Fleas. Just saying the word makes us itch. It’s no secret, these tiny insects can make your pet miserable. As if that wasn’t bad enough, once they attach themselves to your furry friend and make your house their new home, they’re hard to get rid of. Luckily, we’ve got information on how to get rid of fleas on dogs and avoid flea infestations in the future.
Where Do Fleas Come From?
After your pet does his/her daily activities (walks to the park, plays with other dogs, etc.) multiple flea eggs can roll onto your floor, couch, or on their dog bed. Not long after, the eggs hatch, and the fleas look for a host.
Fleas are persistent external parasites that thrive in warm, humid environments. Depending on your geographic location, you may even have flea concerns for your pup year-round. Throughout flea season, you’ll want to check your dog regularly. It’s also important to keep an eye out for potentially serious reactions to fleas from your pet. If you notice hair loss, scabs, and excessive itching, your pet may be having an allergic reaction to fleas.
If your pet has an allergic reaction to fleas, it should be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you’d like to establish a year-round preventative treatment plan, check with your vet to see what product is the most effective for your pet’s breed.
How Did My Indoor Dog Get Fleas?
If you’re living with an indoor-only pet, and you wonder why your home and dog are infested with fleas, it’s because the previous tenant or homeowner may have had pets with fleas. Or, if you recently received second-hand furniture, you might’ve inherited fleas from the previous owner. Other possibilities include stray animals in your yard or a change in the weather.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Fleas?
For some dogs, the flea irritation is minor. If this is the case, you’ll want to pay more attention to your pet’s coat and periodically use a flea comb when grooming. Typically dogs with fleas will have the following:
- Red, irritated skin
- Hair loss
The Flea Life Cycle
To effectively eradicate these pests, you’ll need to understand all four flea stages of life:
- Egg: The egg cycle begins with minuscule flea eggs. These are most likely in indoor or in warm, shady, and moist outdoor environments.
- Larva: The eggs hatch into larva, grow, and molt.
- Pupa (cocoon): After molting, it forms a cocoon and develops into a pupa. It stays there until it detects the presence of heat, vibration, and carbon dioxide (usually produced by a panting, tail-wagging dog).
- Adult: When the adult flea emerges, it’ll jump onto the potential host and settle in. Or the adult flea will jump from host to host. Without a host, the adult flea will starve to death in about four days.
A flea’s life cycle varies from two weeks to a year depending on how long it remains dormant while waiting for a host. Under normal situations, fleas can live and multiply wildly in only 14 days.
What is Flea Dirt?
Flea dirt is composed of digested blood and resembles dark grains of sand or pepper. To easily spot flea dirt, place a light-colored blanket where your dog likes to sleep. If you’re not sure what you see is flea dirt, place some of it on a wet paper towel. If it turns into a bloodstain, your dog most likely has fleas.
Flea Treatment For Dogs
The best way to deal with fleas is prevention. There are several options, from flea collars and topical liquid applicants to pills and shampoos. It’s important to talk to your vet about flea preventatives that are right for your pup before beginning any treatment.
If your dog already has fleas, there are plenty of over-the-counter products available like flea shampoo, on-spot treatment, pills, flea collars. Again, it’s essential to ask your dog’s veterinarian for recommendations.
For mild or light infestations, wash the bedding thoroughly in hot, soapy water to kill fleas and destroy their eggs and larvae. Doing this once each week for the next three to five months will ensure the bedding is insect-free. If you have a heavy flea infestation, discard all pet bedding and implement a flea treatment for your dog.
Flea Treatment For Your Home
Please note, killing the fleas on your dog is just part of the problem. Fighting a flea infestation can easily extend to weeks or even months. Here's everything you need to know about how to get rid of fleas in your house:
- Bathe and groom your dog with a flea comb at least once a week.
- Wash everything (dog beds, blankets, your bedding, cushions, etc.) on your machine’s hot cycle. Dry on hot too.
- Vacuum/steam clean all carpet, floors, and furniture twice each month.
- If your dog rides in your car, be sure to vacuum the seats.
- Talk to your exterminator about pet-safe environmental flea control.
- Cut your lawn. Short grass makes your yard less inviting to fleas and ticks.
- Patch fences to discourage raccoons, rabbits, and other wildlife that carry fleas from coming into your yard.
- Continue to treat your dog and any other pets with a monthly vet-recommended preventative.
Eliminate Fleas With a Vet-Recommended Product
When in doubt, ask your veterinarian about the best ways to get rid of fleas on dogs. Your vet will likely recommend the top flea treatments and preventative products. If you opt for a cleansing shampoo, be sure to dry your pooch with The Absorber® Dog Lover's Towel. This mess-free towel is made with a PVA material that helps dry your pet more efficiently than an ordinary towel. And it wrings out excess pet hair too! To clean it, simply toss The Absorber® into your washing machine. Let’s work together to keep your best friend comfortable.