How To Check Fleas On Dogs: Best Treatments and Safety Precautions
Since I acquired my dog pet: my fluffy king, I have had numerous challenges. Some of them include feed selection, medication selection, and safety.
However, none of the above challenges with my dog has been as disturbing as seeing fleas running on my pet. I tried numerous flea treatments, but the fleas always came back.
Therefore, I must have been getting it wrong as the flea treatments only provided short-lived solutions. Over the years, I have learned the need of having the right information about the signs and symptoms of fleas on my dog and the products that are useful for controlling the bugs.
You would like to learn from my experience; rather than yours! I have leaned how to manage my cat and the pest that affects it the hard way.
Therefore, read on to learn the various signs, symptoms, recommended treatments and safety precautions to take while considering fleas on your dog.
So, how do you free your dog from fleas?
After a careful analysis of expert veterinary information combined with the vast experience with dealing with my dogs, in this guide, I will aim to answer the following questions:
Table of Contents
What do dog fleas look like and does my dog have some?
Dog fleas are small brown insects that attack dogs and cats and other animals. Despite being small in body size, dog fleas can be seen using naked eyes. Also, fleas jump and hop from one host to another with their strong legs.
Checking for dog fleas
To check for dog fleas on your pet, you will require the following tools; a flea comb, soaped water, and a white kitchen paper.
Step #1: Conduct a visual check on your dog
Despite that flea are small in body size, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the bug when it is jumping from one place to another. You might not see it on the first day you check, but if you are keen enough, you will finally set an eye some of them.
The fleas are brown and appear fat when they have sucked blood from you or your pets. Also, they will jump rapidly to avoid being caught or escape harsh conditions such as water, chemicals, and hot objects.
However, if you see your dog scratching, it is time you should already consider the best flea control techniques.
Step #2: Flea Comb youth dog
Upon careful consideration, you can order a flea comb to undertake this exercise. Run the flea comb through the dog’s fur or coat.
Ensure to put adequate pressure on the flea comb to smoothly touch the dog’s skin. Check if the flea comb has picked some adult fleas or ‘flea dirt’ (flea droppings or fleas). Drown any fleas that you catch using soapy water.
Flea droppings are mainly comma-shaped, and when placed on the wet kitchen paper, they leave a red ring, signifying blood from the flea.
Video Courtsey of Banfield Pet Hospital)
Next, some details on the flea life cycle –
This will help you understand why fleas have always come back and how you can wittingly get ahead of the coming flea’s generation.
The flea life cycle is divided into four stages:
– Eggs: One adult flea can lay about 40 eggs each day. Female fleas lay eggs 24-36 hours after they take the first blood meal (flea bite). The eggs are visible to a naked eye and look pearly white and are oval.
– Larvae – the larvae stage lasts from 5-12 days. Fleas have 3 larval stages.
– Pupa – Flea have 4 pupa stages: This is a highly protect phase of the fleas and may last up to 210 days.
– Pre-emergent adults – This stage is also referred to as the waiting stage. It is notable that fleas in this stage emerge as adults if stimulated by heat, carbon dioxide, pressure, and vibration.
Target the Entire Flea Life Cycle
Maybe you’ll require using a combination of flea treatment options to eliminate the bugs from your home.
To effectively control the fleas, you’ll need to keep to keep your dog indoors for 2 week, after treating him, the kernel and his bedding. However, you can still a walk with him but avoid the lawns to avoid re-infestation.
After treating the dog and house for fleas, continue vacuuming the floors. Vacuuming will help eject the flea eggs and larvae from their cocoons and thus will be reached by the insecticide.
The outdoor space could also host some fleas dropped by your pets. Therefore, treat the yard, and fallen leaves with a natural flea treatment to eliminate fleas and ticks.
Why do fleas keep coming back?
Fleas thrive excellently in warm summer months and wet spring months but may appear at any time. However, after the flea appears in your residence, getting rid of them will be a daunting task.
While you start on the journey to fight fleas in your residence and on your dog, fleas have a particular advantage that makes them very hardy. Here the particular flea advantages:
Flea has very back legs with significant muscle powers. The powerful legs enable the pest to jump about 1 foot vertically and 4-5 feet horizontally. These biological features allow the flea to navigate from one host to another and to hide from different insect control mechanisms.
