Flea Control 101: How to Treat and Prevent Fleas on Dogs
Fleas are every dog owner’s worst nightmare. Fleas don’t only turn your dog into an itchy mess, they also infest your home, causing problems for people and pets alike. Preventing these parasitic pests is the name of the game, but what if your efforts fail and you find fleas on your four-legged friend? To help address this issue, we’ve assembled the best strategies for fighting flea infestations and preventing future flea problems.
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How to Identify a Flea Infestation
Fleas are tiny, reddish-brown parasites that feed on their hosts.
Signs of fleas on dogs include:
- Small red bites and scabs on skin.
- Scratching, biting, and chewing.
- Flea dirt in fur or on carpet and bedding.
- Visible fleas near the base of the tail, back of neck, ears, and abdomen.
- Flea allergy dermatitis, a reaction that causes skin irritation and hair loss.
How to Treat Fleas on Dogs
1. Administer Flea Preventative
When you need to stop a flea infestation fast, turn to Capstar. This oral flea medication starts working within 30 minutes and kills 90 percent of adult fleas within six hours. However, since Capstar only kills adult fleas and leaves your pet’s system quickly, it’s not a long-term solution for fleas.
2. Give your pet a bath
Wash away any remaining fleas with a bath. Since you’ll be following up with flea medicine, skip the flea shampoos and instead bathe your dog using regular pet shampoo. Oatmeal shampoo is a good choice, as it relieves itchy, irritated skin due to flea bites. After bathing, you should comb through their fur using a flea comb to remove any remaining fleas. To help ensure they’re gone, try using a dog hair dryer to fully dry their coat, and to help remove wet dog smell. Note that this isn’t necessarily a need if you live in a hot climate.
3. Apply a topical flea preventative
Topical flea preventatives, also known as spot-on treatments, are the most popular choice for long-acting flea prevention due to their low cost and easy administration. When buying topical flea medication, look for brands that are veterinarian-recommended. K9 Advantix and Frontline are two of the most well-known veterinarian-recommended brands. Be sure to buy a product that’s rated to your dog’s weight range and that prevents ticks as well as fleas.
4. Treat for tapeworms
Fleas commonly carry tapeworms. If your dog bites and chews at flea bites, they may consume a flea and become infected with tapeworms. Luckily, tapeworms are easy to treat. If you notice things that look like grains of rice around your dog’s rear end, administer a dewormer with praziquantel as an active ingredient. This medication is available over the counter under a variety of brand names.
5. Talk to your vet about oral flea medications
If you find it difficult to apply topical medications, consider oral flea pills instead. Oral medications include brands like NexGard, Bravecto, and Comfortis. However, some pet owners have reported adverse reactions from prescription flea medications, so owners should discuss options with their veterinarian first.
How to Treat Fleas in Your Home and Yard
If you treat the fleas on your dog but not the ones in your home, it’s only a matter of time until you notice the tell-tale itchiness again. Here’s how to get rid of fleas in the house and yard.
1. Wash pet bedding
Flea eggs can stick to pet beds and other areas where your dog spends time. Wash pet bedding in hot, soapy water and repeat the process weekly for a month to kill any lingering eggs. In severe infestations, you may need to launder all of your bedding and linens as well.
2. Vacuum and vacuum some more
Next up: the carpeting. Move furniture so you can vacuum every nook and cranny of carpeting, paying special attention to areas where your pet hangs out. In addition to sucking up adult fleas and eggs, the vibrations of the vacuum cause flea eggs to hatch. Make sure you empty the vacuum cleaner immediately after vacuuming so no fleas escape back into your home. Then, repeat the process daily to get new fleas as they hatch.
3. Eliminate flea habitat outdoors
If fleas keep showing up on your pets, your backyard may be the cause. Fleas like to live in brushy areas and long grass, especially in regions with hot, humid climates. Trim grass, trees, and bushes to eliminate flea habitats in the backyard and don’t overwater your lawn.
4. Avoid pesticides in the home
You may notice foggers, flea bombs, and other products that promise to kill home flea infestations, but avoid using these products in your home and garden. Not only do they have limited effectiveness, but these products can be dangerous for your pets and family.
A flea infestation is a major pain, but it’s no cause for panic. There are lots of proven remedies for treating fleas on pets and in your home. As soon as you notice the first signs of fleas, take action to stop these parasitic pests in their tracks.
By Jessica Brody (ourbestfriends.pet)
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