The Impact of Fleas and How to Treat (Kill) Them
Summers, the inevitable time of the year when dogs – and their owners – are bugged by fleas. This is not to say that they aren’t a nuisance during the cooler months. Fleas are one of the frequently found external parasites on the bodies of our beloved four-legged companions. Unfortunately, most dog owners fail to realize the considerable risk they pose to dogs.
How They Affect Your Dog
Given how quickly they swim across your dog’s glossy coat, it’s quite possible for you to have missed them. Once they settle in, they’ll start feeding upon the blood of the host dog. The dog’s reaction to these bites tends to vary from being mild to severe.
Sometimes, it’s not the heavy infestation but the hypersensitivity of their skin to flea saliva that leads to severe allergic reaction. Symptoms include excessive scratching, chewing, biting, licking, rubbing, and skin abrasions. Tail base, thighs, necks, ears, and belly are among the most affected sites.
Fleas might also be carrying tapeworms. So if a dog accidentally ingests the adult fleas during these episodes, it will be at greater risk of tapeworm infection too. Small-breed and young dogs can become anemic and self-mutilation caused by the skin irritation can lead to secondary bacterial infections to develop. If not diagnosed and treated soon, this will lead to other complications and your dog can easily die.
How They Spread
As mentioned previously, damp and hot climates increase the chances of your dog being infested with fleas. Secondly, if there are other dogs or animals infested living in close proximity, they put your dog at risk as well because fleas can jump extraordinarily.
Another thing to point out in this regard is that transmission depends on the type of fleas too. In North America, for example, the cat flea affects pets and while it can bite humans, it will not infest them.
How to Treat Them
It’s ideal if you can prevent fleas from taking refuge on your dog’s body. But if some fleas are still detected when you are combing the dog’s head and hindquarters, you must take immediate action to curb their growth. There are a number of flea products available including dietary supplements and essential oils to apply on the dog’s fur so it’d be wise if you talk to the vet about the options suitable for you and your pup. On your own, you should inspect it every day and use apple cider vinegar when giving it a bath.
Next, you have to treat the environment as well because that’s where fleas spend a major part of their life cycle, in items like hardwood floors, carpets, upholstery, and pet bedding lying around. If there is an infestation in your home, controlling and eliminating it will take at least 3 months. When the dog is treated, proceed to clean the home thoroughly. Sprinkle boric acid on all the surfaces your dog’s touched, vacuum the floors and carpets, discard the trash bag, machine wash as much as possible and remove the rest of the things from your home. Treat the home yards too with non-toxic products.
Has your dog suffered from a flea infestation? What measures did you practice to control it?