I Found a Flea on My Dog, Now What?
Warm weather provides our pets with plenty of opportunities to get outside and play. However, with great temperatures come increased exposure to fleas and ticks. While areas that experience colder months get a much-needed reprieve from flea season, warm, humid states like Florida battle fleas year-round.
If your dog is scratching itself more than usual, it may be a sign that they're suffering from fleas. Don't panic. Although annoying, fleas are fairly common and easy to treat. In this blog post, we'll walk you through how to check your dog for fleas, as well as how to rid your furry friend from those aggravating pests.
How to Check for Fleas on Your Dog
It's important to catch fleas early on before they start to multiply. To find these critters, you have to know what to look for. The most common symptom of fleas? Excessive itching accompanied by red bumps on your pet's belly, groin, under their legs, and the base of their tail. Additionally, you may start to notice that your pet is experiencing dry skin and hair loss, which might indicate that you're dealing with a flea problem.
Can you see fleas on dogs? Adult fleas are small and move fast, making them hard to find. If your dog has dark fur or a thick coat, it can be even more challenging. Since fleas are tricky to spot, try looking for flea dirt instead. Flea dirt is actually flea feces that look like tiny dark specs on your dog's skin. When wet, these specs will turn a reddish-brown color, indicating fleas.
Where do fleas hide on dogs? Since fleas are challenging to see, you're probably wondering where to look on your dog. Typical flea hangouts include your dog's neck and shoulder blades as well as its tail and back legs. Since fleas like hiding in warm crevices, it's also a good idea to wash your bedding and check your couches if you suspect you're dealing with an infestation.
Types of Fleas on Dogs
Worldwide, there are over 2,000 species of fleas, with over 300 of them occupying North America. The most common species of fleas that affect household pets are Ctenocephalides felis, otherwise known as the domestic cat flea.
But the name can be misleading. This little flea doesn't just nibble on cats. It's also the most common flea you'll find on dogs. Another flea to look out for is Ctenocephalides canis, a.k.a. the common dog flea. Like the common cat flea, the common dog flea doesn't just impact dogs, but it also makes a home on cats, wild animals, and livestock.
How to Get Rid of Fleas on My Dog
The first thing you should do if you notice fleas on your dog, is give them a bath. Warm water and mild soap can help get the fleas off your pet's skin and fur. Another simple solution to rid your dog of fleas is brushing them with a flea comb. Flea combs help trap fleas while also removing flea dirt and eggs.
Keep in mind, dog flea bites on humans aren't uncommon. If you notice that a flea has bitten you, wash the bite immediately and try over-the-counter anti-itch cream and antihistamines.
How to Prevent Fleas on Dogs
To fight fleas most effectively, prevent them from bothering your pet altogether. You can do this by talking with your vet about year-round flea control products. One of the most common flea prevention products is a flea collar.
Do flea collars work on dogs? Yes! Flea collars are not only effective at fighting fleas, but they're a cost-effective way to do so. For those of us who are forgetful, flea collars are a great alternative to monthly preventative medication. Just slip the collar on your pup, and they're protected for up to six months without needing to pay for monthly treatments.
If you do find a flea, don't worry. They may be frustrating, but they're easy to treat. When fleas become a frequent issue in your house, it's a good idea to contact your vet to learn more about preventative treatment options. If you're in this situation now, reach out today! We can talk through the best way to get rid of fleas for good.