Dog fleas can cause a variety of health problems. Dog fleas problem that begin in puppy-hood continue for the duration of their lives and become an on going battle.
Throughout spring and summer, dog fleas are at their peak activity level. For every one you see there are thousands you don’t see in the environment.
Protection From Dog Fleas
You will need to be vigilant for the next several months to keep ahead of these parasites. There are a variety of products available to protect your pets and their environment from dog fleas.
Some dogs may be very sensitive to dog fleas and a few bites may cause tremendous itching and scratching. Other pups may have a lot of the parasites and seem largely immune dog fleas bites. Dog fleas feed on your puppy’s blood. A common problem is anemia, in which they are actually feeding on enough of your puppy’s blood to cause a deficit.
If your puppy is anemic, he is sick. His body is not getting enough nutrients and oxygen. He will have pale gums and mucus membranes. He will be much more susceptible to viruses and disease because his immune system is further compromised.
Dog Fleas are the number one cause of allergies in dogs. It can take several years of constant flea infestations for a dog to develop a strong sensitivity to fleas. Then the rest of their lives will be spent battling the effects. An allergy builds over time. This year he is bitten, develops the sensitivity. Then next year the dog fleas bite compound and become a full blown allergy.
Veterinary dermatology laboratories can do special testing and develop specific immuno-therapy serums to treat your dog for his allergies, but this can be costly and time consuming. It is the best way to treat a truly allergic dog however, as the alternative is steroids which cause severe problems of their own.
If you only need to have a cortisone or steroid injection once a season you are probably not doing too much harm, but if it takes several to keep him comfortable through the summer then you might want to research other options such as allergy testing and treatment.
Dog Fleas Are Also Vector For Tapeworm
Dog fleas are also the vector for the tapeworm, a segmented flat worm. As a dog chews on his flea ridden skin, he will invariably swallow them. The flea, who has already been infected with tapeworm larva by feeding on an infected animal. Then they will find its way to the dog’s digestive tract. The tapeworm larva which lives in the flea will emerge and infect the dog’s intestine. It will become lodged, and begin to live off of your dog.
You may occasionally see segments in your dog’s stool, but if you don’t that isn’t proof that he is clear of them. You need a fecal analysis for that. The dog can reinfect himself by swallowing the tapeworm segments as they are full of new eggs looking for a host. If you have more than one dog they will pass them around.
How To Control Your Dog Fleas
If you have pets that come in the house at all, the fleas are in your house. They live quite comfortably in carpet and bedding. Fleas are photosensitive, which mean they run from the light. If you are treating the inside of your house yourself, try VetKem or Adams products from your veterinarian. Be sure to treat the edges of the room and under couches and beds. They love to hide in dark places. Wash all bedding, remove the pets from the area and treat the carpet.
A flea will live on the dog for a day or two for a blood meal. Then jumps off to lay eggs and reproduce for the next week or so. This means for every one you see on your friend. There are thousands more in the environment waiting to jump on and feed. The yard needs to be treated as well, either professionally or by a veterinary recommended yard and kennel spray.
Even if the dog doesn’t go out much, you have animals who pass through and leave all kinds of things behind. Stray cats, skunks, opossums, squirrels, and raccoons are some of the frequent visitors to most yards. You can’t control the whole neighborhood so you must keep the puppy himself protected as well.
Never use flea collars. They are hugely ineffective and can be very toxic. It is a common site to see a puppy covered with fleas except right around the collar. Not very helpful. Collars can become too tight as the pup grows and are toxic to the puppy. Once a month topical medications, such as Frontline Plus For Dogs, Advantage Flea Control, Revolution, and Sentinel are some of the top products available. Some of them require blood tests be done before you start using them if they include a heart worm preventative.
About The Author
This article was written by Laura Anderson, a veterinary technician with more than 15 years experience in the veterinary field. The views and statements expressed in this article, and all other articles found on Puppy’s Place, do not under any circumstance, constitute veterinary advice.
Always seek professional veterinary care for your pet.