Flea And Tick Prevention For Dogs

Fleas are parasites, meaning they need a host to feed off of to survive. Once they choose your dog as the unfortunate target, they settle in right away.

March 18th, 2019

With spring and warmer weather just around the corner, it’s imperative that all dog owners ensure their fur kids are properly equipped to combat fleas, ticks, and other pesky bugs.

Really, your dog should be protected year-round, but this will be especially important during the coming months!

An important Lab Report! Fleas are not friends!

What Are Fleas?

Fleas are extremely tiny insects. Though small, they make up for it with their peskiness.

Fleas are parasites, meaning they need a host to feed off of to survive. Once they choose your dog as the unfortunate target, they settle in right away.

They are equipped with spikes along their head to pierce through your dog’s skin and suck blood away.

Cue the itching. A dog with fleas is not having a good time.

The good news is, fleas are wingless; the bad news is, they don’t need wings to cause trouble.

Fleas have an 8 inch vertical leap. This means that no matter what size or shape dog you have, fleas can easily jump from the ground and nestle in your dog’s coat.

Yuna with a stern face telling you to get on that flea prevention!!

The Lifecycle of Fleas

To make matters worse, it’s very easy for a dog to get fleas, but not so easy to get rid of them.

This is primarily because fleas multiply insanely quickly.

Here’s a scary statistic: on average, the adult fleas manifested in your pup makes up only around 1% of the flea population in your home!

You see, there are four main stages in a flea’s lifecycle. Knowing about this can help us learn how to better combat fleas.

Egg

To start off, a female flea lays up to 30-40 eggs (per day!). This is done right on your dog’s skin (eww).

As most of the eggs usually roll off your dog’s skin, they’ll find themselves scattered around the house. They usually end up on the furniture, on your dog’s bed, or in his crate.

Another scary statistic? Flea eggs make up 50-54% of the flea population in your home. Even if your dog only picked up a single flea, imagine how quickly that can multiply in a matter of weeks–you’ll soon be housing hundreds if not thousands of unwanted roommates.

These eggs take between two days and two weeks to develop and hatch–it depends greatly on temperature and conditions.

Larvae

About 35-37% of the flea population is in the larva stage. This stage lasts approximately 5-10 days.

Larvae primarily feed off the notorious “flea dirt” that adult fleas deposit on your dog. These appear as black specks on your dog and are commonly found on the tummy. Essentially, it is pre-digested blood. This is a very sure sign that your dog is flea-infested.

Pupae

If allowed to develop further, larvae will begin spinning cocoons and become pupae.

About 10% of the flea population is in the pupae stage. This stage usually lasts approximately 5-9 days, or potentially up to many months.

During this stage, the flea is shielded by the cocoon. If conditions are not right for emerging, they’ll simply stay within the cocoon as long as needed.

Adult

When pupae do choose to emerge, it is because they already know a host is available for feeding off of. This is also because female fleas need to feed before they can begin their first round of egg laying.

Once an adult flea has fed off your dog, they will become larger and lighter in color, having a sort of light brown tinge.

Knowing this flea lifecycle, you now know why simply bathing your dog in flea-treatment shampoo is not sufficient.

You have not accounted for 99% of the fleas that are still in your home, waiting to jump onto your dog yet again.

The statistics are shocking...

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas–And Finding Out Early

Obviously, the earlier you find out about your dog’s fleas, the better.

The most telltale way is to examine areas of your dog’s fur where the coat is sparse or thin–the belly, armpits, etc.

You are looking for small black specks (often described as looking like black pepper), which is the “flea dirt” that we mentioned earlier, or white specks (these are the adult fleas themselves).

Now, it’s easy to mistake flea dirt as regular dirt that your dog picked up in the fields. You don’t want to take an unnecessary (and possibly expensive) vet visit, so how do you tell the difference?

This article describes a quick test: collect some of the dirt in question and place in a cup. If you apply water to it and it turns reddish in color, it’s likely flea dirt!

You’re also looking for excessive itching and scratching. Dogs give themselves the occasional scratch all the time, but if it’s anything more than ordinary, this should be a red flag.

Just one flea bite can aggravate your dog and send them into an itching frenzy for days.

Finally, look for red bumps on your dog’s skin (most visible on the tummy). If you see any, get treatment ASAP! Your dog could develop more serious flea-related conditions if you don’t act quickly.

Once you’ve identified the flea problem, you’ll need to take complete action to eradicate them.

Getting Rid Of Fleas

Note that because of the darn flea lifecycle, you need to treat both your dog and your house in order to prevent a second infestation.

Time for a bath!

The first step is to thoroughly wash all sheets, bedding, and affected furniture covers. This includes mats, sofa covers, pillowcases, etc.

For the pieces of furniture your dog really likes to hang around (such as their bed), be sure to wash with hot water so that all fleas are killed.

Next, bathe ALL of your dogs in flea shampoo. This will prevent cross-infestation. Check out our Grooming And Cleaning article for some handy bath tips!

Keep your dogs someplace separate while they dry (perhaps in the bathroom?). During this time, do a thorough vacuum of the house.

There are a few other areas which may need attention depending on your situation–this includes your car, garage, yard, etc.

If fleas seem to be a common occurrence where you are, consider using a flea spray or fogger around the house. Be careful with this though, and make sure the chemicals you are introducing are safe for both your dog and human companions.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, remember that the best cure to fleas is really to prevent them in the first place.

If you are lucky enough to have stumbled upon this article before your dog has picked up fleas, keep up your good work! The following section will help equip your dog against those fleas.

Flea Prevention

A number of solutions out there exist to defend your dog against fleas before they have the chance to multiply on your dog.

Don't let your dog become a breeding ground for fleas!

A common choice of pet owners and vets alike is a topical treatment. These are applied directly to your dog’s skin, designed to kill existing fleas and instantly wipe out any new fleas that jump onto your dog.

Bravecto or Revolution are examples of topical treatments.

I don’t think all of these require a vet prescription, but nonetheless you should always consult a vet before administering anything to your dog.

Flea pills are the other major option. These are oral insecticides.

Nexgard and Comfortis are examples.

Most flea pills require a prescription. You probably don’t want to be wandering the flea pill aisles without the guidance of a professional anyway.

Both topical treatments and flea pills have proven to be excellent preventative measures.

The solution you choose will depend on your dog’s needs as well as your own schedule. You’ll need to consider things such as your dog’s age, weight, and existing medical conditions. Again, discussing with a vet can help you make the best decision.

In addition to defending your dog against fleas, you can also create habits around the house to make it a tough place for fleas.

Do weekly cleanings of your dog’s bedsheets (and your bedsheets, if you sleep with your dog). Vacuum regularly (ideally a few times a week). If you’ve got carpet, steam clean it.

Conclusion

Flea prevention in your dogs ultimately comes down to being knowledgable about fleas, and then taking consistent steps to combat them.

These little habits that you build into your dog’s routine can do wonders in keeping him flea-free and healthy.

Remember, a dog with fleas is a miserable dog! Get him out of his misery as soon as you can.

We hope everybody has a flea-free spring and summer ahead!

Our recent adventure to the Oregon Coast 🙂

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