How to Treat a Dog for Fleas
Flea Treatment and Prevention Tips
At the least, fleas can cause a great amount of irritation for you and your dog. At the worst, they can even lead to death for your pet. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to treat a dog for fleas.
While flea prevention is crucial, knowing how to treat a dog for fleas is equally important. This can restore your pet to happiness and keep those pesky fleas from infesting your house (and your loved ones).
Knowing How to Treat a Dog for Fleas Starts with Recognizing Symptoms
In order to treat a dog for fleas, it’s important to first know whether or not your dog has them. Look for the following symptoms:
- Dog scratches constantly
- Dog bites off patches of fur
- You start itching or feel as though something is biting you (this means the fleas have gotten into your home)
When fleas bite a dog, a saliva is released which often results in an allergic reaction. This leads to itching, which then causes your dog to scratch constantly. Pimple-like bumps may also be visible, as well as erosions and crusting on the skin. In some cases, red sores may appear on the skin (these are known as “hot spots”).
Finding The Fleas
If your dog exhibits any of the above symptoms, it’s time to start searching for the fleas. Since fleas dislike light, the best places to look are on your dog’s tail, lower back, inner thighs and belly.
“Flea dirt” is the best indication that fleas are present. Actually, flea dirt is feces which contains blood the flea has ingested from your pet and then excreted. Flea dirt looks like black specks of pepper on your dog’s skin.
Try combing your pet over a sheet of white pepper. If black specks fall down onto the paper, you’re most likely looking at flea dirt. When bathing your dog, you can also place a white towel beneath them. Any fleas which fall off should be visible on the towel.
If you want to make sure it’s actually flea dirt, try sprinkling some water on it. In a few minutes, you’ll see small amounts of blood begin spreading out. This is your pet’s blood which was siphoned off by the flea.
Treating The Fleas
A number of options are available for pet owners looking for ways to treat their dogs for fleas. The following remedies are the most common and safe.
1. Flea Dip – It’s just like giving your pet a bath, but the toxic chemicals in the flea dip quickly kill the pests. While this flea treatment is highly effective at killing fleas, it is also more toxic than other forms of flea control. Make sure you carefully follow the directions on the product, or you could risk exposing your dog to lethal levels of chemicals.
2. Flea Shampoo – Flea shampoos are designed to kill all the fleas currently on your pet. While it certainly accomplishes this, it does not act as a preventative for future fleas. Always read the instructions and keep in mind that puppies and some elderly dogs should not be bathed in certain brands of flea shampoos (always read the product label).
Before bathing your dog, you may also want to put cotton balls in their ears. This will keep water from getting inside.
Shampoos containing citrus oil or pyrethrum tend to be the most effective when it comes to killing fleas. They also have the advantage of being less toxic than the chemicals found in other brands.
When bathing your dog (with or without flea shampoo) always be sure to use cold water. If your dog has been suffering from flea bites, hot water will only irritate their skin.
3. Systemics – This is the most popular form of flea prevention and flea control. Absorbed through your dog’s skin, this product is usually applied to one spot of the body. Leading brands include Revolution, Frontline and Advantage. Oral versions of this treatment are also available for pets who suffer skin irritation.
4. Flea Spray and Flea Powder – Frontline is one of the leading sprays on the market. Whether you’re using a powder or a spray, always make sure to wear gloves. Also avoid spraying your dog in the face. When applying sprays or powders to your dog’s head, gently rub it in with your hands. Always use sprays in a well-ventilated area.
An Ounce Of Prevention
The best way to treat a dog for fleas is to prevent them from getting infected in the first place. Here are a few tips for flea prevention.
1. Keep you dog healthy. Fleas are especially fond of animals with weak immune systems. B complex vitamins, Omega 6 and Omega 3 are also useful in keeping your dog’s immune system strong.
2. Oral flea control tablets will keep any flea eggs or flea larvae from surviving on your pet and growing to adulthood.
3. Various sprays and powders are available for your yard. If there are no fleas in your yard, the chances of your dog becoming infected are very slim.
4. Some people rinse their dog’s fur with apple cider vinegar. This is supposed to repel fleas (who don’t like the smell or taste, apparently). Lemongrass, lavender, peppermint and citronella are also said to repel fleas naturally.
5. If your dog wears a flea collar, make sure to take it off before the dog goes for a swim. A wet flea collar becomes far less effective, as the ingredients on the collar tend to get washed off.
NOTE: After using any flea product, make sure to observe your dog for a time. If they exhibit any unusual behavior or seem to become uncoordinated, weak or depressed, contact your vet immediately.
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