Dog Owners Guide To Fleas
When it comes to fleas on dogs and puppies the nasty little parasites are an absolute pain! So what are fleas and how will they affect your beloved pooch.
A Flea is classed as an ectoparasite (something that lives and feeds on the outer surface of an animal). The cat flea is the most common type to affect dog and puppies also known as the (Ctenocephalides felis) – you can see what they look like in the picture below. This nasty little parasite will jump on to your dog or puppy, bite through the skin and then feed on the blood (yuck)!
Just one or two bites can cause mild itching – however a heavy infestation can lead to frantic itching, scratching and if a young puppy is affected they can even cause anemia and in really severe cases death.
It is often the saliva that will cause the problems in your pooch (your pet may be allergic) this can intense itching, hypersensitivity, pyoderma, skin infections and hair loss.
You will often notice fleas on dogs by gently separating the hair and looking for flea poop and the flea itself (they are very small about 2.5 millimeters, brown, wingless and can run through your dog’s hair really fast (they are also capable of jumping really large distances (relative to their tiny size – this is because theire back legs are so strong and powerful).
By examining your dog for the poop or eggs you will also be able to determine whether your dog has an infestation. The eggs and feces are often referred to as ‘salt and pepper’ as the eggs are white and the feces black. The best place to locate fleas on dogs and puppies is by examining the back (hind quarters, around the groin and at the base of the tail).
The Life Cycle Of A Flea
The common flea is actually quite an amazing little parasite (however nasty they might be). Although they are capable of living on your dog or puppy feeding and thriving for anything up to 115 days when it comes to living off of their host (in the environment) they will only survive a couple of days.
Fleas thrive in warm environments (warm and humid conditions are perfect for this parasite and will enable them to grow and reproduce – in fact the higher the temperature the better they are at reproducing). The adult female flea will feed (take a blood meal) mate and lay eggs on the host (in fact they can lay as many as 10,000 eggs on your dog or puppy within their four month life cycle).
After the eggs have been laid they will fall off of your dog (into your carpet or on your dog’s bedding) where after ten days the eggs will hatch producing larvae (which will feed on debris around the House, in the bedding or wherever they are laid).
After the larvae have fed they will then become a cocoon before finally developing into the pupal stage – this stage can last for a few days or up to a few months depending on the conditions. The final stage in the life cycle is when the adult flea hatches and is ready for a blood meal (after hatching the tiny new flea has two weeks to find a host i.e. your dog or puppy – or whatever pet you happen to have – in fact it could even be you)!
It is actually estimated that 1% of fleas alive are fully developed and the remaining 99% are fleas in the larvae, egg or pupal stage.
Symptoms Of Flea Bites On Dogs
Fleas on dogs can cause allergic reactions with symptoms miserable for your pet including frantic itching and chewing around the affected area, dermatitis, hardened skin, hair loss, skin lesions, secondary skin infections, redness (your pooch is actually allergic to the saliva of the flea).
The nasty little parasites can also transmit tapeworms into your beloved pooches intestines (causing even more problems). Basically the tapeworm larvae grow and develop inside the flea and when the flea is eaten (by accident or otherwise) by the dog or puppy the tapeworm is released inside your dog where it continues to develop.
Treatment for Fleas on Dogs
There are a number of ways to treat fleas on dogs and puppies. The first thing that a pet owner should do is to choose the right treatment for your dog or puppy. Speak to your vet about the best product (as there are lots and lots).
Flea Shampoo The first option will probably be a shampoo and bath (remember prevention is always better). By using a good flea shampoo this will kill the fleas (but will only last a couple of days).
Topical ‘Spot on’ Treatment Among the most common types are Frontline, Advantage, Adams and Bio-Spot – these treatments kill the fleas and cam also stop the larvae developing. Make sure that you speak to your vet before you use these treatments.
Flea dips We don’t recommend this treatment and if they are used they should only be used as a last resort as they contain lots of chemicals.
Pills Common oral treatments that break the life cycle of the flea can include products like ‘Program’ and Sentinal.
1. Conventional Dog Flea Control & Products: A complete guide to the most popular flea control for dogs and puppies.
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