In America, there are over 200 different types of fleas that can enter your home undetected to the inexperienced eye. Once dog fleas are discovered, they need to be dealt with systematically to kill and get rid of them. There is information that needs to be understood about fleas on your dog.
Fleas attach themselves to clothing, your dog or other pets. They feed on organic matter, skin scales and blood-rich adult flea feces. Fleas are found where there are dogs, cats or any other warm-blooded animal or person.
Fleas will bite humans as well as your dog and other pets.
Even if your pet is not or rarely allowed outside, fleas can hop in from your yard, hitch a ride on you, or even be around from previous inhabitants of your home. A female flea typically lives several weeks on a dog, sucking the canine’s blood two to three times daily.
Each day, a female flea lays twenty to thirty eggs on your dog, which drop off and settle in cracks in the floor and the base of the nap in carpeting, waiting for the right time to hatch. You often find eggs wherever your pets spend time: on their bedding, throughout the house, in the backyard.
Flea larvae can be dormant for long periods of time under a variety of conditions. Strong back legs enable them to jump from host to host and they are capable of jumping up to 14-16 inches.
The most common fleas found on dogs in the United States are the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis and the dog flea Ctenocephalides canis, which is more common in Europe. The cat flea is most likely giving your canine a problem. Dog fleas move along the skin surface – dark, copper-colored, about the size of a pin head.
Fleas on a dog dislike light so you will most likely spot them in furry areas, on the belly and on the inner thighs. Or, use a flea comb. Look for flea feces, small bits of brown “dust” that appear to be dirt attached to the fur itself. Take this “dirt” and rub it between your fingers with a small amount of water. If it turns red you have your proof. Fleas excrete digested blood. Flea dirt may be your only evidence of a flea infestation and that is enough proof. Dried blood in the pet’s ears could indicate ear mites, and you should call your veterinarian.
Fleas that infest the dog and cat prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75-85 percent. Dog and cat fleas are resistant to freezing temperatures. They emerge from their cocoons when they detect heat, vibrations and exhaled carbon dioxide, indicating a host is nearby.
In approximately 9 months the typical female flea found on your dog can be responsible for up to a trillion descendants, and the 4-stage life cycle makes them extremely difficult to exterminate.
Why should I worry about dog fleas?
Many dogs, pets and people are allergic to flea bites, as fleas can be carriers for worms and diseases. The typical flea found on a dog or other warm-blooded creature can carry the plague and murine typhus to humans (most cases of murine typhus occur in South Texas).
Dogs can become allergic to flea saliva, and develop a condition called flea allergy dermatitis. It takes just one flea to make the dog react. The itching from this condition (called pruritus, an uncomfortable sensation so intense as to cause your dog to scratch and bite itself) can lead to hair loss and self-mutilation.
The itching can also create a hot spot (a bright red, hairless, scaly patch that may ooze if infected). Your dog will often whimper and may have trouble sleeping.
Fleas love dry skin.
Prevent dry skin by adding some vegetable oil to your pet’s food, and not washing your dog with drying shampoos. Make sure your pet is consuming an optimum diet, which helps avoid recurrent hot spots and other skin afflictions.
Hotspots, as the name implies, can be hot to the touch and very uncomfortable and even painful for your dog. Known as acute pyoderma, hot spots can develop into a secondary bacterial infection. If you see evidence of fleas on your dog or cat, you need to wage war to get rid of these pests.