Firstly, what is a flea? A flea is a tiny blood sucking parasite, typically 3-4mm in length, that can irritate your dog and infest your home. Once you realise your dog has fleas you can bet they are pretty well established!
We tend to think of spring and summer being the most common time for fleas to become a problem but these days with our houses heated during the winter fleas can survive all year.
The flea has four life stages. Egg, Larva, Pupa and Adult. The adults live on animals like your dog, where they digest blood and lay their eggs. It’s the adult flea that bites your dog and sucks blood. During the pupa stage they form cocoons, where they wait for several days or up to one year in the comfort of your carpet, sofa, or bed — until a warm-bodied host appears!
You can tell your dog has fleas by these symptoms:
Excessive scratching. Flea bites are itchy and scratching can cause the bites to become infected.
Sore or bald patches on the skin. To relieve the itch, dogs will scratch a lot and may even resort to licking and biting at their irritated skin, which can cause hair loss and self-trauma.
Flea dirt (or droppings). These show as black specks on your dogs skin. Using a fine comb can make it easier to find.
To get rid of fleas from your dog the best is to speak to your vet in the first instance. Vets are up-to-date on the latest flea treatments and preventatives and can help you find the best and safest treatment option for you and your dog.
Killing the fleas on your dog is just one part of the problem. You also need to work out how to get rid of fleas in your home. This requires patience and can take some months!
Here are some steps to help:
Wash all dog beds and soft dog toys in hot, soapy water. Repeat this frequently until the infestation has ended.
Vacuum all floors, rugs, beds and furniture on a regular basis. Make sure you empty the vacuum cleaner after each session.
Use a flea spray around the house.
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