Fleas are commonly a problem for most pet parents. But it doesn’t make it any less of a hasell to deal with. If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘how the heck do I get rid of my dog’s fleas’, you’ve arrived at the right page!
Fleas are, so-to-speak, a real life nightmare - for paw parents and dogs alike. These little pests can raise havoc on your puppers and throw you into a frantic freak out in an attempt to get rid of them before they multiply way out of control. There’s no such thing as your dog only having one flea. Where there is one, there is another right around the corner.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about how to first spot fleas early on and how to prevent fleas from infestation.
Let’s flea to the starting line!
Fleas are small, tiny, little insects that feed off hosts - dogs, cats, humans, you name it. Fleas live their best life in humid and warm environments. For instance, someone living a summer in Georgia is much more likely to deal with fleas than sometime living in a desert climate like Arizona.
Fleas do have the ability to exist and thrive just about anywhere, unfortunately. Thus, making them a dreadful issue that we may have to eventually deal with.
If you’ve ever tried to pull a flea off from your dog’s coat, you’ve probably seen those critters jump! I mean, literally jump! This parasitic insect jumps from host to host, moving right into their new apartment, aka your pup’s furry coat. Fleas have been known to cause much discomfort (not to mention itchiness) for your four-legged companion. So the minute you spot one is the minute you’ve got to take care of it!
They often look like tiny little black pieces of rice. They typically grow no bigger than the tip of a pen’s size. They’re round, flat, and have a hard outer shell (no wings here). Since they have no wings, they aren’t flying around, which is good! But, they can jump from one warm body to another, quickly.
Fleas may be brown in color too, some may look like nothing as well. This makes it extremely difficult to see them or catch them, depending on your dog’s coat color.
Once the fleas have claimed their victim, they “mark their territory” by biting. These bites are extremely itchy and painful. The bites look like little red bumps and are usually close together until the scratching and biting from your pup causes them to move to a new location. Sadly enough, this can continue until your doggo is covered in bites, yikes!
In general, a significant amount of flea poop can be seen around the bites too. Gross. Flea poop looks like dirt. But, you’ll be able to tell if it’s flea poop when it’s mixed with water, turning it a reddish brown color. If your dog is allergic to flea saliva, their reaction can turn severe quickly, spreading through their entire canine body.
Fleas can live up to several weeks! They can feed off their hosts 2 - 3 times every single day. Female adult fleas can lay over 100 eggs during their lifetime. Let’s really think about that: they only live such a short amount of time, but have hundreds of eggs. Kinda scary when you think about it. Flea eggs can be found on the host, but also anywhere else that the flea has been - in the yard, carpet, bedding, etc.
As you can imagine, this one little flea can easily “hatch” a total flea infestation.
Fleas freakin’ love humidity. They love it, they need it! It really is crucial in their survival. Flea eggs need to be in humidity levels between 70 - 75% to fully hatch, 50% humidity levels for a minimum of survival. This is why desert locations see significantly lower numbers of fleas. The fleas can’t survive without their favorite humidity, especially in the winter.
But do note, fleas are an extremely resistant insect. They could exist just about anywhere.
Realizing that your pup might have fleas is a tough one to comprehend. You do everything you can to keep them healthy, clean, and well-groomed, but they still are covered in tiny black critters. UGH! This problem is no fun and can rapidly spread, as we mentioned above. Recognizing when your doggo has fleas is a crucial step.
One misconception we want to point out - your dog isn’t “dirty” if he or she has fleas. Typically, we think of dirty dogs being ones with fleas. However, this isn’t always how it goes. In all actuality, some of the cleanest dogs can easily have fleas. It only takes a second of time to be around another dog or in an environment with fleas and bam, they’ve hooked into your pooch.
Fleas are difficult to see because they are so so tiny! Paw parents may only see the fleas existence when it’s 1% away from being a complete infestation. Best thing to look for? Flea poop. Adult fleas can jump away quickly, their poop, not so much.
One easy way to tell if your pup has fleas is to place a damp white towel under them, brush your dog, and see if brownish black specks fall onto the towel. After you’ve brushed fido down, check out the towel. If the little specks turn a reddish brown from the damp towel, you’ve most likely got flea poop. If the specks try to run, well, you’ve got your culprit fleas!
Quick tip: check dark areas on your dog’s body for fleas. Fleas aren’t very fond of light so they often live in places like the armpits, tail, ears, or inner thighs.
Once the fleas start biting, the symptoms start arising.
If you’ve ever personally had multiple mosquito bites at the same time, you know just how itchy they are. Irritation isn’t the only thing paw parents need to be worried about. In some instances, fleas can lead to more serious diseases and conditions. In addition, your pup may develop skin conditions. The constant scratching and itching can quickly become open sores or hair loss patches.
Be aware of hair loss, pale gums, or tapeworms in your dog’s poop. These are some indicators that there are much greater problems going on beyond the fleas.
Like we previously mentioned above, dogs can be allergic to flea saliva. If your dog is hypersensitive to flea bites, this may lead to even more issues including scabs and open sores in their skin. Even a small bite can lead to a severe reaction for a hypersensitive dog. If you think your dog is having a hypersensitive reaction, we recommend calling your vet in a timely manner.
Now that you know what these pesky little guys look like and how to spot them, it’s time to take action. There are numerous ways to not only safely kill the fleas, but also help prevent them from coming back “home”.
That’s right, your puppers needs a flea bath. Fleas hate water and soap (this is great for you paw parents). Soapy, warm water can help remove a large amount of fleas. Dish soap can help break down a flea’s water-repellent hard shell outer layer. It helps make it more difficult for the fleas to grab onto your dog’s fur too.
After the bath, it’s time to brush. Use a fine-toothed comb to help eliminate the remain fleas, eggs, and poop that may be deeply hiding on your pooch’s coat. Be certain to cover your pup’s entire body.
Have a bowl of warm water next to you so you can be constantly cleaning the brush between swipes. This will help you ensure that they are fully coming off and not accidentally been brushed back onto another part of your pup.
Even when our mosquito bites are gone, you typically still feel itchy. Well, it’s the same for fido after those fleas are gone. But, no worries, coconut oil is here to help!
The benefits of coconut oil are marvelous - from boosting your dog’s immune system to treating flea bites and irritation. Coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, not to mention, has anti-inflammatory effects too.
It’s safe, non-toxic, and a great option for easing the pain caused by scratching and irritation.
There are so many preventative flea sprays out there! We want to reiterate just how important it is to purchase a non-toxic, 100% natural flea spray. There are flea sprays available that are safe to spray directly onto your dog’s furry coat as well as in your home.
When all is said and done, fleas live up their nasty reputation for being pesky insects that no pet owner wants to deal with. At one point or another, you’ll most likely have to deal with your dog getting fleas, sadly. But, knowing the signs of fleas and what to look for is the first step towards ridding the unwanted fleas.
We hope today’s information has been helpful! We sincerely hope that your four-legged pal gets relief soon!