Fleas are invasive bugs or parasites that harm not just our pets, but can also impact us as humans.
Fleas suck blood from their hosts, and they can live from between 14 days to one year.
They can easily adapt to their environment and can become stronger and more immune to the popular chemical products with each generation. That being said, it’s easy to understand why they are truly hard to handle.
About 95% of flea eggs, larvae and pupae live in your pets environment, not on its fur. So if you find a lot of fleas on your dog’s body, then there’s probably a lot more in your house.
Fleas can be a big problem as a dog owner that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.
The good thing to know is that there are a lot of safe and effective treatments and products that can be used to prevent and stop their spread. We have always included some natural remedies too!
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Signs and Symptoms
How do you know if your dog has fleas?
Check this list of common signs and symptoms. If you answered yes to any of these questions, your dogs may have fleas. If so, check our safe and effective treatments at the bottom of this article to find a solution for your dog.
- Is your pet scratching often?
- Does your dog’s skin look irritated, red, or have scabs?
- Areas of hair loss, bald or sore patches?
- Red pimples or bumps?
- Can you see tiny dark specks in its fur, or small browny-black insects scurrying about?
- Do you have any insect bites yourself?
Fleas are small and hard to see. However, if you want to try and see the fleas clearly, you will need a fine-toothed flea comb.
When you comb your dog with a fine-toothed flea comb, the fleas or droppings will fall to the surface. Add a few drops of water and if the droppings turn reddish brown it’s very likely your pet has fleas.
What Fleas can do to your Dog
- Flea bites can make your pet uncomfortable and itchy causing uncontrollable scratching. Some pets may even suffer an allergic reaction if they are hypersensitive to the fleas saliva.
- Fleas feed on blood, because of this your pet can become weak and could even die as a result of blood loss.
- Flea bites and will cause your dog to feel uncomfortable and constantly scratch that will lead to visible patches of hair loss and reddened, irritated skin.
- The flea larvae can become infected with tapeworm eggs. If your pet eats an infected flea it can become host to this parasite.
- Fleas can also pass diseases to your pets. For example, myxomatosis. This is a serious disease in rabbits which can spread through fleas.
- Plus, fleas can cause serious health problems, like dermatitis and anemia.
How to Prevent your dog Attracting Fleas
There are many treatments available for your dog’s problem, but prevention is always better than cure.
Here are a few preventive measures you can do to make sure that fleas will stay away from your dog:
- Keep your yard tidy. Sweep and clean your yard regularly so the fleas carried in by wild animals have fewer places to hide.
- Plant plants that fleas dislike, for example Pennyroyal.
- Keep your yard dry. Fleas like moist environments, so a dry yard will help stop them from breeding there.
- Keep wildlife that are prone to flea infection, such as raccoons and rodents, from visiting your yard and engaging with your dog.
- Keep your house clean and vacuum regularly.
- Wash your dog’s beddings every week.
- Never forget to throw away the dust bag from your vacuum after each use.
Different Types of Flea Treatment
‘On The Market’ Flea Treatments
There are a lot of available flea treatments on the market. To name a few, there are:
- Oral medications
- Topical medications
Most oral flea treatments are quick and effective. Some pill treatments can also prevent heartworm disease and other intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.
Topical medication for dogs are usually in liquid drop form. It can treat existing infestations and help prevent future outbreaks.
Apply the product directly onto your dog’s skin, regularly between the shoulder blades or at the base of the neck unless otherwise noted on the product packaging.
Topical medications are convenient to use and even if your dog takes a bath or gets wet during their walk, it will still continue to work.
This treatment is what most owners choose since it’s easy, effective and can last long, saving them some cash.
Sprays are a less expensive flea treatment for dogs. As long as your dog stays dry, some sprays can last for up to 3 months.
Flea sprays are easy to use. You just need to gently spray it all over your dog’s coat.
For the head and face area, you need to be extra careful and make sure not to spray medicine on your dog’s eyes and mouth. You can use a washcloth to gently rub your dog’s hair to do this.
Another effective flea treatment comes in powder form.
You just simply dust it over your dog’s entire body and rub it into the fur. You must ensure that none goes into the dogs eyes and mouth as it can cause issues.
