a few seconds a month. Here’s what you need to know for a happy home and healthy pets.

What are fleas?

Fleas are small, wingless insects that feed on dogs, cats and many other animals. Flea bites can be incredibly itchy, but each dog or animal may react differently to the bites. Dogs get fleas from other animals transmitting the fleas or their eggs into your dog’s environment.

Why are fleas bad news?

Flea bites aren’t just itchy; they can put your dog’s health in serious danger. Fleas can consume up to 15 times their own weight in blood, so dogs, especially puppies with a heavy infestation can become anemic if not treated. Fleas are also able to transmit tapeworms to some pets.

How can you prevent fleas?

Although certain seasons and climates bring more fleas, your dog is at risk of contracting fleas any time of year, in any part of the country, so most veterinary experts recommend year-round flea control.

Talk with your veterinarian about which type of flea preventative treatment is right for your dog.  Common flea prevention methods include medications and flea collars. One of the most often recommended treatments is a topical medication, applied directly to the dog’s fur, once per month. A favorite flea control treatment is K0 Advantix 2, which kills all stages of flea life (eggs, pupae, larvae and adult) and prevents a range of pests including ticks, mosquitoes, lice, and fleas.

Maintaining a home and yard that doesn’t encourage fleas is also important. Keep floors, fabrics, and your dog’s sleeping area clean. Outdoors, keeping the lawn mowed and your property free of debris that may attract rodents will help to keep fleas away.

What are the signs your dog has fleas?

A persistently scratching dog and any signs of hair loss may be good indicators that you need to look for fleas, but some dogs may not be bothered by the flea bites so it is important to inspect your dog’s fur regularly. Part the fur in several locations, looking for small dark specks, about the size of sesame seeds. Look closely at the base of his ears and rump, two areas that fleas are often found.

Another indicator of fleas is the presence of small black specks, about the size of a poppy seed on his skin or fur. These flecks are flea feces and can be distinguished from dirt and debris by placing on a piece of tissue and waiting to see if a red spot appears, as the feces rehydrates into blood.

Getting rid of fleas

There are a variety of ways to get rid of fleas on your dog including shampoos, sprays and flea combs. Talk with your doctor about which method is best for your dog. Even if you have only found fleas on one pet, all dogs and cats that live together should be treated. Consult your veterinarian about the proper treatment for each pet as cats or small dogs may be harmed by medications intended for larger animals.

Fleas can thrive indoors so a critical step in managing this pest is to treat your entire home. Clean floors and bedding, vacuum carpets and treat fibrous materials with flea sprays or powders. If a widespread flea infestation has taken place, a Home Fogger may be needed to quickly kill all fleas while you and your pets are out of the home.

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