For dog owners, barely anything is more annoying than flea control for dogs. Their bites are painful and can spread certain diseases and they are very hard to eliminate. A sudden invasion of fleas just like spiny water flea invasive species can be overwhelming, but it’s possible to get rid of them and – if done in a smart way – easily prevented in the future.
What are fleas?
The first stage of effective dealing with fleas is getting to know their exact lifecycle. They are small, unable to fly insects, which live on blood. They should be visible to the naked eye unless your dog has a dark coat; in this case, it may be easier to find them on the skin. If you can’t see them, you have to search for them on your dog, but bear in mind there are 4 different lifecycle stages of a flea: egg, larva, cocoon and adult – the last being the most irritating one.
Adult fleas usually lay up to 20 eggs at a time. They are laid on a host, but they quite quickly fall off to the ground. They are very small, oval, usually grey or white. The larvae that hatch, live on dead insects or feces. Within one to two weeks they create cocoons and turn from cocoons into adult fleas in the next two weeks. After that, in order to survive, they must find a host immediately. They usually specialize, meaning that fleas living on dogs don’t live on cats and people (though there are exceptions).
It’s much easier to prevent an invasion than trying to eliminate it once it happens. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to guess what may be the source of fleas before they appear. Vacuuming the house thoroughly, including any cracks and holes can be really helpful in getting rid of eggs, larvae or cocoons but the process can be very time-consuming. If you’ve never had any fleas before in your house, they were probably brought by one of your pets from the outside.
If you think the fleas may have appeared on your dog after a visit to a certain place, make sure to comb and wash your dog next time after the visit. It’s good to use a strong comb and a good shampoo, to get rid of fleas more easily. If the source of fleas is close to your house and your dog has access to it anytime, it’s not much you can do apart from using special collars or lotions.
How to find the symptoms.
You can suspect your dog has fleas when he bites and scratches a lot and has red spots on his skin. Good indicators of flea invasion are eggs and feces (small, firm grains of digested blood) on your dog’s coat or around the house where he likes to sleep.
Your vet can offer you different methods of treatment to quickly and effectively eliminate fleas and their eggs. The most popular methods include sprays, which either kill adult fleas (turning your dog’s coat into a real “flea graveyard”) or weaken the larvae. It is essentials, to, apart from sprays, clean all the spots where the dog likes to spend its time, to prevent the fleas from jumping back on your dog. Of course, as with any medication, it is recommended to consult everything with your vet – don’t buy ‘untested’ sprays or lotions as they may not be safe for your dog.