Do you think your dog might have fleas? Unfortunately, dog fleas are quite common. According to a study by the University of Bristol School of Biological Sciences, as many as 1 in 7 dogs might be carrying fleas, and approximately 11% of these fleas are carrying pathogenic bacteria.
Not only are fleas a huge nuisance, but they can also irritate your pup and infest your home. And, many dogs have flea bite allergies, which can lead to intense scratching, scabs, hot spots, and red and flaky skin.
Fleas can also lead to anemia and tapeworm. Luckily, there are steps you can take to eradicate the fleas from your home and your pet. Check out this guide to learn what to do if your dog has fleas.
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Signs Your Dog Has Fleas
First, you need to figure out if it’s actually fleas you’re dealing with. Here are some signs your dog has fleas:
Scratching and Itching
If your dog is itching and scratching constantly, it could be suffering from fleas. Sometimes, dogs are allergic to the protein in flea saliva. As soon as a flea bites your dog’s skin, it’ll start itching. Even one flea bite can cause your dog to itch excessively.
If your dog has dark specks on its fur that look like pepper, then there’s a good chance it has fleas. These dark specks are known as flea dirt, and they’re actually feces from the fleas. Not only will you spot these dark specks on your dog, but you’ll also find them on your dog’s bed, the carpet, or their favorite toy.
In addition to dark specks, you might also spot white ovals on your dog’s fur. These white ovals are likely flea eggs.
You may notice red bumps on your dog’s groin or belly, under its legs, or at the base of its tail. If your dog is constantly itching or scratching these areas, it can result in dry skin. Left untreated, the dry skin may turn into crusty lesions and become infected, leading to more flea-related diseases.
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How to Get Rid of Dog Fleas
Once you’ve spotted fleas on your dog, it’s time to work toward getting rid of them. Here’s how to get rid of dog fleas:
Bathe Your Dog
Giving your pet a bath is one of the first solutions to getting rid of fleas. All you need is some lukewarm water and mild soap, and you can get fleas off of your pet’s skin.
If you’re thinking about using a flea shampoo, talk to your veterinarian first, as certain shampoos may strip essential oils from your dog’s skin. You need to be especially careful with flea shampoo if your dog has open wounds on its skin.
Use a Flea Comb
The right comb can also help you remove fleas from your dog’s fur. We recommend dipping the flea comb in a mixture of dish soap and water to help catch the pests, as this will prevent them from jumping away.
Flea combs also help remove flea dirt and eggs. Take special care while combing around your pet’s tail and neck area, as these spots are where fleas tend to feed.
Topical or Oral Flea Control
Flea pills and topical creams have proven to be one of the fastest ways to get rid of dog fleas. Some medications only target adult fleas, while others target flea larvae or eggs, so it’s important to buy the right one.
Additionally, some combine flea control and heartworm prevention in one medication, giving you more bang for your buck. You’ll find that some flea control medications require prescriptions, while others do not. You can speak to your vet about whether you should get a prescription or purchase an over-the-counter flea control medication.
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Get the Fleas Out of Your Home
Removing the fleas from your dog won’t do you much good if the fleas are still in your home. To eradicate fleas, you need to:
- Wash all soft dog toys and dog beds in hot, soapy water
- Wash your own bedding, bath mats, throw rugs, and blankets
- Vacuum all floors, carpets, curtains, and upholstered furniture
You may also want to consider applying flea control spray or calling a local exterminator to help with removal.
Getting rid of dog fleas all starts with the right prevention plan. Here are some things you can do to prevent flea infestations:
Keep Your Home Clean
Having fleas in your home doesn’t necessarily mean your place is dirty. However, you can make these pests less welcome by vacuuming and cleaning at least once a week.
Limit Outdoor Time
Many dogs pick up fleas when they’re out exploring in the woods. While you still want your dog to get exercise, you may want to limit the amount of time they spend wandering into the wilderness.
You can have your dog wear a flea collar to prevent and treat flea infestations. These collars emit gasses to ward off fleas or contain medications that help fight infestations.
These collars can be effective for up to eight months, and they’re typically more affordable than topical medications. However, because they’re worn around the neck, they’re most effective in that area. Other areas of the body may still be exposed to fleas.
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There’s a lot you can do if you find out your dog has fleas. If all else fails, you can speak to your vet about flea prevention and treatment.
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