Advanced and long life cycle
Female fleas lay many eggs, about 30 eggs, in a day and thus have a high reproduction rate. Also, the eggs are tiny and can thus hide on your dog or in cracks, crevices, and carpets. The lightweight of the eggs allows the dog to carry them around your house and fall off in different locations in your residence.
Flea eggs hatch within one week, which could delay waiting for the right conditions. After hatching, the eggs turn into larvae.
Also, the flea larvae create cocoons, and they move into them to grow into pupae, which takes about 1 week. However, fleas in the cocoon can survive for 6 months if the conditions are not favorable to become adults. Also, a female flea can survive for about 1.5 years.
Fleas have good hiding ability.
For each flea that you spot in your facility, there could be other hundreds hiding in different locations such as under carpets, and cracks. The fleas that are hiding could be in different developmental stages: larvae, eggs, and cocoons.
Therefore, it would be helpful to use products such as flea foggers in your home when there is a major infestation.
A flea can survive without feeding.
Fleas are capable of surviving for a long time without feeding. For example, after one blood feeding, the flea can survive for one month.
Various insect controlling chemicals such as sprays and foggers are good at fighting adult fleas. However, I recommend that you use natural pest control concentrate as they can kill fleas in all their developmental stages.
How do you prevent flea infestation on your dog?
Step #1: Control Fleas outside the house
Do you have a lawn outside your house? That should be your first concern while you are aiming to prevent flea infestation on your dog. Lawns form an excellent residence for fleas, their eggs, and larvae.
Fleas love living in the grass, and from there they can hop and jump onto any animal, including you and your dog that passes on the lawn.
Therefore, you should cut the grass short to enable heat from the sun to get to the roots. Such a condition would make the fleas uncomfortable, and thus fleas would not hide there.
Also, you can sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (DE) on the lawn. The Diatomaceous Earth would break the fleas’ skins, absorb its moisture and thus kill them. Further, sprinkle the powder in the pet’s house and around your house.
Step #2: Treat you Dog for fleas
After tackling the fleas from outside your house, it is now time to kill or prevent any fleas that would like to make your dog their host.
There are many products available to treat fleas on your dog and cats. Ensure to read online buyer reviews and talk to your vet to learn the best practices when it comes to flea prevention and control.
Despite that you might consider cats and dogs as almost equals, it is critical to note that some dog flea treatment chemical can harm your cat. Therefore, consult with your vet, read label instructions and adhere to them!
What are your recommended flea prevention products?
Product #1: Frontline Plus for Dog – Best Flea Shampoo
If you need to eliminate the fleas on your dog thoroughly, particularly at stages of their life cycle, you should try Frontline Plus!
Frontline Plus falls under the topical flea treatments that are available in the market. With fipronil and s-methoprene as its active ingredients, Frontline Plus is rapid and longer lasting in action against fleas and ticks at all life stages.
S-methoprene is an IGR that kills flea eggs and their larvae. Also, the product works effectively against the deer tick (Lyme disease carrier), the lone star tick, and the American dog tick.
Fipronil is a slow-acting poison and a broad-spectrum insecticide which disturbs the flea’s central nervous system. The fipronil and s-methoprene ingredients are deposited in the dog’s sebaceous glands and are regularly sprayed in the dog’s coat.
Frontline Plus offers protection for your dog against fleas for 30 days. Also, the product is labeled, and is actually, safe for nursing and pregnant dogs.
However, it is critical to follow all the label instructions for maximum safety. Also, consider the age of the dog while purchasing the product.
In case of overdosing the Frontline Plus on your dog, call the veterinarian without delay.
Product #2: Adams Plus Shampoo with Precor
How about you bathe your dog with a shampoo that will leave the fleas dead, your dog clean and shinning? Adams Plus Shampoo will effectively kill the fleas in all their life stages and leave your dog happy.
The product is enriched with aloe, lanolin, coconut extract, and oatmeal and will thus leave your dog flea-free and shine.
Remember we talked about the flea life cycle and how to get ahead of the fleas? Adams Plus Shampoo with Precor will inhibit the eggs from hatching for 4 weeks and thus helps break the fleas’ life cycle.
