If you are fairly new to dog ownership, you may have a vague sense of the probability of fleas, but not really given the issue much thought. After all, there are a lot of other aspects of caring for a new pet to consider. However, as 1 in 10 dogs in the United States have fleas, we strongly recommend that you make protecting your pet a significant priority.
Why it is important to protect your dog from fleas
Although fleas may be seen as simply a nuisance parasite, the fact is they have the potential to seriously affect the health of your canine companion, as well as being unbearably irritating. Their saliva is toxic to both animals and humans, containing enzymes which irritate the bite wound and cause inflammation, redness, soreness and extreme itching. When this happens, it is referred to as flea allergy dermatitis. Your dog may scratch to relieve herself, but too much itching can cause her to break the skin, leaving her at risk of an infection.
Fleas also spread diseases including:
If your dog suffers from a very severe infestation, she may also start to experience the effects of significant blood loss, leading to anemia. Since fleas reproduce extremely quickly, what begins as just one or two fleas can quickly escalate to a large infestation.
How to protect your dog from fleas
When you consider the above information, you can see exactly why protecting your pet from fleas is so important for her health. It is also crucial to prevent fleas from entering your home and affecting the humans in your property too.
The best and most effective way to protect your dog from fleas is to ensure that she receives adequate preventative treatment. There are numerous types of flea preventatives on the market, and it is essential that you find the one that is most suited to your specific species and size of pet, otherwise she may not be fully protected.
Types of possible treatment include:
- Spot-on treatments
- Flea collars
- Oral medications
- Sprays and shampoos
Each type and brand of flea preventative will protect your furbaby for a set amount of time. It is imperative that you make a note of the lifespan of your pet’s protection so that you can follow it up with another round of treatment before the current one runs out. Failure to do so could leave your canine pal vulnerable to these parasites.
Check your dog regularly
Spotting and dealing with a parasite infection is essential if you are to halt the infestation before it spirals out of control, and fleas are no exception. Nevertheless, these parasites are very difficult to spot. Most owners find that they can spot flea feces before they see the fleas themselves. This is known as ‘flea dirt’ and looks like dark-colored granules of dirt in her fur. When you brush your dog, do so onto a white towel or sheet so that any specks of flea dirt show up more clearly. If you spot flea dirt, or an actual flea, begin treatment immediately.
Keep your home clean and protected
Fleas are perfectly happy to move in with you and your family and can survive for a number of months without a host. Understandably, these are some house guests you will be keen to avoid, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to have a solid cleaning routine. Fleas tend to live in cracks in your floorboards and skirting, buried in your carpet, tucked in your soft furnishings and of course they make themselves comfy in your dog’s bed. Vacuum daily and ensure you regularly wash soft furnishings and your pet’s bedding on the highest temperatures possible. You can also buy products that are safe to use indoors and in your yard that will help repel any fleas from your property.
Parasite prevention advice is just one of the services that our knowledgeable and experienced veterinary team in Kerrville, TX can provide. If you would like further information about any sort of parasite prevention, including fleas, we at Hoegemeyer Animal Clinic would be happy to help – just contact our team with your questions.