Nobody thinks fleas are good for dogs. But do you know why they are bad? And that they are bad for you and your family too?
Fleas have been around for centuries. They carry organisms that cause disease in animals and humans. They were the vector for the bubonic plague that killed millions of people in the Middle Ages. Flea-transmitted diseases that you are seeing more often these days include parasitic larvae that infect the skin and eyes; Rickettsial bacteria that cause fever and systemic disease; and Bartonella, the bacteria that cause cat scratch fever.
Fleas also carry tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum). If your dog swallows a flea while chewing on its flea bites, it can develop tapeworms in its intestines. Owners usually notice their dog has tapeworms when they see rice-like segments in the hair around the dog’s anus or in the dog’s feces. These segments are actually just tiny pieces of very large, long worms. Yuck.
Fleas suck a lot of blood. You can consume enough to cause life-threatening anemia, especially in young puppies of any breed and in adult toy breeds. This preventable situation requires intense veterinary intervention, including blood transfusions, if the dog is to survive.
As if that weren’t enough, fleas cause considerable discomfort in your dog. Flea saliva contains histamine-like compounds and other irritating substances that cause inflammation and itching around the bites. If your dog is allergic to fleas, that inflammation and itch will increase exponentially. A flea bite can break out the entire body of a flea allergy dog!
INTERRUPT THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE FLEA
To effectively prevent fleas or treat a current flea problem, it is important to understand the life cycle and habits of the flea.
The adult fleas you see on your dog aren’t the biggest problem. They make up less than 5% of the problem. The more important 95% live in your home environment in the form of adult fleas and pre-adult flea stages (eggs, larvae and pupae). Every adult flea lives only a few weeks.
So in and of itself, a flea may not be a big deal. The problem is that a female flea lays around 50 eggs a day – that’s 50 eggs a day for 20 days, or around 1,000 eggs laid before a flea dies.
It takes at least three weeks for each egg to go through three moults and become adult. Let’s say half are female. Now we have 500 fleas laying 50 eggs a day for 20 days, the equivalent of 500,000 flea eggs being laid in your home within six weeks of a flea entering the premises. The female half of those 500,000 fleas lay 50 eggs a day, and before you know it, there are up to 12.5 million flea eggs in your home.
ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS FOR FLEAS
So if you have an active flea problem, it is important to include this environmental population in your treatment plan. An integrated flea control program includes killing adult fleas in both the dog and the environment, and eliminating and preventing pre-adult flea stages from the environment.
To remove existing fleas and pre-grown fleas from your home, use heavy vacuuming Every day is recommended. Make sure to dispose of your vacuum bag or bagless dirt full of fleas and from adult fleas; If you have one of these bagless vacuums make sure to toss it in a bag that you can seal after vacuuming it. Be aware that the greatest load of eggs and larvae is where your pet jumps off, such as a bed or chair, as many flea eggs and larvae will fall off the dog when it hits the ground.
It’s also important to know that flea larvae don’t like light. This means they will wander into darker areas, like under furniture, so focus on those areas. Don’t forget your car with your dog in it, and wash all bedding (yours and your dog’s) regularly in hot water.
If you don’t oppose the use of an insecticide on your carpets and upholstered furniture, I recommend using a surface spray (not a bomb) that contains an adulticide (ingredient that kills adult fleas) and an insect growth regulator (IGR).
IGRs disrupt the progressive development of pre-adult fleas by either preventing eggs from hatching (the drug Lufenuron is an example) or preventing the larvae from becoming pupae (pyriproxifen, S-methoprene), effectively preventing them from biting and adults reproduce. Using a surface spray instead of a bomb means you can point the spray where it’s needed, including under furniture, as discussed earlier.
My favorite surface spray is the Virbac Knockout Spray. When used as intended, this product is considered safe. However, you and your pets should not come in contact with sprayed surfaces until they are completely dry. If there is a strong flea infestation, hiring an exterminator can be extremely helpful.
If your garden is sunny and dry, you usually don’t need to treat this area. Keep the grass short. If your garden is heavily shaded and damp, you can consider land treatment to control existing outdoor flea populations.
If you prefer not to use insecticide sprays in your home or garden, don’t lose hope. Hold all Domestic pets that take effective flea prevention products (discussed in the next section) will slowly reduce your existing flea population. It takes six to eight months to achieve this, and your dog may continue to experience flea trouble during this time, but if you keep your dog’s protection up to date, the existing flea population will eventually be wiped out.
FOR YOUR DOG
You will never get rid of fleas if you don’t treat your pets. A good integrated flea control program requires that all Pets on the premises are treated with a safe and effective flea adulticide. This will kill all existing adults and kill any new ones who join before they reproduce, it is hoped. I think it’s a good idea to use a product that also has an IGR as this will act as a failover for any eggs that are randomly laid before the adult flea is killed.
There are many good products available right now, so speak to your veterinarian about which will work best for you. You can choose between safe and effective oral products (e.g. Nexgard, Bravecto, Simparica, Simparica Trio, Trifexis), topical products (e.g. Advantage products, K9 Advantix products, Bravecto, Frontline products, Revolution products ) or a long-acting collar (Seresto).
It is important to note that all of these products vary a bit in how they work and what they do in addition to preventing fleas. Some contain IGRs and some do not. Some prevent ticks, others don’t. Some require the flea to bite to die, others repel before the bite; this difference is important for the flea allergy dog that reacts to the bite. Some flea repellants also prevent heartworms, which means it is important that your dog has a negative heartworm test before using these products. When in doubt, it is always best to contact your veterinarian.
Once a recent flea infestation has been cleared up, if you all Providing your pets with appropriate flea repellants year round should never require environmental treatment again. Hold all Preventive treatment for pets year-round is important as fleas and fleas (especially the very sturdy dolls) can easily hibernate in your warm, cozy home before adulthood.
DO NOT WAIT IF YOU SEE A FLEA: GET TO WORK
I hope this information helps you if you have a flea problem. And I hope if you Not have a flea problem, this information will help you avoid one. A familiar old cliché fits here too well not to mention it. When it comes to fleas, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.