If you’re a dog owner you’ve likely worried about fleas at one point or another.
The scary part is, it’s pretty easy for your dog to get infested with fleas, and a small problem can turn into a huge outbreak faster than you can imagine.
Fleas can leave your dog in a perpetual state of feeling itchy, and if they go untreated your dog can even develop a skin infection.
Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can follow to deflea your dog and bring him back to his happy, non-itchy self in no time. Keep reading to find out what they are.
How Do Dogs Get Fleas?
The issue with fleas is that they reproduce extremely fast. So fast that one flea can turn into an entire flea outbreak on your pup in no time.
Fleas thrive in the summertime, as they’re comfortable with temperatures ranging from 65-80 degrees with humidity levels of 75-85%. Unfortunately, this means that in those warmer climates, fleas are something you have to be aware of fleas of year-round.
Fleas can jump about a foot in the air, making it super easy for them to jump onto your dog and then be tracked into your home initially unsuspected. This means that your dog can catch fleas from almost anywhere, including the park, the kennel or groomers, the vet, your backyard, or even from his dog best friend.
While your dog can catch fleas at any time of the year, always make sure you’re paying extra attention to your dog in the summer, specifically their scratching habits.
Signs Your Dog Has Fleas
Although fleas are small they can be seen right on the surface of your dog’s skin.
When looking for fleas on your dog you’ll want to look for something that’s about the size of a pinhead and dark copper in color.
Try to focus on the areas of your dog that are extra fluffy, as fleas prefer darker areas. They also can often be found on the ears, belly, and inner thighs of your pup. You can also use a fine-tooth comb to brush through your dog’s fur. This can make it easier to move the fur around for better vision and also can pick up some of the fleas themselves.
However, seeing the fleas with your own eyes isn’t the only indicator that your dog is suffering from fleas. If you notice your dog scratching himself way more than usual, it’s likely your dog has fleas.
Also, look for something vets refer to as flea dirt. Flea dirt looks like dark specks scattered across your pet’s fur and skin and is the fecal matter deposited by the fleas.
Try to pick some of the specks off of your dog with a tweezer and place them on a moistened paper towel. After a few minutes, if the specks have spread out and produced a small bloodstain, you can confirm that it is flea dirt and your dog has fleas.
Steps to Deflea Your Dog
While no one wants to see their dog scratching in pain, there’s some good news: fleas are treatable! With a few quick steps, you can say goodbye to those pesky fleas and welcome your happy dog back.
Here is a step-by-step guide to follow when it comes to de-fleaing your dog:
Give Your Dog a Warm Bath
Using lukewarm water give your dog a good scrubbing.
There are several dog flea shampoos on the market that are pretty good at removing fleas from your dog’s fur. Talk to your veterinarian and see which one they recommend if you’d like to try one out on your dog.
Keep in mind, however, some dogs can be allergic to fleas, thus becoming sensitive and getting raw spots on their skin. In this case, you’ll want to avoid certain chemicals in shampoos as to not irritate them further.
Most flea shampoos take about ten minutes to sink into your dog’s skin, so be prepared for a long bath.
Comb Your Dog’s Fur
There are combs made specifically for fleas, but if you don’t have one you can just use a fine-tooth comb.
Flea combs glide through your dog’s fur while trapping the fleas and removing any flea dirt they may have left behind. This is typically not irritating on your dog’s skin but again be sure to keep an eye out for any possible raw spots your dog may have on his skin.
Comb every area, paying special attention to your dog’s ears, belly, and inner thighs, as you want to be sure you don’t leave any fleas behind.
Kill the Fleas
If you happen to see a flea get trapped in the flea comb, dunk the comb in hot, soapy water right away. This gives you more of a chance of killing the flea before it’s able to jump off the comb and, possibly, right back onto your dog.
Treat Your Dog
There are several medications and ointments you can purchase and give to your dog to provide them with relief from fleas. This is something you likely won’t want to skip out on, as you now know that flea shampoo is just one step to take and not enough to prevent the flea manifestation from continuing.
Some flea treatments for your dog include:
Oral and topical flea control
Oral flea treatments can come either in chewable form or pill form, and they’re intended to get ingested by your dog. These treatments work by being transferred to the flea when they bite your pet and killing them. Some of these can last a few days, while others can last around a month.
Topical flea treatments, also called spot-on treatments, are applied on your dog between their shoulder blades so that they can’t reach it to lick it off. These treatments both kill and repel fleas. Most of these treatments last about a month.
Nonprescription flea medication is a medication that you can buy right at the store and is targeted to kill the fleas on your dog.
The upside to these is that you don’t have to worry about bringing your dog to the vet and making an appointment before providing your pet with some relief. The downside, however, is that they’re often not as effective as prescription medications.
These medications can be anything from a flea powder to a flea spray to a flea collar.
The best and safest route to take is to bring your dog to the vet and get a good flea medication prescribed.
By doing this you can rest assured that the product is safe for your dog to take, and also know that it’s going to be more effective than a random medication you purchase in the store.
Say Goodbye to Fleas
By following the simple steps above to deflea your pet, your dog will be happy and free of fleas in no time.
Fleas aren’t the only thing you have to worry about when caring for a dog, however. Check out some of our other how-to guides to make the relationship between your and your furry friend as strong as ever.