Fleas on your dog

Posted on: 07 July 2020 by 50connect editorial

Summer is fun for dogs but also for fleas so check your pooch for unwelcome visitors throughout the warmer months. Here are some simple pointers to keep your dog pest free.

dog with fleas

Fleas are well known about by almost everyone, in fact it is sometimes difficult to believe that a dog is complete without a handful too scratch at.

They can however cause real problems to a dog especially one that is allergic to the flea's saliva. A couple of years ago I saw a dog which was, all but for a faint covering of hair, completely bald. I was informed by the owner that the dog had been diagnosed as suffering from fleas. The dog was treated with a weekly bath and the problem soon cleared up, in fact within six weeks the dog was completely recovered. Scales/scabs are sometimes connected to the flea and often clear up once the parasite has been eradicated. As with any external parasite the risk of secondary infection is always present from either the bite itself or the scratching by the dog at the site of irritation.

They are far from the dirty parasites that only infest dogs that go scavenging in rubbish tips. Even a dog which is regularly bathed and groomed can pick up a flea from its surroundings. The flea itself is very small and quick to move so is very difficult to detect in the dogs coat. Usually a dark brown colour it is approximately the size of a pin head, its speed and power come from its very strong back legs. The flea lays in wait in the environment and once the vibrations of the host are detected it leaps onto it. Like the tick the flea tends to inhabit the warm areas with blood vessels close to the skin, loins, base of the ears and the base of the tail.

Spotting the signs of fleas

The most common symptom of fleas is of course scratching and gnawing at the affected areas, although some dogs do appear to be oblivious to the presence of the parasites. As previously stated hair loss may occur due to the scratching and scaly, scabby coats may be seen. Given a choice a dog flea will rather bite a dog than bite a human however, I have had bites on myself at the same time as my dog has been affected and dog fleas can survive on human blood. The best way to detect the presence of fleas is to inspect your dog regularly, looking for small specks of flea dirt which are similar in appearance to a tea leaf. Flea dirt ( blood that has passed through the flea ) will dissolve in water with a reddish brown tinge. Dark specks in the coat that do not dissolve are not flea dirt.

Treatments for fleas

Treatment is relatively simple with drops, sprays, powders and dips all being readily available from a veterinary surgeon. It is very important that if your dog does have fleas that you not only treat the dog but also the surrounds, such as his bed, kennel, run etc. This is because the flea spends most of it's life off the host. Again sprays and solutions are readily available for this purpose and treatment should be affected at the same time as treating the dog. Preventative measures are available, the most effective being flea drops such as Ex-spot and if your dog is being regularly infested then this is an obvious aid in extinguishing the problem.

Other considerations

If your dog has fleas then preventative treatment for tapeworms is also recommended. This is because the life-cycle of the tapeworm and the flea are linked. Tapeworm eggs are passed in an infected dogs faeces and may then be eaten by an immature flea. The tapeworm egg hatches inside the flea and develops and if the flea is eaten by a dog during self grooming. The tapeworm will then develop in the dogs intestine.

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