Although effective, some powders can have side effects like, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, depression, lack of appetite, and shaking.
If your dog shows any sign of this, make sure to contact your vet immediately.
Flea and tick shampoos are effective in washing away fleas and their eggs, but this is only good for a short period of time.
When applying shampoo on your dog, allow it to stay for at least 10-15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
And just like flea powder and spray, you need to make sure that none goes in your pet’s eyes or mouth.
Dips usually contain pyrethrin.
The dip is diluted with water and then applied to your dog with a sponge or poured over its body. Once your dog is fully covered, rinse off with water and allow her to air dry.
A flea and tick dip is a concentrated liquid, so you need to be very careful when applying it on your dog.
Do not use this type of treatment if your dog is pregnant or nursing, and if they are still very young.
Also, be sure to protect your own skin and eyes while you apply the dip to your pet. And just like other treatments make sure that it doesn’t get in your pet’s eyes or mouth.
Flea collars are thin, flexible, adjustable and can last for several months. That is why many owners prefer to use them along with other treatments.
The collars plastic band is coated in a concentrated chemical meant to repel fleas and ticks and can last for several months.
The common ingredient in flea and tick collars is usually pyrethrin, but some will also contain insect growth regulators to reduce flea populations. Flea and tick collars are relatively inexpensive and can provide some protection to your cat or dog, but they can also smell quite strong and can be irritating to your pet.
As well as the ‘on the market’ flea treatments, there are also a number of natural treatments available too.
Garlic has been known to keep away and protect your dog from fleas.
It is safe to feed your dog garlic. However, just make sure that they are freshly chopped, organic and the right amount.
Make sure to use organic fresh whole clove garlic and avoid garlic supplements.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can balance the alkalinity of your dog.
It’s recommended to give your dog ½ teaspoon of Apple cider vinegar per day per 25 lbs.
This ingredient contains important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, vital acids and potassium.
Dilute six cups of apple cider vinegar with four cups of water, add a dash of sea salt, then spray directly onto your dog’s coat and avoid your dog’s eyes.
Here is a short list of essential oils you can use for your dog:
- Cedar (atlantica)
- Eucalyptus (radiata)
- Clary sage
- Tea tree
There’s also some oils you need to avoid. They can be found in some flea repellents so make sure to check. Things to look out for are wintergreen, pennyroyal or clove essential oils.
Dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil into a 300ml-400ml of water and spray directly onto your dog’s coat.
A lemon bath is easy to prepare and can keep your pet smelling fresh and flea free.
Dilute half a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice into two cups of water, then add a squeeze of your normal pet-friendly soap or shampoo for a natural way of treating fleas in dogs.
Always make sure to be careful around your dog’s eyes and mouth.
Similar to the lemon bath, dip your dog’s regular comb or brush into fresh lemon juice and apply it to their hair as normal.
If your dog has short hair you can use a cloth dipped in lemon juice. It will give the same benefit as using a comb or brush.
This kind of treatment can be fun for a dog who loves playing with water.
Steep fresh rosemary leaves in boiling water, then strain the mixture and dilute it well in warm water. When the water reaches a comfortable temperature, pour the mixture over your dog and let it dry naturally.
Coconut oil can help in many ways when treating fleas.
Rub a teaspoon of coconut oil directly into your dog’s coat. This will only repel fleas and will also make the coat shiny and reduce body odor.
You can also add coconut oil to your dog’s diet. It can even help treat intestinal parasites due to its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Overview – Fleas and Dogs
Fleas are more than just a summer problem, they can bother you and your pet all year round.
Your dog can get infected through contact with other animals or with fleas that are already present in your pets surrounding. So keeping on top of the potential spread of fleas is a must.
The good thing is, there are a lot of treatments and products available on the market that can help you handle this problem.
You just have to choose what’s convenient for you and is suitable for your dog.
When choosing the right flea treatment for your dog, it’s always recommended to take caution when using them. Make sure the treatment doesn’t go to their eyes and mouth of your four-legged friends as this can cause serious problems for your animal.
And, your dog’s size, breed, and health condition should also be considered.
There are treatments that are not suitable for young, pregnant, and lactating dogs. It would be best to check with your vet first.