Fleas on Dogs

Flea infestation is a common problem faced by dogs and even their owners. Dogs may develop severe allergies and rashes that cause discomfort to them, which also becomes a matter of concern for the owners. This article covers all the aspects related to fleas on dogs.
When a dog becomes a host for a flea infestation, its skin becomes itchy and red, making the dog scratch itself all the time. This is not a healthy picture that you can imagine for your pet dog. Some dogs may even become hypersensitive to the antigens present in the female fleas' saliva and develop a severe 'flea reaction'.

Symptoms

Different dogs react differently to fleas. Watch out for all or some of these symptoms exhibited by your dog.
  • The dog keeps scratching and itching intensely, leading to inflamed lumps on the skin, lesions, and ulcers.
  • In certain severe cases, fleas on dogs may cause flea allergy dermatitis.
  • Few dogs may indulge in mild scratching and biting the skin.
  • Certain dogs may remain totally oblivious to the fact that their coat is infested with fleas.
  • Fleas on puppies may lead to anemia due to severe infestation.
Confirming an Infestation

You need to be sure that your dog has fleas and not some other parasitic infestation, in order to take the steps necessary for treatment. You should observe the dog's coat closely and look out for the following.
  • Crawling adult fleas, that are 2-8 mm long with a mahogany-brown color, having three pairs of legs. The back legs are supposed to be longer than the two front pairs of legs. When observing the flea side to side, it should be quite flat in dimension.
  • In case you fail to find any fleas, look for 'flea dirt'. Comb through the dog's fur on its neck and hindquarters. Collect the tiny black specks of dirt, if any, dropping out of the coat. This is called 'flea dirt. This flea dirt is actually the dried blood of your dog, and you can place the dried bits on a wet paper and see them turn dark-red in color. This proves that there are fleas on your dog.
Treatment

If there are fleas on your dog, then you need to get rid of the fleas not only from the animal, but from the surrounding environment as well. It is a fact that only 5% of the adult fleas live on the host. The rest of the population consists of eggs, larvae, and pupae. The female flea lays over 500 eggs each, that fall off on beds, carpets, grass, and other surrounding areas visited by the dog. After hatching, the baby fleas develop into adults and jump onto the coat of a passing animal. They begin feeding on its blood. They can jump very high as compared to their size. Treatment does not only involve getting rid of the adult fleas, but also getting rid of the large population of eggs and larvae. It is very important to have proper flea control on the dog and its surroundings. Home remedies for fleas on dogs are as follows.
  • Vacuuming the house regularly will help clean the house of any fallen eggs and larvae, and prevent them from returning. Vacuum the upholstery, pillows, pillow cases, carpets, closets, baseboard, and any place possible. You may even use pest control services to help get rid of fleas.
  • Keep the dog's bed clean. Wash it with hot water and carry out a long cycle in a hot dryer to kill any fleas or eggs clinging to the cloth.
  • You may use some effective liquid topical treatments available over the counter that prevent and control fleas. You may also opt for other topical applications available only with the vets.
  • Dog grooming is another aspect that helps keep fleas on dogs at bay. You should use a flea shampoo or add a little neem oil to the regular dog shampoo while bathing the dog. You should keep using neem or eucalyptus oil every time you bathe your dog, even if it has no flea infestation.
  • If your dog loves to remain outdoors, then you need to make sure that the yard is free from fleas and eggs. Keep the grass short, keep the leaf piles far away, and make sure that there are not many dark, moist places for the fleas to grow. You may use cedar chips near the fence lines and in areas often visited by your dog.
  • It is very important to feed nutritious dog food to your dog to keep it healthy and its immune system strong. A malnourished dog or puppy can fall prey to fleas and develop flea allergies due to weak immunity.
Natural Remedies

Homemade Flea Spray
This homemade natural remedy will help control fleas. Take 600 ml of warm water, 2 drops of lavender oil, and 2 drops of pure cedar wood oil. Shake and mix it well in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture throughout the dog's coat, avoiding the eyes. The essential oil evaporates quickly, so carry out the process many times a day to make it effective against the fleas.

Citrus Repellent
Cut a lemon into small quarter-like pieces and place the pieces in a jug. Add boiling water to the jug and let it stand overnight. The next day, fill the water in a spray bottle and use it as a flea repellent. Spray the lemon water throughout the dog's fur, and in large quantities around the head, behind the ears, near the base of the tail, and under the armpits. This natural flea control spray will help keep the fleas at bay.

Herbal Flea Dip
After a bath, try using this herbal flea dip. Soak 2 cups of rosemary in two pints of boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain it, discard the leaves, and increase the quantity of the liquid by adding about 1 gallon of warm water to it. Saturate the dog's coat by pouring the liquid on it. Do not rinse off the liquid and let the dog dry naturally. This is an effective remedy, especially during the summer.

Garlic
Including garlic in your dog's diet can help in getting rid of fleas. Fleas find the smell of garlic repulsive and hence they avoid feeding on the dog's blood. Consult a vet before starting with a regular use of garlic in the dog's food. Dogs should be fed garlic only in concentrations that are recommended by the vet. Garlic consumption is not advisable for dogs with anemia.

Try using these home remedies and prevent fleas from feeding and growing on your dog. You should consult a vet before trying any medications on your dog. Your pet's health should be an utmost priority, as a sick dog causes a lot of pain and disturbance to a loving owner. These tiny creatures can also spread diseases in humans. They are carriers of tapeworm larvae, and spread murine typhus and bubonic plague. Thus, it is very important to eliminate any traces of fleas from your dog.