Canine Flea Control
To effectively control fleas, it is necessary to understand a little of their life cycle and habits.
Immediately after hatching from its cocoon, the adult flea seeks out a host animal. It must have a meal of blood within a few days in order to survive and produce eggs. Within 2 days of her first blood meal, the female flea begins producing eggs. Fleas can continue to produce eggs for up to 100 days. A single flea can produce thousands of eggs.
What problems can fleas cause my dog?
Fleas feeding on your dog can cause several problems:
I haven't seen any fleas on my dog.So that means I don't have a flea problem, right?
Not necessarily. It is easy to tell when a dog is heavily infested with fleas.You can see the fleas crawling over the dog's skin and through the hair. If your dog has only a light infestation, you may not see any fleas unless you look for them.A common place to see fleas is on your dog's belly and the inside of the thighs, where the hair is thin or the skin is bare. Another place to look is in the dense hair over your dog's rump, especially near the base of the tail.Part the hair and inspect the skin for either fleas or flea dirt.
Flea dirt is actually flea droppings. It looks like black grains of sand or cracked pepper on the dog's skin. If you place a few particles of flea dirt on a white surface (e.g. a piece of paper) and wet them, you will see a reddish brown stain form. This is because the flea droppings contain digested blood from the flea's blood meal. You may also notice tiny areas of dried blood on the dog's bedding from moistened flea dirt that has since dried.
How can I control fleas on my dog?
Effective flea control requires the three Ps! Pets, Premise and Persistence
1. Pets - control of fleas on your dog
2. Premise - control of fleas in your dog's environment
3. Persistence - controling fleas is an ongoing battle.
Environmental control is probably the more important of the two.Adult fleas on your dog account for as little as 5% of the total flea population.Fleas can be shared by cats and dogs, so if you have a cat, it must also be treated.
1. Control of fleas on your dog
Your veterinarian is the best source of advice on flea control for your pet. There are many excellent products that if used appropriately will control fleas on your pet. Your veterinarian has carefully screened these products and can provide you with the ones that are safe and effective.
There are many ineffective and even dangerous products commercially available over the counter so always consult your veterinarian for the best and safest.
There are numerous products that will kill adult fleas on your dog. However, they vary in the duration of their effects:
Consult your veterinarian for a recommendation on what would work best for your pet.
2. Control of fleas in your dog's environment
Control of fleas in your dog's environment is fairly simple for indoor dogs, especially if you have no other pets that regularly go outside. It is impossible to rid the outside environment of all fleas. Flea control in dogs that regularly go outside or live outside can be more difficult.
Unless you have strictly indoor pets, environmental control must target both your house and your yard:
With the new residual treatments for your dog, environmental control is less important. In some cases, using these products on your dog effectively controls the flea population in the environment. Consult your veterinarian for more information on controlling fleas in your pets environment.
Isn't there a new treatment that guarantees a flea-free house for a whole year?
Yes, but there are limitations. Flea Busters treat your carpets with a nontoxic flea-killing powder. It is worked into the base of your carpet so that the powder is not removed when you vacuum. This treatment is very effective, even with heavy flea infestations. However, it does not control fleas elsewhere in your dog's environment, such as your yard. You can buy the chemical the company uses (a form of boric acid) and apply it yourself. Treating your carpets this way does not carry the 1-year guarantee.
My dog has been boarded while we were away, and now it has fleas. Did they come from the boarding kennel?
Possibly. Your dog could also have gotten the fleas from your home. Unless stimulated, fleas can remain in the pupal (cocoon) stage for up to 5 months. So, if your house has been empty for several days or weeks, the unhatched fleas will have remained in their cocoons during that time. On your return, activity in the house and the presence of your dog or other pets will stimulate the fleas to hatch and reinfest your pets. Newly hatched adult fleas will also jump on people in search of a blood meal. They much prefer dogs and cats to humans.
Fleas in the pupal stage are resistant to insecticides. Treating your home with a fogger or long-acting spray just before you go away may not prevent this problem. It is best to maintain a flea control program throughout the year to effectively rid your pets and home of fleas. On your next visit to your veterinarian, ask about flea control. They will help you develop an effective flea control program that fits your circumstances.
Brightwood Animal Hospital serves Mentor, Concord, Painesville and the surrounding communities.