Dog Fleas – A Primer

Dog Fleas – A Primer

Fleas are those pesky little wingless creatures, parasites, that live off the blood of mammals and birds. Usually they are just a bother to our furry pet friends, and often irritatingly so. However, sometimes our friends may develop flea allergy dermatitis, an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Flea allergy dermatitis causes rashes and possibly loss of fur and secondary infections from the excessive scratching and biting your buddy does to relieve the itching.
Be wary of the lowly flea even if your pet doesn’t display allergic reactions to fleas. Fleas can carry other bad things such as tapeworm eggs and lyme disease. The flea itself can’t give your pet tapeworms through bites. It’s only a carrier. When your pet bites to relieve itching he may swallow the tapeworm eggs and become infected.
The flea life cycle is in four stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult.This cycle can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of years. It depends upon temperature, humidity and the availability of food. High humidity and temperature are their preference. A flea will produce 2,000 eggs during its lifetime. When the weather is too cold the eggs will simply lie dormant until things warm up. The southern high temperatures and humidity permit year-around reproduction.
If you’re not using a flea preventative it’s likely that your furry companion has fleas. Inspect your pet for fleas by looking around the lower back, base of the tail, toward the back, the abdomen, flanks and neck. If you see one, there’s probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house.
Treating your pet for fleas may be sufficient, but know that it only takes a day for a female flea to mate and lay 40 to 50 eggs. These eggs fall off your pet in your home and yard. Fleas spread fast. Vacuum areas you suspect may have fleas and throw the bag out immediately. If you have a heavy infestation, you will see more fleas within a few weeks, unless you make an effort to control the infestation. Heavy infestations will require household foggers or sprays. Use either a spray or a granular product in your yard.
There are oral and topical products available to prevent and control fleas. both are designed to break the flea’s life cycle by preventing flea eggs or larvae from developing into adults.
These products have no effect on adult fleas that may currently exist on your pet. One of the most famous products those is Frontline Spray. That kind of spray penetrates to the skin where most of the fleas are found. Fleas will die in a few minutes after direct contact.
Look into using a class of flea control products such as Frontline Plus, Advantage, and others. These treatments are used monthly and provide the best protection available against fleas by interupting and breaking the flea life cycle. These products are applied to one spot on the coat and are also very effective in killing fleas. They provide long term whole body protection.
It will probably take about 2 to 3 weeks after an initial application before you see complete flea eradication. Adult fleas are usually killed fairly quickly but newly developing fleas in the environment surrounding your pet, may delay complete flea control. You may need to treat your home after 2 weeks, to kill new adult fleas as they emerge from their protective pupal cocoons. Depending on your situation it could take as long as six months to become completely flea free.
Flea & tick collars can be effective, but must be applied properly. To get the right degree of snugness, you should just be able to get two fingers between the collar and your pet’s neck. Cut off any excess portion of the collar after it’s fitted otherwise, your furry friend may try to chew on the end.

Alicia Carter

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