The product has Precor (an IGR) that will kill eggs before they become adult fleas. It contains Piperonyl Butoxide, S-Methoprene, and Pyrethrins that will burst the fleas in all their life stages.
Adams Plus Shampoo with Precor is labeled safe for cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies!
Also, Adams Plus Shampoo with Precor will protect your dog against fleas for 28 days. However, the vets do not recommend the product for puppies below 8 weeks.
Product #3: Vet’s Home, Flea and Tick Spray – Best dog flea spray
Do you need a non-toxic solution for the bugging fleas, ticks, and mosquitos? Vet Best Flea will kill all the flea eggs and larvae on your dog and in your home.
Also, to spraying your dog, the product will also be effective on the dog bedding and house. The flea spray is a favorite of many pet owners because it lacks dangerous chemicals. Also, true to its name, Vet’s flea spray can be used on furniture, bedding, and carpets.
Vet’s flea spray is made up of natural active ingredients like clove extract and peppermint oil. You’ll spray the dog on its coats rub the skin until it gets to the roots of the fur.
Do I need to flea treat my indoor dogs?
Despite that your pets are always indoors, fleas will attack it like any other roaming pet. Notably, fleas like any other insects will jump into your dog’s kernel at any time and thus you need to take safety control measures.
Many wild animals such as foxes, squirrels, and even rats may carry fleas. Also, wild and outdoor cats carry fleas, and when they pass near your homestead, they drop the fleas, their eggs, and larvae. Then, the fleas jump onto any human being or animal to reach you indoor dog.
If there are some critters in your house, then they can carry fleas to the indoor dog. Despite that you may not set eyes on the mice, they could drop the fleas and their eggs in the house. The eggs would hatch and attach themselves to another host, which could be the indoor cat or dog.
Also, since fleas love warm atmospheres, they will jump on your clothes when you walk around your yard and drop into the house to attack your dog.
It is important to install various flea prevention methods to safeguard your dog from flea infestation. Treat your indoor dog and cat as often as you would treat any pet that is roaming around your yard.
Safety precautions while handling flea control products
#1: Time is of Essence!
Ensure you control fleas when it is most critical before a major infestation occurs. For example, you should note that the flea problem will be worst in the warm-weather months while tick will hit you more in spring and summer.
Therefore, in addition to controlling the fleas on the all-year-round basis, you should have extra precautionary flea control measures for the seasons that the fleas execute their major infestation.
#2:Consult your Vet
Professional advice from your vet on various flea control methods is critical for your safety and that of your fluffy friend.
Particular emphasis on vet advice should be laid if your dog is sick, old, a puppy, nursing or pregnancy or under different flea medications.
The vet will check your records and history your dog to recommend the most appropriate flea control method.
#3: Read and adhere to product label instructions
You should note that some flea control chemical can become dangerous positions if used in the wrong way. Therefore, always read the product label instructions and follow them to the letter.
This could include checking your dog’s age, avoiding overdosing, and avoiding the dangerous combination of flea control products.
#4: Use protective gear
To protect yourself against hazardous chemical reaction with your body, you should use protective equipment such as gumboots and gloves while treating your fluffy friend.
However, always check the product label directions to ensure you note all the safety requirement outlined for you to follow. Some of the bad reactions can include diarrhea, depression, and loss of appetite.
If you observe some of the above reaction, you should call your vet for advice on the best actions to take to save your dog or cat.
#5: Yards, floors, and carpets
Your pet is now flea free, what next? You now need to counter the fleas and both inside and outside your house.
For maximum safety, contact your vet to advise the best indoor flea control, a method for your children and pets. However, if you have a major flea infestation, you should use foggers. However, ensure that you adhere to all the safety precautions.
#6: Vacuum your house and carpets daily.
Fleas hide in cracks, crevices, under furniture and carpet. Therefore, you should vacuum the house daily to eject the fleas, their eggs, and larvae from their hideouts.
Vacuuming will help eject the flea larvae from their cocoons. Notably, larvae stage of the fleas is disturbed by pressure and excessive heat. Therefore, when you vacuum, you will stimulate the larvae to move out of their cocoons and thus come into contact with the insecticide.
Remember to wash the vacuum canister and dispose of the vacuum bag. Further, clean the dog bedding and sprinkle borax or diatomaceous earth in their kernel.