Fleas: they’re tiny, fast and jump really far. They can be tough to kill, they can transmit parasitic tapeworms, and they can wreak havoc on your pet’s body, possibly leading to allergies, skin problems, or anemia. And if you don’t tackle a flea problem in time, it can turn into an infestation that results in the bugs attacking you too.
If you’ve ever dealt with fleas, you know how challenging it can be to get rid of them. But even if you haven’t seen a flea in your life, there’s still a chance that you’ll someday have to deal with them.
Because this is a common problem that pet owners face, we’ve answered some of the frequently asked questions regarding dog fleas symptoms, flea prevention, and flea treatment for dogs.
How to tell if your dog has fleas
What are the signs of fleas on dogs?
The telltale sign is itchiness, so if you notice that your pet is scratching or biting their skin, or if your pet’s skin is starting to look irritated or fur is missing, it’s a good idea to check for fleas. Also, if you notice tapeworms (they look like rice on your dog’s rectum), fleas may be to blame.
How do you check for fleas?
One of the easiest ways to check for fleas is by using a flea comb, which is designed to catch the bugs. These combs can also pick up what’s known as flea dirt (a.k.a. flea poop), which will look like black specks. Move the comb through your dog’s coat carefully so you don’t miss a spot where fleas might be hiding.
How can you tell if you’ve found flea dirt?
You can place it on a wet paper towel to see if it turns red. Still not sure? Try smearing it with your finger to see if it leaves a red trail behind. If it’s red, it’s flea dirt because what you’re seeing is the blood that the flea ingested.
What can you do if you find live fleas on the comb?
Keeping a bowl or cup filled with soapy water nearby can come in handy. If you end up grabbing a flea, dunk it into the soapy water right away to drown it before it jumps.
Where should you look for fleas in your home?
Fleas can hide throughout your home, but you can start by checking areas where your dog spends a lot of time. Check your bed, your pet’s beds, furniture, carpets, and rugs.
Note: Flea eggs are tiny and white, while flea larvae are worms, so look for those around the house as well. Flea pupae are usually harder to notice.
How to prevent fleas
What is the best flea prevention for dogs, and how can you repel fleas?
There are conventional and natural flea and tick prevention products that are specifically designed for dogs. Options include topical products, oral products, and flea collars that can repel and/or kill fleas. No matter what, there are pros and cons, as well as safety precautions, to consider for each of these. Your veterinarian can guide you towards the most appropriate solution for your particular pet.
Note: Only use products that are made for dogs. Don’t use flea products that are designed for cats on a dog, and vice versa.
How to get rid of fleas
What kills fleas on dogs quickly?
Your vet can direct you to the best flea medication for dogs that will deliver the fast results you want. In addition to products that use ingredients capable of killing fleas at every stage of life, from eggs to adults, there are also shampoos that you can use to clean your dog’s skin and fur. Read the directions on a product label carefully to be sure you’re using it safely and correctly.
How do you get rid of fleas if they’re in your home?
Removing adult fleas isn’t enough because there might be eggs in your home that are waiting to hatch and cause an infestation all over again. Eggs, and the larvae that come out of them, might be in your pet’s bed or kennel, on your furniture, and in your carpets.
So, in addition to treating your dog, wash pet beds and kennels using soap and hot water. Also, vacuum floors and furniture daily to remove eggs, pupae, larvae, and adults, and be sure to carefully dispose of whatever your vacuum picks up so they don’t escape.
Note: There are products designed for getting rid of fleas in your home, but shop with care and ask your veterinarian for advice, as some might contain ingredients that are harmful or toxic.
What can you do if there are fleas in your yard?
If you discover that there are fleas in your yard, there are several things you can try. For example, there are insecticide sprays designed for killing fleas. But it’s also wise to take other steps, such as mowing your lawn often and keeping your yard free of clutter and leaf litter, to help keep fleas away.
Getting rid of fleas takes time and effort
It’s important to take fleas seriously and do your best to prevent an infestation before it occurs. But it’s also critical to choose the right products for repelling or killing fleas because adverse reactions, some of which can be serious, may occur.
Whether you aren’t sure if your dog has fleas or you want advice on the safest and most effective products for preventing or killing fleas, your vet can help. And with high-quality pet insurance, you may also be able to save money whenever you need a vet’s advice to tackle a flea infestation quickly.