Dog fleas and your pet
Learn all about dog fleas, the symptoms and what risks these parasites pose for your pet.
What are fleas?
Fleas are common parasitic insects that are found on mammals and birds. Fleas survive by sucking the blood of the mammal causing irritation and discomfort to the host animal. They are quick to reproduce, with only the adult flea living on the mammal, whilst the immature stages of the flea are generally found in the environment.
Fleas are considered to be parasites and carry a number of diseases.
Are all fleas the same?
Fleas are found throughout the world. Dog fleas are one of the most common fleas to be found in the developed world, living and breeding on domestic animals such as dogs and rabbits. The dog flea or Ctenocephalides canis. It resembles the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis which lives on a range of animals and can be found worldwide. Once a dog flea enters the home, it is not fussy about the host it chooses, so will infest cats, rabbits and ferrets – any warm-blooded mammal.
How do I know if my dog has fleas?
One of the first signs that your dog has fleas is mild to severe itching which may lead to skin problems. You may find your dog scratching or trying to bite themselves around the head, neck and the base of the tail. Spotting the signs of dog fleas is usually easier in dogs than in cats. If you part your dog’s fur and you may notice an area of inflamed or red skin where the fleas have bitten.
Are fleas dangerous for my dog?
Contracting fleas can be a miserable experience for your dog, especially if your pet goes on to develop a severe flea allergy. Fleas can cause the following serious problems for your dog:
Fleas carry the larvae of tapeworm D. caninum which can be ingested by your dog. If you find evidence of tapeworms, this could be a sign of a flea infestation.
Flea allergy dermatitis
This condition is an allergy to the flea saliva. Excessive scratching may lead to hair loss and infection.
In some cases, a young puppy or mature dog may develop anaemia from a severe flea infestation.
Can I catch fleas from my dog?
Whilst a flea cannot live on a human, that doesn’t mean they won’t bite you! Flea bites often occur in groups, so if you find a cluster of itchy bites most commonly on your ankles, this could be a sign that you have a flea infestation.
What to do if you have a flea infestation
Only a quarter of a flea’s life will be spent alive on your dog. The rest of the 4 stages of the flea lifecycle consists of eggs, larvae and pupa. A newly hatched flea will quickly look to find an animal to feed off then beginning laying eggs – up to 30 a day. If you keep finding evidence of fleas in your home then a series of measures need to be taken to prevent the flea lifecycle. Treat a flea infestation in your home by vacuuming your carpets, using an insecticide flea spray and ensure all bedding and soft furnishings are laundered on a hot wash every week. Pay particular attention to dog beds, regularly vacuuming and washing to kill any immature fleas.
Use a monthly flea treatment
Continue to use a monthly flea treatment such as Advantage Spot-on for dogs or Frontline Plus for dogs to kill fleas and prevent them from surviving on your dog. It may take several months to bring a flea infestation under control. Remember to treat all animals in your household including cats and indoor rabbits.
The best way to prevent dog fleas
Regular administration of a topical flea treatment is the best way to protect your dog and home against dog fleas. You can protect your pet from the dangers of fleas, ticks and worms with our hassle-free subscription box. Click here to find out more about the products we use to keep your dog healthy, happy and parasite-free.