Does My Dog Have Fleas?

Dog Health Recent April 11, 2024
Does My Dog Have Fleas?
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Does My Dog Have Fleas?

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Does My Dog Have Fleas?

There are thousands of species of fleas, like dog fleas, cat fleas, rabbit fleas, and human fleas, and more than one kind can take up residence on your pup. That being said, dog and cat fleas are the most common types that your dog will come into contact with.

The wide variety of fleas gives your dog plenty of opportunities to pick them up as he goes about his day.

What are Fleas?

Fleas are tiny parasites that feed off the blood of their hosts. There are over 2,200 species of fleas in the world, but a lot of the time the flea you find on your dog is the cat flea. The cat flea, scientifically known as Ctenocephalides felis,.

Strangely enough, the species of “cat fleas” infest more than 50 different mammals and birds throughout the world. In the United States, cat fleas are found on dogs, cats, wolves, foxes, raccoons, opossums, ferrets, and domestic rabbits.

What Do Fleas Look Like?

Does My Dog Have Fleas?

You first want to know what fleas look like to make identifying them quick and easy.

The fleas you will find on your dog are small, flat-bodied parasites that typically measure between 1 and 2.5 millimeters long, if they are in adult stages. They will most likely be a brown or reddish-brown color but depending on the color of your dog, they may be hard to see.

You may have an easier time finding flea eggs because they are white, about half a millimeter long and oval in shape. A female flea can lay as many as 40 eggs per day.

Sometimes you may see flea droppings, or “flea dirt”, that fleas leave behind when feeding. And yes, this is a nice way of saying flea poop.

What Do Flea Bites Look Like?

Does My Dog Have Fleas?

Flea bites can cause skin issues in dogs, such as scratching, redness, and over-grooming, which can lead to bald areas on the coat. If the dog develops a flea allergy, they may also have scabs and red sores on their skin.

The most common areas for flea bites are the hind legs, groin, and back between the ribs and the tail. Regular grooming can help identify symptoms early and provide treatment if necessary. While flea bites may not prevent your dog from getting fleas, regular grooming can help identify symptoms and provide prompt treatment.

It is essential to consult a veterinarian for further advice on flea-related skin issues in dogs.

Signs That Your Dog Has Fleas

It is very likely that your dog has fleas if you notice any of the following:

  • Your dog is scratching
  • There are patches and areas of baldness
  • You see spots or scars on the dogs skin
  • Your pups skin looks red and irritated
  • There are signs of thick skin in certain areas
  • You find specks of black debris in the dogs fur near the skin

Dog Flea Treatments

You will want to treat your home when treating your dog, since fleas can survive without a host for several months. This means thoroughly vacuuming floors, and furniture as well as changing your bedding weekly. When you are done, always throw away or empty your vacuums bag or bin after every use to prevent any flea eggs or larvae from growing inside.

If you have pets, these methods are good to practice on a regular basis. Here are some ways to treat your dog directly:

  • Powders
    Powders may be the old-fashioned and least neat way of treating fleas on your dog. This is because the powder needs to remain on your dog’s coat to work and some powders can make your pup sick if ingested.
  • Sprays
    Sprays are also old-fashioned and can be messy. These are becoming less popular due to new ways to apply treatments.
  • Collars
    Flea collars are not always effective and tend to only treat fleas closest to the collar, near the neck. They have also been known to cause hair loss or irritation to your dogs skin. Today, there are new and improved flea collars that are much more gentle on your dog’s skin and fur, available through your veterinarian. These work by dispersing the active ingredient throughout the body rather than just around your dog’s neck. With any dog collar, it should have a quick-release buckle to ensure your dog does not get stuck or tangled up anywhere.
  • Spot-on Treatment
    These kinds of products are the easiest and most effective way of treating and preventing fleas on your pup. They come in the form of a small vial of liquid, which is then applied to the back of your dog’s neck. This treatment not only kills fleas but also the development of eggs. There are many brands available over the counter and stronger ones can be prescribed by your vet.
  • Tablets and Liquids
    Tablets or liquid treatments are absorbed into the dog’s body, killing fleas when they go in for a bite or sterilizing fleas so that they can not reproduce.
  • Injections
    Injections are available in some cases to prevent the development of flea eggs but a topical treatment may need to be applied at the same time.

    Treating Your Home  and Yard

    Your dog can keep picking up fleas over and over again if you do not treat your yard. There are many yard and garden sprays that can kill fleas and protect your yard, garden, and bushes for up to four weeks. It is best to also dispose of loose brush or overgrown vegetation in the yard and have the home and yard treated by a professional pest control company.

    As mentioned above, you need to treat your home as well, since fleas can live in the carpet and other parts of your house.  This means vacuuming all flooring, especially furniture, and washing all bedding. Be sure to wash your dog’s bedding and any furniture your dog sleeps on. Even if you are not specifically treating a flea infestation, you should always vacuum and clean your home, because fleas can get deep into fabrics and live for months.

    You also have additional options, like indoor foggers, carpet spray, or carpet powder, for inside your home. You may want to have professionals come treat your home and clean your carpets with flea treatments as well.

    Final Thoughts

    Fleas can cause discomfort and health risks for dogs, potentially leading to infections if scratched or irritated. Consult your veterinarian for flea treatments or natural solutions. Fleas can occur at any time of year, so be prepared. Sign up for alerts on websites to stay informed about flea outbreaks in your area. Be on the lookout for flea treatments and natural solutions to protect your furry friend.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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