Fleas are not only a nuisance to find on your dog and cause them great discomfort, but they have the potential to cause serious skin problems and transmit disease.
Fleas feed on the blood of companion animals and their bites transmit tapeworms, bartonella bacteria, and may cause severe anaemia in young animals.
Flea allergy dermatitis
They can also trigger a condition called flea allergy dermatitis, which is when pets become allergic to the flea saliva over time, cause overwhelming irritation disproportionate to the actual number of fleas you might find on your pet.
Pets with flea allergy dermatitis can damage their skin by constantly scratching, biting or licking, which can then lead to secondary infection and disease.
That’s why it is so important to look out for any signs that your dog might have fleas or be suffering from flea allergy dermatitis and also regularly check your dog for fleas.
Signs your dog has fleas
They can move fast and be easy to miss, so one of the tell-tale signs is “Flea dirt” which resembles little black pepper-like specks on your pet’s coat.
Usually, fleas prefer the back of your pet around the tail and up the centre of the pet so run a flea comb, or your fingers, against the direction your pet’s hair grows to part the hair to reveal flea dirt or the actual fleas themselves. They also tend to lurk around the groin area and between the hind legs.
If your dog is suffering from Flea Allergy Dermatitis you might also notice them spending a lot of time chewing, biting, licking themselves which may cause their hair to stain brown. You might notice hair loss, skin changes or wounds from their excess grooming.
The flea cycle
The flea cycle is a vicious one and requires you to do more than just get rid of them off your dog. You have to treat them and the environment as well.
Particularly as there are four stages in the development of fleas from egg through to an adult flea, which could see them lie dormant and undetected during the flea cycle.
How to stop the flea cycle
Ensure you wash you and your pets’ blankets, bedding and any other material items using HOT water cycle, and ongoing keep their living area clean in this same way.
You’ll need to vacuum and clean floors and furniture that your pet has been in contact with, even your car if they have been in there potentially with fleas.
You may also have to treat your house and car with insecticides if the infestation is severe, as they can also deliver a nasty bite to us humans as well!
Keeping your dog flea free
Despite the common misconception, fleas aren’t just a problem in summer. Your pet can pick up fleas wherever an infestation exists, often in areas frequented by other cats and dogs so it is important to keep your pet protected year round.
Nexgard Spectra not only kills fleas already on your dog fast but also provides your dog with the most complete parasite protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms with just one monthly tasty chew.
If your dog does suffer from flea allergy dermatitis you may also want to strengthen their immune system by choosing a raw food diet formulated for sensitive skin as well.
Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service.