Your furry friend could currently be a nesting ground for blood sucking fleas. They leave nastey flea bites that itch and last longer than the usual bug bite. These bites can cause severe itching and swelling, leaving the victim in a high degree of pain. Fleas can lay thousands of offspring in your house leading to an out of control infestation. Fleas thrive in the warmer seasons, so be sure to take the preventative step of flea control on your pets before spring arrives. The following shows you how to find out if your pet has fleas, and how to prevent or get rid of them.
Does my dog have fleas?
- If an infestation is already occurring, you may see black bugs (fleas) jumping on and around your dog.
- Your dog may be irritated, restless, and continually scratching or licking certain parts of his body.
- Head shaking in an attempt to dislodge fleas.
- Check your dogs belly, armpits, groin, and ears for signs of bites, redness, and inflammation.
- Excessive scratching that can cause bleeding, loss of hair, and scabs.
- Use a flea comb, which is designed to pull out flees from hair, to comb your pet dog. You may notice the comb dislodging fleas from your pet’s fur.
- Look for flea dirt (flea feces). Flea dirt will usually turn red/brown when in contact with water. It does this because it contains digested blood from the flea.
- Set flea traps. Flea traps are made with a light source hovering over a saucer full of water and soap. Fleas jump toward the light source for warmth and end up drowning in the soapy water below.
- Walk around your house or yard in white socks. Fleas jumping onto your ankles will be much easier to spot.
How do I protect my dog or pet from fleas?
- Promote good health in your dog or pet by providing a high quality diet. A balanced homemade diet is a great choice and nutritional supplements are also beneficial. There are supplements (garlic and yeast) that are said to alter an animals scent to one that is undesirable for fleas.
- Wash/bathe your dog at least weekly. Be sure to use shampoo, or soap. This makes it much harder for the fleas to escape, making their extermination much more likely. Herbal flea shampoos are also available. Remember to lather your pet’s head first, so you can catch all those fleas from down below jumping for higher ground.
- Use of flea dips. Flea dips are a chemical that is mixed with water and then poured over a pet’s fur. Due to the toxic potential of dips, be sure to talk to your vetinarian before using any.
- Comb your dog with a flea comb. Do this daily; it is an effective way of ridding your pet of fleas and at the same time giving you a picture of how the flea control is going.
- Treat your dog with flea powder or spray. Diatomaceous earth and pyrethrum dust are common and effective options.
- Sprays and foggers are effective for killing adult fleas (which may arise once or twice a month) hiding in your house. Make sure you follow the guidelines for how long you should wait between uses.
- Use of powders such as diatomaceous earth or borax on floors and vacuuming every 1 to 3 days. Vacuuming is one of the most important and effective things you can do. It removes all stages of the flea life cycle including eggs and larvae.
- Flea control in your yard. Natural products including diatomaceous earth nematodes and pyrethrum dust are effective in killing not only fleas, but many other pests, bugs, and insects.
- Oral medications. Usually reserved for severe flea infestations. These pills are taken once a month and are effective in disrupting the flea life cycle.
- Flea Collars. Collars can kill and detract fleas. Watch for any allergic reaction that your dog or pet may have to the collar and make sure the collar is on in a way that prevents you dog or pet from biting it.
- Setting Flea traps. You can build your own flea traps or purchase them. They usually consist of a heat source (lamp), with a dish full of soapy water or sticky pads below. Fleas will jump towards the heat source and fall towards their doom. Avoid the dish with soapy water type of flea traps in accessible areas to your pet.
The task of flea control can be strenous and frustrating. Remember not to panic, hold your cool, and keep up with what is neccessary to rid your pets, children, and house of fleas. If you just found out your pet is the new home to fleas, don’t waste any time beginning flea control treatment! The longer you wait the more time there is for the fleas to multifply!